Breconshire 3606      



For PENDERYN  see CYNON VALLEY and PENDERYN in introduction.




Bronllys is the name of a village on the A438 between Brecon and Talgarth. In its present form, Bronllys looks as if it contains the Welsh elements 'bron' and 'llys' giving a meaning of 'near the court' or 'court hill', and there is a castle there that would fit in nicely with the second meaning.

But that will not do, because earlier forms (Broynllys 1553, hyd Vrwynllys 15th cent.) show 'Brwynllys' and that the first element is Welsh 'brwyn' rather than the present 'bron'.
'Brwyn' has a number of meanings - (1) a personal name; (2) an adjective meaning 'sad' and (3) the Welsh name for English 'rushes', plants that grow in fenland.

One of the Grave Poems (Englynion y Beddau) in the Black Book of Carmarthen (p.65), mentions 'mab y Bruin o Bricheinauc', (the son of Brwyn of Brychan's land). This Brwyn was an important person, and it is possible that his court was located on the site of the later castle at Bronllys.
There are further early examples of Brwyn as a personal name, but it went out of fashion and its implication was lost. Brwynllys was adopted as part of the 15th cent. local poet Bedo Brwynllys's bardic name.

Brwynllys was often written as Broynllys (cf. Llwyd > Lloyd), with Broynllys changing to Bronllys probably for assumed grammatical correctness.

[I am grateful to the late Prof. S. J. Williams (father of the late Urien Wiliam) for much of the above information.]






Hendre-bolon is the name of an old farmstead on the banks of the river Mellte in the parish of Ystradfellte. These days, the house has been modernised and a brochure describes it as a two-bedroomed cottage located in twenty five acres of land. Hendre Bolon Woods covers part of this land. These woods came to the attention of the Welsh press in 1831as the secret haunt and place of capture of Lewis Lewis, after his disappearance following the Merthyr Riots.


Hendre Bolon contains two place-name elements. The first, hendre(f), is used for the family’s main or winter residence. In the spring and early summer, the young men and farmhands would head for the high ground with their cattle and sheep and remain there in their summer dwellings before returning in the autumn, to the permanent home, the hendre(f). The farmhands and their families would live in the pentref, the lesser buildings at the end or on the edge of the tref. The later meanings pentref (village) and tref (town) maintain this earlier differential.  


What of the second element bolon? The word bolon is used orally in the south for the written bodlon. It was usual years ago, to hear people saying “dyw e ddim bolon mynd” (he’s not willing to go) or “ma hi itha bolon ar ‘i byd” (she’s quite contented with her lot). It’s very unlikely however that this is the second element of Hendre Bolon. I have heard another explanation with polon the local pronunciation of polion the plural of polyn “a pole”. This is unlikely on the grounds of mutation rules which would give Hendre Polon.


Fortunately, an early form of the place-name leads us towards a far more plausible etymology. A marriage covenant between Ieuan ap Ieuan ap Rees and Elin, daughter of Lewis John Lloyd, in A.D. 1579 (Penpont 1251 NLW) records Tir porthegogove and hendreyrrebollion in the parish of Istradvelltey. This early form, written as Hendre yr ebolion in modern orthography, translates as a very acceptable “colts’ farmstead”. It would perhaps have been more pertinent to have included colts among the earlier named animals in transhumance. On the other hand it is possible that the colts remained at the hendre, on the banks of the Mellte for the whole year. Be that as it may, the one certainty here is that ebolion (colts) remain as the eponymous animals of Hendre Bolon.


DMJ    11.3.14




NLW Journals online.


For Some Breconshire Place-names by Prof. Emeritus S. J. Williams :-



For R. F. Peter Powell's Place-names of Devynock Hundred  :-