Have you ever wondered what’s the meaning of your village / town’s name? There are many common elements for place names in Wales.
|Aber||Mouth of a river. Either the river flows into the sea or it flows into another river. Aber is usually followed by the name of the river (but not always). E.g. Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, Abertylleri, Aberdaron|
|Bach / Fach||Small|
|Caer||Fort / Castle|
|Cil||Retreat / Corner|
|Coch / Goch||Red|
|Dôl||Field / Meadow|
|Ffos||Ditch / Trench|
|Garth / arth||A piece of land which sticks out. Could be a hill/mountain or a piece of land going out into the sea (Penarth).|
|Glan||Bank of a river or shore|
|Glas / Las||Blue / Green (In modern Welsh, glas is used for the colour ‘blue’, but in old Welsh it was ‘green’ or even ‘gray’. Maesglas – Greenfield|
|Gwyn / Wen||White|
|Mawr / Fawr||Big|
|Melyn / Felen||Yellow|
|Pen||Top / End|
|Pont / bont||Bridge|
|Porth||Gate / gateway|
|Waun / Gwaun||Heath / Moor|
Dinas (a city), tref (a town) and pentref (a village) are old terms for groups of dwellings. Dinas would originally have meant a fortress or fortified homestead. Tref would also have meant a group of homes – a fortified community. A pentref was simply an outpost.
Swansea / Abertawe. The Welsh name is quite easy; Aber + Tawe = mouth of the river Tawe. However, the English may derive from the Viking invasion. The Norse name ‘Sveinn’ + ‘ey’ meaning Island. The name is still pronounced ‘swans–ee’ today rather than ‘swan-sea’.
Rhyl – this comes from the English word ‘hill’ prefixed with the Welsh defnitine article ‘yr’ (the). So the name is simply ‘the hill’.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogeryllchwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch – The original name was Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll. In order to encourage visitors and tourists to stop at the village on the train line, a local cobbler from Menai Bridge came up with the longer name. It was a huge success and some say the most successful tourist marketing plan of all time! Locals refer to the village as Llanfairpwll or Llanfair P.G.
Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa. The Welsh name mean ‘burial place’ and folklore says that it is where Rhitta Gawr (Rhitta the Giant) is buried. The English comes from Old English meaning “snow hill”.
Have you come across any interesting or unusual place names in Wales? Let us know!