The Welsh Place-Name Society

link_to_welsh_translationThe Welsh Place-Name Society

The society promotes awareness and study of the place-names of Wales, and aims to protect place-names which may be in danger of falling out of use. It also explores the relationship between place-names, history and culture.

If you would like to explore this topic further, here are some suggested books by members of the society:
Dictionary of the Place-Names of Wales, by Hywel Wyn Owen and Richard Morgan, published by Gomer
Place-Names in Glamorgan, by GO Pierce, published by Merton Priory Press
Place-names of Gwent, by Richard Morgan, published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch
The Place-Names of Wales, by Hywel Wyn Owen, University of Wales Press, revised and expanded 2015

Website of the Welsh Place-Name Society (Facebook)

HiPoints collection:
Place-names unbundled: Menai Bridge - follow the QR-code circuit to discover the history behind local place names including Cilbedlam, Llyn Gas, Ynys y Moch, Uxbridge Square and Bro Helen Rowlands
Ynys Gorad Goch - fish-trap island previously named after a Madog Goch, possibly a red-haired bishop
Llanddaniel-fab - 'fab' means 'son'
Cefni - this river's name is linked to a narrow gorge, a rare sight on undulating Anglesey
Malltraeth - several local names relate to the strand which lined the Cefni before the marshland was drained
Turkey Shore Road - was this a barbaric area of Holyhead, or did the name come from a landowner called Starkey?
Porth Llanlleiana - appears to refer to nuns but an open mind should be kept, as there's no record of a local convent
Point Lynas - map makers of yesteryear may be responsible for the Latinising of St Eilian's name, resulting in Lynas
City Dulas - possibly an ironic name for a small group of buildings beside the river Dulas
Red Wharf Bay - the second word derives from warth, meaning a shore or strand
Bridgend county borough
Kenfig - town buried under sand was named after a river named after a person
Caerphilly county borough
Caerphilly - denotes the fort of someone known as Ffili
Troedrhiwfuwch - vanished village in the Rhymney Valley
Cardiff - the Welsh capital city's name signifies a fort by the river Taff
Womanby Street - a Viking echo in the middle of Cardiff
Golate - once a ditch, probably filthy and damp but a convenient thoroughfare to the old quay
Crockherbtown - probably denoted an area where pots were made. Name changed to Queen Street in 1880s
Lamby Way - another Old Norse relic in Cardiff
Tredelerch, Cardiff - comes from the name of the old demesne manor of Rhymney (Rumney)
Pembrey - from Pen-bre, denoting the top of a hill
- a place where -i was added to a person's name to denote their territory
Coran, Laugharne - river's name may mean "small stream", or was perhaps an Irish personal name
Marros - possible elements in this name may recall when wild horses grazed on Marros Mountain
Conwy county borough
Cwlach, Llandudno - reflects on something inadequate from long ago
Bwrlingau Rocks, Deganwy - may relate to Welsh word bwrlwm, which can described rippling water
Pen Pyra, Dwygyfylchi - this farm name suggests the area was known for its wild pears
Swallow Falls, Betws-y-coed - probably refers to the shape of the white water
Cors Fochno - someone called Mochno had this bog named in his honour
Devil's Bridge - associated with a legend about a woman who outwitted the devil
Aberaeron - the name of the tranquil river Aeron relates to a goddess of war!
Llangrannog - church name recorded as Gogof in 1284, referring to cave once occupied by St Carannog
Llwyndafydd - written in 1488. Legend has it that Henry VII gave the oponymous Dafydd a drinking horn
Gilfachreda - the second element may refer to a person called Rheda
The Talardy Hotel, St Asaph - the name comes from Welsh for "promontory" but there's no sea in sight!
Roe Plas, St Asaph - look by the riverbank for a clue to this name
Rhuddlan - named after the colour of the river banks
Rhyl - an English and Welsh mongrel
Eglwyseg, near Llangollen - recorded in 1277-1278 as Eglesfegel. Suffix after "eglwys" may refer to a person
Bwlch yr Oernant - Welsh name for Horseshoe Pass
Moel Morfydd, near Llangollen - has more to do with botany than a presumed woman called Morfydd
Moel y Gamelin, near Llangollen - something's a little crooked here
Mynydd Maes yr Ychen - Imagine oxen on this high ground near the Horseshoe Pass
Dyfrdwy - the Welsh name for the Dee is said to refer to a goddess of war
Llinegr - the Welsh name of this old hamlet evolved from Old English
Lloc - from animal pen to hamlet, via a post office!
Mold & Yr Wyddgrug - same landmark, two totally different names
Caerwys - the stress on the first syllable is a clue to the name's likely origin
Caernarfon - Twhill comes from Old English and signifies an ancient military connection
Llithfaen - first element could come from Irish for grey
Pistyll - refers to a spring, not far from St Beuno's Church
Nefyn - named after a person, who may have been Irish
Porthdinllaen - the last element has the same root as Llŷn, and also Leinster in Ireland
Machroes, near Abersoch - may relate to a large cross or moor
Pwllheli - relates to a natural brine pool, basis of the harbour we see today
Tryfan - a conspicuous peak perhaps
Nant Ffrancon - Refers to javelins, possibly features you can see in the landscape
Yr Wyddfa - Wales' highest is a "prominent place"
Pont Pen y Benglog - Bridge's name could refer to a rock feature
Ogwen - possibly denoting a fast river
Beddgelert - the eponymous Celert was a person, not a dog!
Penrhyndeudraeth - was between two beaches, now only one exists
Pont Briwet - name may derive from briwo - to crush or pound
Minffordd - "road side"
Dduallt - refers to a black, or shaded, hill
Tanygrisiau - "below the steps", perhaps the route up to Cwmorthin slate valley
Blaenau Ffestiniog - Who was Ffestin? Nobody knows
Merthyr Tydfil county borough
Merthyr Tydfil - shrine to a person called Tudful
Pontsticill - a bridge near a stile
Llangattock-Vibon-Avel, near Monmouth - Afel, then his sons, probably sponsored the local church
The Kymin, Monmouth - Probably an anglicised version of Welsh for "a common"
Abergavenny - an ancient connection with the modern Welsh word for blacksmith
Llangattock Lingoed - May refer to a woodland of holly
Caggle Street, near Llanvetherine - the road was once littered with dung
Llanthony - six-syllable Welsh name was shortened to Lanthoni as early as the 12th century
Gold Tops - earlier spellings indicate this was a cold hilltop
Bishton - "Bishop's Farm". The manor here was held by the bishops of Llandaf
Peterstone Gout - discover why "Gout" is a common name on the Gwent Levels
Amroth - relates to the river Rhath, a name denoting a defence
Cemaes Head - from name of local commote, possibly referring to bends in the coastline
Welshpool - once known as Pool. Welsh- distinguishes it from Pool or Poole in England
Machynlleth - today nobody knows who Cynllaith was
Vyrnwy - recorded as Evernoy in 1185
Carreghofa - Hofa was a personal name, but nothing to do with King Offa
Oxwich - a tranquil place on the Gower peninsula, but what's the connection with oxen?
Worm's Head - from an Old English word for "snake"
Vardre, Clydach - from (Y) Faerdre, denoting the settlement of a steward or bailiff
Cwmbrân - new town, old name
Dorallt, Cwmbrân - written as Torald c.1291. Probably refers to hill nearby
Cwrt Henllys, Cwmbrân - henllys means "old court" or "old hall"
Castell-y-bwch, Cwmbrân - linked to deer, which probably were here, and a castle which probably wasn't
Llanfrechfa - the suffix probably refers to the nature of a field, rather than a person
Govera - appears to be plural of gofer, meaning “overflow of a well, spring or stream”
Vale of Glamorgan
Cold Knap - first element may be connected with charcoal pits on a local farm
Wrexham county borough
Pontcysyllte - the magnificent aqueduct "connects" opposite sides of the Dee valley
Rhosymedre - famous for the eponymous hymn, but the place-name's origin is obscure
River Alyn or Alun - one of numerous rivers in Britain whose names have a similar derivation