In order to understand ancient documents that relate to our area, we have been translating Welsh place-names into English. This activity is ongoing but some of the early work is shown here, where place-names have been taken off a surveyor’s map at 1817.
Place names can last for hundreds if not thousands of years and can exist in other languages: for instance the name ‘river Wye’ comes from the Welsh word for river ‘Gwy’ the G disappears after the Welsh word for ‘the’ so you get ‘Wy’ and in English that needs an ‘e’ after it, so we have river Wye ie the river River. There are many rivers called Avon in England – ‘Afon’ is the Welsh for ‘river’ and the ‘f’ is pronounced as ‘v’ so we have river Avon also river River.
Homesteads are often named for their geographical or environmental position so we have many places with names like Pen y Banc = Top of the Slight Slope, Glan yr Afon = Bank of the River, Dan y Graig = Under the Cliff, Llanerch y Dirion = Woodland of Pleasant Places. We have few written records in Welsh before 1000 AD and we haven’t got a Doomsday Record for our place-names. They were rarely recorded before around 1200 AD but we can be sure they existed long before that.