For Lily who once came with me to some of these places.
Place-names in Wales generally are very much older than most people realise. The Iron Age people who arrived about 600 B.C., speaking the Brythonic branch of Celtic from which Welsh developed, gave names to many locations, some of which were assimilated into the later Welsh forms. The first to be named would have been natural features like rivers, streams and mountains which formed boundaries between the territories of families or communities. Names would have been given later to places involved in the activities of man, like farms, dwellings and enclosures, though many of these probably date from the early medieval period. A few have their origin in events of relatively recent historical times, but usually not later than the 14th or 15th century. Many names have remained virtually unchanged to the present day and are readily translatable. Others have become corrupted in various ways in the course of time making it necessary to find the earliest recorded forms which might assist in interpreting them. Such sources include properly deeds among estate papers, old wills, and manorial surveys which often date back to the 16th century or earlier, and monastic and ecclesiastical charters dating back to the 12th century. For some names the earliest forms available are those marked on old maps which seldom show sufficient detail before the early 19th century. The place-names of the Ogmore valley area are exclusively Welsh and virtually nothing concerning them has been published previously. It is hoped that this account explaining their meanings and historical details associated with a number of them will prove to be of some interest.
The Name of The Ogwr (Ogmore) River
The element og- occurs in the names of several rivers and streams in Wales, such as Ogwen (Gwynedd), Ogeu (Powys) and Ogwd (Dyfed), and R.J. Thomas in his definitive work Enwau Afonydd a Nentydd Cymru (Cardiff, 1938) interprets this as meaning ‘swift’, a view endorsed by that authority on Welsh place-names, Sir Ifor Williams in Enwau Lleoedd (Liverpool, 1945). The earliest reference as Ocmur is in Liber Landavensis ‘The Book of Llandaff’ compiled c.1135. The formal part of the name -mwr is possibly from an obsolete noun ymwr ‘force, surge’. In Welsh, the required internal lenition of Ogmwr gave Ogfwr which then became Ogwr. In English, Ogmwr became anglicized as Ogmore. This derivation gives the meaning ‘swift force or surge’ and, significantly, the Ogmore river has the highest general rate of flow of all the major rivers in Glamorgan. There is no evidence whatsoever to support the local fanciful notion that the name derives from eog ‘salmon’, nor would this have been a distinctive name. In the remote past when the rivers were given their names, almost every river in Wales would have swarmed with these fish. The original name of the main tributary marked on the Ordnance Survey maps as “Ogwr Fach” is Ogwr Feehan ‘lesser Ogmore’, recorded as early as 1536. Feehan is used widely in Glamorgan for the lesser of two convergent rivers of the same name, as in Garw and Garw Feehan, Rhondda and Rhondda Feehan, Nedd and Nedd Feehan, and the confluence of two such rivers is cymer which, in the case of the Ogmore at Blackmill, is named Cymer-dwy-0gwr ‘confluence of the two Ogmores’, recorded as early as 1557.
The Names of the Parish Churches and the Name Glynogwr
The names of the parishes, like many of those in Wales, begin with llan ‘enclosure’, originally referring to the protective enclosure around the early church, but eventually meaning the church itself. This is followed by the name of the saint reputed to have founded the church and to whom it is dedicated Llangeinor is reputed to have been founded by the 5th century saint Cein y Wyryf ‘Cein the Virgin’. The original name was Llan-gein-y-wyryf ‘the church ofCein the Virgin’ which became contracted to Llangeinwyr then to Llangeinwr and Llangeinor. Its parish comprises all the area between the Garw and Ogmore rivers, thus including the east side of the Garw valley and the west side of the Ogmore valley. Llandyfodwg ‘the church of ‘fyfodwg’ was founded by the 6th century Breton saint Tyfodwg who also founded Ysradyfodwg church, and is one of the three saints to whom Llantrisant church is dedicated Its parish comprises all the area between the Ogmore river and the Ogwr Fechan, thus including the east side of the Ogmore valley and the west side of the Gilfach valley. Before the Norman period, Glynogwr ‘the (wooded) valley of the Ogmore’ was the cwmwd ‘commote’, an ancient Welsh territorial unit, comprising all the land between the Garw river and the Ogwr Feehan, or both of the later formed parishes, thus including the whole of the Ogmore valley down to what is now Blackmill. About the beginning of the 12th century, William de Londres, the Norman lord of Ogmore, appropriated the pariah of Llangeinor as part of his lordship, reducing the area of the commote of Glynogwr, which afterwards coincided with the parish of Llandyfodwg. It is remarkable that Glynogwr is still the name normally used for the village of Llandyfodwg.
Alphabetical Account of Place-Names of The Ogmore Valley Area
Most of these place-names are marked on the Ordnance survey maps of the 1:10,560 (6″: 1 mile) or 1:25,000 (2112”: 1 mile) series. Grid references have been quoted to eight figures for precise locations, six figures for more extended locations, and for the most extensive features, four figure references to the kilometre square or squares which they occupy. Some names are abbreviated, misspelled, or corrupted on the maps.
Aber (farm) (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93489053), an abbreviation, for at least the past 200 years, of Aber-cwm-y-fuwch ‘the confluence ofCwm-y-fuwch’, recorded as early as 1536. Neighbouring features named after it are Mynydd-yr-Aber ‘the Aber mountain’, Craig-yr-Aber ‘the Aber crag’, and Coed-yr-Aber ‘the Aber wood’. In 1682 Hugh Gore, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, purchased Aber-cwm-y-fuwch comprising 650 acres from Sir Edward Mansell of Margam, as an endowment for the Bishop Gore School, later Swansea Grammar School, in whose ownership it remains.
Aber-nant-clydwyn (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 91598506) ‘the confluence ofNant-clydwyn’, recorded as early as 1616. The stream Nant-clydwyn is often pronounced “cledwen” locally, and might be the same name as the river Cledwen in Denbighshire which RJ. Thomas in Enwau Afonydd a Nentydd Cymru (Cardiff, 1938) derives from caled ‘rough, harsh, severe’. It is perhaps more likely that Nant-clydwyn, in its short, deep valley, derives its name from clyd ‘sheltered’, giving the meaning ‘sheltered stream. Above its source is Blaen-clydwyn farm ‘the source or upper reaches of (the) Clydwyn’.
Allt-y-rhiw (St Bride’s Minor parish, OS 9386, 9385, 9285) ‘the wood of the hill- slope’. Known locally as “The Rall!”, this 124 acre woodland is a rare remnant of the oak forests which covered the valleys in the prehistoric period, and has been studied by noted botanists. Although much coppiced, it has escaped felling because it is still subject to common rights first granted in 1240 by Gilbert de Turberville, the Norman lord of Coity. The former farm below the wood was named after it and has since been abbreviated to Yr Allt.
Blaen-ogwr (farm) (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93759229) ‘the source or upper reaches of the Ogmore’, recorded as early as 1597. Originally its name was Blaen-ogwr-isaf, ‘lower Blaen-ogwr’ to distinguish it from Blaen-ogwr-uchaf (OS 93379407) ‘upper Blaen-ogwr’, a former small farm over a mile further north, which being much nearer to the actual source of the river, might have been the older of the two. In 1681 there were 200 sheep, ten cows and numerous goats grazing on its land. By the early 19th century it was part of Nant-y-moel farm, the farmhouse becoming a barn. The low ruins can still be seen near the river below the inter-valley road.
Braich-yr-hydd (Llangeinor parish, OS 9294) ‘the mountain spur of the stag or red deer’, between Cwm-nant-y-moel and the source stream of the Ogmore river. Because of its profile as seen from the south, it has been nicknamed “The Sugar Loaf’ since the industrialization of the valley. For two other place-names indicating the former occurrence of red deer on Mynydd Llangeinor, see Carn-yr-hyddod and Ton-yr-hydded.
Bryn-y..:ae (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 94790I) ‘the hill of the enclosure or enclosed field’, an area of mountainside above the former smallholding Hendre-fased, possibly referring to its enclosed land.
Buarthau (Coychurch parish, OS 93538663) ‘yards, folds or pens’, often used for milking enclosures and also for penning stray sheep and cattle. Possibly the original farm had a number of pens for the latter purpose. It is pronounced locally as “Buartha”.
Bwlch-y-clawdd (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 94-0945) ‘the pass of the dike or embankment’, incorrectly marked as “Bwlch y-Clwydd” on some editions of the ordnance Survey maps. There is an earthwork here to the right of the inter-valley road, listed in the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments inventory of 1976. This is one of the cross-ridge dikes, frequent in the Glamorgan uplands, thrown up probably in the 8th century, to control or prevent traffic along the routes which crossed them. About 1536-39 John Leland wrote in his itinerary “To Boullch Glauth a great rokky hille” and indicated that he knew its meaning by writing ”th dich” above the name.
Bwlch-gwyn (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 937947) ‘white pass’, perhaps referring to the fact that drifted snow tends to remain longer here than at Bwlch-y-clawdd or elsewhere on this lower part of the ridge.
Bwlch-y-lladron (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 934949) ‘the pass of the robbers or pillagers’, the most westerly of the passes on the ridge ofCraig-Ogwr. More than one incident in the remote past might have contributed to this name. Bands of men from Breconshire are known to have pillaged the Glamorgan valleys until late in the medieval period, and might have used this route. There is another mountain pass of the same name about a mile south of Hirwaun which they might also have used on their way south.
Cae-abbot (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 92568795), formerly Cae’r-abbot ‘the abbot’s enclosure or enclosed field’, recorded as early as 1616. One of the earliest records is as Cae’r-abaty ‘the abbey’s enclosure or enclosed field’. Possibly this was once a grange belonging to Margam Abbey, which had been granted the land of Llangeinor by William de Londres, the Norman lord of Ogmore, during the 12th century.
Cae-du (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 93049007), originally y Cae-du ‘the dark enclosure or enclosed field’, recorded as early as 1581, probably descriptive of the colour of its soil. The farmhouse stood near what is now the top end of Caedu Road, Ogmore Vale, and was occupied into the early years of the 20th century. Behind it rose Craig-cae-du ‘Cae-du mountainside’.
Carn-fawr (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 95229271) ‘big cairn’, the largest of more than a dozen cairns on the mountain tops around the Ogmore valley, of which four have names. All are sites of early Bronze Age cremation burials dating from the period I,750 to 1,450 B.C., and have been listed in the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments inventory of 1976. Carn-fawr is on Mynydd-William-Meyrick above Pricetown, at 1,698 feet elevation. About three-quarters of a mile to the south- east is Carn-fach (OS 95709170) ‘small cairn’, a small round cairn above the head of Cwm-y-fuwch at 1,524 feet elevation. This has a large quantity of stones heaped upon it from the former practice of travellers over the mountain tracks carrying a stone to throw on any cairn which was used as a landmark.
Carn-yr-hyddod (Llangeinor parish, OS 92009338) ‘the cairn of the stags or red deer’, misspelled as “Carn-yr-Hyrddod” on Ordnance Survey maps, this large cairn is situated above Cwm-nant-y-moel at 1,768 feet elevation. However, the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1833 indicates that the full name is Carn-llwyn-yr-hydded. Considering the elevation, well above the treeline, llwyn would not mean ‘grove’ but is probably used in its figurative sense of ‘company, family, group’, giving the meaning ‘the cairn of the company of stags or red deer’. About a mile to the north is Braich-yr-hydd ‘the mountain spur of the stag or red deer’. Red deer would have been numerous along the ridge of Mynydd Llangeinor during the medieval period and earlier, and even as late as 1536-39 when John Leland passed through Bwlch-y-clawdd, he commented in his itinerary ”the mountaines have sum redde dere”. For yet another place-name in the vicinity of Mynydd Llangeinor relating to red deer, see Ton-yr-hydded.
Carn-lwyd (Llangeinor parish, OS 91989014) ‘grey cairn’, a ring cairn above the upper part of Cwm-cyffog at 1,120 feet elevation, near the ancient track ”The Old Parish Road”. Probably named ‘grey’ because most of the cairn is covered with stones, again thrown upon it by travellers in former times to preserve it as a landmark.
Cloddlau-dnon (Llangeinor parish, OS 922923) ‘dark or gloomy trenches’, recorded as early as 1584-85, an appropriate name for this remarkable formation of dangerously deep, rocky fissures near the mountain top, known locally as “The Cloddia”.
Craig-bwlch-y-clawdd (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9491, 9492) ‘Bwlch-y-clawdd mountainside’, marked on the Ordnance Survey maps for the mountain facing north-west above Pricetown, a very considerable distance from Bwlch-y-clawdd. Probably the name has been misplaced by the cartographers and should apply to the mountainside east of Nantymoel (OS 9492, 9493), which is generally referred to locally as ”The Bwlch”.
Craig-fforchwen (Llangeinor parish, OS 9290, 9291) ‘Fforchwen mountainside’, recorded as early as 1799, between Ogmore Vale and Wyndham, referred to locally as “Fforchwen”, although the farm of that name is actually on the other side of the mountain in the Garw valley.
Craig-y-geifr (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9494) ‘the crag of the goats’, the line of precipices and rocky outcrops extending south-east from Bwlch-y-clawdd, incorrectly marked as “Craig-y-gelli” on some editions of the Ordnance Survey maps. The name might be figurative but herds of goats were usually kept on local farms from early times, and might once have roamed these precipices, especially as feral, escaped animals. Below the precipices are a number of projecting rock formations and the most remarkable of these, high above the old path to Bwlch-y-clawdd, is named Pulpud-y-cliawl ‘the devil’s pulpit’.
Craig-ogwr (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9394) ‘Ogwr or Ogmore crag’, the rocky, precipitous mountain ridge forming the northern boundary of the Ogmore valley and containing the three passes, Bwlch-y-clawdd, Bwlch-gwyn, and Bwlch-y lladrou. It is generally referred to locally as “The Bwlch”.
Craig-rhiw-berfa (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9490) ‘barrow hill-slope mountainside’, almost the entire steep, south-east side of Cwm-y-fuwch, extending up to the boundary walls of the former hayfields on Mynydd-y-gwair. The name refers to the berfa llusg or car llusg, a horse-drawn,wooden drag cart or sled, used on steep slopes for carrying hay and other materials, from early times until the first part of the 20th century.
Cwm-y-fuwch (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9390, 9490) ‘the valley of the cow’, recorded as early as 1521, probably an ancient name and, like some streams named after animals, there might be some arcane reason for its origin, possibly connected with a Celtic deity. It is invariably known locally as “Cwmbuwch”. The stream flowing down it is recorded as early as 1584-85 as Nant-cwm-y-fuwch and, unusually, is named after the valley, whereas valleys are normally named after the stream, like Cwm-nant-y-moel and Cwm-nant-y-ci. Blaen-cwm-y-fuwch ‘the source or upper reaches of Cwm-y-fuwch’ is recorded in 1521 and might refer to the low ruins of an apparently ancient dwelling and enclosure just below the higher path on the north side of the upper part of the valley (OS 94619111 ). The short tributary stream valley on the north side of the head of Cwm-y-fuwch is marked on the Ordnance Survey maps as Cwm-lluest ‘valley of a hut or shepherd’s summer dwelling’, but it is possible that this is a cartographers’ error and should be Cwm-y-llo ‘the valley of the calf’, which might have been a derisory name of a type not uncommon in Wales, for an offshoot of ‘the valley of the cow’. One of the former collieries here was known by this name.
Cwm-ffasg (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9489). Ffasg ‘bundle’ might be used figuratively here for ‘tangle’, giving the meaning ‘tangle valley’ alluding to its dense undergrowth. This is the name of the tributary valley of Nant-iechyd where Hendre-fased is situated.
Cwm-y-fffis (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9492) ‘the valley of the trench or ditch’ is corrupted to a meaningless “Cwm-y ffosp” on all the Ordnance Survey maps. The name is an abbreviation of Cwm-fffis-yr-hwch ‘the valley of the trench or ditch of the hwch’, referring to the stream Nant-yr-hwch which flows down this steep ravine.
Cwm-y-ffynnon (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9488, 9489) ‘the valley of the spring’, the short, steep tributary valley ofNant iechyd immediately north of Pen-llwyn-gwent farm. The stream flowing down it is recorded as early as 1582 as Nant gwyn ‘white stream’, perhaps referring to the appearance of its small cascades when in spate.
Cwm-pant-y-fid (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 950881 to 948878) ‘Pant-y-fid valley’. Named after the former important farmhouse Pant-y-fid, this is a short section of the Dimbath valley, but considerably more than is indicated on the Ordnance Survey maps, extending from the footbridge and ford near Dimbath House for over 300 yards southwards. Early in the 19th century this was a thriving small community. There were three small cottages opposite the ford near the comer of the lane to Llandyfodwg, and two together named Pentwyn ‘top of (the) hillock’ near the comer of the lane to Gelli’r fid farm. The lane from Pant-y-fid continued down to the stone arched bridge over Nant-iechyd, recorded as Pont-diecher ‘Diecher bridge’ as early as 1536, then continued as Heol-y-gadlys ‘the Gadlys road’, recorded in 1607, towards Llandyfodwg church. Beside the stream south of the bridge was another cottage, and north of the bridge was a mill named Meiin-pentwyn dating from the 17th century and still working into the second half of the 19th century. The !eat (millstream) came off Nant-iechyd north of Gilfach-orfydd farm and sections of it can still be seen. All of these buildings are marked on the Tithe Map of 1842 and listed in the Apportionment Schedule of 1840, but they became unoccupied during the second half of the 19th century. The overgrown ruins of all of them can still be seen, including the broken millstones.
Cylfog (Llangeinor parish, OS 92479032), originally y Gylfog ‘the place where tree stumps are abundant’, recorded as early as 1536, probably referring to the condition of the surrounding land during the early years of settlement and clearance. Formerly a small farm, which later became part of Cae-du farm, and the farmhouse then used as a barn. The ruins of this are near what is known locally as “The Barn Quarry” and, to the few who still remember the name, are called “The Gilfog”. The valley below it is named Cwm-cylfog and the stream Nant-y-gylfog, recorded in 1584-85, but there are indications that this was not its original name.
Darren-y-dimbath (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 951895 to 953896) ‘the crag of the Dimbath’, the remarkable series of rock formations, deep fissures and caves on the steep slope of the mountain spur Y Dimbath (see below), known locally as “The Dimbath Rocks”.
Y Dimhath (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9589), formerly y Dinheth ‘the fortress likeness or resemblance’ , recorded as early as 1516, originally applied to the mountain spur with Darren-y-dimbath on its side, and not to the entire valley of Nant iechyd, marked as Cwm-dimbath on the Ordnance Survey maps, and now known locally as “The Dimbath”. The original Dinbeth bas changed to its present form through the tendency in Welsh speech to change -nb- to -mb- as in Llanbedr becoming Llambedr (Lampeter) and Penbre becoming Pembre (Pembrey) and, even in English, the local pronunciation of whinberry is “wimberry”. Also the -e- in Dinbeth has been broadened to -a- in the local Gwentian dialect of Welsh, giving Dimbath. The same name occurs in Allt-y-dinbeth, a similar hill in the Cothi valley, Carmarthenshire, but has remained in its original form because the Gwentian dialect is not spoken there. The tributary stream flowing into Nant-iechyd below Darren-y-dimbath is named as Nant-y-dinbeth in 1584-85.
Dolau-lfan-Ddu (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93588727) ‘Ifan Ddu’s meadows’, but recorded in the 16th century as Pen Dolau-lfan-Ddu ‘the top or end of Ifan Ddu’s meadows’. The epithet du means ‘dark of complexion, swarthy’ and the personage so-named was Ifan Ddu ap Grulfydd Goch who built the farm early in the 15th century. He was the grandson of Ifan Gwent after whom Pen-llwyn-gwent is named, and an ancestor of the Jenkins family of Pant-y-nawel and the Blandy-Jenkins family of Llanharan House. It is recorded that he owned a great part of the land in the parish. He also built the mill Melin-Ifan-Ddu and the road recorded in 1581 as Heol-Ifan-Ddu running northward from the Dimbath valley to high on Mynydd-y-gwair. This used to be known locally as ”The Lane” and was virtually destroyed when the National Coal Board buried much of it under the slurry from their coal washery, despite it being listed as a ”medieval road” by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments in their inventory of 1976.
Felin-newydd (St Bride’s Minor parish, OS 91768551) ‘new mill’, so named to distinguish it from the much older mill at Blackmill. Built late in the 17th century, it became disused towards the end of the 19th century. The !eat (millstream) was taken off the bend of the Ogmore river just below Ynys-las-isaf farm.
Fron-wen (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 92939158), formerly Y Fron-wen ‘the white breast of the hill or mountain’, possibly referring to the persistence of fallen snow or hoar-frost at this location or on the mountainside above.
Fforch-oer (Llangeinor parish, OS 9194) ‘cold fork’. The term lforch is frequent in upland Glamorgan place-names, as Fforch-wen and Fforch-las in the Garw valley, Fforch-Nest in the Gilfach valley, and Fforch-orci near Treorci, and refers to a tract of mountain land contained within the fork of two convergent streams. In this case the meaning is appropriate to its exposed location high above the head of Cwm-nant-y-moel. It would have been pronounced locally as “Fforchor”.
Ffynnon-ddrewllyd (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 95909117) ‘stinking well’, not marked on any maps, this chalybeate spring is listed by Francis Jones in Holy Wells of Wales (Cardiff; 1954). Situated at about 1,400 feet elevation, it was once widely known in all the neighbouring valleys. For centuries its water has been used as a cure for rheumatism and eye complaints. During the 19th century local prize-fighters drank its water, believing that it increased their strength and ferocity. It is named from its sulphurous smell resembling rotten eggs. The iron content of the water, from the underlying ironstone deposits, stains the small pool of the well a rust colour, with gelatinous, orange growths of iron bacteria. It was a popular practice to place silver coins in this pool for a few minutes, when they would change to a golden colour “like a sovereign” by the action of the sulphur in the water .
Ffynhonau-tyllau-glesin (Llangeinor parish, OS 92649320) ‘springs of turf holes’, describing the appearance and situation of these rises on the south-western side of Cwm-nant-y-moel.
Gadlys (farm) (Llandyfodwg parisb, OS 95248795), originally y Gadlys ‘the rick-yard or stack-yard’, recorded as early as 1536, and derived from cadlais. The same name occurs in several places in Glamorgan, including a farm near Garth, Maesteg and another at Aberdare.
Gelli’r-fid (farm) (Llandyfodwg parisb, OS 94518772) ‘the grove of the quickset or lopped hedge’, recorded as early as 1536, might refer to the same hedge discussed under nearby Pant-y-fid. During the 16th century this was the home of the bard Hopkin Thomas Philip, Constable of Ogmore in 1571, and a direct descendant oflfan Gwent who built Pen-llwyn gwent and !fan Ddu who built Dolau-Ifan-Ddu and Melio-lfan-Ddu. Originally the name was Gelli’r-fid-uchaf ‘upper Gelli’r-fid’ which distinguished it from Gelli’r-fid-isaf (OS 94598744) ‘lower Gelli’r-fid’, also recorded as early as 1536, a former smallholding which eventually became absmbed by the larger farm. This is marked on the Tithe Map of 1842 and listed in the Apportionment Schedule of 1840 as “cot and garden” and was then named Gelli’r-fid-fach ‘little Gelli’r fid’ which became unoccupied late in the 19th century. The overgrown ruins can be seen beside the lane leading down from the Dimbath valley towards Blackmill.
Gilfach-orfydd (farm) (Llandyfodwg parisb, OS 95048817), recorded as early as 1561. Gilfach means ‘sheltered retreat’ and gorfydd might refer to the stream flowing down the valley behind the farmhouse, which is unnamed on the Ordnance Survey maps, but recorded in 1631 as Gorhydd. This could be derived from gorwydd ‘rapid, swift’ or gorudd ‘reddish, brownish’. The name would then mean ‘retreat of (the) swift stream’ or, more likely from the ironstone deposits in the area,’retreat of (the) brownish stream’.
Glyn-y-llan (farm) (Llandyfodwg parisb, OS 94498712) ‘the (wooded) valley of the church’, referring to the neighbouring parish church. However, early records including one in 1650 indicate that the name might originally have been Clun-y-llan. Clun ‘thicket, brushwood’ is a frequent term in Glamorgan place-names but usually, incorrectly spelled clyn. This would give a more likely meaning ‘the thicket of the church’.
Graig-wen (Llangeinor parish, OS 9288), formerly y Graig-wen ‘the white mountainside’, the steep, south-western side of Cwm-nant-y-ci, possibly referring to the persistence of fallen snow or hoar-frost at this location.
Hanereg-Ann-Ddu (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 95468723) ‘dark Ann’s half acre’, a small cottage in its plot of land opposite the former school in Llandyfodwg village. The identity of Ann Ddu, presumably an early owner or tenant, is unknown. The name became abbreviated and corrupted to Nerag-ddu which was believed by the inhabitants of the village to mean ‘black witch’!
Hendre-fased (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 94758992) ‘Bassett’s permanent or winter home’, recorded as early as 1429, probably referring to an early owner or tenant. The name Bassett is of Norman origin and has occurred widely in Glamorgan from early times but must be more recent than about the end of the 11th century. Originally this was a smallholding and the house was occupied until late in the 19th century, but its land had been absorbed by Pen-llwyn-gwent at least a century earlier. The low ruins can still be seen in the forestry plantation which now covers the site.
Hendre-post (St. Bride’s Minor parish, OS 93018599), formerly Hendre’r-post ‘the permanent or winter home of the post or pillar’, presumably refers to some distinctive structural member of the original dwelliog.
Lan (farm) (Coychurch parish, OS 93848611), formerly Y Lan ‘the enclosure or yard’, not a particularly distinctive name, unless originally the enclosure served some special purpose.
Llwyn-yr-ysgol (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 95478820) ‘the grove of the centaury’, recorded as early as 1536, has no connection with ‘school’, but ysgol (from ysgawl) means ‘ladder’ and is used here for Ysgol Fair ‘centaury’, a plant formerly used medicinally and once considered to be lucky by the Celtic peoples. This was originally a small farm but was unoccupied by the 18th century and became a barn belonging to Gadlys farm. The building is now ruinous.
Llys-cwm-Uorwg (Llangeinor parish, OS 93028912). A plausible interpretation of the present name is not possible. It appears to be an extreme corruption of the original, recorded in 1235 in Margam Abbey charters as Talescanlhore. This might derive from till ‘hill brow’ and esgynlloriau ‘raised floors, platforms’ giving the meaning ‘hill brow ofraised floors or platforms’. Possibly this refers to the group of large, flattened, smooth slabs of rock near the ruinous farmhouse, well known locally because one bears the inscription “GOD IS LOVE” carved during the Welsh religious revival of 1904- 05. During the 16th and 17th centuries the name had evolved as Llysgwrnllorof, but the present form containing -cwm- and ending in -wg did not appear until well into the 19th century. The precipitous, rocky slope below the former farm is named Craig-llys-cwm-llorwg ‘Llys-cwm-llorwg crag’.
Maes-y-llan (farm) (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 95008724) ‘the field of the church’, recorded as early as 1662, referring to the nearby parish church. However, maes ‘field’ originally meant ‘open land (without woodland)’ and possibly this is the intended meaning here.
Melin-Ifan-Ddu (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93418675) ‘!fan Ddu’s mill’, recorded as early as 1579 when there was also a forge at the mill. For details of Ifan Ddu ap Gruffydd Goch who built the mill early in the 15th century, see Dolau-Ifan Ddu. The name became contracted to Melin-ddu which translated as the modern Blackmill. The mill, now demolished, stood at the top of the hill next to what is now Mill House. The!eat (millstream) was taken off the Ogmore river just above Pont-y-frithwaun below the former Blackmill Hospital, and traces of it can still be seen below the road past Ivor Terrace. The mill would have been used mainly for grinding oats, once the staple cereal crop in the Glamorgan valleys, but also some wheat. It was still working into the second half of the 19th century.
Mynydd-y-gwair (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9489, 9490) ‘the mountain of the hay’, the mountain top from north of Pen llwyn-gwent farm to just south of the upper part of Cwm-y-fuwch. This must have been an important source of hay from early times. In 1840 the Tithe Apportionment Schedule shows that it was divided into ten fields distributed between the following six farms: Rhiw’r-glyn (3), Pen-llwyn-gwent (2), Gelli’r-fid (2), Pant-y-gynt (1), Pant-y-fid (I) and Glyn-y-llan (I).
Mynydd Llangeinor (Llangeinor parish, OS 9288 to 9194, 9294) ‘Llangeinor mountain’, the ridge extending northward from Llangeinor church to near the source of the Ogmore river, forming most of the west side of the Ogmore valley.
Mynydd William Meyrick (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9592, 9593) ‘William Meyrick’s mountain’, north-east of Pricetown, possibly named after a member of the Meuric family of Llandyfodwg, who owned large tracts of mountain land north of the upper Gilfach valley during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Nant-y-ci (Llangcinor parish, OS 9289, 9288) ‘the stream of the dog’, recorded as early as 1235 in Margam Abbey charters, and its valley Cwm-nant-y-ci. The significance of ‘dog’ is unknown but streams in Wales are often named after animals which, in some cases, might be connected with ancient Celtic deities. The wood in the lower part of the valley is named Coed-cwm-nant-y-ci but is recorded as Fforest-nant-y-ci in 1616 when it was probably more extensive and denser.
Nant-cwm-dwr (Coychurch and St. Brides Minor parishes, OS 9386) ‘stream of (the) valley of water’, not a particularly distinctive name for this small stream flowing into the Ogmore river just south ofBlackmill, forming part of the boundary between the above two parishes.
Nant-dyrys (Llangeinor parish, OS 9292, 9391) ‘stream tangled with undergrowth’, recorded as early as 1584-85, and the farm (OS 93239176) named after it, recorded in 1616. Coed-nant-dyrys was the name of the wood which, until the early years of the 20th century, extended from just north of the farmhouse to Cwm-nant-y-moel.
Nant-y-gerwyn (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9393, 9493, 9392) ‘the stream of the mountain ash trees’, recorded as early as 1536, from cerwynen one of several names for this tree which must have been numerous along its course in early times. It rises below Craig-y-geifr, flows southward down what is known locally as “The Cwm”, and enters the Ogmore river north of Nantymoel Cemetery at Aber-nant-y-gerwyn ‘the confluence of Nant-y-gerwyn’. At the top of”The Cwm” it is joined by a stream which rises on Mynydd William Meyrick and flows down a steep-sided cleft in the mountainside, recorded in 1584-85 as Sychnant ‘dry stream bed’, which dries up during periods of summer drought. Nant-yr-hwch also runs into it by Blaen-ogwr fann. On the Ordnance Survey maps it is marked as ”Nan! Blaenogwr” but this is not its original name.
Nant-yr-hebog (Llangeinor parish, OS 9388) ‘the stream of the hawk or falcon’, recorded as early as 1584-85 for the small stream flowing into the Ogmore river through what is now Lewistown. Formerly there was a smallholding near the stream just below the main road, recorded in 1544 as Aber-nant-yr-hebog (OS 93478839) ‘the confluence ofNant-yr hebog’, and listed in the Tithe Apportionment Schedule of 1843 as belonging to Pentre-beili fann. During the 20th century the site was occupied by the local Co-operative Society’s dairy.
Nant-yr-hwch (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9492) ‘the stream of the pig’, recorded as early as 1584-85 for the stream flowing down the trenched valley of Cwm-y-ffils to join Nant-y-gerwyn by Blaen-ogwr fann. This is one of a type of allusive stream name, numerous in Wales, based on members of the pig family, such as banw ‘piglet’ and twrch ‘boar’, which compare these animals’ habit of rooting in the soil to the way the streams have furrowed through the ground to form their courses.
Nant-iechyd (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 9590 to 9487), marked on the Ordnance Survey maps for the stream known locally as ”The Dimbath River”. lechyd means ‘health’ but, as R.J. Thomas pointed out in Enwau Afonydd a Nentydd Cymru (Cardiff, 1938), all the early evidences of the name suggest that this is a recent, rationalized form. The original form was Nant-diecher, recorded as early as 1506, which Thomas derives from the archaic adjective diechyr ‘rushing, fierce’, giving the meaning ‘rushing or fierce stream’. It runs into the Ogwr Feehan river at Aber-iechyd ‘the confluence of (the) Iechyd’, also the name of a former smallholding (OS 93988700) opposite Ynys-y-bwt, which was occupied early in the 19th century but was listed as a ruin in the Tithe Apportionment Schedule of 1840.
Nant-y-moel (Llangeinor parish, OS 9293) ‘the stream of the bare (treeless) mountain’, recorded as early as 1584-85 for the stream which flows down the valley Cwm-nant-y-moel past Nant-y-moel fann (OS 93129329) and enters the Ogmore river below the top end ofNantymoel Row. The name refers to the bare summit ofY Werfa, the second highest point in Glamorgan and well above the treeline, on which this stream rises. After the Brogdens opened their first coal level, the Nantymoel Colliery, in Cwm-nant-y-moel in 1863 (nicknamed ”The Klondike” long after its closure), then built the first miner’s cottages, Nantymoel Row, in 1865, the township which developed In the upper Ogmore valley took the name Nantymoel.
Pant-y-lid (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 94838809) ‘the hollow of the quickset or lopped hedge’, recorded and defined “according to the ancient boundaries” as early as 1531. The name of nearby Gelli’r-fid might refer to the same hedge, possibly a land boundary, at a time when planted hedges were unusual. The largest house in the parish, originally of medieval date, this was the home early in the 16th century of Thomas Philip, descended from Ifan Ddu and Ifan Gwent, and an ancestor of the Jenkins family of Pant-y-nawel and the Blandy-Jenkins family ofLlanharan House. It belonged to the Tudor family during the first half of the 19th century, when it was known locally as “Plas Pant-y-fid” (plas ‘mansion’) from its comparative grandeur. It became unoccupied and ruinous later and was then known as ”The Ruins”. Curiously the local pronunciation was “Pantyfi”. The term bid also occurs in Heol-lid-las ‘green quickset hedge road’, the old lane between what is now the top of Cemetery Road and Bryn Road, Ogmore Vale, which formerly led to Cae-du fann, and is now pronounced “Fiddler’s Road”.
Pant-y-gibwn (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93958723) ‘Gibbon’s hollow’, probably referring to an early owner or tenant. Glbwn is a cyruricized form of the name Gibbon which has occurred widely in Glamorgan and is of Norman origin. It is preceded by the definite article -y- as is customary with non-Welsh personal names in the Gwentian dialect of Welsh. This former small fann became unoccupied towards the beginning of the 20th century, the fannhouse then being used as a barn which is now ruinous.
Pant-y-gynt (farm) (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 94188796). Gynt is an archaic plural ‘nation, especially the pagan nations that harassed the Welsh, the Danes’, giving the meaning ‘the hollow of the pagans or Danes’, presumably from some incident in the remote past. Conceivably, sometime during the Dark Ages, a foraging party of Danes might have penetrated as far inland as this from near the mouth of the Ogmore river. The name is recorded as early as 1429, and the stream in the short valley below the farmhouse is recorded in 1584-85 as Nant-forgan ‘Morgan’s stream’, possibly referring to some early owner or tenant.
Pant-y-nawel (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 92808775) ‘the hollow of the mist or haze’, recorded as early as 1579, from nywyl the archaic form of niwl ‘mist, fog, haze’, which in the local dialect becomes nywel then nawel. An appropriate name for this location where mist often rises over the bend of the river late in the day. From the end of the 16th century this substantial farmhouse was the home of the Jenkins family who had descended from Ifan Gwent, through Ifan Ddu, and owned large estates in the parishes ofLlangeinor and Llandyfodwg, and were ancestors of the Blandy-Jenkins family ofLlanharan House. Richard Jenkins of Pant-y-nawel was Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1788. A completely incorrect version of the name, Pant-yr-awel, was introduced on the Ordnance Survey maps early in the 20th century and regrettably was used by the local council for their housing development below the farm in the 1920s, and then came into general use.
Pen-y-foel (Llangeinor parish, OS 9189) ‘the top of the bare (treeless) mountain’ is the summit on the west side of Cwm nant-y-ci at 1,134 feet elevation.
Pen-llwyn-gwent (farm) (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 94678875), originally Pen-llwyn-Ifan-gwent ‘the top or end of Ifan Gwent’s grove’, recorded as early as 1531. !fan Gwent ap Gruffydd Gwent came from near Abergavenny to lands which he acquired in Llandyfodwg about 1370-80 and built Pen-llwyn-Ifan-gwent. His grandson Ifan Ddu ap Gruffydd Goch built Dolau-Ifan-Ddu and Melin-Ifan-Ddu. These were ancestors of the Jenkins family of Pant-y-nawel and the Blandy Jenkins family ofLlanharan House. In Ogwr Domestic Buildings (Welsh Office, 1976) the partly ruinous old house at Pen llwyn-gwent is described as “Remains of mediaeval grange converted into a farmhouse”. This must be the original house built by !fan Gwent in the 14th century.
Pentre-beili (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 93078825) ‘homestead of a yard’, recorded as early as 1597. The steep, rocky mountainside above Lewistown is named Craig-pentre-beili (OS 9388) ‘Pentre-beili crag’.
Pont-y-frithwaun (Llangeinor/Llandyfodwg parishes, OS 92888742), the road bridge over the river below the former Blackmill Hospital, named after y Frithwaun ‘the mottled meadow’ on the west bank upstream, probably referring to the colour of its vegetation. The earlier stone arched bridge dating from the mid-18th century was reputedly built by William Edwards builder of the old bridge at Pontypridd, which it resembled in design. This probably replaced an older wooden bridge.
Pont-las (Llandyfodwg/Llangeinor parishes, OS 93378981) ‘green bridge’, the road bridge over the river at the top of Bridge Street, Ogmore Vale. The earlier wooden bridge, dating from the 18th century, being shaded by the trees then lining the river banks, would have acquired a greenish colour from the growth of algae, hence the name.
Pottau (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93138718), originally Botau-duon ‘black or dark dwellings’, pronounced “Potauduon” in the local dialect, possibly once coated with pitch as weatherproofing. These two tiny cottages were occupied during the first half of the 19th century. Their ruins have now disappeared under the housing development ofDimbath Avenue.
Rhiw-barcud (Llangeinor parish, OS 9294) ‘hill-slope of (the) kite’, the precipitous north-eastern slope of Braich-yr hydd above the upper reaches of the Ogmore river. Until about the beginning of the 19th century, the red kite, now a rare visitor, was a common bird of prey all over Glamorgan and bred in most parts.
Rhiw-fer (Llangeinor parish, OS 9292) ‘short or abrupt hi II-slope’, the short, steep slope below Cloddiau-duon bordered by a precipitous rocky outcrop at its foot. The same name occurs in Pen-rhiw-fer near Penygraig.
Rhiw-glyn (farm) (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93948844), formerly Rhiw’r-glyn ‘the hill- slope of the (wooded) valley’, but early records back to 1531 indicate that originally it was Pen-rhiw’r-glyn ‘the top of the hill-slope of the (wooded) valley’. The farmhouse was occupied until the mid-20th century, then became ruinous and eventually was buried under the waste from the National Coal Board washery. The mountainside from near the site of the farmhouse to the entrance of Cwm-y-fuwch is named Craig-rhiw’r-glyn and the stream flowing down it, through what was known as “The Dam” and the quarries below, is recorded in 1584-85 as Nant-rhiw’r-glyn.
Rhiw-mynach (Llangeinor parish, OS 9293), formerly Rhiw’r-menich ‘the monks’ hill-slope’, referring to the higher part of the steep mountainside above Court Colman Street, Nantymoel. Perhaps related to a tradition handed down among the original fanning community that monks from Margam Abbey used to travel with packhorses on the track along the ridge of Mynydd Llangeinor to dig coal from the outcropping seams high above the upper Ogmore valley. The monks of Margam are known to have been working coal on their lands as early as the 13th century, and they had already been granted all the land of Llangeinor by William de Londres, the Norman lord of Ogmore. There are traces of ancient coal workings high up on this mountainside.
Rhyd-yr-oddel (Llangeinor parish, OS 92468715) possibly ‘the ford of the small leaves’, recorded as early as 1616, from an archaic collective goddail ‘small or young leaves not fully grown’, perhaps descriptive of the surrounding marsh vegetation. The name referred to a former cottage where the old lane from Pant-y-nawel into the Garw valley crosses the head of a small unnamed stream which flows down into the Ogmore river just below Pont-y-frithwaun. It was occupied until quite late in the 19th century when its name had become corrupted locally to ”y Droddol”. The low ruins can still be seen inside the loop of the hairpin bend on the modern inter-valley road.
Rhydiau-melynion (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 954913) ‘yellow fords’, recorded as early as 1584-85. On the unpublished Ordnance Survey original drawings of 1813-14 it is marked as “Rhydymelynaidd” for Rhydiau-melynaidd meaning ‘yellowish fords’. The name applies to the place where the ancient mountain track running northward crosses a number of rises which form the source of Nant-cwm-y-fuwch, and refers to the rusty coloration of their water from the underlying ironstone deposits.
Til-y-fan (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 92728652) ‘the brow of the highland’, recorded as early as 1557, formerly Til y-fan-uchaf ‘upper Tlil-y-fan’ to distinguish it from nearby Til-y-fan-isaf ‘lower Tfil-y-fan’, originally a small farm but listed in the Tithe Apportionment Schedule of 1843 as “cot and garden”, later a barn belonging to Tfil-y-fan-uchaf. The steep slope of the valley below the farm is named Craig-til-y-fan ‘Tiil-y-fan mountainside’ and the extensive wood on it is Coed-til-y-fan.
Talga (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93639301), an abbreviation of Talgarth ‘brow of (the) wooded slope’, once a smallholding but since the early 19th century or earlier, a barn belonging to Nant-y-moel farm. The short, steep, formerly wooded slope below it, with its rocky outcrops, is named Craig-talgarth ‘Talgarth crag’.
Tarren-y-fforch (Llangeinor parish, OS 9293) ‘the crag of the fork’, the extensive precipitous, rocky outcrop high on the south side of Cwm-nant-y-moel, fforch referring to Fforch-oer at the head of the valley. The lower part of this valley below the crag, where there is a small waterfall, is named Cwm-darren-fawr ‘valley of (the) great crag’.
Tarren-rhiw-maen (Llangeinor parish, OS 9294) ‘crag of (the) stone hill-slope’, the precipices above the steep scree slope, down which the source stream of the Ogmore river descends, in what is known locally as “The Keyhole” from the shape of the hairpin bend on the inter-valley road.
Ton-yr-hydded (Llangeinor parish, OS 93069040), also Aber-ton-yr-hydded ‘the confluence of the uncultivated land of the stags or red deer’, recorded as early as 1645, once a smallholding near where Tynewydd School now stands. By the early 19th century it had become a barn belonging to Cae-du farm, to which it was connected by a lane. This is one of three place-names in the vicinity of Mynydd Llangeinor referring to red deer (see Carn-yr-hyddod and Braich-yr-hydd).
Ty’n-y-graig (Llangeinor parish, OS 93168656) ‘the smallholding of the mountainside’, ty’n for tyn an abbreviation of tyddyn ‘smallholding’. This former cottage at the north end of Coed-tfil-y-fan, high above Blackmill, was occupied until the mid-20th century but is now low ruins. Reputedly it had been built on the site of an earlier’ty-un-nos’, a dwelling built overnight, by ancient Welsh custom, in order to lay claim to the land
Ty-newydd (farm) (Llangeinor parish, OS 93179068), originally Y Ty-newydd ‘the new house’, recorded as early as 1616 and had then existed for some time, an indication of how much older the neighbouring farmhouses must be if this one was considered ‘new’ over 400 years ago.
Tyn-y-cwm (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 94898875) ‘the smallholding of the valley’, in the Dimbath valley, already listed as a ruin in the Tithe Apportionment Schedule of 1840.
Ynys-y-bwt (Llandyfodwg parish, OS 93958703) ‘the water-meadow of the cot or hut’. Before the present house was