The Growth of Tinopolis


This is a part of the map of the parish of Llanelli focusing on the town itself. The town seems to be a a small nucleated settlement with St Elli Parish church at its core. The Ordanance Survey 1st edition map used by People’s collection Wales shows Llanelli to be considerably larger even only a short time later.

Many towns and villages were excluded from the tithe survey, or appear on tithe maps in varying degrees of detail and accuracy. Many small coalfield communities in Wales experienced unprecedented growth during the second half of the nineteenth century and their delineation on tithe maps contrasts significantly with their present form. This is so true of Llanelli.

In 1830 the population of Llanelli and district numbered some 17,000. By 1900 it had grown to 36,000 and today totals some 40,000. Llanelli’s growth derived predominantly from the presence of tinplate works and allied industries. The one hundred year dominance of metal production in the town began to gain momentum from the mid nineteenth century with the construction of the Dafen and then the Morfa tinplate works. By 1880 the town had seven tinplate works, earning it the name ‘Tinopolis’.

Thousands of rural folk flocked to the burgeoning tinplate, steel and iron works and invested their wages in houses with modern amenities. Shops, chapels, churches, schools, hospitals, new roads, tramways and their accompanying infrastructures also came to fruition so contributing to the creation the ‘Tinopolis’ we know today.

Gwilym Tawy

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Map of the Month – August


This 1842 map of Llanelli by Thomas Lott Martin of Ynystawe is very large, it’s over 2.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide. The area represented on it is also large, reaching from Pontyberem in the north to the town of Llanelli and the south coast. It includes many interesting features for the period – a railway, a tramway and a canal, but excludes some non titheable areas.

It is difficult to compress this map and present it as an image on the web, it will be much easier to examine this map with proper map serving technology when the interface becomes live within a few months.

Category: Map of the Month

Llanelwedd Field Names on Display

The Llanelwedd Tithe Map Schedule is a relatively complete record of the field-names of the parish in the 1840s, listed by holding. An unique number for each field corresponds to a location on the Tithe Map.

As one would expect in a parish on the language divide, English and Welsh names exist side by side within the parish and also on individual farms.  We see examples of English and Welsh elements co-existing in single field-names, such as Cae glas upper [‘upper green field’] (98) and Cae shepherd [‘shepherd’s field’] (93).

The nature of the names are quite varied, but it is likely that the most common names (as in Wales generally) are those with the adjectives little, large, upper, lower, middle, further: Little Meadow (122), Dol fawr [‘large meadow’] (323), High field (282), Cae llwyd isaf [‘lower grey field’] (91), Middle Meadow (300), and Further field (35).

Other names describe a particular field’s location in relation to the farmhouse or other building or feature.  In Llanelwedd parish, we have Cae wrth gefn y ty [‘field at the back of the house’](232), Field before the House (114), Cefn deilad isaf ac uchaf [‘lower and upper back of the building’] (274), and Waun dan y coed [‘meadow below the woods’] (156).

A perceived shape is reflected in some field-names: Long field (246), and Cae Syth [‘straight field’](88); and it seems that Round about (57) received it’s name because it was L-shaped.

Occasionally names describe the nature of a parcel of land.  One can assume that Cae drussy [‘briars field’] (153) was once full of briars or thorns; that Waun arw [‘rough meadow’] (51) was quite uneven; stones could have been a problem on the surface of Cae Cerrig [‘stone field’] (58); and Cefn poeth [‘hot or burning ridge’] (137) would tend to scorch in the sun.

Some field-names refer to a prominent or unique feature: Cae Pistyll [‘spring/brook field’] (125), Caer Eglwys [‘church field’] (47), Pond field (293), and Bridge Meadow (310).

Names may refer to animals that grazed there: Cae gwartheg [‘cattle field’] (283-4), Cae defaid [‘sheep field’] (154). It’s doubtful, however, whether all creatures would be welcome: Coed y brain [‘woods of the crows’] (295-6), and Cae neidr [‘snake field’] (94).

The crops grown are frequently recorded: Cae clover [‘clover field’] (8), Barley field (59), Wheat field (11), and Rye Grass Field (218).

Field-names indicate important natural resources:  a supply of water would be available at Waun y [f]fynon [‘well meadow’] (148); gorse could be gathered at Caer eithin [‘gorse field’] (207) for shredding as fodder for horses; and Banc Waun y to [‘bank of the roof heath’] (242) would denote a place where an abundance of rushes was available for roofing.

Other names may refer to specific persons, as in the case of Gwynne’s Meadow (301).  It is often quite impossible to trace who they were with certainty.  In this instance, however, the name may well refer to a member of the Gwynne family who resided at Llanelwedd Hall for several generations.  An occupation or trade is frequently commemorated: Cae Tailwr [‘ tailor/manurer’s field’] (90), Waun Tanner [‘tanner’s field’] (299), Cae tinker [‘tinker’s field’] (315), and Cae shepherd [‘shepherd’s field’] (93).  But who, I wonder, was the criminal whose dark deeds gave rise to Cae Lleidr [‘thief’s field’] (97) (although lleidr could possibly be a misreading of neidr ‘snake’ as in the previous record)?



Prepared by Angharad Fychan in cooperation with the Welsh Place-Name Society

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Map of the Month – July


This beautiful map of Llanelwedd near Builth Wells was produced in 1846 by Evan Jones Griffiths of Llandeilo. It includes Llanelwedd Hall which is today the site of the Royal Welsh Show.

Category: Map of the Month

Map of the Month – June


Our map of the month for June is Llansaintfraed – it’s a good example for showing some of the challenges facing the project. The unfamiliar spelling reminds us of the need to consider the standards and authorities of place names. This map also contains a detatched part of the tithe district, and and another part – the village of Llannon – enlarged in an inset.

Category: Map of the Month

A Fresh Look at Welsh Tithe Maps

The Cynefin project aims to digitise 1200 tithe maps by the end of 2016, and since the beginning of April and 49 have been digitised. Also, of the 1200 maps to be digitised, about 800 need conservation work, and 48 of these have been treated since the beginning of April.

This week have been testing georeferencing at the National Library of Wales, and the images below demonstrate the success of this work so far.



This summer there will be opportunities for volunteers and members of the public to contribute to use a system which enables the fitting tithe to a modern geographical system, and local knowledge will be vitally important to ensure the accuracy of this work.

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The Search for Twm Carnabwth

The 175th anniversary of the first Rebecca rising is a great opportunity for the Cynefin project to demonstrate the value of the information held in the tithe maps and apportionments, and also show the benefit of digitisation.

The leader of the rebellion on the 13th of May 1839 was a farmer known as “Twm Carnabwth”. He was not a rich farmer, “Carnabwth” is a reference to his house quickly built on common land according to the Welsh tradition of “Ty Unnos”. He should appear on the apportionment documents, but how easy is he to find?

Try it for yourself – how much tithe did Twm pay? The map and the relevant apportionment page are provided below, but this is insufficient to confirm we have the right man. Is Carnabwth the name of his farm? You will probably need a quick check on Wikipedia and spend some time on the historic maps provided by the People’s Collection.

Can you find Carnabwth – or a similar name?

Once the Cynefin project is complete the map of Mynachlog-ddu will be geo-referenced, the apportionment document will be transcribed, and Twm Carnabwth’s house will be geo-tagged. We will be able to carry out this type of query and many other similar queries much more efficiently.



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Efailwen Before the Rebecca Riots

The historical context of tithe maps is extremely interesting, as we can see in the area of Cilmaenllwyd in Carmarthenshire which includes the village of Efailwen, the location of the first Rebecca rebellion.

The tithe map of Cilmaenllwyd was made in early 1838, a year before the infamous tollgate was built. The tollgate is not shown as it was built in May 1839 and only lasted for a few days before it was destroyed.

It was a period when the majority of the people who lived in rural areas faced difficult living conditions with an increase in poverty partly due to the population growth.
The tithe payments were controversial enough as so much of the money went to the church while a good proportion of the Welsh attended chapels. However, the main objects of fear and hate for the public were the new workhouses which were prisons for the poor, and tollgates which undermined farmers’ ability to trade.

There was a particularly large number of tollgates set up by turnpike trusts in Camarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, but they did not keep to government guidelines and the roads they were meant to fund were of poor quality. When the Whitland Trust built an additional tollgate in the village of Efailwen the local community was infuriated and they decided to take action in a particular style when hundreds of them dressed as women and noisily attacked the tollgate during the night. This was the first dramatic appearance of the women’s leader – “Rebecca”.

The date of this attack was the 13th of May 1839 – almost exactly 175 years ago. It was very significant as it set the pattern for a far bigger rebellion when Rebecca reappeared in 1842-43. On that occasion she ruled over all of south west Wales destroying dozens of tollgates while resisting the efforts of over a thousand soldiers.


For the whole map in lower resolution see the Map of the Month for May.

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Map of the Month – May

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This is a map of Cilmaenllwyd in Carmarthenshire – and includes the tiny but historically significant village of Efailwen near the top right hand corner – on the boundary with Pembrokeshire. This map was made in 1838 by Alfred Thomas of Carmarthen, valuer and surveyor. The map itself is 62 cm high and 106 cm wide, but this is not particularly large compared to other tithe maps. It was possible to scan it on our A0 scanner.

Category: Map of the Month

Map of the Month – April

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This is an image of the first Tithe Map to be digitised by the Cynefin project. This beautiful map of Neath was requested for an exhibition so the National Library of Wales digitised the map before releasing it.

Category: Map of the Month
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