The name is recorded in 1166 as Blachehedfeld and means the "dark coloured heathland". It is formed from the Old English 'blęc' and 'hǣth' and refers to the open space that was the meeting place of the ancient hundred of Blackheath. The name was later applied to the Victorian suburb that developed in the 19th century and was extended to the areas known as Blackheath Park and Blackheath Vale.
An urban myth is that Blackheath was associated with the 1665 Plague or the Black Death of the mid-14th century. The idea that Blackheath got its name from its use as a burial pit goes all the way back to the medieval period, when it was almost certainly used for the disposal of the dead during the ‘Black Death‘. Virtually every part of London has a local tradition about plague pits under, say, the local school or the bakers. Certainly there were pits dug all over the place. The sheer number of bodies meant that the traditional churchyards became, as one contemporary put it, ‘overstuft’ very quickly. The name ‘Blackheath’ is popularly, if mistakenly, held to derive from its reputed use as a mass burial ground for victims of the Black Death in the 1340s and '50s.