The List of Historic Place Names of Wales

In May this year the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales launched a new web service which aims to preserve and highlight the importance of the historic place names of Wales.

The List of Historic Place Names of Wales (https://historicplacenames.rcahmw.gov.uk) is a groundbreaking website, unique to Wales. The List contains over a quarter of a million historic place names collected from a variety of sources, which provide a fascinating insight into the land-use, archaeology and history of Wales. The place names included in the List reflect the various forms and spellings used from the Middle Ages to the present day, often including elements that refer to buildings, people, archaeological or topographical features.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales compile and maintain the List on behalf of the Welsh Ministers following the inclusion of a provision for a statutory list of historic place names in the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016. A key aim of this Act is to improve the sustainable management of the historic environment, and the development of a statutory list of historic place names is an important aspect of this policy.

Detail of Saxton’s Proof Map of Wales (1580) - Illustrative

Detail of Saxton’s Proof Map of Wales (1580) – Illustrative

The creation of this List and its availability online, as well as through four regional Historic Environment Records, means that for the first time members of the public, researchers and those involved in decision making on matters affecting the Welsh historic environment, are able to easily make reference to a geo-located, national, authoritative record of historic place names.

Ken Skates (right), Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure and Tom Pert (left), Online Development Manager, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales at the la

Ken Skates (right), Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure and Tom Pert (left), Online Development Manager, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales at the launch of the List of Historic Place Names of Wales in May 2017.

What is the List for?

The List aims to raise public awareness of the rich legacy of historic place names in Wales and encourage the continuing use of these important elements of our nation’s heritage.

Freely available online and through the historic environment records, the List is a developing record of authoritative information on historic place names that can be used to:

  • help members of the public learn about the history of their communities;
  • support academic research; and
  • inform decisions on the management of the historic environment.

Local Authorities, National Park Authorities and Natural Resources Wales are expected to use the list when taking decisions on the naming or renaming of streets and properties.

Using the List

A good place to start is simply to use the Map to zoom to your location, and then explore the place names recorded in the landscape around you.  Alternatively, you can use the interactive Glossary, which contains around 600 of the most commonly used Welsh place name elements.  So, if you want to find all the “goblin” place names in Wales, simply click on “Bwbach” in the glossary and a distribution map will open showing all the “Bwbach” place names currently in the list overlying both modern and historic Ordnance Survey mapping.

Improving the List

Members of the public can help the Royal Commission to improve the List by providing additional information or corrections through the website’s comment system.  In addition, the Commission hopes to work with local history groups to incorporate records they may have already created through local place name projects.

Plans for the future:

The Royal Commission will maintain and enhance the List of Historic Place Names of Wales by:

  • creating new historic place name records from data gathered from multiple sources;
  • reviewing and amending existing records to correct transcription and other errors;
  • coordinating the exchange of place name data between organisations;
  • responding to enquiries relating to records in the List; and
  • producing articles and organising outreach activities that promote the List and increase understanding of the value of historic place names in Wales.

If you would like to learn more about the List of Historic Place Names of Wales, please visit https://historicplacenames.rcahmw.gov.uk and use the Contact form to get in touch.

Fingerpost – Illustrative © Crown copyright Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

Fingerpost – Illustrative © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

06/28/2017

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