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INTRODUCTION ABERTAWE SWANSEA & District AFAN / NEDD BRECONSHIRE BRIDGEND and The VALE CARDIFF and district CARMARTHENSHIRE Cwm RHONDDA Valleys CWM TAWE (Swansea Valley) CYNON VALLEY GŴYR / GOWER LLANDEILO TAL-Y-BONT Pryscedwin  LLIW VALLEY LLYNFI VALLEY MERTHYR TYDFIL MONMOUTHSHIRE PEMBROKESHIRE PONTARDULAIS (Pontarddulais) PONTYPRIDD and district Place-name Elements 'A' Elements 'B' Elements 'C' Elements 'DEF' Elements 'G' Elements 'HIJK'. Elements 'L' Elements 'M' Elements 'N' & 'O' Elements 'P' - 'PL' Elements 'PO' - 'Q' Elements 'R' Elements 'S' Elements 'T' Elements 'U' and 'V' Elements 'W' Elements 'Y' ONOMASTIC TALES PLACE-NAME CHANGES Guest Book



 This is the present name of the farm at the side of the back road between Penderyn and Rugos, just below Penderyn church. The name appears very suited to the farm's location, in a dingle (pant) at the back of the road (cefn y ffordd). But the 1840 Tithe Map has Pantycynferth as the farm's name, which makes the last element (cynferth) problematic. Luckily, earlier forms recorded as Pantcyfnerth in 1796 and Tir Pwll Kyfnerth in 1553, identify cyfnerth rather than cynferth as the last element

Over the years cyfnerth became cynferth by metathesis, ie. with the letters ‘f' and ‘n' changing place. The same process occurred in Dynfant previously Dyfnant (deep valley), Llynfi previously Llyfni and Llynfell previously Llyfnell (llyfn ‘smooth' describes the river flow). But what of cyfnerth?

One can see the word nerth ‘strength' in cyfnerth, and GPC (Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru) has cyfnerth as a masc. noun ‘help, aid, strength, support....' etc. and an adjective ‘strong, firm...; assisting, supporting'. Therefore Pant cyfnerth could be a ‘supporting hollow' and Pwll cyfnerth a ‘supporting pool'.

But the Melville Richards Archive at Bangor contains many examples from the Middle Ages of Cyfnerth as a personal name eg. Tir Ievan ap Cyfnerth, Tyddyn Cyfnerth etc. Also, one of the famous law books attributed to Hywel Dda is named Llyfr Cyfnerth (Cyfnerth's book). It is possible then that Pant Cyfnerth and Pwll Cyfnerth were the properties of a person named Cyfnerth.

To summarise, Pwll Cyfnerth was at Pant Cyfnerth which through metathesis became Pant cynferth. When the significance of the earlier name was was lost, Pantcefnyffordd was substituted in order to rationalise the name and give it a meaning.

The photo is of Pwll Cyfnerth, taken in April 2014 at Pant cefn y ffordd.





 Gelli Dyfolas.       1777.     PR.     PNDH.7.52.

Gelli dy volas.      1783.     ibid.

Gellidavollus.      1836.     ERB.    PNDH.7.52.

Gelli Davolas.      1830.     OS.

Gelli Davolas.      1840.     TM.

Gellydafolog.       1861 & 71.cens.   PNDH.7.52.

Gellidyfolws.        1905.     HPP.13.

Gelli Diafolws.     1905.     ibid.

Gellydafolas.        1926.     Kelly.  PNDH.7.52.

Gelli-dafolog.       1905.     OS6".   ibid.

Gelli-dafolog.       1989.     OS.     Pathfinder 1108. 

Welsh          'celli' + 'tafolog'.


celli   =   'grove, copse of trees, bushes; woodland,wooded glade'.


tafolog =   'of dock plants'.'tafol' + adjectival suffix '-og'.

tafolas, tafolws =   'dock plants'.'tafol' + old collective suffix  '-os'.


  '-os'  variant  '-as' eg.  bedwos  >  Bedwas; Onnos > Annas; Y  Wernos Deg  >  Y Wernas Deg; Derwos  >  Derwas.    ELL.51.


  '-os'  variant   '-ws' eg.  Trebanos > Trebanws;


cf. Trebannog, Penderyn and Trebanws, Cwm Tawe.


celli,   y gelli is a common Welsh place-name element.

Examples in the Cynon Valley are:-

Y  Gelli  Ber, (per = sweet, delicious, lucious);

Y  Gelli  Dawal, (tawel = quiet, peaceful);

Y  Gelli  Fendigaid, (bedigaid = blessed);

Y  Gelli  Deg, (teg = fair, beautiful);

Gelli  ben-uchel, (pen uchel = high end);

Gelli-fach, (bach = small,dear,endearing);

Gelli  Ffynhonnau, (ffynhonnau = springs,wells);

Gelli  Neuadd, (neuadd = hall,residence);

Gelli  Tarw, (tarw = bull);

Gelli  Ddu,(du = black);

Gelli  Fanaches, (mynaches = nun);

Gelli  Wrgan, (Gwrgan = pers. name) and

Gelli-lwch, (llwch = lake).                              


tafolog a composite word containing tafol (dock plant) + adjectival suffix '-og', means a place of dock plants.

cf.  Tafolog and Afon Dafolog, Gwynedd. (ELlSG.33.)


Similar plant place-names are:-

eithinog (furze, gorse);       

haiddog (barley. cf. Haydock Park);

grugog (heather) cf.  Rhosllannerchrugog; Y  rugos,  Rhigos;   

banhadlog, banalog (broom);

brwynog (rushes); celynnog (holly); rhedynog (ferns); ysgallog (thistles),etc.


tafolos,-ws, is the old collective form of the noun tafol,-tafolos.   Tafolws is prob.local pron.  The present day plural form is tafol with tafolen as the fem. sing.  cf. pebyll old sing.form with pebyllau as plural.  Today pabell is the sing. form and pebyll the plural. also cf. plantos(little children [Anwyl]), gwrageddos (gossips, silly women [Anwyl]).


Similar place-names with the old collective suffix '-os' are:-

Gwernos (alders) eg.  the Gurnos, Merthyr Tydfil;    

Trebanos (pan = cotton grass);

Bedwos (birches) eg.  Bedwas, Caerffili;             

Grugos (heathers), Y Rugos;           

Helygos (willows) eg.  Lygos, Clydach, Cwm Tawe;      

Gwastad  Onnos (ash trees),etc.


Field names in the Cynon valley with plant elements in the 1844 TS were:-


melarian (valerian, all-heal), Aberaman Ychaf;

Bryn syfi, Cae syfi (strawberry) Pantygerddinen, Aberffrwd, Dyffryn;

Cae'r rye grass, Pantygerddinen;

cae fetchys (vetch field), Blaennant;

cae gwinydd (woodbine, honeysuckle), Cwm du,Ynys Llwyd;

cae ysgallog (thistle),Ysgubor Wen & others;

cae rhyg (rye),Ysguborwen;

caia eirhinog  [eirinog] (bearing plums,damsons;sloes,bullace or berries) Tir y Iorin;

caia eithin  (furze, gorse) Tir y Iorin & others;

cae haidd (barley), Dyffryn Dar & others;

cae'r pys (peas), Llwyn Helyg;

potato garden,  Llwydcoed Est.& others;

cae'r gwenith (wheat), Fforch Aman & others;

ceirch (oats), Pwllfa & others; 

Waun clovers, Ynys Llwyd;  Glyn y rhedyn (fern),Vedw Hir;

ynys y trwne [trewynau] (loosestrife), Abercwmboi;

banwen [panwaun] cotton-grass, general;

cae cawn (reeds), Dyffryn;  cae'r fallan (apple), Wern Fawr &

coedcae ffa'r palog (stick beans), Ffrwd Genol Fach.


pron. gelli ('g' as in Eng.'got'; elli rhymes with Llanelli) dah-vole ogg.


Sp. Gelli-dafolog.         Location - Penderyn


Lit. meaning:- wooded glade of dock plants.


Pennyderyn. 1291. CCRV 338.Arch. Melville Richards
Penderin. 1372. CCPM.xiii.140. ibid.
Penyderyn. 1468. BMW iii.594.RWM i.918.ibid.
Penyderen. 1503.Place-Names of Devynock Hundred.
parish of Penderyn. 1515.1448.DP. ibid.
Penyderyn. 1535. VE.402. ibid.
parish of Pendryn(sic).1546.DP.ibid.
Parish of Pennyderyn. 1547.MWBM. ibid.
Penderyn. 1553. HPP.52. ibid.
parish of Penderin.1567.60.53.HPP.52. ibid.

The early recorded forms of the place-name contain the two elements pen and deryn, dialect form of aderyn, with or without the definite article. The original meaning was 'bird's head',or 'the bird's head'.Some writers on toponymy believe that the name refers to a bird-like topographical feature such as Moel Penderyn (see photo in Introduction).
Others think that it was totemistic in nature, marking a boundary line or a meeting place, with religious and tribal significances.
The late Bedwyr Lewis Jones in an article on Pentyrch in the Western Mail wrote (translated):-

'Many centuries ago, the people of a district or hundred would assemble in one particular place in order to hold meetings in the open air. In those meetings it was the custom to place the head of an animal on a pole - as a totem pole. It seems most likely that a boar's head on a pole would mark the early meeting place for each of the four Pentyrch('s) or Bentyrch('s) in Wales'.
Pentyrch contains the two elements 'pen' {head} and 'tyrch', genitive form of 'twrch' {boar} giving ‘boar's head’.

Pen Hydd (stag), Penychen (ox) Pen yr Afr (goat), Pen yr Hwrdd (ram), and Pen March (stallion) fall into the same totemistic category of place-names as Pentyrch, and Penderyn. It seems likely that Penderyn, the name for the totemistic tribal meeting place or territory, was adopted as the name of the parish and later for the name of the settlement which grew around the Penderyn parish church, (dedicated to St.Cynog). Penderyn, ‘bird’s head’ For a more detailed account, see
'Cynon Valley Place-Names', pages 76-78.

Is it possible that the topographical feature influenced the choice of totem?



The late Dr Melville Richards deeply regretted having suggested the spelling 'Y Rhigos' in Rhestr o Enwau Lleoedd/A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names,and strongly advocated 'Y Rugos'. He accepted 'Ricos' as the local dialect pronounciation. see his article on 'Y Rugos' (Iaith a Llen.8-9).

Rugoys. 1314. CIPMV. MR.
Rigois,Rigos. 1536-9. Leland. MR.
Rygoes (Rhydgroes). 16th cent. Par iii. 120.MR.
Rigos. 1666. CFL Morg. MR.
Rhigoes. 1789. LTA. MR.
Rhygos. 1793. LTA. MR.
Rhy-goes. 1799. Yates's map. CVAI 14.
Rhydgroes. 1833. OS. MR.
Rhigos. 1851. census. MR.
Cefn Rhigos. 1954. OS1".
Rhigos Halt. 1954. OS1".

Welsh. 'y' + 'grugos',['grug(heather) + -os', mutated to 'y rugos' local dial.pron.'ricos'] the place of heather; the heath. Rhydgroes is to be ignored as it is merely an effort at 'correcting' the name. Cefn Rhigos(rugos) means the ridge of the place of heather. Rhigos Halt refers to the old railway line.

Many Welsh place-names follow this pattern of having the name of a tree or type of vegetation plus the old collective suffix -os.

Y Wernos,gwernos(alder);

Onnos(ash),eg. Yr Onnos, Ystradfellte;

rhedynos (fern);

helygos (willow). cf. Lygos, Cwm Tawe;

bedwos (birch). cf. Bedwas;

panos (cotton grass). cf. Trebanos, Cwm Tawe;

tafol(docks). cf Gelli Dafolos (dial.dafolws), Penderyn;

dreinos (brambles). cf. Ton Drunoss, Plymouth Surveys. etc.

MR. identifies other places in Wales with grugos as a place-name element.

Y Rugos,Llandinam;

Grugos,Tre-lech a'r Betws;



Grugos, Llanllwchaearn;


Clun y rugos, (Glyn Rhigos on recent maps) Dulais,Neath;

Erw Grugos, Pen-bre;


Pantygrugos. Llannarth;

and Twyn y Rugos, Llangynidr, (Twyn y Rhicos).

pron. ugh ree goss. y rugos. local pron. rickoss.
Sp. Y Rugos. Literal meaning :- the place of heather.
for similar entries see
Deric John's  'Cynon Valley Place-names'


Llanivonno. 1535. V.E. Meisg.83.
Llan wonni. 1536-39. Itin.Lel.22. ibid.
Lanwyno. 1549. Card.Recs.ll.277. ibid.
Lanwno. 1559. Card.Recs.lV.84. ibid.
Llanwnno. 1550-1600. Rep.ll.part 1.135.ibid.
Lanwynno. 1578. Glam.Ants.113. ibid.
Llanwonno. 1597. Card.Recs.1. 340. ibid.
Lanwonno. 1666. M.M. ibid.
Llanwonnoe. 1673. B.M. part 3.707. ibid.
Llanwunno. 1699. Lhuyd.Paroch.iii. 9. ibid.
Llanwynno. 1729. Bowen. ibid.
Lanwonnoe. 1730. Plymouth. MR. PNCB.
Lanwonno. 1799. Yates.
Llanwynno. 1833. Colby.Meisg.83. 

Welsh. Llan + Gwynno. Llan = (parish) church. Gwynno = pers. name.(saint). Gwynno's church. There are over six hundred and thirty llan place-names in Wales, yet Llanwynno is the only example of a llan place-name in the Cynon valley.
The word llan has an interesting etymology.
"As both English and Welsh emanate from the Indo-European languages that spread from the north of India and across Europe,there is a close relationship between the Welsh word llan and the English land.
In Welsh,the original meaning of llan was 'an enclosed piece of land',and this is seen today in such words as gwinllan (vinyard), perllan (orchard) and corlan (sheep pen). Very soon however,the word was used for 'an enclosed cemetery', then for the church inside the cemetery and finally for the land served by that church and its vicar,(ie.) - the parish.
Very often llan was followed by the name of the patron saint of the parish or the founder of the church - such as Llangadog, Llanfwrog, Llanbedr or Llandeilo."
Tomos Roberts. Ditectif Geiriau.Western Mail.(trans.)
Gwynno is the patron saint of Llanwynno and is said to be one of the three patron saints of Llantrisant (along with Illtyd and Tyfodwg ) as well as being one of the five saints of Llanpumsaint ( Gwyn, Gwynno, Gwynoro, Celynin and Ceitho ).
He is also eponymous with Maenor Gwynno (the parish of Vaynor )near Merthyr Tydfil.
pron. llan('ll' as in Llanelli) win oh. llanwinno. Sp. Llanwynno. Literal meaning:- Gwynno's church.
for similar entries see 'Cynon Valley Place-names'.


Scales Row p.h. 1919 OS 25”
Scale Arms 1901, 1910 Kelly’s Directory South Wales
Scales Arms 1848-1938 OA Vol. 2. p125.
1 Scale Row 1881 Census LDS
Scalys Arms 1851 Census GFHS

Located in Scales Row, Cwmbach, Aberdare, the Scales Arms (1) bears the name of the Scales family.
Scalys in the 1851 GFHS Census seems to be a scribal error for Scales. In the 1851 census, the publican is named Timothy Theophilus, age 56, born Llanfair, Carms. His eldest son is William Theophilus age 22, coal miner, born Aberdare parish. The 1881 LDS Census does not name the public house, but 1 Scales Row has William Theophilus, publican age 54, born Cwmbach. It seems likely that the eldest son has continued his father’s business. In 1901 and 1910 the public house is recorded as Scale Arms, the proprietors are William James and William Owen Jones respectively.
Another Scales Arms, Trecynon is listed in OA Vol 2. p125.

SCALES HOUSES and New Scales Houses

Scales Houses 1995 MSP;
Scales Buildings (1-12) 1851 Census GFHS;

Located in Llwydcoed, Scales Buildings/Houses were named after the Scale family. (2)
The brothers George and John Scale of Hansworth, Staffs were first of the Cynon Valley Scales lineage. They came to Llwydcoed in 1800 and built blast furnaces there.
Scales buildings are numbered from 1 to 12 in the 1851 Census.
The New Scales Houses were built c1914 on the site of the earlier Scales Houses. The New Scales Houses were also known as the ‘Belgian Houses’ as they accommodated refugees from that country at the onset of the First World War. (3)


Scales Row 1919 OS 25”; 1995 MSP;
 Scale Row 1881 Census LDS;

Located on New Cardiff Road, Cwmbach, this row of houses is again named after the Scale family.(4) They are numbered from 1 to 10 in the 1881 census, but today (2002), they are reduced to three in number. As well as being owners of the Aberdare Ironworks at Llwydcoed and the Abernant Ironworks, the Scales were also at one time, part owners of the Aberdare Canal Co. In the1930s the disused Aberdare Canal (1812-1900) was filled in and transformed into a new road.(5) Cardiff New Road evolved as part of this transformation. Scales Row, once on the canal bank, is now on the side of the ‘new’ road.
It seems likely that Scales Row took its name from its proximity to the Scales Arms and that the public house bore the name of the Scale family.
1. See D. L. Davies, Background Notes to “Gardd Aberdar” in Old Aberdare Vol. 2.
2. Cynon Valley in the Age of Iron, Raymond Grant p. 17. “ ‘Scales Houses’ were named after the ironmasters who built them, ”.
3. Aberdare Pictures From The Past, Volume 2, ph. 60.
4. Confirmed by local historian Tom Evans, Ynyslas, Abernant
5. The Aberdare Canal and Associated Tramroads by Tom Evans in Environmental
Studies in the Cynon Valley.




2006                Bryn Pica Landfill Site & Community Recycling Centre RCT

2003                Bryn Pica Waste Education Centre       RCT

2000                Bryn Pica Landfill Site   RCT

1989                Bryn Pica         OS Pathfinder 1109

1963-c83         Bryn Pica Open-cast Site          Cynon Coal p.1811885                Bryn Pica         OS map 

Welsh – ‘bryn’ + ‘pica’, a topographical place-name,

            i.e. describing a feature of the landscape 

Bryn Pica is currently the name of Amgen’s Community Recycling Centre and Landfill Site, previously the location of an open-cast coal site. Before industrial activity, Bryn Pica was the name of a hill near Ffynnon Cornel-y-garn on Aberdare Mountain.

  Bryn = a hill       

Pica is from English ‘pike’ meaning a peak, a beacon; tapering, conical.


Bryn Pica therefore has a meaning of ‘pike hill’, ‘pointed hill’, ‘beacon hill’.



Gadlys Ychaf.            1844.       TS.Aberdare.  Landowner,James ROBERTS.

Salem.                        1841.       TMC.83.

Robert's Town.         1853.       Rammell.      O.A.vol.1.p46.

Robert's Lodge.        1861.       Cens.         Ab'dare Libry.

Robertstown.            1861.       ibid.

Robert's town.          1875.       OS.           Ab'dare Libry.

Salem Chapel.         1875.       ibid.

Tresalem.                  19th Cent.  SAPN.5.   

Robertstown.           1989.       OS. Landranger 170.

English       Roberts (surname) + town.

Welsh.        tre + Salem

The name of the landowning family was Roberts, (see Gadlys Ychaf, 1844) and as the settlement was built on the land of Gadlys Uchaf, it took the name of the landowning family, and became Robertstown.

"The Roberts family of Gadlys-uchaf gave their name to the settlement developed on their land in mid century, Robertstown.  The Gadlys-uchaf farmhouse stood behind Park Grove,Trecynon and towards Meirion Street;"

Background Notes to 'Gardd Aberdar'.(93).

James Lewis Roberts was born in 1810,and like his father before him (Lewis Roberts,1783-1844) became a doctor.  He was also a magistrate,chairman of the Aberdare Board of Health as well as having business interests.  He died in August 1864 (Aberdare Times, 20/8/1864 ed.) and lies in the family vault, inscribed with 'The Roberts's of Gadlys',in St.John's churchyard, Aberdare.

Tresalem, the name used by the Welsh-speaking community for the settlement comprises tre, (town/settlement) and Salem, ( Hebraic word for peace )the name of the chapel erected there in 1841.)  cf.  Caersalem  &  Jerusalem.

For further details see The Masters of the Coalfield,by Michael Eyers.

Sp. Robertstown.    


Robertstown -'town (of the landowning) Roberts (family)'.

Tesalem - tre as in French ‘tres' ssaah  lem.  tresalem

Sp. Tresalem.        Lit. meaning:- (the) settlement (of) Salem (chapel).




Mountain Ash and Aberpennar are the English and Welsh names for the town situated on the banks of the River Cynon approximately half way between Aberdare and Abercynon.The early town was known solely as Mountain Ash, taking the name of the inn around which it developed. The inn was so named (c1809), as it was located close to a rowan tree, also called the mountain ash. The landowner, John Bruce Pryce, an English speaker, chose the English name for the tree rather than the Welsh cerdinen. The settlement grew dramatically with the advent of the coal industry and the sinking of Deep and Lower Duffryn(sic) pits in 1850.

Dafydd Watkin Jones although writing in Welsh, uses the English Mountain Ash as the town’s name in his Hanes Morgannwg (1874) while Glanffrwd (William Thomas) in his history of  Llanwynno (1878-88) complains that the town does not have a Welsh name.It was not until 1905 that the situation was remedied. In that year the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales visited the town and the name of Aberpennar was adopted as its worthy Welsh appellation.  Aberpennar was the  old name for the land and mansion later known as Dyffryn  [Aber Pennar alias Tire y dyffryn (1632-3)], and home to the Bruce family since 1750, including Henry Austin Bruce, Lord Aberdare. A new mansion was built in 1870 which was adapted in 1926 to become Mountain Ash Grammar School. This building was demolished in 1986 and Mountain Ash Comprehensive School/Ysgol Gyfun Aberpennar now occupies the site.

Aberpennar contains two place-name elements aber and the stream name Pennar. The stream was named after the mountain of its source c.f. Cefnpennar. Pen and arth (<garth),[aber pennarthe (1570)] translate as ‘high hill’. The Pennar stream flows into the River Cynon at Aberpennar.

The town of Mountain Ash grew and developed on the other side of the river, but the old Aberpennar estate name took a leap southwards and lives on, as today’s Welsh name for the town, thanks to the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales’s visit in 1905.  


For further details see ‘Place-names in Glamorgan’, Gwynedd O. Pierce. 


NLW Journals online.

CAPEL Y FANHALOG - Gwynedd O. Pierce