Welsh place names and why our cottage is named Glan y Wern

llanarmon dyffryn ceiriog

Since buying our cottage I have been intrigued why it was called Glan y Wern. I am not a native Welsh speaker, but researching its name led me to discover a lot about the Welsh language. Welsh place names are very descriptive and often describe a feature of the landscape or countryside.

So if we take Glan y Wern as an example, Glan can translate into bank or shore (of a river or stream) and Wern can translate into alder tree or a marsh. The house is built against the bank of a hill and right opposite is a small stream so that accounts for the Glan. Perhaps a long time ago there were a lot of Alder trees or even some boggy ground which would contribute the Wern to the name.

This discovery about the Welsh language has been a revelation to me and helps me understand why places are called what they are. Here are some examples:

The cottage is in the small village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. Dyffryn meaning valley and yes we are in a valley.

Pandy which is a small hamlet a couple of miles from the cottage. Pandy means a kind of mill and sure enough there is an old mill on the river.

Pontfadog which is a village a few miles along the valley. Pont meaning bridge and it has a bridge over the river.

The village of Beddgelert. Bedd is grave, so named after the grave of Gelert the dog (which is a great story if you have not heard about it).

I like that you can look at a place on a map and from its name get an idea of the area. Here are some other words you may have seen used in Welsh place names and their translation into English. And apologies if I have got any of these incorrect!

ABER, the mouth of a river.
AFON, a river.
BACH, (or FACH), little.
BEDD, a grave
BETWS, house of prayer.
BONT (or PONT), bridge.
BORTH (or PORTH), a port or gate.
BRYN, a mound or hill.
BWLCH (or FWLCH), a pass or gap.
CAER (or GAER), a camp or fortress.
CAPEL (or GAPEL), a chapel.
CARN (or GARN), a prominence.
CARREG, stone.
CASTELL, a castle or fortress.
CEFN, a ridge.
COCH (or GOCH), red.
COED (or GOED), a wood.
CORS (or GORS), a bog or marshy place.
CRAIG (or GRAIG), a crag.
CROES (or GROES), a cross.
CRUG (or GRUG), a heap or mound.
CWM, a shallow valley.
CYMMER, a junction or confluence.
DAN (or TAN), under.
DIN (or DINAS), a town or hill-fortress.
DU (or DDU), black.
DWFR (or DWR), water.
DYFFRYN, vale or valley.
EGLWYS, a church.
FACH, little.
FAWR, great, large.
FELIN, mill.
FFORDD, way, road.
FFYNNON, a well or spring.
FOEL, a bare hill.
FYNYDD, a mountain.
GAER, a camp or fortress.
GARN, a prominence.
GARTH, a hill or headland.
GELLI, a grove or copse.
GLAN (or LAN), a river or water bank or shore.
GLAS (or LAS), blue (if water), green (if fields).
GLYN, a glen or valley.
GOCH, red.
GOED, a wood.
GOITRE, a home in the wood (from COED and TRE).
GORS, a bog, fen or march.
GRAIG, a crag.
GROES, a cross.
GWAITH, work.
GWAUN (or WAUN), a common or moor.
GWERN (or WERN), a swamp or bog.
ISAF, lowest.
LLAN, parish or church.
LLECH, a flat stone.
LLWYN, a bush or grove.
LLYN, a lake or pool.
MAEN (or FAEN), a stone.
MAES (or FAES), an open field.
MAWR (or FAWR), great, large.
MELIN (or FELIN), a mill.
MOEL (or FOEL), a bare hill.
MWYN, a mine.
MYNYDD (or FYNYDD), a mountain.
NANT, a brook.
NEWYDD, new.
PANDY, a wool mill.
PANT, a hollow place, a valley.
PEN, head, or top.
PENTRE, a village.
PISTYLL, a spouting waterfall.
PLAS, a hall or mansion.
PONT (or BONT), a bridge.
PORTH (or BORTH), a port or gate.
PWLL, a pool, pit, or hollow.
RHIW, a slope, hillside or ascent.
RHOS, an open moor/marsh.
RHYD, a ford or stream.
SARN, a causeway.
TAL, a headland, brow of hill.
TYDDYN, tenement or small-holding.
TYN, a small-holding.
UCHAF, upper, highest.
UWCH, above.
WAUN, a common or moor.
WERN, a swamp or bog.
YSTWYTH, winding, flexible.

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