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 Gowerton and Tre-gŵyr are the present day English and Welsh names for this village located within the boundaries of the City and County of Swansea. Previously the village had been part of the earlier counties of West Glamorgan, Glamorgan and the older, extended parish of Loughor. Tre-gŵyr, a translation of Gowerton, is the most recent name. It was minted in 1934 by D. E. Williams, who at the time, was headmaster of  Gowerton County Intermediate School. (TAG p8). The school was later known as Gowerton Boys’ Grammar School, Gowerton Comprehensive School and most recently, Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr. Tre-ŵyr would have been the more grammatically correct.  


The second element Gŵyr (anglicised as Gower) is the oldest name. The three commotes of Gŵyr, Carnwyllion and Cedweli were part of the pre-Norman cantref of Eginog, in the old Welsh kingdom of Ystrad Tywi. The boundaries of the commote of Gŵyr were roughly (east-west) the land between the rivers Tawe and Llwchwr, and (north-south) extending from Y Mynydd Du (the Black Mountain) to Rhosili. After the Norman conquest of Gower (c1106-16) the earlier commote became the Norman Lordship of Gower.Gŵyr is Welsh for ‘curved’ and reflects the shape of the commote or possibly the  curved nature of the peninsula.


Gowerton (Gower & town) was first used in 1886. It replaced Gower Road as the settlement name. Gower Road had previously been the name of a highway between Swansea and the peninsula, passing through Sketty, Killay, Fairwood, Fairy Hill etc. but on August 11th 1854, the Cambrian newspaper reported that a new railway station ‘was last week opened between Swansea and Loughor called Gower Road Station.’

In 1867 a police station and magistrates’ court were opened at Gower Road. By 1873, this was accepted as the settlement name and remained so until 1886. In that year Gower Road was changed to Gowerton due to some confusion within the Swansea Poatal Authority between the Gower Road at Sketty and the Gower Road at Ffosfelen.

In Oct. 1885 the Vestry posted a notice to the local press stating that ‘the name of the village is to be changed from Gower Road to Gowerton.’ (TAG p6 & 7). The change of name took effect from January 1st 1886.


There has been some confusion regarding the second element of Ffosfelen. As it stands it translates as ‘yellow’ or ‘dirty ditch’, but it was recorded as Foes y velyn in 1799, and as Foes y Felin in 1813/14. This translates as ‘the mill ditch’ (ffos y felin). It is more than likely that the mill referred to is the nearby Trafle Mill. This is recorded as YVelin Newydd (sic) in the will of John Llewellin of Travele in 1691. (PCC). This is the earliest recorded date for a mill at this location. Y Felin Newydd (the new mill) suggests that this mill may have been built in the 1670s or 1680s.


There is however an earlier form of ‘a lane called Ffose Vellen’ recorded in the Gower Surveys of 1650. Here it states that Ffos Felen is the name of a lane. The lane was either part of the ditch (ffos) or it ran alongside the ditch. As Ffos felen is the earliest form, and possibly pre dates the mill at Trafle by some twenty or thirty years, we must accept that the second element is felen (yellow, dirty) rather than melin (mill).


Trafle is also an interesting name. It occurs as Travele and Travely in the aforementioned will of 1691, and as Trafle Mawr and Melin Trafle on the 1830 OS1” map. It consists of Welsh trafal, tryfal, - ‘a triangle, a fork of two rivers’ (See ELl p44.), here in the plural form tryfalau (dialect trafale) and probably refers to two confluences:  the one of the Lliw and Llan rivers (earlier known as the lesser and greater Lliw rivers) and the other of the united Lliw rivers with the river Loughor.

Deric John, August 2010. 

TAG = Talking About Gowerton, J. Hywel Rees.

CCP = The Prerogative of the Court of Canterbury

ELl   =  Enwau Lleoedd, Ifor Williams.




Cefn Stylle

 Kevenystlle otherwise Berthllwyd         1738    Coleman         

Kevenstulle                                          1775    ibid;

Kefenstull                                            1775    ibid;

Cefn Stylle                                           1884 OS map; 1958     OS 1;25,000;     


Cefn & poss.  pistyllau  ‘montain ridge of the springs, wells’.  


This is the name of a small-holding between Gowerton and Berthllwyd. The first element 'cefn' is almost certainly 'mountain ridge'. This is a common place-name element and occurs locally in Cefn Bryn, Cefndrum etc.The second element 'stylle' is not so straight forward. It looks to be connected to the Welsh word 'pistyll' - 'spout, well, cataract' etc. If so, it would probably be the contracted form of the plural 'pistyllau' in its dialectic form of 'stylle'.The meaning of the combined elements would then be 'moutain ridge of the springs, wells etc.'

If there are a number of springs, wells in the immediate locality, then that would confirm the meaning. The 1884 OS map shows two wells, one near Cefn Stylle, the other near the adjacent Felin-fach.



Penller gâr                    1650                 G. S.

Penllengare (sic)           1724                 Col  D.D. 846

Penllergare                   1729                 EBMSW

                                    1733                 Glam Deeds                  GRO

                                    1813                 OSM unpublished          GRO

Penllergare Estate         1817                 SWMRS  pub. 5            1963

Penllargare                   1809                 Penlle’r-gaer A, 666      NLW

Penllergae                     1826                 Lewis Weston Dilwyn(2) NLW

Penllergaer                   1729                 Penlle’r-gaer B             NLW

                                    1821                 Lewis Weston Dilwyn   NLW

                                    1828                 Ffynnone 2                    NLW

                                    1849                 Nevill 2686-2691           NLW

Penllyrgaer                   1747-8              Badminton 2, 1480-93    NLW

Penllyrgare                   mid 18th cent.    Badminton 2, 2139         NLW

Pennlergare                  1799                 Penlle’r-gaer B, 51        NLW   

Penlle’r-gaer                 1967                 GWPN

                                    2004                 NLW



Tyr penlle yr gare          1789                 Penlle’r-gaer B, 20        NLW


         The above samples of recorded forms of the Penlle’r-gaer name demonstrate a variety of orthographies. Whatever the spellings, the one common factor is the nature of the elements within this place-name. One way or another, each of these examples has tried to reflect the four elements of the name viz. Welsh pen, lle, ’r and caer which, translated gives ‘the top end of the place of the fort’. Welsh pen has a number of meanings, and here I believe it to indicate both an elevated position, and a territorial terminus. The fort is probably the auxiliary Roman fort at Garngoch common. If we take the geographical position loosely as that of the earlier Penlle’r-gaer estate rather than the present village, which inexactly and partly occupies the site of the previous Corseinon Common, then its proximity to Cadle further strengthens the etymology. Cadle erroneously thought of as a place of battle, is actually indicative of a soldiers’ training ground. This cadle may well have been the training ground of the soldiers stationed at the aforementioned Roman auxiliary camp, and within the territorial boundaries of that camp, while the land at Penlle’r-gaer was at the upper boundary of that land.


         The earliest form of 1650 (written in the Cromwell survey of Gower) has a circumflex accent over the final vowel. This represents the local pronunciation of the final element ‘caer’ (mutated ‘gaer’). Penllergare has an anglicized scribal transmission of the final element. All the examples are scribal attempts at reproducing, in various orthographies, the elements within the place-name. The elements are Welsh, and as such, should be written correctly in modern Welsh orthography as Penlle’rgaer. J. Elwyn Davies in A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names suggests Penlle’r-gaer.


         Penlle’rgaer or Penlle’r-gaer represents correct Welsh spellings of the elements. Personally, I prefer a simplistic Penlle’rgaer to an elaborate Penlle’r-gaer. The others noted above, including Penllergare contain either grammatical or orthographical imperfections.


[Further reading: - ‘Penllergare or Penllergaer?’ Jeff Childs, p.127 – 131 Morgannwg Vol XLVII 2003]  

 Deric John           8 Nov. 2004

PS. Egerton Phillimore in his notes on J.H.Lloyd's Welsh Place-names [BBCS Vol X 1890 p44] states "we have Penlle'r Gaer (barbarously spelt Penllergare)"