Penybont and District Local History Group Notes 6th March 2017 at the Thomas Shop Main Topic: Local Place Names and their Meaning Richard Davies

Geraint welcomed another large gathering, with particular reference to some new members.

Dorothy Baynham is a retired Civil Servant

Graham Cox lives in the house beside where Tom Price had his workshop

Paula and Alison are neighbours and live at Trewern

Marion presented Geraint and the group with a book she had obtained – Hidden Heritage – Potters Guide, She felt that this would be a great asset  to the group.

Alan brought members attention to a new U3A initiative – Curious Traveller. This is a joint initiative by Aberystwyth and Cardiff Universities and will include educational visits to gardens and castles in Wales. It is being launched in Wrexham but the administrative site will be at Hay.

Alan mentioned 2 other U3A initiatives coming up in the next month. One on astronomy, and a reading and discussion event on Abbey cwm Hyr.

Derek told the group that the War Memorial site is to get an upgrade. The Memorial itself is to be cleaned and the lettering repaired. The access to the garden will also have an upgrade to make it disability friendly.

A QR Code is to be fixed at the gate to give instant access to Historical information via the internet. Geraint has looked at the information available and is pleased that they have traced some new facts. Some do have tenuous links to the village. One person from Llanbister referred to Penybont Station as his address, for example.

Main Topic: Local Place Names and their Meaning – Rochard Davies

Bore Da – Good morning, though literally it means Morning good.

In accepting Geraint’s kind invitation to take on this subject Richard had not expected it to be quite so challenging.

He has read several publications on the subject:

  • He was almost overwhelmed by the 1958 publication on the subject, that was prepared by “The Languages and Literature Committee of the Board of Celtic Studies”, of the University of Wales”.
  • Then there was “Welsh Place Names and their Meaning” by Dewi Davies (1976)
  • And, of course “Radnorshire” by WH House (1947)
  • But the real challenge was “The Original Place Names in Wales . Monmouthshire (1887)

Quite heavy stuff!!!
Richard then explored a map of Wales pcking out some of the key towns and cities:

Newport                        Casnewydd-ar-wysg             Port entrance

Cadiff                            Caerdydd                               Fort/castle

Porthcawl                     Porthcawl                               Harbour gateway

Swansea                      Abertawe                                Mouth of R. Tawe

Kidwelly                        Cydweli                                  Union/Junction

Tenby                  “`      Dynbych-y-posgod               Fishing fort/area

St David                        Tyddewi                                 House of David

Fishguard                     Abergwaun                                      Sheltered Mouth

Cardigan                       Aberteifi                                  Mouth of Teifi river

Newquay                      Cai Newydd                           New Structure

Aberystwyth                 Aberystwyth                           Mouth of R. Ystwth

Caernarfon                            Caernarfon                            Castle Field

Holyhead                      Caergybi                       Castle Field!

Bangor                          Bangor                          Monastic College

Conway                        Conwy

Colwyn Bay                  Bae Colwyn                           Bay of Colwyn

Holywell                        Treffynnon                                       Town of Waterfall

Flint                               y Fflint                                     Rock

Radnorshire                 Sir Maesyfed                         Rich Water Meadow
The Welsh Language in Radnorshire

Today very little Welsh is spoken by the natives of Radnorshire, unless, perhaps it is spoken in a few remote homesteads on the Cardiganshire/Ceredigion border. Yet at the beginning of the 18th century Welsh was the popular language of the County and almost universally spoken.

To find out what happened it is necessary to understand what was happening in the middle of the 15th century when Presteigne became the centre for the Courts of the Council for Wales and the Marches. This eventually carried out all its official business in English. The officials that were appointed to manage proceedings were increasingly English. The Welsh gentry, as a result, began to communicate in English to the exclusion of Welsh, and this set the scene for Welsh being seen as a ‘lesser’ language than English, and its gradual decline.

George Barrow, either the Civil Servant or the Geologist, not sure which, stayed in Presteigne, and it is said that he asked the Maid of the Radnorshire Arms if Presteigne was in England or Wales. The Reply was allegedly: “Neither Sir, it is in Radnorshire.”

Another significant contributor to the decline in the use of the Welsh language was the role played by the Established Church following the Reformation. The Parishes of Presteigne and New Radnor, taking in Old Radnor and the Chapelries of Kinnerton and Evenjob, remained in the Diocese of Hereford, and they only appointed English speaking Parsons.

By 1730 an enormous change could be noticed; all of the above named Parishes held their services in English, and this also included the Parishes of Beguildy and Heyop. All of the churches east of this line had English services.

The impact of the decline in the use of the Welsh language can be seen in the names given to farms. Many of these dropped the use of the old Welsh names in favour of English names, and by the middle of the 17th century the pre-Norman Welsh names for towns started to change.

e.g. Knighton was previously called Tref-y-Clawdd, which meant town of the dyke.

Old Radnor was called Pen Craig, meaning summit of the rock

New Radnor was called Maesyfed, with two possible derivations – territory of Hyfraid (a 6th century Welsh Chiefton) of a field that was easy to reap, a fertile field)

Up to 1745 most churches had Welsh Prayer Books and Bibles but Llandrindod, Llanfiangel Helygen, and Llanddewi Ystradenny had no Welsh Prayer Books or Bibles.

There were exceptions however and the members of Glencwm Parish petitioned the Bishop to remove the existing Vicar because “he could not officiate in the tongue understanded by the people.” He was in fact replaced by a Welsh speaker.

By the latter half of the 18th century the Welsh language was still spoken but the decline continued, and with the improvements to roads, and the coming of the railway, most Parishes saw Welsh banished. St Harmon was an exception however. A social divide became apparent. The Radnorshire Gentry almost entirely spoke English, whereas the country folk preferred to speak Welsh. In a report of 1910 and elderly woman from Radnorshire (93 years) spoke no Welsh, her parents both spoke Welsh but preferred to speak English, by contrast her grandparents were also bilingual but preferred to speak Welsh.

The Rev Dr Jordan, Rector of Llanbadarnfawr, published the following piece in 1926 on:

“The Decay of the Welsh Language

It is thought that the introduction history of dissent was the cause of the decay of the Welsh Language in the Parish and the County, for it is known that the pioneers of the different sects, such as Methodists, Independent Baptists, Wesleyans, and Quakers were English-speaking people and came from England, tough some of the sects were foreign in their origin, as for example, the Baptists came from Holland and Germany to England. The Calvanists Methodists originated in Geneva in Switzerland and came to England, and the Wesleyans, Independents and Quakers came directly from England.

If dissent was really the means of causing the decay of the beautiful old Welsh language in this county in the 18th century, it is, perhaps, remarkable that the 20th century should witness the decay of that very dissent itself, at all events, in the country parishes of Radnorshire, and the Church of Wales, which was in existence eighteen hundred years ago, becoming once more the Church of the people. How true is the old saying: “Man made the Chapel, but God made the Church,””

In 1936 Welsh was spoken by farmers in Cwmdauddwr who lived on the Cardiganshire border. Welsh hymns were sung at certain services in the parish church.

Before engaging with members on place names Richard referred to Welsh surnames with the following accounting for more than 80% of the local population:

His own name, Davies, is probably the most common, then Jones; Lloyd; Powell; Price; Pugh; Williams; Bowen; Griffiths; Hughes; Lewis; Meredith; Morgan; Owens; Phillips; Pritchard; Probert; Prosser; Roberts; and Thomas.

Then to a lesser extent:

Bufton; Hamer; Havard; Mills; Morris; Stephens and Watkins.

Practically every place name in Welsh has a meaning, with this applying to: towns; villages; mountains; valleys; lakes; rivers; farms; and fields.

Sometimes it requires a little imagination and some ingenuity to arrive at the meaning of Radnorshire names. Many have become ‘unstuck’ under the influence of the English tongue. Welsh pronunciations, more often than not, have more have more affinity to French and Latin.

A particular feature of the Welsh Language is the tendency to mutate the initial consonants of words, for example:

Father – tad

My father – my nhad

His father – ei dad

Her father – ei thad

Penybont Names:       Head of the Bridge (Bridgend)

Pont Rhyd y Cleifion   Bridge by the field of the wounded/lepers/invalids

Ty Fair                 Mary’s House

Bryn Ithon           Looking over the Ithon

Bryn Hyfryd        Pleasant slope

Haulfryn              Sunny slope

Dol Swydd          Meadow where people work

Coed Swydd       Wood where people work

Swydd                 Administrative centre (where)

Coed Mawr Farm         Farm with large trees


Llandegley                   Church of St Tecla?

Trewern               Settlement on a rough meadow or Common

Gernargllywdd    Lord of the Alder

Castell Crug Eryr                   Castle of the Eagles Nest/Crag

Tynllan                House by the church





Cellws                 Small monastic cell

Llanbadarnfawr  Large Church of St Peter


Cefn Llys            Behind

Neuadd               Court House

Cym Brith            Valley of


Common parts of names:

Afon                     River

Allt                        Hillside or wood

Ardal                    Area

Beili                      Enclosure

Bettws                 House of prayer

Bwlch                  pass or gateway

Hafren                 Summer residence

Meslyn                Peat bog

Pentref                Village

Powys                 Tribal name derived from pau – country

Rhayader            Anglicised version of Rhaeadyr –  waterfall

Rhos                    Moorland

Rhyd                    Stream

Tal                       end of

Tan                      below

Tref                      Town

Tre                       Home


Richard also found Dr. Jordan’s “History pf the Church and Parish of Llanbadarnfawr had many local names with notes as to their origins, this is reproduced below:

Bayley Glas                  Probably ‘Beilli Glas” – the Green Mound

Betting bach                 Little – Hand cut sods for burning

Blaenycwm                            Top of the dingle

Blaenycymmawr                   Top of the green dingle

Blaenyplwyf                 End, or top, of thr Parish

Bryncrech                     Rugged hill

Bryncwtta                     From ‘cwta’ – short; Short Hill

Bryngwyn                     White Hill or Fair Or Blessed Hill

Brynhafod                    Upland summer dwelling

Brynhunlle                    The glowing hill

Brynllefrith                    The variegated or motley bank

Brynllugoed                  Probably “Brynllwydcoed” Ridge of the grey wood

Brynllwyd                      Grey Hill

Bryn Maurig                  Probably “Brynmeirydd” Steward’s Hill

Brynoveth                     Should be “Brynhafaidd” Summer like hill

Brynyffin                       Boundary Hill

Bwlch y diars                Probably “Bwlch y dias” Windy Gap

Cabin                            Should be “caban” A cottage or booth

Cae cleifion                  Lepers field

Clewedog                     Should be “Clywedog” the humming stream

Cwmtrallwn                   Probably “Cwmtrafwnc” draughty dingle; or

“Cwmtrallwngc” quagmire dingle

Cwmroches                  Probably “Cwmrhocas” Dingle youth

Cwmyrhendy                The old house dingle

Cwm Ferin                    Should be “Cwm merin” the trickling dingle

Dildre                            Probably “Dol-dir” meadow land

Dol Fallen                     Sodden meadow

Dol Llwyd                      Grey Meadow

Dol y felin                     The Mill meadow

Dol y waun morfydd    Meadow of the marshy dale

Dolaujenkin                  Jenkins’ meadows

Dolygreen                     Meadow of the village green

Dolgeid                         Probably “Dolycoed” Dole in the wood

Erw Rhys                      Rhys’ acre

Erw gerrig                     Stone acre

Fallet Grucca               Crooked enclosure

Fallet wood                   An enclosed wood

Fran Llwyn Garden     Crow’s grove garden

Fron                              From “Bron” breast of a hill

Ffosyffin                       Boundary ditch

Gabalfa                         Probably “Ceubalfa” ferrying place

Gendy                           Probaly “Geudy” draught house

Gilfach                          From “Cilfach” Nook or grove

Gilly                               Probably “Gelly” from “Celli” grove; or

It could be “Ciliau” recess or corner

Guidfa                           An erroneous term for “Coedfa” woodlands

Glancerrig                     Stone bank

Glanclewedog              The banks of the humming stream

Glannant                       Brookside

Gwalia                           Wales

Gwarm y dol                 From “Marin” trickling meadow

Gwaunyffald                The Fold Meadow or Pound Meadow

Grafty                            Probably “Croft” a little field adjoining a dwelling

Gwernau                       Swamp or mead; or Alder Trees

Hernog                          From “Gwernog” Alder Grove

Hirney Meadow           Probably from “Gwernau” Swampy meadow

Kilfan meadow             Probably from “Cilfan” a sheltered meadow

Kiln Meadow                Meadow for drying

Knap Penlan                Should be “Cnap” a round-headed hill

Llanbicca                      From “ Pigfa” steep sideland or bank

Lan Forgan                            Morgan’s bank

Lan Lwyd                      Grey bank

Lindies                          Probably “Llindys” caterpillars

Layn                              Probably “Llain” a long slip or slang

Llanbadarn-fawr          Church of St Padarn-Great

Llanerchafod                From “Llanerch” Summer dwelling area

Lletty Gwydd                Irishman’s abode or woodman’s abode

Llewyn wastad             Should be “Llwyn gwastad” flat grove

Lluast                            Should be “Lluest” a cottage

Llwyn                                      A grove of bush

Llwynhir                        Long grove

Llwyngwernduon                   Black alder grove

Llwynmell                     Far hill

Llwynmelyn                  Yellow grove

Llwynmorfil                             “Llwynmorfa” marsh grove

Nantllech                      Flat stone dingle

Orls                               Radnorshire word for Alder trees

Penlan                          Top or head of sideland

Penybank                     Top of the hill

Rabber                          Should be “Yr Aber” the fall of a river into another

Cynaron falls into the Ithon at the Rabber

Rhos                             Moorland

Rhos Swydd                Swydd is a place of administration, possibly where people work – Moorland where people work

Rhydllyn                       Ford of the pool

Rhyd y briddell             Should be “Rhyd y brithhyll” trout ford

Rhoslowddy                 Bright black boggy ground

Schuber nwydd           Probably “Ysgubor newydd” New Barn

Telpin                            Should be “Telpyn” little lump or hillock

Telpyn y bwch             Goat’s hill

Telpyn cae saydd        Little hill of the arrow field

Tinygofed                     Probably “Ty yn y gofod” House in the open or space

Tinyllwyn                      “Ty-yn-y-llwyn” House in the grove

Tir Bach                        Little land

Tirygloveried                Probably “Tir y clover” clover land

Trefonen                       Homestead of the ash tree

Trelowgoed                  Probably “Trellwydcoed” Homestead of the grey wood

Tynddole                      An abbreviation of “Ty-yn-y-ddol” the house in the dale

Tyncoad                       “Ty-yn-y-coed” House in the wood

Ty Newydd                   New House

Tynylone                      “Ty-yn-y-lone” House in the lane

Vron Vary or Vari         Should be “Bron mieri” Briery Hill

Wannyclodion              Should be “Waunnytlodion” poor people’s meadow

Werngoch                     Should be “Gwerngoch” redmead

Richard also had amongst his notes the following non-attributable translations.

Rhyd Ithon                    The ford of the Ithon

Maes-y-llyn                            The field of the lake

Llanbedr                       The church of Peter

Glan-yr-afon                 The bank of the river

Cae-dan-ty-mawr         The field under the big house

Dol-ger-y-felin              The meadow near the mill

Tref-y-clawdd               The town of the dyke

Fron-las                        The green bank

Bettys-y-crwyn             The chapel of the skins

Rhiw-fawr                     Large slope

Cytiau Gwyddelod       The Irishmen’s huts

Gwern-yr-arglwydd      The Lords’s Adler Grove

Gil-fach                         The little retreat

Tre-Faldwyn                 Baldwin’s town

Geraint thanked Richard for is excellent and wide ranging talk.

This posting is much too late to late to announce the exciting presentation that Marion has already given the group on New Radnor. (It will be written up and posted as soon as possible. We are already eagerly waiting our next session on Bank Holiday Monday – 1st May 2017 – when Shirley Morgan will be goving a talk on: “The Sale of Penybont Hall Estate”. Shirley will be focusing on the particular sale in 1919 on this occasion, as there have in fact been 3 sales of the Estate over the years.