Sunday, 8 May 2011


From Aber to Ystwyth

Welsh place names have always fascinated me. As a child I used to delight in the apparently vowel-free Ysbyty Ystwyth which I found when scouring a road map one day (it also resulted in me learning that proper nouns aren't fair game in hangman).


While I've picked up some meanings over time (Aber-, Llan-, Ynys), I'd hungered to learn more. So just before our most recent visit to the Province I got hold of the Dictionary of the Place-Names of Wales by Hywel Wyn Owen and Richard Morgan. Rather than simply translate the Welsh into English, the Dictionary illuminates the back-story of a place, for example teaching us about Trefor and Yr Eifl.

As with any dictionary it has its limits. Largely it only lists the names of settlements of a certain size, so we remain ignorant of Aneolg, Llidiardau and Pengelli. Still, it's a must for anyone meandering through God's own country.

And fittingly - since Aberystwyth is where I first met Emma - the first name in the dictionary is Aber while the last is Ystwyth.

Posted by pab at 16:28 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!