A FEW PLACE-NAMES
IN THE AMAN VALLEY
1. Introduction to Welsh Place Names 2. A Few Place Names in the Amman Valley Considered,
by the Reverend E. Amman Jones
3. Welsh Place Names - a Brief Glossary
1......INTRODUCTION TO WELSH PLACE NAMES
All the time you are in Wales, whether you are Welsh or English speaking, one aspect of Welshness crowds upon you wherever you go, as ubiquitous as the rain that falls on your head, and that is the place names. All around us we see them, as they flash past on road signs or stare out at us from maps. Wonderfully evocative or comically mispronounced, the butt of English jokes and the downfall of many a direction-seeker, they can confuse Welsh speakers as much as the English. They stand out, too, from the place names of England, in that a Welsh speaker can understand many of them. Modern Welsh is still recognisably the same language spoken a thousand years ago, a time from which many of our place names owe their origins. But the meanings of English place names are comprehensible now only to a student of Anglo-Saxon, a group of Germanic dialects spoken by the English before the Normans brought their French language to these shores in 1066, leaving the English language and the English themselves forever changed. Today we can read and understand the English written by William Shakespeare 400 years ago but, significantly, Shakespeare himself could not have understood the English written 400 years before his own time.
There are warnings, however, attached to any attempts to interpret Welsh place names. Many were written down only hundreds of years after they were coined by local people and could change by oral transmission. And when the map makers, printers and scribes later moved in and started to record them, it was often Englishmen and English speakers who undertook the task. Their attempts to transcribe place names from a Welsh speaker's tongue and put them onto paper often resulted in misspellings caused by mishearings. The change in just one letter can radically alter the meaning of a word, in any language, and a misplaced or omitted apostrophe in Welsh can transform a word or phrase totally, while variations in local pronunciation could also affect the spelling of a word once it came to be written down. And if that wasn't enough, spelling conventions have changed over the centuries. Two examples will have to suffice:
'Bodyst' is a farm on the Betws Mountain just above Hopkinstown or at least that is how it's now spelt on recent Ordnance Survey maps. The meaning could then be 'Bod' = a dwelling and 'Dyst' = a witness, so Bodyst could mean 'dwelling of a witness'. 'Bod' can also be a verb meaning 'to be', so Bodyst could also come from 'Bod yn dyst', 'to be a witness'.
The Reverend E. Aman Jones, however, spells it 'Bodist' in a series of articles he wrote in 1910 for the local history journal 'The Carmarthenshire Antiquary'. He gives its meaning as 'Bod' = a dwelling and 'Dist' = rafters, meaning the 'dwelling with rafters'. Not content with that he then goes on to claim that another possibility exists, namely that 'Bo' could come from the Welsh word for 'ghost' (as in 'bwci bo') with 'Bodist' now meaning the 'ghost in the rafters'. And all this from one letter change from 'i' to 'y' in just 50 years or so! (see the entry for 'Bodist' below).
Glynhir is now a picturesque hotel near Llandybie but it was once a mansion within an extensive estate. 'Glynhir' means 'the long valley (glyn = valley and hir = long). But E. Aman Jones spells it 'Clunhir' the long meadow (clun = meadow). Either explanation is geographically possible as the Glynhir estate stretches along the western side of the Loughor valley. And before the land was parcelled out as fields and farms it would have indeed been a 'long meadow' running above the western bank of the river Loughor. Why or how it changed from 'Clun' to 'Glyn' (if indeed it did) E. Aman Jones attempts to explain in the entry on 'Glynmoch' below.
Still, the pitfalls accompanying the task of deciphering Welsh place names have never stopped people from at least trying. When the poet observed that fools rush in where angels fear to tread he may well have had in mind etymologists of Welsh place names.
Such attempts to decode place names of the Amman Valley were made by the appropriately named Reverend E. Aman Jones B.A. from Glanamman, whose series of articles, 'A Few Place-Names in the Aman Valley', are reproduced here. (Naming children after rivers, by the way, is a common Welsh custom; there are many people named 'Amman' in our area. Other rivers which have given themselves up as Welsh Christian names are: 'Marlais', (the middle name of Dylan Thomas), with several rivers of that name in Wales, including our own Marlais in Llandybie; 'Morlais', a tributary of the Loughor in Llangennech is another Christian name and from which the colliery that was once there took its name; Teifi and Towy are also Christian names well known in the Amman Valley area. And of course, the generic nickname for the Welsh is 'Taff' from the river of that name flowing through Cardiff ('from 'Caer' 'fort' and 'Taff') before it reaches the saltier waters of the Bristol Channel).
These conjectures of E. Aman Jones that follow were first published in the local history journal 'The Carmarthenshire Antiquary' between 1910 and 1911, not long after that journal's first publication in 1904. No doubt many of these interpretations can, and will be, challenged, so just one example will suffice of what can be expected. E. Aman Jones gives the name Garnant as being from 'carw' = 'deer' and 'nant = 'brook', meaning something like 'the brook where deer gather'. However, 'garw' means 'rough', so the 'rough brook' is another possibility while another local tradition has it deriving from Ger-y-nant: 'ger' = 'near' and 'nant' = 'brook', meaning 'by, or near, the brook.' Indeed, no sooner had E. Aman Jones completed his series of articles in 'The Carmarthenshire Antiquary' than numerous challenges to his interpretations were printed in later editions of the journal.
Whether we treat these place names as history or conjecture, they are wonderfully evocative of this little valley of ours that threads its cautious way between the Betws and the Black mountains. They are names that conjure up not just a vanished past, but also the physical world of natural beauty still with us today, if only we can avert our eyes from the baleful gaze of the TV screen and turn away from the glittering allure of the shopping mall for long enough to seek it out. While we may be on shaky ground if we treat our place names as history, perhaps seeing them as poetry instead could well give us a firmer place to stand upon.
Note on spelling and other matters:
The spelling of place names by E. Aman Jones has been retained throughout, even though many of them are in their anglicised forms that were common at his time. A process of normalisation has returned these spellings to their more authentic forms in recent years. For example, Llangadock is now spelled Llangadog; Aman Jones spells modern day 'Glynhir' as 'Clunhir'; Bettws has become Betws since his time; and Llandilo is more recognisable to us as Llandeilo.
Many of the derivations that follow have been shortened from the entries given by E. Aman Jones in 'The Carmarthenshire Antiquary', who tended to dart off on digressions at little or no warning. One or two, however, have been retained in full wherever they are relevant or amusing or both. He didn't always translate some of the Welsh names either, and these have been supplied where they are absent. Neither did he always identify where these places are and wherever possible this information has been supplied for the benefit of the reader. Square brackets [ ...] indicate an editorial intervention to clarify these and other matters for the modern reader.
The good reverend also had a strong disposition for using folklore and legend, sometimes from well-known collections such as the 'Mabinogion' and 'Celtic Folklore' but often using the memories of local people in the area. In 1910 when these entries first appeared in 'The Carmarthenshire Antiquary' there were, after all, many older people still alive in Betws and the Amman Valley with memories going back to the early nineteenth century and, through their parents and grand parents, even further back again, with the result that they were much closer to a thoroughly rural and Welsh speaking world than we are today.
While modern historians may fling up their hands in mock horror, or even real horror, at such 'history' as is herein supplied, some of these folk tales and legends have been retained. Their charm is obvious to see and they also offer an insight into the psychology of our ancestors. While we may no longer believe in such old wives' tales as ghosts, fairies, or the whole host of a pre-Christian supernatural world, we still retain a strong sense of the credulous, as our modern-day belief in the honesty and integrity of our politicians too aptly demonstrates. The vestiges of our pre-Christian past can still be glimpsed in these folk-tales and legends, and our place names may not be as innocent or as descriptive as we may like to think.
The list is arranged alphabetically and at the very end (a long way down, gentle reader, as there are about a hundred place names to get past first) will be found a list of the most common words used in Welsh place names. This should help you decipher the place you are looking for on a map, though not necessarily get you there. However, to see this list straightaway, click on Welsh place Names.
1. Introduction to Welsh Place Names 2. A Few Place Names in the Amman Valley Considered,
by the Reverend E. Amman Jones
3. Welsh Place Names - a Brief Glossary
A FEW PLACE-NAMES IN THE AMAN VALLEY CONSIDERED
(By the Rev. E. Aman Jones, B A., Merthyr Vale.)
The Carmarthenshire Antiquary 1910 - 11
A mere glance at the place-names of the Aman Valley will at once convince the most superficial observer that most of them on the left bank of the river Aman are the names of beasts or birds, and this, of course, shows that the district was considered a good hunting-ground by our ancestors. It is also a significant fact that the valley appears in history for the first time in that role, as readers of the story of the Twrch Trwyth Hunt will know. This beast-or-bird key will do us a great service when we shall attempt to open the door to the meaning of many a difficult name, and therefore we will frequently use it, but at all times we hope that the etymology and definition offered will be permissible and sound. On the other hand the place-names on the right bank of the river, and more especially the names of the tributary streams on the side of the Black Mountain or Mynydd Amanw are indicative of colour. Whether the fact that the bed of the river Aman practically marks the northern limit of the outcrop of the coal measures has anything to do with this I should not like to say definitely, but I think that the nature of the ground cannot be entirely ignored. We shall now proceed to deal in alphabetical order with the several place-names, and although the list is far from exhaustive, yet I tender it as a slight contribution to a more complete study of names that are all dear to me through the associations of childhood.
This is the name of the river that runs throughout the length of the valley to join the Llychwr by Pantyffynnon Railway Station. The word is now spelt Amman. The name is found originally not as that of the river, but of mountain and the valley. What we now call the Black Mountain, with its several local peaks such as Tyrcan and Carreg Lwyd, appears as Mynydd Amanw in the 'Red Book of Hergest', Vol I, p139 (Rhys and Evans). The sentence in which the name occurs is as follows: "Ymroddi y gerdet o honaw ynteu, hyt ym mynyd amanw." This is the first appearance of the name. We read on the same page: "Ac odyna yd aeth hyt yn dyffryn amanw." There is no mention whatever of the "river" Aman in the Story of the Hunting of the Twrch Trwyth, but we presume that the present name is identical with the name Amanw given therein to the mountain and the valley. Though the spelling is Amanw, yet the pronunciation would be almost exactly the same as it is today, and the accent would fall on exactly the same syllable. Care must be taken not to lengthen the word and make it a trisyllable. There are two well-known examples of di-syllables which have a consonantal w as a final letter, namely, Cynddelw (a man's name), and arddelw (voucher). The latter is now spelt arddel, and, alas! the former has been lengthened into a trisyllable. Amanw is, therefore, a di-syllable with the accent on the first syllable. According to Sir John Rhys the word Amanw is derived from an Irish word 'banbh' (a young boar). The Welsh form of 'banbh' is 'banw'. By placing the definite article before it then we have 'Ymanw.' or 'Ammanw'. Amanw therefore means 'the young boar'. 'Amanw' and 'Twrch' therefore have the same meaning.
In the Story of the Hunting of the Twrch Trwyth, a 'banw' is killed in Dyffryn Amanw. It may be added that the presence of an Irish word in Carmarthenshire is explained by the following quotation:
"We should suppose the story ... to have been current among the natives of a certain part of South Wales, say the Loughor Valley, at a time when their language was still Goidelic [ie Irish], and that, as they gradually gave up Goidelic and adopted Brythonic [ie Welsh], they retained their stories and translated the narrative, while they did not always translate the place-names occurring in that narrative. Thus, for instance would arise the discrepancy between banw and Amanw, the latter of which to the Welsh should have been rendered "y Banw', 'the Boar.' " (Celtic Folklore, etc., Rhys, Vol. II, p. 541).
Aber = Junction of streams. Cefni = name of stream, see Cefn-Cefni. "The first part of the compound (Aber) is made up of the Celtic preposition ad (Latin = ad) and beros, cognate with Latin 'fero' and its English equivalent, ' I bear.' It means a junction of streams, and contains the same element we find in Irish Commar (Kom-bero-s), Welsh Cymmer, Breton Kemper (giving its name to Quimper), meaning "a coming together of valleys, streams, or ways."' (British Place Names in their Historical Setting. Maclure, p. 186 Note).
The name of a farm. Though I have not been able to make final personal enquiries, yet I gather that the brook which rises near Lletty Crydd, and flows past Abergorci towards Pontardawe, is the " Gorgi.". For Aber see Abercefni. Gorgi = name of a stream. I presume that Gorgi (pronounced Gorci) is the same word as Gwrgi. It is the name of a hero. The Gorgi runs into the Egel near Pont Rhydyfro. Egel, the name of another hero, is derived from Achilles in the Glossary of "An Introduction to Early Welsh, etc."
Now this very Gorgi we are considering forms part of the boundary of Gower. It is literally 'yg guarthaw gwyr.' It divides the parishes of Bettws and Llangyfelach in its upper course and Llangiwc and Llangyfelach in its lower. What Gwrgi is derived from I can only suggest "gwr" = stout or brave, and "Gi" = Guy. In 'Place Names in Wales, etc.,' 151, under Treorchy, the Rev. T. Morgan suggests "orch," " a limit, a border," as the derivation of " Gorci." Treorchy ought, of course, to be "Tregorci," as the name Abergorci in the same neighbourhood proves.
Aber = junction; Grenig name of a stream.
A farm house on Maescware. "Argoed Fawr on Bettws Mountain was the first house in West Wales to be licensed at Quarter Sessions for public worship." ("Herald of Wales," August 20th, 1910). "Argoed llwyfein" is translated Forest of Elms. So Argoed = Forest. Other local terms compounded with 'coed' are Bolgoed, Cefncoed, Coetcae, Coedffallde, Coetmor, Coetuon, Coetre, Cincoed, Pencoed, Tirycoed and Tynycoed.
Means "abiding place." Each flock of sheep on the mountain has its "abiding place," which is chosen by the owner, and though it has no boundary barrier, yet its dividing line is as sharp as the dog could mark it when the sheep were placed there. "Aros" = to abide; "fa" = plain.
The word occurs frequently. We have it as the name of: (a) A particular class of field, e.g., Banwen (Brynlloi); (b) An open common, e.g., Banwen (Brynamman); (c) A farm, e.g., Banwen (Cwmgrenig). It always suggests "damp, boggy ground." I am inclined to think that it is closely allied to the word 'banw'. The word Banwen [near Neath] is famous in history as the name of the birthplace of St. Patrick. (Life of St. Patrick by Prof. Bury)
A tributary of the Aman. It rises on the slopes of the Tyrcan. "Ber" means "lance," or it may be "little." In spite of the fact that expounders of place-names suffer too often according to Sir John Rhys from water-etymology on the brain, yet I suppose that the termination "ach" here stands for "water." Could it be "ber-fach (a little lance)? This is quite possible on the analogy of "breichfras." However "bach" may mean a "bend, angle." Moreover, the reference given there is to the Story of Culhwch and Olwen that it is very relevant to our case. "Ber" in the same glossary is translated "a spike, lance." "Bach" is also "a hook." So that "Berfach" ,"a crooked lance,"
"The house of God." It is better known as " Yr hên dy Cwrdd." [hên = old, ty = house, cwrdd = church]. It is called "hên" in contrast with "ty cwrdd newydd" (New Bethel). Although the older word, yet capel was an utter stranger to the Valley until lately. Every chapel was a cwrdd "(meeting-house) and "myn'd i'r capel' [going to chapel] was " myn'd i'r cwrdd [going to church]. The "cause" was started by the Rev. William Evans, of Cwmllynfell. The first Meeting House was built at Old Bethel by Rev. J. Davis of Alltwen.
"House of Prayer." The most prevalent opinion is that the word is a Welshified form of (English bedehus) 'bead-house,' an ecclesiastical term signifying a hospital or almshouse, where the poor prayed for their founders and benefactors.'
Beads are used by Roman Catholics to keep them right as to the numbers of their prayers, one bead of their Rosary being dropped every time a prayer is said; hence the transference of the name from that which is counted (the prayers) to that which is used to count them. The old phrase to 'bid one's beads,' means to say one's prayers.
In a recent communication to us Professor Rhys says: "Bettws would be phonologically accounted for exactly by supposing it to be the English 'bed-hus,' or house of prayer, but if that origin be the correct one to assume, there is the historical difficulty: where is there any account of this institution bearing an English name?" The equivalent of the phrase "Y byd a'r Bettws" [The world and Betws] is also found in England, e.g., "All the world and Bingham."
Blaen = "The upper reach (of a river)." Garnant = name of a stream, cp. Blaengweche.
[Bodist Isaf (Lower Bodist) and Bodist Uchaf (Upper Bodist) are two neighbouring farms at the foothills of the Betws mountain above Hopkinstown].
The word should be accented on the penultimate, after the manner of most Welsh words, although through the influence of popular etymology the accent has been shifted to the ultimate syllable. The popular explanation is "bod" (abode), "ust" (hush). I shall return to this later on because I believe it contains a true tradition, even if it is bad etymology.
The true meaning is "bod" (an abode), "dist" (rafter). Capel "Tydist," [ie, the house with rafters] a farm near Llandilo-Fawr, provides us with an analogous term, Bodist-Tydist. It is quite possible, however, that "Bo" (bogey, ghost, apparition) "dist" (rafter) may be the meaning.
In connection with this supposition I have an interesting tale of folklore to relate. This is how I heard it from my father. "A man by the name of _____ Bodist (persons are distinguished locally by the names of their homesteads) was disturbed by an apparition, which beckoned to him. He obeyed the command and was led to the roof of the King's Head (it still retains the name and has the singularity to be the only piece of ground on the south side of the Aman which is not at the same time in the Parish of Bettws) and the ghost pointed to a knife hidden in the rafter. He was told to pick it up. As soon as he did the apparition asked "Uwch wynt neu is wynt?" [A higher wind or a lower wind?}. The man answered "Is wynt" [ie lower wind] and immediately he was dragged through the brushwood to the edge of a pool wherein the apparition cast the knife. He was now asked "Uwch wynt neu is wynt." Remembering vividly his recent experience he answered "Uwch wynt," [ie higher wind] and immediately he was travelling through high air homewards. He reached home and was never troubled afterwards." The story is a local variant of an old piece of lore. [Presumable the somewhat enigmatic question "a higher wind or a lower wind?" refers to the manner in which the ghost conveyed the man in choosing the 'lower' wind or air, he was dragged along the ground and in choosing the 'higher' wind, he was conveyed less painfully through the air.]
Mr. Benjamin Thomas, of Aberfan, related to me a tale which is very similar. The disturbed man in his tale worked in the Chain Works, Pontypridd, and he had to cast what was supposed to be a ring, though no one ever knew for certain, into Berw Taf, near Pontypridd.
I may be allowed to make the following observations on the local setting of the tale. An apparition is known as "bwci Bo". Now "Bodist " could mean "the ghost in the rafter." I base this on the fact that the disturbed man was of the Bodist family. "Bodist" also stands on an eminence that abuts on the mountain land of Mynydd Bettws, and significantly adjoins and overlooks the farm called "Llwch-is-awel" I shall deal with this name under its name in order, and the matter there should be read in connection with "Bodist." [see Llwch-is-Awel below].
[The Reverend's speculations above may be all in vain, if we take instead the spelling of 'Bodist' that is found on recent Ordnance Survey maps, where it now appears as 'Bodyst'. Our etymology would now have to be revised, possibly being from 'Bod' = dwelling and 'dyst' = witness with 'bod yn dyst' meaning 'to be a witness'. But who or what is this 'witness' on Betws Mountain, and what is it a witness of?
"Standing Stones or Monoliths are enduring symbols of a prehistoric culture and a number of possible standing stones exist on Mynydd Betws. It is not known why they were erected, but it is considered that they were used to mark a place or event and one possible stone is 'Carreg Arthur' (Arthur's Stone) or 'Bodyst'. This stone stands 75cm above the ground, its top is 3.6 metres by 3.3 metres and is perfectly flat. Local legend associated with the stone suggests that the name 'Bodyst' from the Welsh 'bod yn dyst', 'to be a witness' and suggests the rock is a witness to, or commemoration of a battle fought on this location in the Roman period. The stone is also associated with Arthurian legend, where Arthur is a giant, and when crossing from Mynydd Du to Mynydd Betws, he could walk no further until he removed the stone from his shoe. Unfortunately the stone is thought to be a natural feature due to geology." 'Betws Mas O'r Byd', page 22].
A farm adjoining Bodist. It is now spelt Brunant, but the pronunciation is unchanged. Compare: "Rhiwabon, locally pronounced Rhuabon and Rhiwallon, occurring sometimes as Rhuallon'. Briwnant "briw" (wound), "nant" (a hollow), "du", black..
Bryn = a hill. Aman = name of a river. For Aman, see "Amanw" above.
"The red (parched) hills." [rhudd = red, crimson]. It seems to me that the real spelling is "Brynerhuddion," or " Bryner-hyddion." If "Bryne-rhuddion (Bryniau rhuddion) is correct then it means "Parched hills or red hills."
There is a tradition that a battle was fought here, and the name of Ifor Bach is still mentioned as taking part in it. The tradition is often heard, but I cannot find any historical allusion to the battle. As I heard the story both Arthur and Ifor Bach were in the engagement. Such a tradition warrants us to think that "Brynerhuddion" may be translated "Red hills." If Brynerhyddion (Bryniau rhyddion) is correct, then it has reference to tenure, and means "the free hills," [rhydd = free].
"Bryn" (a hill), "Cethin" (dark, horrid, horrible). Compare Cefncethin near Llandilo.
"Bryn" = a hill. "Carn " = a heap" (of stones).
The name of a farm which is situated at the entrance of the Grenig Road on the open mountain land. Can "hynydd" mean "a huntsman"? The "hyn" may be the English "hound," and the "ydd" the Welsh termination, denoting the agent. So "Brynhynydd = bryn (a hill), Hynydd (a woman's name). Local pronunciation is accountable for the 'u' becoming 'y'. Compare 'hunan," pronounced "hynan."
"Hills." Pronounced "bryne." A name given to the broken ground extending from the Lluast towards Coed Clunhir.
An old farmhouse which has disappeared (1909 A.D.) It is famous in the religious history of the district, but no one has yet written the story. It used to boast of an old relic in the form of an old boat used to convey coal from the top of an incline along the level (which was in reality a canal) to the surface. I mention this to those interested in the history of coal-mining. Brynlloi = Bryn (a hill), lloi (calves).
"Stoney hill." Bryn =hill. Maen = stone. "Welsh 'maen' = stone, the common significance being "earth surface'
Bryn = hill, Chwyth = a breeze. So Brynwhith = Windy hill. Possibly Brynwhith may be "Bryn," a hill, and "chwith", left (opposite of right). A borrowed meaning of "chwith" = clumsy because of its association with the left hand. Also North Walian "tro chwithig," and South Walian "tro lletwith," a clumsy turn.
Plural of "buarth," an enclosure. The name of a farmhouse near Pantyffynnon Railway Station. Bu = cows (kine). Singular. Buhyn. Garth = enclosures.
Mountain Gate. Bwlch = gate. Mynydd = mountain (land). The Welsh word Bwlch = Pass or Gap. Then it comes to mean the gate that stops the gap.
"The Great Buttery." It stands at the entrance of Bettws Parish Church. Under Buttery in Annandale's Dict. I read: '(Originally botelerie, a place for bottles, but altered to buttery from butter being also kept in it). An apartment in a household in which wines, liquors and provisions are kept; in some colleges a room where refreshments are kept for sale.
Cae (field), du (black).
"Greenfield." Cae = field; glas = [blue] or green . So Caeglas = Greenmeadow. There is near Llandybie a "Clunglas," which has the same meaning. There is also found "Maesglas," which is another equivalent. In the same manner Caegwyn = Maesgwyn = Clungwyn'. The tenement. "Caeglas," stands at the foot of the hill on the side of the road leading past the Angel Inn, towards Llandilo. Higher up the hill, a little beyond is Caedu.
"The field [CAE] on the hill [bryn]"
A small-holding on the Black Mountain. Earl Cawdor, the lord of the manor, is the "Iarll" referred to. [Caer = a fortified settlement].
[It is now spelled 'Garnswllt]. "A kennel." A tenement on the road leading from Hendre to Tregynllaeth. The ordinary explanation of the name is Carn, "a mound" "swllt" (Latin "solidus" = money, treasure". The Welsh for King's Exchequer is "Sylltdy y brenin." [The king's money house]. I do not know whether the name here explains how the tenement was held.. However, I believe that the word though pronounced " Carnswllt," is derived by metathesis from "Cynllwst" (a kennel). So 'Carnswllt " = "kennel." It is derived from cyn (cwn) and llwst (kennel).
Mentioned in Brut, under 1248 (about 110 years after death of G ap Cynan). I here throw out the suggestion of Carreg-Crug. We have locally Carreglwyd [grey rock], a summit; about Rhosaman and Carreg Aman (a farm on which a portion of Ammanford is built). Carreg yr Ogof is also another local term.
Crug [a mound] is obsolete in the district as far as daily use is concerned, but crugyn is still extant, and means a mass of matter or men. How Crug becomes Carreg I cannot say. In the case of Carreg Aman there is no Craig on the farm to my knowledge. [Carreg rock, Cennen a river flowing into the Towy near Llandeilo].
"The stone of Isaac.' Compare Carreg Aman, Carreg Cennen, Carreg Isaac, and Carreg Sawdde. When I wrote the note on Carreg Cennen I suggested then that Carreg = Crug. I now hasten to withdraw such a suggestion. Somehow or other I missed the obvious, for Carreg can mean nothing but "a stone" In Welsh place-names we have "llech," as in Har(dd)lech; "Maen," as in Penmaen; and "Carreg," as in Carreg Cennen, with identical meanings. The only difficulty in " Carreg Isaac" and "Carreg Aman" is that there is no Carreg, llech or maen visible near these places, nor is there any rock or rising ground. Carreg Isaac was once a public-house. Who Isaac was I cannot say. With regard to the word ' Carreg," I may also add that the different strata are called "y garreg las" [the blue rock] "y garreg goch," [the red rock], "y garreg lwyd" [the grey rock], "y garreg fraith [the speckled rock), ' y garreg galch, " [the lime rock].
CARREG MAEN BRAS
Carreg = stone; Maen = stone; bras = stout, thick. A large boulder that stands by the side of the railway leading to the Sandworks generally called 'Gwaith Hay." The word "carreg" is redundant. It was placed before the word when "Maen" became "man," and lost its significance.
A small holding near Plas y Bettws. Castelldu = Blackcastle. There are no signs of antiquity or greatness about the place. Its proximity to the Plas may have something to do with the name.
CASTELL CARREG AMAN
A name given in ridicule to a house that used to stand at the entrance to the main road to Grenig Road. It was taken down some years ago to give place to the three houses that now bear the name. [The following three poems were written by local people about the original house, the "Castell Carreg Amman" in question. The translations have been made for this web site.]
Castell Carreg Amman,
Rhys Owen gwnaeth ei hunn
I Diana yn ddistop
Y wal a'r top a'r cyfan.
[Carreg Amman Castle
Rhys Owen's hand begot
For Diana, without stopping:
The wall, the top, the lot].
Mae wedi ei gadarn seilio,
Ac hefyd ei rough castio;
Ni bu ei fath medd rhai gwyr ffel
Oddiar Twr Babel eto'.
[It has a firm foundation,
And also is rough cast,
There never was its equal
Since Babel Tower long past.]
Twr Babel nis gorphenwyd
Er cymaint meini gariwyd
Ond y casteli hwn er cymaint gwaith
Heb gymysg iaith gwblhawyd."
[They never finished Babel Tower
For all the weight of stone they brought.
But dogged toil this castle raised
And in one language was it wrought.]
(Hen gymeriadau Plwyf y Bettws, p. 38).
[The jocular reference in the above verses to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel reveals an easy familiarity with the Bible that comes only to a culture raised, from early childhood, at the foot of the pulpit. And, yes the "one language" is Welsh.].
Castell = Castle; Rhingyll = apparitor (the summoner of the Court seemingly a registrar or Clerk: "Tri eno righill yssyd Gwaet gwlat: agarw gychwedyl gwas y kyghellawr; a righill." (There are three epithets for an apparitor: The cry of the country; dread report, the canghellor's servant; and righill.) (Anc Laws, etc., vol. I., p. 448.)
The stream that marks the boundary between Carmarthenshire and Glamorganshire in the Lower Division of Parish of Bettws. Curiously there runs a stream parallel with it that is called Nantyffin [nant = brook, ffin = boundary]. That brook, however, is in Carmarthenshire throughout its entire course, and as far as I know does not mark any boundary whatsoever. The boundary may have been pushed farther back some time. The distance between the two streams varies from a mile to about two miles. See Nantyffin.
There are several local place-names that contain the word "Cath" e.g., Cathilas Nanty gath, Wauncluncath, Cathargoed. Probably "cath "is the wild cat. "In Wales it (the wild cat) lingered on almost till the present day." (Chamber's Cyclopaedia, Vol. II., p. 821). There is a phrase still extant which perhaps explains Cathan. When anything goes at a very high speed then we say that it travels "fel cat o dan." What a "cat of fire" or "fire cat" is I cannot say. Perhaps "cath" has a meaning other than cat. I dismiss the improbable derivation from St. Cathan, who lived at the commencement of the 7th century, and whose name is perpetuated in Llan Gathen. A "brook Cachan" is 'mentioned in the History of the Parish. It seems to me that the two words may he the same. There is a Cathan near Pencader.
Cefn = ridge; Berach = name of a brook. The watershed of the Berach. See Berach above.
A district in Rhosaman. Cefn = ridge; Bryn =hill; Brain = ravens.
A farm near Clunhir [ie Glynhir]. It was translated "back of the backs "in a skit which is still repeated. It is said that a certain witness in a case was asked his address, and he answered "Back of the Backs." "Where is that?" asked the Clerk. Near Blue-black-cat "(Cathilas), was the reply. And pray, where is that place!"' inquired the clerk. "Near Meadow-leg-cat" (Gwaunclun-cath), near Long-leg (Clunhir)," was the answer. Now 'Cefn" means " ridge or watershed. Cefni cannot be the plural of Cefn. It means the "i" (brook) on the "Cefn" (ridge). Compare Cefni in Llangefni. The following are within close range of Cefn-Cefni: Cefn-Berach, Cefn-coed, Cefncethin, Cefnfforest. The brook Cefni crosses the road within a short distance of Brown Hill.
The ridge above Llandilo, to the South. Cefn = a ridge; Cethin = dark, horrid, horrible. See Bryncethin.
Cefn = ridge, Coed = wood.
A farm above Cynnordy. Cefn = ridge; Fforest = wood. The word "fforest" is found in Ancient. Laws, etc., Vol. 1., p. 496, where " fforest y brenin "is translated " the king's forest." The Black Mountain," bordering on which is Cefnfforest, is called the "Black Forest."
A brook that falls into the Towy near Garngoch. Ceidrych = A man's name. I find that Rhys, the eleventh in descent from Urien Rheged, married Margaret, daughter and co-heir to Griffith ab Cydrych, lord of Gwynvey. Cei = Caius, the name of Arthur's porter; drych = look, So Ceidrych = Having the gaze or look of Caius.
A farm near the source of the Aman. It is the plural form of Celli, and means "Groves".
A farm near Llandebie Station. Mentioned in Celtic Folklore Rhys, p. 379 Cil = "a recess, a nook " The word "cilio" (retreat) contains the root. "Coll" = loss. " "Tri dygn goll" (three severe losses). (Ancient Laws, etc., p. 412). Coll may be the name of a person. Rhys translates "Mac Cuill" as "Son of Destruction" but admits that it could be translated "Son of (the) Hazel." Compare 'Mab y Golledigaeth (Gospel according to St. John, chap. 17, verse 12). So "Cilcoll" = "The retreat of Coll."
"The retreat in the shade." Cil = "a recess, a nook ". "Fach" = "a corner. So "Cil"' = "the retreat in the corner." "Fach" is a mutated form of "bach." [small]. A "Machynys" [ie small island] is found near Llanelli. "Gower" is an English way of spelling "Gwyr". Cilfach-Gower is in the district between Cathan and Nantyffin. This makes it improbable that "Gower" means the district of Gower (Gwyr) although as I have already stated under Cathan this portion between the two above mentioned streams may have passed from one county to another.
Cil = a nook, Ychen = oxen. For "Cil" see Cilcoll, from which it is not far distant. The Welsh for Oxford is Rhydychen [ychen = oxen, rhyd = ford]. The [English] poet William Cowper retains the Welsh form in these lines, taken from his works:
"Could Homer come himself, distressed and poor,
And tune his harp at Rhedycina's door,
The rich old vixen would exclaim (I fear)
Begone! No tramper gets a farthing here!"
..............(Cowper's Poetical Works, Globe Edition, p. 878).
A farm near Llandyfan Church. "Cain" = fair; "coed" = wood. Compare "Clun Kein" (Fair field), "Porthgain" (Fairhaven) in Pembrokeshire, and also Llangain (Fair-church).
A small holding in Lower Bettws. Clun = field; adar = birds. It is pronounced "Clunradarn." "Adar" is invariably "adarn." .
Clust = ear, cam = crooked. Compare Pengam and (Bryn) troedgam
Clwyd = [a gap, or gate]. Wilym = Gwilym. It is the entrance to Heolwilym, [ie William Road], Cwmllynfell, from the Waun.
Clwyd = gate; ychen = oxen.
"Grey-hill." A farm on the hill to the south of Glanamman Village. The word "cnap " means "a lump." The diminutive is "cnepyn," as in "cnepyn o lo" (a lump of coal), "cnepyn o suwgr (a lump of sugar). Llwyd = grey. "Cnap" has evidently the meaning of "hill." Another word of similar meaning is "cnol" cp. Y Gnol near Neath. "Cnol(c) = hill top.
Coed = wood; cae = field. There is, however, one peculiar use of the word for the term which deserves notice. on every farm, especially those that border on the mountain land, there is a field which lies next to the Common and which seems to have greater affinity to it than to the farm. It looks like land reclaimed at a later period from the waste ground. This piece of ground is called "Coedcae." in no instance do I know of a "Coedcae" that has any trees on it.
See Coedcae above. Bryn = a hill.
See Coedcae; Mawr = great.
Coed = wood; duon = black. Cp. Blackwood (Monmouthshire).
Coed = wood; ffalde = folds. See Penpound.
An isolated ruin on the Drysgol above Cefnfforest. It was tenanted within living memory. Cp. Colbren, Swansea Valley. Bwrw coelbren casting lots to play with dice. (Matt. 27, 35). "Coelbren" comes from Coel = an omen; and pren = a stick.
Coed = wood; mor = mawr (great).
Coed = wood; tre(f) = abode. "Tref" is used for "cartref", e.g., myn'd tua Thre, "going home." Home made" is " gwaith ty".
"The Red College." It stands near Llygad Llwchwr.
Cors = a bog; Coch = red. The name is taken from the colour of the peaty soil and the parched grass.
Cors = a bog; hir = long.
Cors = a bog; glâs =green.
Cors = a bog; llwyd = grey.
Cors = a bog; llydau = broad.
Cors = a bog; tô = thatch for roofing. The bog between Lluast and Bryne (towards Clun-hir) is called Corsto. The name was given to the spot because it was a good place to get roofng for a "ty tô" (thatched house). A thatched house is known as ty tô cawn" (a house of reeds) and "ty tô gwellt" (a house of grass or straw).
A farmhouse in Garnant. (Cors = a bog; and Garnant, see below].
Craig = rock; ddu = black. The mountain side on the left bank of the River Grenig. Called "black" because of the coal outcrop on its side.
Craig = rock; llwyd = grey.
CRAIG UFFERN DWRCH
Craig = rock; uffern (Latin infernum, English infernal) = abyss; Twrch = name of a stream. A deep gorge in the course of the River Twrch near Sarnfaen. I am told that it can he crossed with a leap and a bound. I notice that there is a "Nant Uffern" (The Hollow of Hell) near the Railway Station at Bangor, North Wales. The "Fairy Glen" at Bettws-y-Coed is called in Welsh "Ffos Noddyn (The Sink of the Abyss). In Celtic Folklore, Vol. I., p. 205, Sir John Rhys in discussing the above names asks: "Can it he that there was a supposed entrance to the Fairy World somewhere there?" It seems now Nant Uffern in Bangor is Nant Offeren.
"The rock of the fortress." See Dinas." A rock (near Llandebie) with which is associated a cave where Arthur or Owen Lawgoch and his men are supposed to enjoy a secular sleep (Celtic Folklore, etc., p. 439). It is Craig-y-Dinas. and not Craig-y-Ddinas on the tongue of the natives.
"The rock of the Pale." So called because fenced with pales. A "pale" means an "enclosure." There are several on the side of the Black Mountain, e.g., Pal Bryna. There is a whole tract which is termed "Y Palau" on the Black Mountain facing Carregcennen Castle. Compare "The Pale" in History of Ireland after the conquests of Henry II.
"The rocks." A farm in Cwm-pedwl.
A holding near Clunhir of a triangular shape, and surrounded by roads. "The cross road." Croes = cross; Ffordd = road; Troed-ffordd = footpath.
Croft = "a field", "a very small farm", "enclosed ground adjoining a house". Plural, "Croffte." A house bordering on the Gwauncaegurwen Common. Each 'wele' or family group no doubt held in severalty its own roughly constructed homesteads or tyddynau, with cattle yards and crofts for winter protection and feeding, whilst the mass of the land, mountain and moor, and waste, was held by them in common.
The old name of Ammanford. Named after a public house on the Square.
The old name of Glanamman. Named after a public house.
A mound on the ridge of the Black Mountains to the left of the road leading from Cwmberach to Glan Quay Inn. "Crug" (a mound), "gorfod" (victory).
Cwarter = quarter; Bach = little. A division of the parish [modern Cwmllynfell]. For an electoral purpose it extends along the right bank of the Aman. Division in Welsh is as follows: Dwy-ran, [two-part] cp. Castell Dwyran; Traian [three-part]. cp. Traianglas, near Tre-castell: Pedwyran, [four-part] cp. Pedwran near Parish Church, Merthyr Tydfil. I have no instances ready at hand to show "fifth" and "sixth."
Cwarter = a fourth, coch =red. A cottage on the Grening Road. It has the following inscription: "This house was built by Jonathan Morgan in the year 1810."
Cwm = a vale; Basset = name of a person.
Cwm = a vale; cerdinen = a rowan tree.
Cwm = a vale; Cledde = name of a stream. Cledde has two possible meanings. It may be translated "a sword," and also "the cross piece of timber that keeps boards together." Though there is no stream called "Cledde" at present, yet I presume that the stream which is now nameless is the "Cledde."
Cwm =a vale; Dalfa = capture; du = black. There is a reference [in Hanes Brynamman p124] to a hunt, and the place marks the spot where the prey was captured.
Cwm = a hollow; drysien = a thorn; plural, drysi. See Drysgol and Llwyndyrys.
A small-holding adjoining Penbwnshwn. It has nothing to do with Elen, although the tenant's wife during my childhood was of that name. The abuse made of the illustrious name makes us distrust such a derivation. "Cwm" (a vale), "Elain" (a young deer).
Cwm = vale; ffrwd = a water fall. A farm on the left bank of the Berach. Nantyffrwd runs through the land in a part of its course.
Cwm = a vale; Cors =a marsh. The name of the vale on which the village of Cwmgors is built.
Cwm and nant are synonymous terms. Llici = Lleucu (English Lucy), the name of a woman.
Cwm and Nant both mean a hollow. Moel = a hill.
Cwm = a hollow; sgwd = a jet (of water). The term "sgwd" is used in the phrase "sgwd o ddwr" (a jet of water). No doubt it is none other than the English sheet of water. The root is [Anglo Saxon] "sceotan," meaning something shot or extended.
Cwm = a hollow; sych = dry. It crosses the road above Abernantcoch. [the mouth of the red vale]. It answers to the description since there is no stream running through it. I was told by an old inhabitant that there used to be an old mill just above the road. Probably the "cwm" therefore marks the watercourse after leaving the wheel.
Cwrt = a court; Bariwns = barons. "Cwrt y Bariwns" retains the old "Court Baron" It met here no doubt in olden times. A copy of a notice for the holding of a Court Baron can be seen in History of Llantrisant, p. 51. The [plural] form "Bariwns" is quite regular. Compare "Aliwns" (Aliens). [The Welsh for Baron, however, is "Barwn" and the plural is usually "Barwniaid". "Bariwns" normally means a stile].
"Cymwd" = Commote; "Is" = lower "The Commote below the [river] Cennen", [ie south of Llandeilo]. Commote is generally used for Cymwd in English books. Cymwd = a division of land [approximately equivalent to a modern Parish]. There were 50 trefydd [towns] in each cymwd, and two cymwds being normally equal to a cantref [approximately equivalent to a modern Borough] there were one hundred trefydd in the cantref. [The Cymwd was further divided into twelve maenolydd [manors] of four trefydd each, making 48 trefydd in all and with the two extra trefydd or towns being the property of the king].
The Amman Valley is situated in Cwmwd Iskennen of the Cantref Bychan. Had there been postal addresses in those days Ammanford would probably have read something like this: Manor of Myddynfych, (Ammanford), Commote of Iscennen (Parish of Llandybie), Cantref Bychan, (Borough of Dinefwr), Kingdom of Deheubarth (Dyfed).
A ruin on the Bettws mountain, near the source of the Clydach that flows into the Towy. "Cymorth "(help), "Gai " (the name 'Caius'). With this name I would associate "Gelli cei drum," the name of a farm overlooking Glanamman Village, to the South [see Gelliceidrum below].
A farmhouse on the side of the Black Mountain. It has nothing to do with "Cynghordy." None of the natives say "Cynghordy." Mr. Aneurin Owen translates "cynnordy " as "dog kennel." We are heartily sorry to have to descend from the Council-house to a dog-kennel in order to explain the word.
Derw = oak: llwyn = grove. Compare Llwynrynn (Ash-grove). The farm Llwynonn [is very well known; Bedwlwyn (Birch-grove) is also found. See Llwynbedw.
Derw = oak; gwydd = trees. In British Place Names, etc p 187 Maclure finds the root "derw in "Derwent".
See Craig-y-Dinas. "There stands a remarkable limestone hill, called 'Y Dinas' (the Fortress) hardly a mile to the north of the Village of Llandybie. . . This dinas and the lime-kilns that are graduafly consuming it are to be seen on the right from the railway as you go from Llandilo to Llandybie. It is a steep high rock which forms a good natural fortification. . . ." Celtic Folklore, etc., p. 467).
Dol = a dale; cam = crooked. The birthplace of two well-known Welsh bards, viz., Watcyn Wyn and Ben Davies. Compare Bryncam, Clustgam.
The mountain land extending from Cefn-fforest towards Pen Tyrcan. Drysgol = Drisc-foel (the hill of the entanglement). Op. Llwyndyrys. It is the opposite of "Y Foel deg." (the fair hill).The entanglement is heather, a favourite haunt of the grouse. "Drisc" is a doublet of "dris," which is better known as dyrys " (entangled).
A Valley, e.g., Dyffryn Llychwr, the Valley of Lougher. The word fully written is "Dyffrynt." The derivation of the word is given: "dyffryn" = dwfr-hynt [dwfre = water, hynt = way, course].
Erw (literally "what has been tilled") was a measurement applicable to arable land. It contained about 4,320 yards." It is now used as the equivalent of "acre."
The bald or treeless hill. See Drysgol. Compare Castell Moel. Moel = an eminence, a heap, [teg = fair, fine].
Fforch = English fork, Latin, furca. Aman = name of a river. "Forks, 'of a road or river,' the point where a road parts into two, the point where two rivers meet and unite in one stream." (Engl. Dict.).
FFYNNON, CLEMENT, MARI, WANC
Wells on the Black Mountain. Ffynnon = fountain or well; Clement = a man's name, Mari = Mary; Gwanc = greed, inordinate desire; Ffynnon wanc a well on the roadside behind Old Bethel.
A tributary of the Aman. In "Brut y Tywysogion" (Rolls Series) under 1094 AD, p. 59, it is said that the Franks (Normans) were slain by the Britons (Welsh) at a place called Celli Carnant. The presence of a farm called Gelli Fawr on the banks of the Garnant, and the knowledge also that it stands near the boundary of Gower, where the French were strong, renders this at least possible. Garnant = "carw" (a deer), "nant" (a stream).
Carn = a heap; picca from English peak = a point. Trwyn picca (a pointed nose).
Gelli = a grove; cei = Caius [a man's name]; trum = a ridge. It is possible for "Ceidrum " to be "cae drum" (the field on the ridge).
Gelli = a grove; mawnen = a peat bog. The home of the Williams Defiance Cycle Makers. They were the pioneers of the industry in the district. I notice that "en" is a favourite termination for words signifying a bog, e.g., siglen. mignen, tonen.
A farm in the Valley of the Garnant. Gelli = a grove; mawr = great. See Garnant.
A farm near Llandybie Village. Gelli = a grove; morwynion = maids.
Gelli = a grove; gwair = hay; ty = house. With " gweiirdy " (now "ty gwair") compare "Llaethdy" [milk house]; "Beudy." [cow house].
Gelli = a grove; man = little; gwydd = trees. [The grove of brushwood].
Glan = bank; Aman.= name of a river. A word made to supplant Cross Keys, the old name of the Railway Station. See Cross Keys.
GLAN-LASH. Glan = bank; glais =a stream. Glanlash = Glannant = Glanyrafon = Glanffrwd.
"Glas is a common river designation among the Celtic people in Great Britain and Ireland. and even in Brittany. (Glas) has no connection with the colour adjective glas ( = green, blue or grey) with which it has been confounded. As instancee of its meaning we have the following existing river names: Wen-las, made up of Gwyn (ancient Vind) and glas = white stream; Cam-las = crooked stream; Du-las and Duglas = Dubglas. The Welsh form of ancient Dub is now Du [Dublin, the capital of Ireland, means dub = black and lin = Welsh "llyn", lake]. Another prefix to "glas" in Welsh river names is dau = two, which is applied to the junction of streams as in the modern 'Dowles', a river joining the Severn below Bewdley and in several Welsh confluences called Dowlais. Similar instances occur all over Wales, and in Brittany, and we have in Scotland and Ireland like forms such as Finglas (Fin = Welsh gwyn).
Glan-yr-afon = The river's bank. The name of the farm close to the Public Park, Garnant.
Clun = a meadow; beudy = a cowhouse. A farm bordering on the Banwen Common, Brynamman.
Clun = a meadow; hen = old; llan =church.
Before I enter upon an explanation of this name I must mention the fact that the two words, "clun" and "glyn" have been almost hopelessly mixed in local terminology. The natives, however, cling to the true pronunciation in the words, Clunhir, Clunmoch, Clunmeirch, and Clundreiniog, although they are now spelt with an initial g instead of c.
There are a good many "clyns" about South Wales, but our etymologists are careful to have them in most cases written 'glyn': a glen. Our story, however shows that the word came under the influence of 'glyn' long ago, for it should be when accented, 'clun,' corresponding to Irish 'cluain' a meadow.
Glynmoch = "Clun" (a meadow), "moch" (pigs). Compare Talclun and Pontyclun, both in the Parish of Llanedi. See also Gwauncluncath in this treatise.
Clun = a meadow; yr eithin = the gorse.
Godre = a border, waun = a meadow.
A tributary of the Aman. It is derived from "Garan" (crane). There is somewhere near Llandyssul a Nantgaran. The local word for "garan" is "crychydd", and its high, stately flight towards the upper reaches of the river was one of the sights of my childhood, because it wan considered to be a certain sign of rain. The diminutive form of "garan" is "garenig." So "Garenig" = a small crane" It is still spelt Garenig on the Estate Map. Compare Arenig from Aran, and Calenig from Calan. Calenig is locally pronounced Clenig.
Gwaun = meadow; cae = field; Ifan = Evan.
Some local wit has translated it as "meadow of the leg of the cat." A neighbouring farm "Cathilas" is given, rightly perhaps, the meaning of "Blue Black Cat." Both stand in close proximity to "Clunhir", and I believe belong to the estate. In "Gwauncluncath", the "gwaun" [a meadow, moor or field] is redundant as the word "clun" stands for a meadow. I consider this word as important when we come to determine the meaning of clun. It shows that when the meaning of clun was forgotten, then "gwaun" was added on. "Gwauncluncath" "The Meadow of the cat". It must therefore lose its leg.
Gwaun = meadow; dwfn = deep.
Gwaun = marsh or moorland; helyg = willow.
Also called "Ty-Dic-Hobin" (The House of Dick Hopkin). This Dic Hopkin was an ancestor of Twm Hopkin who gave his name to Hopkinstown. Gwaun = a meadow; hir = long. Compare Hirwaun near Aberdare.
The meadow of the duck [gwaun = meadow, hwyad = duck].
A holding on the Grenig Road. Gwaun = "meadow "; "ffos," = ditch; "cynog" = "pitcher."
The farm near Cwmamman Parish Church. It represents probably the home of the "Maer," or bailiff, [or Mayor] and is, perhaps, the oldest inhabited spot in the village, although the present buildings bear no marks of antiquity. However, the "Neuadd" and the "Cynnordy" border on it, and "Hafod-wenol" stands on the top of Bettws Mountain to mark the summer residence of the "bailiff." [Note: a 'hafod' was a summer mountain farm, abandoned for the lowland 'hendre' when the winter closed in].
Ciryll is a bird smaller than a boda [buzzard] but bigger than a hebog [hawk], but of the same family. [Lletty = lodging, hence "the lodging of the hawk"].
Llidiart = gate; du = black. The name of a farm near Heolddu and Cathilas. Llidiart-du is the mountain gate. The land above the road towards the Black Mountain was Common land up to almost living memory, and is still very unproductive. See Mountain Inn. The absence of any but the baldest modern place-names and the presence of grazing fields held by farms lower down the mountain side on this portion is a proof that it is mountain land lately enclosed.
Lluast (llu-gwest) = a camp.
"From the Amman the Twrch and the two remaining boars made their way to Llwch Ewin, 'the lake or pool of Ewin,' which is now represented by a bog-mere above a farm house called Llwch in the parish of Bettws, which covers the southern slope of the Amman Valley. I have found this bog called in a map 'Llwch is Awel' 'Pool below Breeze,' whatever that may mean" [from' Celtic Folklore']. Now I believe that "Is Awel" = "Iswynt" of the story which I related under Bodist [see above]. The Llwch I believe also to be the pool into which the knife was cast. ['Llwch = lake, 'Is' = lower , 'awel' = breeze].
The farm facing Carreg Cennen Castle towards Llygad Llwchwr. Llwyn = bush or grove; bedw = birch. The English equivalent is "Birchgrove."
A small holding near Grenig Bridge. Hollybush. It may be that it is a disused public-house. It was a custom to hang holly outside to show that ale could he got inside the house. "Good wine needs no bush" is a proverb that arose from this practice.
Llwyn = bush [or grove]; cwn = dogs.
Llwyn = bush; du = black. Another meaning is possible. Cynllwyn = Dog's Bush may be the original form. Llwyn becomes then a redundant prefix.
Farm near Llandyfan Church. Llwyn = bush; dyrys = entangled.
Llwyn = bush; mesen = an acorn.
A farm on the track of the Twrch Trwyth Hunt. Llwyn = bush; moch = pigs.
Llwyn = bush; piod = magpie.
A farm in Cwmgors. Llwyn = bush; pryfed = worms, game or steer.
A farm in Lower Bettws. Llwyn = bush; yr onen = the ash.
For a moment we cross the Black Mountain and go entirely out of the Amman Valley. Compare Llygad y Ffynnon [Llygad = eye, ffynnon = spring]. To understand the meaning of Llygad it is interesting to remember that "Guadiana" means "eyes' because that famous river of Spain appears, disappears, and reappears several times in its course. Llwchwr is spelt Llychwr in old Welsh, Llychwr Llwch (a lake), dwr (water). The original form no doubt was Llychddwr, and the dropping of the 'dd' is frequent in Welsh.
Local tradition has it that the water runs through an underground tunnel from the famous Llyn-y-Fan, and many expeditions have been undertaken with lights and ropes, at much hazard to one party some years ago, to follow back to the lake the caves which are of limestone formation, and from which the river runs out in full stream. [Llwchwr = lake water, Llygad = eye, thus 'Llygad Lllwchwr' = the eye (or source) of the Loughor. The cave entrance has more recently been closed by the water authorities due to traces of toxic heavy metals present in disposed batteries from cavers' lights showing up in the water].
A farm in Lower Bettws. Maer = a steward, reeve. "In every cymwd there was a maer and a canghellor discharging prescribed governmental duties." (Welsh People, p. 190.) "In each cwmwd. or sometimes in each cantref there was a tract of land set aside for the chieftain's residence. It formed an estate which the surveyors very naturally called a manor, which in many respects resembled a manor, On this estate was what may be described as the home farm of the chieftain, called his maerdref." It has occurred to me that every place so called is not derived from Maerdy. Is it not possible that sometimes it is derived from the word Marwdy .(dead-house)?
A farm in Lower Bettws. Maes = a field; llech = a stone. I do not know of any particular stone on Maeslech. We should expect Maesllech.
Maes = a field; y Bettws = The bead-house.
A holding in Drefach, near Clunhir. Maes = field; pannwr = Fuller [one who cleans and thickens cloth by beating].
Maes = a field; adwy = gap. Here "adwy" is a Proper name, but judging from the list in which it is found we can assume that it is the common name adwy for the time being given the honour of a personal name. In South Wales "adwy "is no longer the name for a "gap", but for the woven wattles that stop a gap. Cp "bwlch". A bwlch is a gate that does not work on hinges, but is fitted in such a. way that it must be shifted bodily to be opened. An "adwy" is not movable except for harvesting. A stop-gap that has hinges is called clwyd or "gat" (gate). "Adeil ac aradwy" (building and tillage). "Aradwy un dyd" (one day's ploughing)". Then Maesyradwy = the ploughed land or arable land.
A portion of the Llandilo Fawr Parish, situate on the right bank of the River Amanw. Manor = manor; Mabon = boy or male child. Mabon the swift son of Modron was a god of the pagan Celts. His grave is in the Upland of Nantlle. The Lady of the Van Lake's name was Modron daughter of Avallach. This brings us nearer the Aman Valley for opposite Cathilas is Tir Afallach. Manorabon is on the Track of the Twrch Trwyth Hunt in which Mabon fab Modren figured so conspicuously.
"(Mabon") was a great hunter who had a wonderful hound and rode on a steed swift as a wave of the sea: when he was three nights old he was stolen from between his mother and the wall no one knew whither; numberless ages later, it was ascertained by Arthur that he was in a stone prison at Gloucester uttering heart-rending groans. . . . Arthur and his men succeeded in releasing him to engage in the mythic hunt of Twrch Trwyth that could not take place without him; and lastly he distinguished himself by riding into the waters of the Bristol Channel after Twrch Trwyth and despoiling him of one of his trinkets."
A tributary of the Llwchwr [flowing through Llandybie and entering the Llwchwr (Loughor) in Bonllwyn]. Marw = dead, stagnant; glais = a stream. Compare Dead Sea.
Melin = a mill; Pedwl = name of a stream (see below).
Melin = a mill; Neuadd.= name of a farm [neuadd = a hall]. See Neuadd-Wen.
The Black Mountain [the northern flank of the river Amman]. Named after its peaty colour.
"Ni ddaw dyn o'r Mynydd du
Byw o Loegr heb ei lygru."
[A man from the Black Mountain does not come
Alive from England without being corrupted.]
The name of a farm and a stream in Garnant. It means Stonybrook, and not "Thynbrook" as the inscription on a semi-detached cottage on its banks seems to suggest. [nant = brook, maen = stone].
NANTMELYN, NANTGWYN, NANTGWINEU, NANTDU, NANTGLAS, NANTCOCH
All tributary streams running directly into the Aman or into the larger tributaries. All except one appear on the right bank of the Aman. A 'Nantmelyn' is also found on the left tank. 'Nantdu' is on the left bank in the name Briwnantdu. Note that "nant" is masculine, and probable means "a dell," as well as " stream." The colours are all well known. Even 'gwineu' is in daily use in the valley in such forms as "ceffyl gwineu," and "gwallt gwineu". ['melyn' yellow; 'gwyn' white; 'gwinau' brown; 'glas' blue (but sometimes green); 'coch' red.]
A farm near Gelly Fawr, where we presumed a skirmish took place. 'Ricet' comes from Latin Ricardus, and is the Welsh form corresponding to English Richard. A well-known Welsh poet was called Rhys Goch AP Rhicert. Nantricet = Richard's hollow.
A stream in Lower Bettws. Nant = a stream; cadno = a fox.
A stream in Lower Bettws. Nant = a stream; ci = dog, hound. cp. Nantygath [stream of the cat]
A farm in Glanamman. Nant = a. stream; craig = rock; lle = place.
Nant = stream; Bydaf = a nest of wild bees. "Gwerth bydaf yn y coet, deuswllt." ("The worth of a wild hive (of bees) in the wood is two shillings.") (Anc. Laws, p. 502).
A stream in Lower Bettws. See Cathan. Nant = a stream; ffin = Latin, finis = boundary.
I do not know that Nantyffin now marks any boundary. I often heard the story of a man from Carmarthenshire who filled his boots with earth and crossed to Glamorganshire and who claimed that he was still on Carmarthenehire soil. It seems to me that the boundary has been moved from Nantyffin to Cathan. I have no authority whatever to quote on the point except the existence of Nantyffin and the above story.
See Cwmffrwd. Nant = a stream; ffrwd = a waterfall. Cp. Ffrwd Clunhir [Glynhir Falls
It explains itself. [It may explain itself to E. Aman Jones BA but to the non-Welsh speaker 'nant' is a brook and 'caseg' is a mare].
Nant = a stream, moel = a hill. The birthplace of the wife of the well-known hymn writer Dafydd William. It is said that she resembled Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates. [This rather misogynist comment refers to the wife of the 5th century BC philosopher Socrates who was legendary as a shrew, or nag.]
Pan oedd Dafydd William yn dychwelyd o'i gyhoeddiad ar dywydd drwg cafodd y drws ar glo a'i wra.ig wedi enhuddo'r tan ac yn gommedd codi o'r gwely iddo. Llechodd yn y penty a'r afon Llwchwr yn llifo islaw. Yn y penty hwnw y noson honno y cyfansoddodd "Yn y dyfroedd mawr a'r tonnau etc." (Y Geninen. Ionawr 1911, P. 10).
NANTYRAFR, NANTYGATH, NANTYCADNO
I mention these names to show how true is my statement that the names of animals play an important part in all attempts at a true explanation of place-names in the district. [Again E Amman Davies does not translate these: 'nant = brook; 'gafr' = goat; 'cath' = cat and 'cadno' = fox.]
A farm in Garnant, generally termed "Y Neuadd." Neuadd = hall; gwyn = white. The Hall was white because it was built of white rods, or because it was whitewashed. For Neuadd we quote the following: "Naw a ddylyant y Bilaeneit eu hadeilat yr brenhin nyt amgen neuadd, etc." (There are nine buildings which the villeins [ie serfs] are to erect for the king; that is to say a hall, etc.) (Anc. Laws, Vol. I., p. 486).
"(Ddinas) is a steep high rock which forms a very good natural fortification and in the level area on the top is the mouth of a very large cavern, known as Ogo'r Ddinas 'the Dinas Cave.' The entrance into it is small and low, but it gradually widens out, becoming in one place lofty and roomy, with sevaral branch caves leading out of it; and it is believed that some of them connect Ogo'r Ddinas with smaller caves at Pantyllyn 'the Lake Hollow' where, as the name indicates, there is a small lake a little higher up. Both Ogo'r Ddinas and Pantyllyn are within a mile of the Village of Llandybie." (Celtic Folklore, Vol. II., p. 467). King Arthur and his warriors are said to lie sleeping in it, with their right hands clasping their swords, ready for battle. It is also said that Owen Llawgoch lived in it some time or after.
Ogof = cave; Pantyllyn = lake hollow. "It is said that Owen Lawgoch and his men on a certain occasion took refuge in it, where they were shut up and starved to death. . . It is a fact that in the year 1813 ten or more human skeletons of unusual stature were discovered in an ogof there." (Celt. Folklore p. 468).
Pant = hollow; Afallen = an apple tree. Afallen sur = crab tree.
Pant = hollow; Banwen = a bog. See Banwen.
Pan = hollow; bryn = a hill. A farm near Clunhir. It is evidently mountain land enclosed within recent times.
PANT Y CELYN
Pant = a hollow; celyn = the holly tree.
Pant = a hollow; Coedcae = woodfield. See Coedcae.
Pant = a hollow; man = small; coed = trees. See Gellimanwydd.
Pant = hollow; meibion = sons. A holding in Lower Bettws.
A tract of land between Bryne and Lhuast on the north side of the Black Mountain. Pant= a hollow; cors = marsh; tô = thatch. See Corsto.
Parc = a field; Henry = a man's name. A farm in the Loughor Valley, below Clunhir. The word "parc" for field is locally obsolete. Cp. Ponthenry, Cwrthenry. There is a Henry that is famous in Carmarthenshire. viz., Henry ab Gwilym, who built Court Henry. His son Hywel lived at Parc y Rhun [see below]. Henry was a great hunter and fighter. He fought ten duels with Thomas ab Griffith. We have no doubt that Parc Henry was named after him. See Parcyrhun. Henry and Owen seem to be immortal, and ever immanent in Carmarthenshire, and their second coming is expected like that of Arthur. So did the Hebrews expect the coming of Elijah from bush and stream, and cromlech and cave. See Llynllechowen.
A well-known house in Ammanford. Parc = a field; Rhun = a man's name. "Run m nwython" is found among the hunters of the legendary Twrch Trwyth. Parc-y-Rhun is in the track of the Hunt. In the preface of Ancient Laws, Run is given as the son of Maelgwyn. Parc-y-rhun was the residence of Hywel ab Henry called "Melwas Iscenen" ("The Prince of Iscenen.")
[Another legend has it that Rhun was the sister of Tybie who were both 5th century daughters of Brychan Brycheiniog. Tybie, who became Saint Tybie, built the first Christian church in what became Llandybie, which was named in her memory after her martyrdom. Click on 'Llandybie Church' in the 'Churches and Chapels' section of this web site to see the story of St Tybie.
The manor house of 'Parc-y-Rhyn' was demolished only as recently as 1962 and all that remains of this very ancient estate is Parc y Rhun farm, and Parc y Rhun Council Housing estate is built on a field of the old estate]
A tributary of the Aman. The confluence of the Aman, Garnant, and Pedol is near Garnant Railway Station. "Pedol " a shoe.
A farm near Trichrug Mountain. Pen = head; Arthur = a man's name. A farm in Gwynfe. Opposite Gwely Arthur [Arthur's bed] on the south side of the Black Mountain.
A farm adjoining Brynhynydd and the matter under that name should be read in conjunction with this. I believe that the word has something to do with "Ricert Pwnswn." The present pronunciation suggests a form "Punshon." The rent is paid to the vicar of Bettws and forms part of his increment. Compare "Pantybrynshwn" in "My Life's Story," by Rev. T. Lewis, Newport (W. C. Hemmons, Bristol). It is quite possible also that "Punshon" may have been the name of a former vicar who gave the land to the Church. I find that a certain Richard Pynson wrote "Dyves et Pauper," published in London in 1493.
Pen = top; coed = wood. A farm in the woods of Clunhur. Pen = Gaelic Ceann or Ken, anciently Cend = head.
A farm in Gwynfe. Pen = head or top; crug = a heap or mound.
A farm close to Clunhir. Pen = top; lan = land. Cp. Pen-tir [tir = land]..
Cottages near Glanamman. Pen = top; Lan = land; fach = little.
Pen = top; lannau = lands. A farm on Bettws mountain on the border of Gower.
Pen = top or head; llech = stone. See Maeslech a farm in Lower Bettws [Maes = field]
The mound and a moat are still visible on the left-hand side of the road that leads from Pontaman to Llangyfelach. It marks almost the highest point of the Bettws Mountain, and can be seen from Carreg Cennen Castle towards the South. I know nothing of its history. It can be gathered that it is an outpost of the Normans because it stands on the border of the Gower Division [with Dinefwr].
I have no clear idea what penlle means. Compare Penllergaer, Penllerfedwen, and Penller-castell. There is a word "Penllawr" used to designate the corridor that passes through a cow house in front of the fastened cattle, and from which a hill view of them is obtained. I think "pen " here has the meaning of "chief." It is interesting to note that "chief" is derived from Latin "caput" (a head). The Welsh for chieftain is "unben".
Penllereglwys = The head or chief place of the Church This is a local setting of a widespread tale. Sometime the foundation of a church was laid at the spot, but somebody came each night to pull down what was erected during each day, and carried the materials to the present site of the Parish Church in Bettws village.
There is here an echo of the old custom of erecting a "Maypole." Was it here that the "Pawlhaf " stood? I presume that "fedwen" stands here for the "Maypole".
A small holding on the west side of Grenig Road where it crosses the river Aman. 'Pound' = Anglo-Saxon 'pund', an inclosure; a different form of pond. Pound is an enclosure in which cattle are confined when taken in trespassing, or going at large in violation of law; a penfold or pinfold. Pound locally means a pond. The word used locally for pound, meaning an enclosure, is ffald. The two words are found together as Poundffald on a public-house sign in Gower. Those natives of Glanamman who remember the Rev. Abiah Davies will appreciate his doggerel which contained the following:
"And Dafydd Cross Kays, and Joseph o'r Plough
Went down to Ty'r Days to kick up a row,
Mr. Day, Mr. Day, don't be such a fool
To ffaldo the whied for trochi the dwl."
The following verses will also explain the meaning of pound: -
"As Quin and Foote one day walked out.
To view the country round,
In merry mood they chatting stood
Hard by the village pound.
Foote from his a 'poke a shilling took,
And said " I'll bet a penny,
Within the space of one short pace
I'll make this piece a guinea.
Upon the ground within the pound
The shilling soon was thrown,
'Behold,' says Foote, 'the thing's made out,
For there is one pound one."
'I wonder not,' says Quin, 'that thought
Should in your head be found,
Since that's the way your debts you pay,
A shilling in the pound. "
...............(Beeton's Book of Anecdote, p. 89).
Pen = top or end; yr heol = the road.
Pen = end ; yr heol = the road; du = black. The small holding at the spot where Heol-ddu (which see) merges into the Black Mountain.
Pen = top: rhiw = a hill. Rhiw = a slope, as in Rhiwlas = green slope, in Hereford.
Pen = top; rhiw-wen = white hill. Compare Rhiw-ddu, [Black hill], Rhiw-las, [Green hill], Rhiw -goch [Red hill]. As the name signifies this is the name of the pass across the Black Mountain from Brynamman to Llangadock. The "rhiw" is about four miles long. The last three miles is an open hedgeless mountain road. The view of the road from Bettws Mountain in the height of a dry summer's day, when it resembles a chalk line, confirms the description "wen" (white). The view from Pen-rhiw-wen is not easily surpassed, and we do not wonder that the circular drive over it and back through Llandilo is so popular with the Amman Valley folk.
"Mae gwyr Sir Gaer yn dwad i'r gwaith tin,
Dros hen rhiwen yn gawad i'r gwaith tin,
Fe'u gwelir tuag yma
Yn rhedeg am y cyntaf.
Mae ofan arna'i ngwala
Y caria nhw e' drwa
I ochor Pontarllecha,
Truenus fath dro yna a'r gwaith tin," etc.
(Hanes Brynamrnan, p. 121).
The men of Carmarthen come to the tinworks,
Over the hill in a shower (of men) to the tinworks,
They are seen racing
To be first here.
I am very afraid
They will carry it through
To the side of Pontarllechfa,
Such a wretched turn for the tinworks.
(Translation made for this web site.)
The real tinplates complained that the Brynamman Tinworks had been built too near Carmarthenshire (rhy agos i Sir Gaer). This proximity meant an influx of cheap labour and a subsequent reduction of prices. A man once came to the Amman Valley and asked the name of a works and he was told "Gwaith tin" which he took to be "Gwaith tyn" (tight work). Being an idler he passed on to Brynamman, and there asked the name of the works, and the reply came "Gwaith Strick" (the name of the owner), which he interpreted as "strict work." He passed on and came to Ystalyfera. Here again he enquired, "What works is this?" He was told "Gwaith y Cyfyng" (strait work). Cyfyng is the old name of Ystalyfera, we might explain. The man returned to Sir Gaer, glad to think that he had escaped Egypt.
A picture of Pen-rhiw-wen by night is given in Borrow's Wild Wales, Chapter 98, last paragraph.
A cottage on the Llandilo Road, Brynamman. Pentai, plural of Penty = Penthouse; ynys = dawela, name of a farm. A penthouse is a shed or sloping roof to shed off the rain to give shelter to animals grazing away from the farmhouse on to the land. It is "pentus" in North Wales, and "Pentws" in South Wales. Cp. Tirpentwys [tir = land] near Pontypool. It is an insult to call the palace of Brynhavod a "penty."
A portion of Ammanford. 'Pentre' = a hamlet; 'bacas' = a stocking without feet. Plural bacsan. Bacas = a stocking, legging. It was a stocking without a sole beyond a strip that passed under the arch of the foot like the strap of a spatter-dash.
Pentre = a village; Gwenlais = name of a stream [flowing into the Marlais at Llandybie]. See Gwenlais.
A farm in Lower Bettws, now in ruins [now also the name of a road Pentwyn Road running along the top of Betws Park]. Pen = top; twyn = a hillock. Twyn = cnwc = cnol = cnap.
A farm in Glanamman. Pen = end; pont = bridge. Cp. Talybont.
Pen = the top; craig = a rock.
A farm in Gwynfe. Pen = the top or end; Gwaun = a meadow. To me a 'Gwaun" suggests a field larger than usual, less fertile and more damp.
Plas = palace; y Bettws = name of a village. I heard it said that an Esgob Coch (Red Bishop) lived here, and that he was of immense build. The carriage that conveyed him remains from the house overturned in Heol-y-Porth. This is therefore a bishop's palace. Heol-y-Porth is the road leading to the house. This Red Bishop it was said had an oven that could roast an ox. I may add that "Plas-y-Bettws" is below Llwchisawel, Bodist and Penllereglwys.
Pwll = a pool; Bo = a Bogey. "Bwci Bo" is a term used to frighten children. The following rhyme is often heard -
Ladi wen ar ben y pren
A bwci ar bob camfa."
"All Saints' night
A white lady on the wooden horse
And a ghost on every stile"
There resided in Glanamman up to a few years ago two well-known characters, who were termed respectively "Bo teg" and "Bo garw." [fine ghost and rough ghost].
Pwll, plural, pyllau = a pool; Y Fai = the plain. [the pools of the plain]. See Gwynfe. Pwlle'r Fai is the broken, rugged ground to the right of the road leading from Cwmberach to Glan Quay Inn. Crug-gorfod stands on the opposite side of the road. Pwlle'r Fai are on the ridge of the Black Mountains between the road above named and Pen Tyrcan. The bank that hides Pwlle'r Fai from Glanamman is called Brynmawr. It is said that Pwlle'r Fai are the ruins of an old town, and the streets are still shown.
Pwll = a pool; merched = girls. A pool in the River Aman. It is given as Pwll y Mercher [Mercher = Wednesday] in Hanes Brynamman [A History of Brynamman], p. 125, but without any reason except the writer's modesty. It is invariably called Pwll-y-Mercher. It is said that girls were drowned in it. Every pool in the river Amen and its tributaries had its own name.
Pwll = a pool; du = black. A famous pool in the river Garw, Brynamman.
Pwll = a pool; rhyd = a ford; pwn, plural pynau = a load.
A pool in the river Garnant. Pwll = a pool; gwrach = a hag. Gwrachiaidd chwedlau (old wives' fables). Another explanation perhaps is more natural. "Gwrachen" is the name for a fish called in English "tench" or "wrasse." The difficulty here isthat the word is only known in the form "gwrachen."
A public-house in Garnant. It belongs to Lord Dynevor. This explains the name. Raven = Cigfran. [cigfran means the meat eating crow].The Raven is the crest of the Dinefwr family from Urien Rheged. Arms: argent a chevron between three ravens sable.
"Maes arian tair cigfran caer
CwpI du yn cwplau dwyaer."
A farm facing Carreg Cennen Castle. See Tyddyn and Cwmwd. Rhandir = a division of land. Four tyddynau (homesteads) in every rhandir (shareland). Each homestead consisted of four "erw" or acres.
Rhiw = pitch, slope: du = black.
Rhos = a moor; Aman = name of a river The name of a district between Cwmgarw and Cwmllynfell.
Rhydd = a ford, du = black; bach = little. The railway bridge at Cwmllynfell Railway Station is called Pontrhydddufach [the bridge over the little black ford]. There is a big marsh here, and the "Rhwyn" drains it. It was once thought that this bog was "Llwch Ewin" mentioned in the entry for "Llwchisawel" above.
Rhyd = a ford; gwyn = white. A ford within a mile of Rhydddu, which see above.
Rhyd = a ford; Bro = a land or district. The Bro here is Browyr, that is Bro-wyr, the march or country of Gower. Bro has nothing to do with vale. This "ford" is on the border of Gower. Bro Morgannwg, the march, margin, or country of Glamorgan, a term incorrectly rendered into English as Vale of Glamorgan. Fortuntely Gower is so unlike a valley that no-one is tempted to say Vale of Gower.
A holding on the banks of the Twrch. Sarn = a road, maen = a stone. See Carreg Maen Bras and Graig Uffern Dwrch.
A farm to the left of the road leading from Glanamman to Llandyfan and to the left of the road leading from Careg Isaac to the Angel Inn. The name is descriptive. Tir = land; dan yr heol = below the road.
TIR ELEANOR MORGAN
Tir = land; Eleanor Morgan = woman's name [a house on the mountain road from Ammanford to Morriston, near the Scots Pine public house].
A farm near Cwmteg, Brynamman. Tir = land; hen = old.
A tenement on the left-hand side of the road beyond the Angel Inn, on the way to Clunhir. Who was this Erasmus? [Tir = land].
A parcel of land near the Cwmamman Parish Church. Evidently after a member of the Dinefwr family, who are large owners of land, and, I believe, are the owners of Tir-Syr-Walter. Compare Twyn-Syr-Nicolas adjoining Tir-Syr-Wallter. [Tir = land and Syr = Sir; therefore: the land of Sir Walter. The Sir Walter could be Sir Walter Rice (1562 1636), an ancestor of the modern Lord Dynevor, or the 7th Baron Dynevor, Walter FitzUryan Rice (1873 - 1956.]
Tir = land; dail = leaves, hence 'land of the leaves'. The name of a railway station and a farm in Ammanford. Dyffryn used to be the name of the station.
Toll, feminine of Twll = a hole or rift; Craig = a rock.
A sand-hill in Cwmllynfell. Tomen = a mound; Owen = a man's name. See Ystrad Owen.
A farm near Cynnordy. It is pronounced "Treginllath." I doubt the spelling of the "gynllaeth," because I know of no instance of 'y' becoming 'i' in such a position as this. The instances of "i" becoming "y " are numerous. "Cynllaeth" is given in the Dictionary as "first milk." Compare Brynllefrith.
Tro = a bend in the road; Derlwyn = oak grove. A bend on the road loading to Ponrbiwen.. See Derlwyn and Craig-y-Derlwyn.
TRO WAT HARRI
Tro = a bend (in the road); Wat Harri = a man's name. [an old character of Betws}
A farm on Bettws Mountain. Twll = a hole; Gwyddyl = Irish. "Twll" is here used as an insulting epithet. It is a term of contempt.
The farm behind Cwmaman Parish Church. A number of freeholdings that stand on part of the land has been named Trebevan in ugly imitation of the most unromantic mining villages of Glamorgan. I make an appeal to these freeholders to retain the old name. It is honoured by antiquity. It is the only instance I know of the word "boly" retained in actual use. "Twynyboly" = Twyn (a knoll), boly (a bag).
I was told by the present tenant and owner that there is a disused graveyard within a few hundred yards of the house towards the north east.
A tenement on the crest of the hill above Pen-bwnshwn. It is entirely surrounded by common land. Evidently It is "Trum" (a crest) "hwch" (sow). Still another reference to the Hunt [of the Twrch Trwyth from the Mabinogion]..
Twyn = a hillock; Cacwn = hornets.
Twyn = a hillock; adarn = birds. See Clun yr Adar.
Tyddyn = a. division of land; du = black. A Tyddyn is made of 4 erws. See Tyndomen. Tyddyn is found oftenest in the shortened form Ty'n.
Ty = house; gwyn = white. Sometimes in a row of houses the women would quarrel, and then they would colour their houses differently, so that the casual passer-by could have an index to the state of war the neighbours were in. The staple colouring is whitewash, but all colours were brought to light when a storm broke out. Yellow was the colour that ranked next in popularity to white, and blue was a third.
A tenement towards the source of the Grenig. It is derived from "tyddyn "(a division of land), and "tomen" (mound). Other "tyddyns" are Tynygraig, which stands on the slope of Craig Ddu [Black Rock] and Tynycoed [coed = woods] below Ystradaman.
"Four such erws to be in every tyddyn,
Four tyddyns in every rhandir."
..............(Ancient Laws, etc., Vol. I., p. 187)
A farm house on the way to Old Bethel Cemetery from Glanamman. It is famous as the home of the Morgan family, the bridge builders, who followed the great Edwards of Eglwysilan. The external appearance of the house even today suggests the name. [Ty = house, Llwyd = grey].
A farm in the valley of the Garnant. Ty = house; mawr = great.
A holding in the valley of the Cathan. Tyddyn = a division of land; cwm=a ho!low. See Tyn omen.
Most often called Pen Tyrcan. It is a summit overlooking the Loughor valley from source to sea. Local etymology calls it "Tair Carn," [Tair = three, carn = cairn, ie three cairns] and I think it is probably correct. Three Cairns are still to be seen. They are, however, merely three small heaps of loose stone. Carn is well represented locally in Y Garn, Garnlwyd [llwyd = grey], Garnswllt [swllt = shilling]. Not far away is Garngoch [goch = red]. Here I may quote: "Garnngoch and Moel Trigarn [ie the hill with three cairns] (in Pembrokeshire) are the finest South Wales fortified towns" (Arch. Canib., IV. Ser., Vol. ii.. p. 66).
Carn = Crug. There is a Crug-gorfod [crug = mound, gorfod = victory] halfway between Garnlwyd and Pen Tyrcan. If Tyrcan =Tair Carn then it must have been first Taircarn, then Teircarn. Now Teircarn would be pronounced Tircarn for eira is ira, etc. This comes again to Tyrcarn. Then the r in Carn would he dropped , and we have Tyrcan. For instance of dropping of r compare wrth wth and garddwrn garddwn. So Tyrcan = Three Cairns.
[Note: Betws born poet Amanwy (who can be found in this web site under 'People') expressed a wish in one of his poems to live in a cottage "At the foot of the Turcan." To see an English version of this poem click on Amanwy the Old Valley].
Ty = a house; trawst = a beam. Found also in the form Trawstre.
Ty = a house; uchaf = highest. The "uchaf" here, I believe, means the "highest" house towards the mountain land. It was a Irue designation at one time. It is no longer true.
The land on which the Glanamman Railway Station stands. "Ynys" means "a meadow on the bank of a river." [and "ceffyl" = a horse]. Compare "Ynysdomlyd", now called Commercial Place. [tomlyd = dirty, soiled by dung]. "Even Swansea was supposed to be derived from "Sweyn's Island." The fact that it was not an island was unimportant, inasmuch as the Welsh form "ynis" was frequently applied to peninsulas." (Report of a lecture on "Old Gower," by Prof. J. E. Lloyd in the "Cambrian Daily Leader," Aug. 1909).
A farm in Lower Bettws. Ysgubor = a barn (Latin scoparium); gwyn = white. The Celtic word for a barn is Irish Skibber, Welsh Ysgubor and a Breton form Skibor.
1. Introduction to Welsh Place Names 2. A Few Place Names in the Amman Valley Considered,
by the Reverend E. Amman Jones
3. Welsh Place Names - a Brief Glossary
3. ....WELSH PLACE NAMES - A BRIEF GLOSSARY
Welsh place names are usually quite descriptive, either of the local geography or notable features. Most also use the same construction as if you were denoting possession, so, Abertawe or 'the estuary of the Tawe', (as opposed to 'the Tawe's estuary'). Thus Brynmawr is 'big hill', Penrhyndeudraeth is 'the headland of the two beaches', Beddgelert is 'the grave of Celert' (more likely Saint Celert, rather than Gelert, Prince Llewelyn ap Iorwerth's faithful dog, as is popularly thought) and "llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch" is of course 'the church of St Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the church of Tysilio by the red cave', but no doubt you've guessed that already. It started off as plain old Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, but in the 1880s a Menai Bridge tailor decided to add a few more syllables as a bit of a publicity stunt to pull in the tourists. It worked, too.
Here are just the most common Welsh words used in place names. Beware though, as some of the words change a letter at the front of the word in certain grammatical circumstances.
aber = river mouth or estuary; confluence of two rivers
afon = river
allt = cliff, or wooded hill
aran = high place
bach = small, lesser
bedw = birch
bedd = grave
betws = prayer-house
brenin = king
bron = slope of a hill
bryn = hill
bwlch = mountain pass, gap
cadair = chair, stronghold
cae = field
caer = fortified settlement (like '-chester', '-burgh' or '-bury' in English)
canol = centre
cant = hundred
capel = chapel
carreg = stone
cartref = home
castell = castle
cefn = ridge
celyn = holly
clun = meadow
clwyd = gate, perch
coch = red
coed = forest, woodland
cors = bog
craig = rock
croes = cross
croeso = welcome
cwm = bowl-shaped glacial valley
cwrt = court
cyntaf = first
de = south
derw = oak
din/dinas = fort, city
drsos = over
du = black
dwfr, dwr = water
dwyrain = east
dyffryn = valley (broad, flat river valley)
eglwys = church
eryri = eagle's domain
fawr = big
fferm = farm
ffordd = road
fforest = forest
gardd = garden
glan = shore, bank
glas = blue (sometimes green)
glo = coal
glyn = valley (like the English 'vale')
gogledd = north
gorllewin = west
gorsaf = station
gwaun = meadow, field, moor
gwlad = country
gwyn = white
gwyrdd = green
hên = old
heol = road
is, isa(f) = lower
llan = clearing, early church
llanerch = glad
lle = place
llech, llechen = slate, flat stone
llwybr = path
llwyd = grey
llwyn = grove
llyn = lake
llys = palace, court
maen = stone
maes = field
marchnad = market
mawr, fawr = great
melin = mill
melyn = yellow
merthyr = burial place of a saint
moel = bare or rounded mountain
môr = sea
morfa = coastal marsh
mynydd = mountain
nant = stream, brook
neuadd = hall
newydd = new
nôs = night
ogof = cave
olaf = last
onn = ash
pant = hollow (valley)
parc = park
pen = head, top of a valley
penrhyn = headland
pentre(f) = village
plas = hall, mansion
pont = bridge
porth = port, gateway
pwll = pool
rhiw = hill, ascent
rhos = moor, heath
rhyd = ford
sant = saint
sarn = causeway
sir = shire, county
tâf = dark
tan, dan = under
tomen = mound
traeth = beach
traws = cross
tref = town
twr = tower
ty, tai = house, houses
ucha(f) = upper
uwch = higher
wrth = near, by
y, yr, 'r = the
ynys = island
ystrad = valley (like the English 'vale')
Date this page last updated: October 26, 2010