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