"Tuesday. Hot. That lot from across the marsh have been at it again. Playing a stupid game on their broomsticks. A big leather ball landed in my cabbages."
-- Gertie Keddle, 11th Century (QA3).
Queerditch Marsh is the place where the game of Quidditch originated. Eight hundred years ago, a group of witches and wizards used an damp stretch of nettle-filled ground called Queerditch Marsh as a place to play a new game they had invented. This game involved broomsticks and a “big leather ball.” Soon they added a couple of heavy rocks, bewitched to try to knock players off their brooms. The whole business was observed by a witch named Gertie Keddle who wrote about what she saw, in badly spelled Saxon, in her diary.
Over the centuries that followed, the sport evolved and changed, and though the spelling of its name changed, it was always a homage to its birthplace. Eventually “Queerditch” became “Quidditch” and all but took over the wizarding world (QA3, QA6). Queerditch Marsh itself has since been made Unplottable (RC), and Gertie Keddle’s diary is now in the Museum of Quidditch in London (QA3).
It is always interesting, however, to speculate about what might have influenced Rowing's naming choices. As it happens, 31 miles to the west of Exeter in Devon, where Rowling went to university, is a small hamlet called Quoditch. There is a nature preserve there, the Quoditch Moor Nature Reserve, which includes a stream and areas nearby which are wet for portions of the year. It is possible that Rowling saw the name Quoditch on a map and the word stuck in her head, and became part of the inspiration for the name of the Wizarding world's favorite sport.
According to The Place-names of Devon by John Eric Bruce Gover (The University Press, 1931), the name Quoditch was originally referred to as Quidhiwis in 1249, later Quydiche (1609), and Cowditch (1765). "This is probably a compound of OE cwead, 'dung, filth,' and hiwisc, 'land to support a family,' hence perhaps 'dirty land' or 'well-manured land.'"
Tags: Quidditch history