INTRODUCTION ABERTAWE SWANSEA & District AFAN / NEDD BRECONSHIRE BRIDGEND and The VALE CARDIFF and district CARMARTHENSHIRE Cwm RHONDDA Valleys CWM TAWE (Swansea Valley) CYNON VALLEY GŴYR / GOWER LLANDEILO TAL-Y-BONT Pryscedwin  LLIW VALLEY LLYNFI VALLEY MERTHYR TYDFIL MONMOUTHSHIRE PEMBROKESHIRE PONTARDULAIS (Pontarddulais) PONTYPRIDD and district Place-name Elements 'A' Elements 'B' Elements 'C' Elements 'DEF' Elements 'G' Elements 'HIJK'. Elements 'L' Elements 'M' Elements 'N' & 'O' Elements 'P' - 'PL' Elements 'PO' - 'Q' Elements 'R' Elements 'S' Elements 'T' Elements 'U' and 'V' Elements 'W' Elements 'Y' ONOMASTIC TALES PLACE-NAME CHANGES Guest Book My Photos

827 ABERTAWE SWANSEA and District



The two names for the city and county have no etymological connection. Swansea contains elements from the Old Norse language while Abertawe is undoubtedly Welsh.


Abertawe recorded as Aper Tyui c1150 and as Abertawi 12th cent. contains the Welsh noun aber ‘mouth of a river' plus the river-name Tawe.

Swansea recorded as Sweynesse 1153-84 and as Sweineshe 1191, contains the Old Norse personal name Sveinn plus the Old Norse noun ey ‘island'.  The Nordic connection is linked to the presence of Vikings along the Welsh coast between the 9th and 11th centuries, with a possible establishment of a trading post on an island at the mouth of the river Tawe. Coins minted c1140 and  marked Swensi  suggest this.

The map above shows the presence of two islands at the mouth of the Tawe c 1780, before the development of Swansea harbour and docks.

When the Norman arrived in the early 12th century, they adopted the ON version for the name of their castle. Welsh chroniclers however called the castle kastell abertawy.

In time Sweynesse etc. evolved into Swansea and Aper Tyui etc. became Abertawe.






 Cwnrhydyceirw is the name of a village on the outskirts of Morriston, Swansea. As it stands, the name describes a ford (rhyd) in a valley (cwm) frequented by stags (ceirw). A charming rural scene.

But the present name has little antiquity. It was formed at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.  Cwmrhydyceirw first appears in 1871, in the columns of the Cambrian newspaper.

 Previously, the village was known as Cwmrhydycwrw (valley of the beer ford) taking its name from a smallholding of 41 acres of that name on the Popkin estate. The 1833 OS 1" map has Cwm-rhyd-y-cwrw. At ten yearly intervals between 1841 and 1901, the name Cwmrhydycwrw appears in various guises on the Clas census returns. Between 1845 and 1889 the Cambrian newspaper has twelve articles located at Cwmrhydycwrw. The 1884 OS 6" map shows Cwm-rhyd-y-cwrw and Cwm-rhyd-y-cwrw Brook.  

 The significance of the final element cwrw has caused much speculation.

Some believe it was called ‘the beer ford' because beer was transported through the ford. This is unlikely, for in 1833 (the date of the earliest map) the majority of taverns and farms brewed their own beer. There were no breweries in the Morriston area until the middle of the 19th cent. Others believe that the water from the stream was used for brewing purposes.   

The explanation is more likely to do with the colour of the river water. When people, animals and carriages cross fords, the river bed is disturbed and the colour of the water changes. This is why some fords are named Rhydgoch and others Rhydfelen. When the colour becomes light brown with white foam, it resembles beer. This is possibly the reason for the rhyd-y-cwrw name.

Why was the name changed? Certainly for the sake of respectability. The change was initiated by the temperance movement and the rise of non-conformity in the area in the late 19th century.  Tabernacl and Ebeneser chapels were erected in the 1880s. The majority of non-conformist ministers were total abstainers with a strong abhorrence of alcohol. It would not be proper for these ministers, their deacons or the numerous congregations of the two chapels, to be seen living in a village with alcohol in its name!      

"The etymology of Cwmrhydycwrw (literally "Beer-ford vale") was suggested to be properly Cwmrhydyceirw, or "Buck-ford-vale", - which perhaps points back to a time when larger game could be hunted over these lands than ever the Penllergare (sic) hounds have a chance of hunting "in these degenerate days".                                              The Cambrian, May 25, 1888.

By the first decade of the 20th century, the village Post Office had given its seal of approval to the fair and respectable Cwmrhydyceirw, leaving the much despised beer to the historians and old maps.



Pant-y-gwydir is the name of low-lying land at the bottom of Townhill and Mayhill, north of St Helens and east of Sgeti  (Sketty).  It became the name of a farm Pantguidir 1650, and the final element gwydir is also found in Pant-y-gwydir House, Pant-y-gwydir Gardens  and Gwydir Crescent.

At first glance one's immediate reaction is to associate gwydir with gwydr the Welsh word for ‘glass', but this would be misleading and inaccurate. The key to unlocking the meaning is to be found in the name of a property in the Conwy Valley, once owned by the famous Wynn family and known as Gwydir Castle along with Gwydir Forest. Here, the word gwydir contains two elements gwo- ‘under, low', and tir ‘land', and refers to the low lying (often flooded) land alongside the river Conwy near Llanrwst.  Pant-y-gwydir Swansea is also located on low lying land, as the pant element suggests, so that Pant-y-gwydir meaning ‘lowland hollow' would fit in very nicely with its location. Note the neighbouring and contrasting Uplands.

It appears that present day  Cwmdonkin Park is located on land that was once part of Pant-y-gwydir farm. (G. O. Pearce, Mynegbyst i'r Gorffennol, p91.)




Burlakesbrok 12th cent. B. Charter
Burlakysbrok 1306 B. Charter
Burlakesland 16th cent. MIG
Cwm Bwrla 1641 ibid
Burlax Broke 1685 ibid
Cum Bwrla 1711 ibid
Cumburle 1715 ibid
Cwm Burla 1729 EBMSW
Cwmbwrla 1967 GWPN

The Welsh Cwmbwrla meaning ‘Bwrla valley' is a later version of an earlier name.The stream that flows through Cwmbwrla was called Burlakesbrok in a 12th century charter and formed the northern boundary of the early town. Burlake consists of OE burh (town, borough) and OE lacu (small stream) which reflects its position as the town's northern limit.
By 1641 the sream called Burlake had been Cymricised to Bwrla with Welsh Cwm added as a prefix to give Cwmbwrla. A similar linguistic transition occurred near Margam where a bridge over an earlier burlake brook is known today as Pont Bwrlac.

[For a more detailed explanation see G. O. Pierce, Place-Names in Glamorgan p57-58.]





Today Gendros is a suburban area of Swansea located between Fforestfach and Cwmdu. Earlier it was a farm-name Gendros farm 1852, Genros farm 1844, also recorded as Genrhos 1844 and Genrose 1735. The Gendros Colliery was also known as the Charles Colliery, after the Charles brothers who owned it from c1884.

Gendros, earlier Genrhos, contains two Welsh place-name elements viz. cefn (mountain ridge) and rhos (moor) and indicates elevated moorland. Genrhos shows lenition of the initial consonant c > g, due to a feminine noun following a (redundant) definite article i.e. (Y) Genrhos. Furthermore, an intrusive d developed between the n and r giving Gendros. This also happens orally to such names as Henry > Hendry, Penry > Pendry, Penrhyn > Pendryn and Mannery > Mandry (for Mainwaring).

Gendrhos, Gendrhosissa and Gendrhosycha were names recorded in the Llanelli area in 1831, (Neville, NLW).





Sketty is the name of a residential area on the Gower side of the city of Swansea. Many attempts have been made to explain the place-name’s etymology, including the latest in the Western Mail of May 7th, 2016, where Robin Turner suggests “Sketty is thought to be an anglicised version of the Welsh Is Maen Keti, (below Keti’s stone).” Unfortunately Mr Turner did not search for the early form of the name Enesketti 1319, which clearly shows that the name’s elements are Welsh ynys (Enes) [river-meadow] and the personal name Cetti (ketti) giving a meaning of Cetti’s river-meadow. The same river-meadow meaning of ynys is present in Ynysforgan, Ynys-boeth, Ynysgedwyn, Ynys-y-bŵl etc. Over the centuries Enesketti was shortened, eg. le Skette 1400, Skety 17th century and Yscetty 1867. The identity of this particular Ceti is not known, but the same personal name occurs in Cilgeti/Kilgetty. Pembs. Kylketty 1330, Kilgetty 1586, ‘Ceti’s nook/corner’. Also, Maen Ceti is an alternative name for Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn (ridge hill), Gower, roughly ten miles away from Sketty. Many villages could have claimed Robin Turner’s ‘Is Maen Keti’ name had such a name existed. When attempting ot explain their etymologies, one must always search for early forms of place-names.