Working on the Perci Penfro project as an intern was a most delightful and interesting experience. It showed me the important role that place names have in the perseverance of Welsh history and in popularizing the further use of the Welsh language on daily basis. The connection between land and man strengthens when you know how to recognise your surroundings in their native tongue and the cultural implications of this are huge.
I want to express my gratitude to the Commission for this opportunity of gaining work experience in a Welsh-speaking environment and especially to the Place Names Officer – Dr. James January McCann for his supervision and further background information that he provided during my internship. I wish all the best to the team of the Commission in all their future projects.
Amongst the numerous fantastic things that Menter Iaith Sir Benfro do to promote the use of Welsh in the county was a project called Perci Penfro (Pembrokeshire's fields). The project's aim was to collect field names from the north of the county, in order to emphasise the distinctive nature of the local dialect, and to get people together to celebrate the local culture, through the medium of Welsh. They collected approximately two thousand names from the Preseli, Dewisland and further afield, and local people produced a series of maps showing the locations of the fields named. The Menter has since passed this information on to us.
The Commission has passed the work of inputting the information on to Veronika Todorova from Bulgaria, who is currently a student in the Department of Welsh at Aberystwyth University. She will be undertaking a four week internship in order to assist with the project, and to gain experience of working in a Welsh-medium workplace.
We’ve finished uploading the first volume of the Parochialia! This means that the List now contains over two and a half thousand names from this important source, the vast majority of them from Denbighshire and Flintshire. The second volume begins in Breconshire, so keep an eye on the blog for more information about the place names of Powys.
We're just back from a conference in Dublin discussing the important work that's going on in the field of Place Name Studies in Ireland. As well as the chance to learn more about Irish Place Names, we also got to discuss the various systems and websites used by those working in the field in order to collect and protect the names. Several fascinating websites exist in Ireland, from the hyper-local Oidhreacht Loch Chon Aortha: http://www.oidhreachtlca.ie/mapa.php to the national, www.logainm.ie. As well as this, we heard from Dr Rebecca Gregory of the English Place Names Society about the work she's been undertaking to complete the Staffordshire Place Names Survey. Check out the project blog if you'd like to find out more! https://staffordshireplacenames.wordpress.com/
In addition to this, we've been carrying on with the Parochialia, and are reaching the end of the first volume. Currently there are over two thousand names from this important source in the List, and we'll keep on adding more until it's finished. Also, we'll be receiving data from Perci Penfro, a project run by Menter Iaith Sir Benfro before long. This was a project to record the county's field names, and as such will bring in hundreds more interesting names. Watch this space!
Part of our work with the list of historic Place Names is to encourage people from all parts of Wales to send their place names in to us. These names will not only be included in the List and kept safe there forever, but the public will also be able to search for them according to source on the website. As you’ll see when using the Advanced Search function, the ones we have currently include names of houses, farms, fields and the like, which were sent in by people from Ceredigion. These were either the fruit of local place name projects, or were drawn from maps owned or compiled by the families who sent them in.
More than thirty names have already been collected by three people in Ceredigion, and there are more on the way, so come on rest of Wales! Don’t let the Cardis take all the glory! We’ve already got names from Ffos y Ffin, Pont Siân, and Aberystwyth, with Cwmystwyth soon to follow, but what about Bethesda, Halkyn, Maenclochog or Patrishow? What about Sully or Abertillery? You can send your place names in either through the enquiries form, which can be found on the website, by emailing us directly, or by speaking to our Place Names Officer, James January-McCann after he’s given a talk on the List in your area. (Of course, you’ll have to arrange for him to visit first... he doesn’t charge an appearance fee!)
So what are you waiting for? The List belongs to the people of Wales, and it’s vial that you take ownership of it. There are thousands and thousands of place names which only exist in speech, without any written record, and the only way for us to upload them to the List is for you to send them in to us. So, speak to your grandparents, ask your local historians and experts, and send the names in!