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

See the bottom of this page for further titles.

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 - comes from the name of the old demesne manor of Rhymney (Rumney)
Radyr - recorded as Arad[ur] c.1100, denoting a house of prayer or chapel
Hendy - village was named after Hendy Tinplate works
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
Laugharne - Lacharn may relate to Welsh words for "bright" and "rock"
Coran, Laugharne - river's name may mean "small stream", or was perhaps an Irish personal name
Pendine - possibly denotes a headland above the shore
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
River Ebbw - from the ancient name Ebwydd. The eb- element may relate to a horse
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
Llanddew - church on early Christian site is dedicated to God and St David
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

More books on place-names
Place-Names of Dinas Powys Hundred by Gwynedd O. Pierce (University of Wales Press. Cardiff 1968)
The Place-Names of Pembrokeshire (National Library of Wales. Aberystwyth 1992)
The Place-Names of Anglesey by Gwilym T. Jones and Tomos Roberts (Isle of Anglesey County Council and Research Centre. Bangor 1996)
Ar Draws Gwlad by Gwynedd O. Pierce, Tomos Roberts and Hywel Wyn Owen (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst 1997)
Cynon Valley Place-Names by Deric John (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst 1998)
Enwau Tir a Gwlad edited by Bedwyr Lewis Jones (Gwasg Gwynedd 1998)
A Study of the Place-Names of Radnorshire (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst 1998)
Enwau Eryri. Place-Names in Snowdonia by Iwan Arfon Jones (Y Lolfa. Tal-y-bont 1998)
Ar Draws Gwlad by Gwynedd O. Pierce and Tomos Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst 1999)
Notes on Some Place-Names in and around the Bont by Deric John (Image Publications. Aberdare 1999). Relates to Tal-y-bont, Glamorgan, and includes evidence drawn from surveys of the same parish and Llanedi.
Place-Names and R.F. Peter Powell, A Study of Breconshire Place-Names (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst  1999)
Enwau Lleoedd ym Maldwyn by Richard Morgan amended and translated by Dai Hawkins (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst 2001)
Place-Names of Montgomeryshire by Richard Morgan (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst 2001)
Place-Names of Cardiganshire by Iwan Wmffre (British Archaeological Reports, Oxford 2004)
Place-Name Detective by Bedwyr Lewis Jones and Anthony Lias (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst 2008. Translated from from Enwau 1991 and Yn ei Elfen by Bedwyr Lewis Jones 1991, 1992)
Hen Enwau o Arfon, Llŷn ac Eifionydd by Glenda Carr (Gwasg y Bwthyn. Caernarfon 2011)
Hen Enwau o Ynys Môn by Glenda Carr (Gwasg y Bwthyn. Caernarfon 2015)
Place-Names of Flintshire by Hywel Wyn Owen and Ken Lloyd Gruffydd (University of Wales Press. Cardiff 2017)
Place-Names of Glamorgan by Richard Morgan (Welsh Academic Press. Cardiff 2018)