Royal Welsh Show 2015: Taking a closer look at the origin of field names

The 2015 Show is sponsored by Monmouthshire, and the Show’s President, Mr David Morgan, also lives in the county, at Trostre Court in Trostre parish, north of Usk.

There aren’t many field names recorded on the Tithe Schedule for Trostre parish, but fortunately, there is a reasonably full record of the fields of Trostre Court.  Here we shall look at a selection of those names:

The significance of some of them are obvious, for example Caer Eglwys (‘field of the church’) which borders with the parish church (Trostre church), or Caie Ddwr (containing the elements caeau ‘fields’ and dŵr ‘water’) where a small pool is shown, probably supplying water at one time.  (It is likely that the mutation of the element dŵr is an error, possibly by a transcriber who was not familiar with the Welsh language).

Part of Trostrey Tithe Schedule

Page 9 of Trostrey Tithe Schedule

 

Further thought must be given to the meaning of other names.  The name Cae Main doesn’t contain the element main meaning ‘narrow’ and referring to the shape of the cae or ‘field’, but rather main, plural of maen ‘stone’, describing a stony field.

The element gwrlod is common in the field names of Trostre Court, for example Wrlod y panta Ishaf and Wrlod Clomendy. Gwrlod is a variant form of gweirglod or gweirglodd meaning ‘meadow or hay meadow’.  The first example has the elements pantau ‘hollows’ and isaf ‘lower’.  It is worth drawing attention to the clomendy or colomendy in the second example, which is a ‘dovecote, pigeon-house’, used in former days for breeding pigeons.  Here is a reminder therefore of an old rural practice.

As one would expect in an area not far from the English border, the names include a mixture of Welsh and English elements.

Directly to the west of Trostre Court house, there are two fields recorded on the Tithe Map as Ffor Lands and Ffor Land Uchaf.  They appear to have forms of the English element foreland meaning ‘land lying in front’, possibly describing the location of the fields in relation to the house.  It occurs in other place-names in Monmouthshire, e.g. Cae’r-foreland, Dingestow (J. A. Bradney: A History of Monmouthshire ii. 64).  The Welsh element uchaf ‘upper’ is probably used to distinguish between the two fields.

Page 10 of Trostrey Tithe Schedule

Page 10 of Trostrey Tithe Schedule

 

Another example of the mixing of elements from both languages in the field names of the area is Cae Ygen Cover and Thirty Covers.  One field containing the Welsh numeral ugain ‘twenty’, and a nearby field having the English numeral thirty.  But the last element of the names, cover or covers, is worth a closer look.  The English cover is recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary as an ‘Anglicized spelling of Welsh cyfair’ (with cyfair, cyfer being a measure of land varying in size in different areas).  An example of its use is cited from the beginning of the eighteenth century, but possibly these two examples should be added to the OED’s collection.

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

 

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