I'm researching Staverton, Northampton(shire), England. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it is called Stavertone. According to wikipedia, the meaning of the town name is 'staved" town. I've looked up the definition of stave and can't seem to make it apply to a town. Thanks.
Folk etymology is of little use here. And one Staverton is not necessarily of the same origin of another Staverton. So 'a staved town' is not really 'a staved town'. One Staverton may share its etymological origin with a Starbotton:
The derivation of the name is the subject of much debate. It is thought to be derived from "Stamphotne" (1086 Domesday Book) or "Stauerboten" (12th century - Old English "stæfer" replacing the Norse "stafn" in the first form and meaning "the place where stakes are got").
There is a book listing a bit more detail on English towns, villages, their names and origins in Wiltshire. Staverton is said to be probably
Staverton N of Trowbridge. 1086 Stavretone DB; c. 1540 Stavertun Leland.
This name is most probably to be derived from Stœfera or stœferes tun, OE *stœfere being a nomen agentis from stœf (= letter, character), consequently meaning "a scribe" (cf. bocere). Cf. Staverton, Northants., which occurs as (to) stœfer tune CS no. 792, p. 542, Staverton, Glos., and Starton, Warws.
–– Einar Ekblom: "The Place-Names Of Wiltshire Their Origin and History", Dissertation, 1917.
Whereas there seems to be a contradiction reading Wikipedia's etymology that refers to the Domesdaybook.
Staverton. (m. p. & v.) 5 m. N.E. of Gloucester. D. Starventon. 1230. Stauerton. 1295. Corp: Rec Glos: Staverthon. 1340 Stauerton. (Late) Starton. (Staverton in Warwickshire was Stauerton in 1163. Staverton in Devon was Stofordtune in the nth century Charter of Leofric). I am inclined to distrust the medial 'n' in the Domesday form, and to regard the name as a Staverton. It probably took its name from a stone ford across Hatherley stream, and an earlier form, of the name may have been Stafordton.
–– W. St. Clair Baddeley: "Place-Names of Gloucestershire. A Handbook", John Bellows, Gloucester, 1913.
Yet another take on it is
STAVERTON(Eng.)Bel.toStaverton(Glouc. and Wilts : 13th-14th cent, same spelling Northts. : a.d. 944 Stæfer tun ('Cart. Sax', no. 792). [As most of the Stavertons are in the West, the pl., stafir, of O.N. staf-r ( = O.E. stœf), staff, stave, post, can hardly come into question (in any case we should expect the genit. pl. stafa, not the nom.); the first element does not seem to be a pers, name; and it is app. merely a ptaooetically extended form of O.E. staf (v. under Staveley, and cp. the Yorks staver, 'a hedge-stake') + O.E. tiin, enclosure, farmstead]
–– Henry Harrison: "Surnames of the United Kingdom: a concise etymological dictionary", 1912.
Staverton: usually 'farmstead made of or marrked by stakes', OE *stæfer +tun: Staverton Glos, *Staruenton 1086 (DB), Staverton 1248.
Staverton Northants. *Stæfertun 944. Stavertone 1086 (DB), Staverton Wilts. Stavretone 1086 (DB)
–– A. D. Mills: "Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names", Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2011.
So as long as the derivation of stæfer is correct:
Forms stāver n. Also (in place names) stavere, stavre, stawere, stawure, star(e-, ster-, stre-; pl. stavres.
Etymology OE (in place names) stæfer-, LOE staver-, stavre & ON: cp. OSwed. stavur, ODan. stauær, stafær; pl. form in quots. in (a) may = staures and belong to ME stour(e n.(1). Definitions (Senses and Subsenses) Note: Cp. staf n.
(a) An upright bar in a rack for hay or fodder; hacche ~; (b) in place names [see Smith PNElem.2.141, 142].
So it's possible that the name originated from a place that was enclosed with staffs... But towns also took their names from specialty products that were produced there... so it is also possible that the town produced "staves" for barrel making.