Welsh Place Names - Translations

Welsh names, particularly place-names, can be broken down into smaller words, many of which re-occur frequently. A common example is Llan, with the approximate meaning of 'church', followed by the name of the saint to whom the church is dedicated. The first example above, Llansanffraid Glynceiriog, translates as 'the church of St Ffraid in the valley (glyn) of the Ceiriog'; the second, Penrhyndeudraeth, is 'the headland (penrhyn) of the two (deu) beaches (traeth)'. Once you have a sense of how these names are composed it becomes much easier to pronounce them correctly.

What does Llanfairpwllgwyngychgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch mean?

It starts with Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. This is the ‘Church of (St) Mary in Pwllgwyngyll’ which translates as ‘The Church of St Mary by the pool with the white (gwyn) willows (cyll, plural of collen, hazel). The rest was added in the 1850’s by a local man: goger y chwyrn drobwyll - ‘fairly close to the wild (chwyrn) whirlpool (trobwll)’ of ‘Llantysiliogogogoch’, of the red cave of Llantysilio (the Church of St Tysilio).

All at once now:

Church of St. Mary by the pool with the white willows, fairly close to the wild whirlpool of the red cave of the Church of St. Tysilio.

The word How to say it What it means
afon avvon river/stream
braich bray-ch ridge
bryn brin mountain
bwlch bulk saddle/pass/col
castell kas-tell castle
coch coch red
crib crib ridge
cwm coom valley head
fan van mountain
foel voil bare hill
gallt gachlt slope
gawr gowrr torrent
glyn glyn deep valley
isaf issaf lower
llyn hchlyn lake
mawr mowrr large
moel moil bare hill
mynydd munith mountain
nant nant brook
ogof ogov cave
pant pant hollow
pen pen peak/top
trum trum ridge
uchaf ickaf upper/higher
y ee the
ynys uhnis island

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