20 Welsh Place Names That Are Frankly Exceptional

Wales may be a small country, but we are full of fascinating place names. The names of our cities, towns and villages are steeped in history, culture and traditions. Some place names are inspired by their surroundings, others derive from Welsh mythology or legends.

Here we’ve compiled a list of brilliant place names in Wales that will put a smile on your face – terrific in their simplicity, complexity, sound and appearance, origin and meaning, and uniqueness.

Read more: Ten Brilliant Welsh Nursery Rhymes That Make No Sense But Are Absolutely Iconic

Mwnt

Sense: Promontory Hill; similar to ‘mount’ in English.

Location: Ceredigion




plwmp

Sense: Comes from the word “pwmp”, which means “pump” in Welsh. Plwmp was originally the name of a farm whose pump provided water for travelers and animals on the toll road.

Location: Ceredigion

Shwt

Sense: The name of the small hamlet of houses near Sarn could derive from “shwt mae? », itself a deviation from « sut mae? which means “how are you?” in Welsh. Locals call people who rise above their station “Lord Muck of Shwt Hill”.

Location: Bridgend

Mochdre

Sense: The literal translation of the village of Conwy in modern Welsh is ‘pig town’, which could be a reference to the story of the sacred pigs being stolen from Y Mabinogion. Other theories are that ‘moch’ was also Old World Welsh for stream or river.

Location: Conwy

Between Bledrws

Sense: The first part of the name “Betws” means “house of prayer” in Welsh.

Location: Ceredigion

Twpa

Sense: The Welsh meaning of the word may derive from “twmpath”, which means “mound” in Welsh. The mountain appeared in one of Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg’s works when he visited Wales in 1967. In English, it is called ‘Lord Hereford’s Knob’.

Location: Powys

Splot

Sense: The name is apparently based on the English name “splot”, which means a plot of land. Far better, however, is the theory that it stems from the ‘conspiracy of God’, as the land belonged to the Bishop of Llandaff in medieval times, or that it derives from the ancient word flat meaning an area of grassy land.

Location: Cardiff




devil’s bridge

Sense: According to legend, the bridge that spans the River Mynach was built by the devil in exchange for the soul of first life to cross it. However, local people tricked the devil into throwing bread on the bridge, prompting a dog to follow, thus the dog became the first “life” to cross the bridge. The Welsh name for this village is Pontarfynach.

Location: Ceredigion

Cnicht

Sense: The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for “knight”, given to the mountain by medieval sailors who noted its resemblance to a 14th-century moses helmet seen from the sea.

Location: Gwynedd




Cnwch Coch

Sense: “Cnwch” means swell and in this case a rise in land, while “coch” means red.

Location: Ceredigion

Llanddewi Brefi

Sense: One of the largest parishes in Wales, Llanddewi refers to its connection to Sant Dewi or Saint David – our patron saint. The last part of its name comes from a local legend. Two oxen were carrying stones up a steep hill when one of them collapsed and died. The other bellowed nine times, and because the bellowing was so loud was so loud, the place became known as Llanddewi Brefi – ‘brefi’ meaning bellow in Welsh.

Location: Ceredigion




Pen an Helgi Du

Sense: A mountain that is part of the Carneddau mountain range in Eryri. In English it means ‘Head of the Black Hound’. Unfortunately, the derivation of the name has been lost over the years.

Location: Gwynedd

Coed Cwm-Cib-Canol

Sense: This area of ​​the Brecon Beacons National Park means ‘middle pod valley trees’.

Location: Powys

Sili

Sense: A few years ago, locals wanted to change the Welsh place name for fear it would sound “a bit silly”. But the Welsh Language Board at the time said they recommended the name Sili rather than the suggested ‘Abersili’, as it was a Welsh version of the Norman name Sully – which is also the English name of the region.

Location: Vale of Glamorgan



Brymbo

Sense: Could mean ‘mud hill’ or ‘dirt hill’.

Location: Wrexham

Brynbuga

Sense: Known as Usk in English, the first part of the name “bryn” means “hill”. Although it is uncertain where the second part comes from – ‘buga’, it could be a variant of ‘bugeiliad’ or ‘bugeilio’, which means a ‘shepherd’ or ‘shepherd’.

Location: Monmouthshire




Llithrig and Wrach pen

Sense: Another mountain that makes up the Carneddau range in Snowdonia, ‘pen’ means ‘head’ or ‘summit’, ‘llithrig’ means ‘slippery’ and ‘y wrach’ means ‘the witch’. The name is believed to refer to the swampy conditions underfoot and due to its pointed profile’s resemblance to an archetypal witch’s hat.

Location: Gwynedd

Step aside

Sense: The name of this place in Powys refers to a narrow bridge where you have to step aside if another person is crossing at the same time.

Location: Powys

Major of Llantwit

Sense: The toponym is a variant of the Welsh name – Llanilltud Fawr. The place is said to be the home of the monastery of Saint Illtud. St Illtud’s Church has been described as “one of the great international centers of Celtic Christianity” and the first center of learning in Britain.

Location: Vale of Glamorgan



St Illtud's Church in Llantwit Major was the first center of learning in Britain

Bwlch and Saethau

Sense: In English the name means ‘Pass of the Arrows’ and according to legend, it was here in Snowdonia that King Arthur was struck by an arrow during battle. The King was carried to Llyn Llydaw Lake and, passing Llyn Glaslyn, he threw Arthur’s sword, Caledfwlch (Excalibur) into the lake. From Llyn Llydaw three maidens took Arthur through the mist to Afallon (Avalon).

Location: Gwynedd

Comments are closed.