The following document outlines the naming policy for hills that appear in listings that I have compiled.
Although specific to hills in Wales, this naming policy, if required, could be used for hills in other parts of Britain and Ireland.
Before detailing the protocols it may be prudent to outline why such a naming policy is important and how it came in to being. These are explained in the headings entitled ‘A Balanced View of Data’ and ‘Tentative Enquiries’.
The protocols detailed below developed out of the process of hill list compilation, with many names used in listings dependent upon those used on Ordnance Survey maps. But what of the hills that remain unnamed on these maps? The treatment of these seemingly unnamed hills by some list authors are examined in the heading entitled ‘Historical Lists’.
The sources available for research when substantiating the name of a hill are detailed in the ‘Tools of Research’ heading and this leads on to the penultimate heading entitled ‘Naming Protocols’.
The last heading in this document is entitled ‘The Value of Hill Names’ and explores why it is important to use appropriate names.
A Balanced View of Data
The name used for a hill is one of the most important pieces of data that are given when it is listed. These data usually comprise the following; Hill Name, Summit Height, Summit Grid Reference, 1:50,000 Map Number, 1:25,000 Map Number and Drop Value. The importance given to the prioritised name should be the same given to the hill’s summit height and / or drop, and as summit heights and drop values are now being surveyed by independent surveyors who are producing more accurate data than on current Ordnance Survey maps and when teams of people are scrutinising all available maps for Bench Mark heights and any form of topographical data to improve the accuracy of numerical data within respective hill lists, it seems only sensible that similar research and dedication should be given to the name that is used within the self-same hill list. Such a policy can create a balanced view of data where the time spent researching and creating accurate numerical data can also be spent researching and analysing place-name data.
To my knowledge there are few Welsh listings that have stated a specific naming policy for hills that appear within them, however a brief scrutiny of some of these lists can deduce how the respective hill list author treated hills that are unnamed on maps of the day.
The details below give the first use of some of the ways list authors have treated these seemingly unnamed hills:
1925 Carr and Lister The Mountain peaks of Snowdonia – 2000 feet in height and over
(Nameless) E. of……
This combines the statement of the hill being seemingly unnamed with that of a Directional Element that would later evolve into a Directional Name.
1929 John Rooke-Corbett Twenty-Fives
N. Top, S. Top etc.
The first use in a list to the Welsh hills that uses what can be described as a Directional Name.
1933 Ted Moss Some New Twenty-Fives
Far South top, Far North top etc.
The first use in a list to the Welsh hills that uses what can be described as an Extended Directional Name.
1940 Ted Moss The Two-Thousands of Wales
The first use in a list to the Welsh hills that uses what became the norm for many years for a seemingly unnamed hill.
1962 William McKnight Docharty The Supplement to a Selection of some 900 British and Irish Mountain Tops
The first use in a list to the Welsh hills that uses an Invented Name based on a named feature and supplanting its position and / or adding an invented name to it for the convenience of then naming the hill. Foel Hirnant in the Berwyn and Black Mountain in Mynyddoedd Duon are two examples.
2009 Mark Jackson Tumps
This protocol is used when a hill of lower height is named on the map and its adjacent higher hill is not named on the map. The lower heighted hill’s name is given to the higher hill, and the lower hill then adopts a Directional Name based on its position to the higher hill. This policy prioritises the higher hill for the map name and has the unfortunate outcome that two hills end up with inappropriate listed names. Dinas Mawr SW Top and Dinas Mawr is an example.
The details given above itemise when terms and policies were first used for Welsh hills and are specific to hills that are unnamed on Ordnance Survey maps. They can be summarised as:
Over intervening years many of these have become standard in their use, with the exception that the term of Unnamed Top is now seldom used, whereas the use of a Directional Name is now common. Latterly the use of an Invented Name was heavily relied upon when the Welsh hills were listed down to 30m of prominence below those already listed at or above 500m in height, and the use of a Supplanted Name has also been adopted as part of a policy by those subsequently listing the lower heighted P30s.
The compilation of hills in a list is heavily reliant upon Ordnance Survey maps and the Historical Lists heading details how some list authors have dealt with hills that are unnamed on these maps. By using the policies of Directional, Unnamed, Invented and Supplanted Name list authors are accepting that as the hill is not named on the map the likelihood is that the hill has no name.
I first started to challenge this premise when compiling a list of the Welsh hills at or above 500m in height that have a minimum of 15m of drop, this listing has the working title of Yr Uchafion and is now co-authored with Aled Williams.
When first compiling this list I came across many hills that did not have a name on the map and I wondered if an appropriate name existed for the hill. I realised that if a name existed it would probably be known by the people who work the land where the summit of the hill is situated. These people are the local farmers, grazers, shepherds, landowners and gamekeepers. During a period of 18 months I contacted over 500 people, initially making tentative enquiries and then developing a system where each phone call and visit was documented and written up. This extended period of concentrated activity unearthed all manner of information, as well as a realisation that the great majority of hills that are unnamed on Ordnance Survey maps, do in fact possess a name.
It also gave me a greater understanding of my native language, and an appreciation for the farming community who are prone to occasionally get somewhat of a bad press amongst that of the hill bagging community. I found the majority of farmers only too willing to converse and impart their knowledge and to be friendly, appreciative and well informed people who were generous with their time and more than hospitable with many invitations to visit for a panad.
These local enquires soon developed and evolved in to examining historical documents accessed at archive centres and later still, research online. Enquires were also made with local historians and academics as well as the luminaries of Welsh place-name etymology. All of my enquiries were documented and form a basis of information to the Welsh uplands.
The information documented from these enquiries developed in to a realisation that the use of Directional, Invented and Supplanted Names should be dispensed with in favour of meticulous research on a par with that given to numerical data, after all each in turn will improve the overall data within a hill list.
Those That Remain Unnamed
The enquiries detailed above necessitated a new approach to how a hill name should be considered when used within a hill list. The realisation that names exist for many seemingly unnamed hills also brought a realisation that one should not add anything to a hill’s name (unless that for a cynefin [see ‘Prioritised Decision’ below]); this discounts the use of Invented Names, Directional Names and Supplanted Names. This realisation is based on the premise that a name may already exist for the hill and therefore the use of these Invented, Directional and Supplanted Names is not necessary, as with local or historical research an appropriate name can usually be found for a hill.
However, even when research is conducted there are hill’s that remain seemingly unnamed. Having developed a protocol that dispenses with any addition to a hill’s name except for that within a cynefin name, a protocol for these seemingly unnamed hills was required, and it was Mark Trengove who suggested using the point (Pt. 485m) notation for these hills (see ‘Prioritised Decision’ below). This practice is established in mainland Europe and leaves the prospect of future research open for others who may unearth an appropriate name for the hill, rather than invent a name that has no historical or local evidence of use, and which then may hold precedence in the hill bagging community. This latter point is important as I still occasionally shudder when faced by a hill bagger who refers to a hill be an invented name given it by me many a year ago when I compiled the Welsh p30 lists that appeared on Geoff Crowder’s v-g.me website.
Tools of Research
There are many tools of research that can be used to find an appropriate name for a hill and / or to substantiate its name, and these will be detailed below, they comprise four main elements; Non Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey, Academic Research and Local Enquiry. The listings below are not definitive and only briefly document notable sources:
Non Ordnance Survey:
Edward Lhuyd ‘Parochial Queries in order to a Geographical Dictionary, etc., of Wales’:
Towards the end of the 17th century Edward Lhuyd (latterly Llwyd or Lloyd), the Keeper at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford sent over 4,000 Parochial Queries to parishes throughout Wales asking questions relating to features within each district. The Returns to these Parochial Queries form one of the most important historical documentations of Welsh upland place-names and are one of the first links in the chronological chain leading up to the formation of the Ordnance Survey. Subsequent years have not been kind to these Returns as many are now lost, however many of those that have survived can be viewed at the Weston Library which is a part of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. The information within the surviving Returns were compiled and reproduced in three supplements to the journal Archeologia Canbrensis (1909, 1910 and 1911) by Rupert H Morris. These three supplements were later combined in one book entitled Parochialia: being a summary of answers to ‘Parochial Queries in order to a Geographical Dictionary, etc., of Wales’ issued by Edward Lhwyd. Parts I, II and III. Morris’ compilation has made the analysis of the Parochial Queries and their Returns convenient; however transcriptional errors as well as missing sections of text do exist.
Estate Survey maps:
The landed estate is a form of property ownership inherent in Britain since medieval times. This form of ownership takes in great swathes of land throughout Wales, although its percentage of land ownership is now reduced compared to 100 - 200 years ago. In bygone years it was inherent for many Estates to document their land, tenants and rents; this usually took the form of an Estate Survey, with each detail meticulously catalogued in an Estate Survey Book. These books were usually leather bound and formed a document of the day and in time would become a priceless tool for research. Some Estate Survey Books are still housed on the respective private estate, however many are now housed in archive centres and are therefore accessible for the public to view. Many of these books are a delight to look through as they have hand drawn maps, many using watercolours to document features on the estate, including the fields, ffridd (middle pasture) and mynydd (mountain) lands of each tenant farm. Lines across the map would indicate boundaries and letters within the bounded land can be cross referenced to an adjacent page where detail for the respective farm, residents and rent were sometimes documented. Many Estate Survey Books were produced in the late 1790s, before the Ordnance Survey was established as the map makers of the day, and because of this they are a historical document of a bygone time. However, their importance is not to be undervalued as they form a bridge between the late 1790s through the early publicly available maps produced by the Ordnance Survey to nowadays when research can be conducted via local enquiries and the Internet. Occasionally accessing these old Estate Survey maps can confirm a name previously given through local enquiry, or they can unearth a name that has never been documented on any Ordnance Survey map. As well as being a conduit between the times after Edward Lhuyd and those of the Ordnance Survey and later still the Internet, these old books are a literal work of art, with many maps being composed in watercolour paint, with intricate detail of lake, field boundary and parish with different colour used to signify different boundaries; Estate Survey maps are a joy to behold. Refer to the following article; ‘Visiting Grimsthorpe Castle’ for details relating to Lady Willoughby’s permission to view the Gwydir Estate Survey book.
The term Tithe map is generally given to a map of a Welsh or English parish or township and which was prepared after the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act. This act allowed tithes to be paid in cash rather than goods. The Tithe maps gave names of owners and occupiers of land in each parish and importantly for place-name research they also included the name of the enclosed land. This enclosed land is usually based on a field system (see heading below; ‘Bounded Land and the Cynefin’), however not every field was given a name, but many were and especially so in Wales.
Each piece of enclosed land is given a specific number on the Tithe map, this can be cross referenced against the apportionments, and it is these apportionments that give the name of the owner or occupier of the land as well as the name of the land. For hill listing purposes the Tithe map is especially useful for lower heighted hills, many of which may not possess a name of their own, in this instance it is appropriate to list the hill by the name of the land where the summit of the hill is situated and this can usually be found on the Tithe map.
Many Tithe maps for land within Wales are now available online, with the process of Tithe documentation ongoing, and therefore the land taking in the summit of a specific hill as of yet may not be available to view.
Bounded Land and the Cynefin:
Many Welsh hills comprise bounded land that is separated either by a fence or wall; these boundaries indicate land that is adjoined to different owners or tenants. These land boundaries have usually been in place for centuries and in the uplands of Wales they are referred to as the cynefin, or sheep-walk in English.
The sheep-walk is an English term given to enclosed land that is apportioned to a specific farm. The Welsh term for this land is cynefin, which can be literally translated as habitat, as in that for the sheep. The cynefin usually takes in land that is known as the mountain land of the specific farm, therefore the name given to this enclosed land is usually that of the name of the farm prefixed with the word mynydd (mountain), this land is usually given over for sheep grazing, hence the term sheep-walk. When Ordnance Survey maps are examined one can find many examples where this form of cynefin naming system exists, with farms situated in valley’s having their name given to high mountain land and prefixed with the word mynydd.
The bounded land given over to specific farms also takes in middle ground between the higher mountain land and the lower pasture land of the valley, this is known in Welsh as the ffridd and can take in a variety of habitats including heath, moor, grassland, woodland and high pasture. Again, when Ordnance Survey maps are examined one can find many examples of names prefixed with the word Ffridd, and its apportionment to a specific hill is dependent upon where the bounded land is situated and referring to the Tithe maps for confirmation is then advised.
It is the cynefin naming system that usually results in a hill being known by different names in opposing valleys, as in many instances the upper bounded land meet at the watershed on top of the summit ridge and therefore the same hill would be known by two different names, each name a part of a different farm’s cynefin.
Whereas Tithe maps deal with land that is usually tenanted, Enclosure maps deal with land that is usually viewed as common. The term Enclosure describes the consolidating or extending of land holdings in to larger areas. This can include partitioning large areas of land communally farmed under the open field system in to smaller fields farmed by individuals.
Enclosure maps are large scale maps mostly dating from before the mid-19th century; they record details relating to parish and township boundaries, enclosed and open fields and farms. Importantly for upland place-name research they record the name given to lands that are not recorded on the Tithe maps of the day.
Accessing Enclosure maps is usually via archive centres and pinpointing the specific area of interest is sometimes fraught with difficulty based on the respective archive centres referencing system, however more Enclosure maps are being made available online and this process is likely to continue.
Draft Surveyors map:
These are the preliminary drawings made by the Ordnance Survey’s surveyors between the 1780s and 1840 and formed the basis for the first publicly available One-Inch map. They were drawn at scales of six inches to the mile for areas considered of particular military significance and down to two inches to the mile for other areas. Fair copies were then produced from these preliminary drawings to one inch to the mile and then copper plates were prepared for printing. The Draft Surveyors maps for the whole of Wales are now available online and they form an important part in the study of Welsh upland place-names as they bridge the timeframe between the late 18th century and the mid-19th century when the Ordnance Survey produced their first One-Inch maps.
One-Inch ‘Old Series’ map:
The One-Inch ‘Old Series’ map was the first map that the Ordnance Survey produced, and their publication culminated from the whole of Britain being surveyed between 1791 and 1874 and the detail gathered therein produced at a scale of one inch to the mile and published in sheet format between 1805 and 1874. The One-Inch ‘Old Series’ maps for the whole of Wales are now available online; they are also available in map format as enlarged and re-projected versions to match the scale and dimensions of the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger series and are published by Cassini. This series of maps form another important part in the study of Welsh upland place-names and bridge the timeframe leading up to the production of the Ordnance Survey base map of the Six-Inch series.
The Ordnance Survey Six-Inch map is one of the most important produced by Ordnance Survey for people who are interested in place-name research. For many years this was the base map for information to be fed on to, the scale was superseded in the 1950s by the 1:10,000 series of maps and was available as sheets until the 1980s when they were digitised. One of the recurring themes of Ordnance Survey maps is that some of the data are not consistent between the different scales of maps available, this is particularly noticeable for numerical data between the two publicly available scales of 1:50,000 Landranger and 1:25,000 Explorer maps. However, when studying place-names it is also noticeable that name placement and sometimes composition is not consistent between these lower scaled maps and their larger scaled and older maps of the Six-Inch series. It is also noticeable that some names appear on the Six-Inch map whilst they do not appear on the smaller scaled maps. It is the intention of Ordnance Survey to feed all information in to their digital Master Map and for this to form the basis of smaller scaled maps, however this process is ongoing and as there are thousands of updates to the Master Map on a daily basis it may take many years before this information finds its way on to the smaller scaled publicly available maps. The Six-Inch series of maps are available online and form one of the most important parts in the study of Welsh upland place-names and bridge the timeframe between the One-Inch map and imperial measurement being updated to the 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 scales of mapping and the use of metric measurement.
Historical 1:25,000 map:
The Ordnance Survey historical 1:25,000 map remains the best map for upland name placement that has been made publicly available when published. Much of its place-name data is reliant upon the series of Six-Inch and 1:10,000 scaled maps previously produced. This map is very good with its name placement, something that is lacking in the current 1:50,000 Landranger and 1:25,000 Explorer series of mapping, and one important factor in this name placement is the use of ridge names in preference to upland names appearing horizontally which forms the norm on current Ordnance Survey maps. The Ordnance Survey historical 1:25,000 map is available online and when combined with the Ordnance Survey Six-Inch map forms a basis of excellent documentation for research purposes.
1:50,000 Landranger and 1:25,000 Explorer maps:
These are the current two scales of maps produced by the Ordnance Survey that are made publicly available in map format. Both suffer from inconsistencies and are not good at either upland name placement or the use of definitive names. They are not recommended for place-name research as other Ordnance Survey maps are better. However, they do form a part of the chain of Ordnance Survey maps and as such are useful.
Enlarged Geograph map:
The Ordnance Survey enlarged map on the Geograph website is one of the most important maps made available online. It has recently been revamped and is now available as a larger area map, although the scales of mapping remain the same. This revamped map is named the Experimental Coverage Map and is still under development. It includes many upland names that are not shown on either the 1:50,000 Landranger or the 1:25,000 Explorer map. It is digitally updated with both numerical and place-name data with much of the latter matching that on the series of old Six-Inch and 1:10,000 base maps.
The Ordnance Survey forms the most important body of work for Welsh upland place-names and if not for this organisation many hundreds, if not thousands of these names may have been lost. Because of this those interested in Welsh upland place-name research should be forever thankful to the Ordnance Survey, this organisation does not get it right on every occasion and are prone to inconsistency, but on the whole they have produced work that is excellent in its range and historical importance.
This heading takes in research conducted by other people and although it is not a comprehensive documentation of this overall subject it does form the basis of the books that I have used in conjunction with my research.
Title: Rhestr O Enwau Lleoedd / A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names
Author: The Language and Literature Committee of the Board of Celtic Studies of the University of Wales
Editor: Elwyn Davies
Publisher: University of Wales Press
Publication Date: January 1996
Format: Paperback, 157 pages
Title: Enwau Eryri / Place names in Snowdonia
Author: Iwan Arfon Jones
Publisher: Y Lolfa Cyf
Publication Date: February 1998
Format: Paperback, 228 pages
Title: Study of Radnorshire Place-Names
Author: Richard Morgan
Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch
Publication Date: March 1998
Format: Paperback, 96 pages
Title: Study of Breconshire Place-Names
Author: Richard Morgan and R F Peter Powell
Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch
Publication Date: June 1999
Format: Paperback, 157 pages
Title: Study of Montgomeryshire Place-Names
Author: Richard Morgan
Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch
Publication Date: September 2001
Format: Paperback, 180 pages
Title: Place-Names of Gwent
Author: Richard Morgan
Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch
Publication Date: August 2005
Format: Paperback, 228 pages
Title: Dictionary of the Place-Names of Wales
Author: Hywel Wyn Owen and Richard Morgan
Publisher: Gomer Press
Publication Date: November 2007
Format: Hardback, 592 pages
Title: Y Llyfr Enwau: Enwau’r Wlad / a Check-List of Welsh Place-names
Author: D Geraint Lewis
Publisher: Gomer Press
Publication Date: 2007
Format: Paperback, 284 pages
Local enquiry is still the most important avenue for research as it documents by what name the respective hill is known as in the local community on the day of research. This is extremely important as it can either substantiate a name used in historical documentation, or substantiate a name that can be considered as being established and / or one that appears on current Ordnance Survey maps, or it can give a name that has never appeared on a map and which prior to the enquiry may only be known orally within the local community.
Assessing the Information:
During place-name research it is not uncommon to find a hill that is known by more than one name, when this happens each should be documented, but for the purposes of hill list compilation only one can be prioritised, this will be the name used within the hill list, whereas any other name can be documented in a Notes section or an Appendix.
Ideally consistency should be employed in evaluating a series of names for the purpose of hill list compilation, this consistency can rely upon the sources for documentation as detailed above, taking in where the name has previously been documented, whilst locally known names can be evaluated against their historical oral documentation and their meaning in relation to the placement of the respective hill.
However, on occasion the final decision for prioritising a hill name may be subjective based on experience gathered during many years of analysing Welsh upland place-names.
The Naming Protocols as outlined below can create consistency in decision making, and when coupled with the sources as outlined above, enables a list compiler to use what can be considered an appropriate name for a Welsh hill.
An additional name is never added by the list compiler unless for that within a cynefin name, where for example, using the word mynydd (mountain) as a prefix is the norm and appropriate. This includes the use of a Directional Name, Invented Name and Supplanted Name, the use of these is unnecessary as they perpetuate inappropriate names and their use may deter from using a name that already exists.
The composition of a name is dependent upon a number of factors, one being that hyphenated names can be applicable to specific places (for example a name of a farm) whist feature names (for example a name of a hill) are usually unhyphenated. This policy is also applied if the same name is applicable to a place and a feature; the former is usually hyphenated whist the latter is not. For the listings I have compiled I am, in the main, following simple compositions that reduce compound and hyphenated names to their component elements. This policy results in the loss of detail relating to pronunciation, but is preferential to following the given name on Ordnance Survey maps as these are inconsistent in their use of name composition and in their use of a hyphen.
A name documented in Cymraeg (Welsh) should on the main be prioritised over the translation of the same name that is also documented in the English language. This protocol is dependent upon historical documentation and / or current use and which was the originator. A name that is now documented in an anglicised form and which is proven to have originated from a Welsh form should on the main be presented in its original Welsh form. However, there has been influence between the languages of Welsh and English and this is ongoing as many names have either been anglicised or cymricized and especially so in border country. Assessment should be given to each name and established documentation and local knowledge taken in to account where anglicised or cymricized names exist. In summary, in the main if a name originated in Welsh it should be prioritised for listing purposes as it is viewed as a disservice not to document that name in this language, after all it is the language of the country that this document deals with.
If an established name exists for a hill this should be prioritised in favour of all other secondary names found for the hill. With the term ‘Established Name’ pertaining to a name that can be shown to have been used for a number of years and which is documented in the written format and still used and prioritised locally and which meets the other protocols as listed below.
Hill, Summit, Ridge, Cynefin, Feature, Unusual and Inanimate name:
The name of a hill should take precedence over the name of the hill’s summit, with the caveat that this is dependent upon local knowledge as on occasion the summit name can be prioritised locally.
When the land associated with the name of a hill also takes in another and differently named and listed summit, the overall name is used if prioritised locally, even if the hill has a separate summit name. An example of this protocol is Cefn Digoll (SJ 264058) which is also known by its English name of Long Mountain. The name of Cefn Digoll is known locally to take in the whole upland mass which also incorporates another P30 hill at SJ 275084, and although Cefn Digoll has a separate summit name; Caer Digoll, or Beacon Ring in English, it is the name to the whole upland mass that the hill is known by locally, even though this land area also incorporates another P30 hill.
It is commonplace in Wales for the name of a hill to be directly known by its association with its summit cairn. In many instances these are ancient structures, and its prioritised nature as far as hill listing is concerned should be dependent upon historical documentation and whether the respective name is prioritised locally.
If a name for the hill exists this should be prioritised over the name of the cynefin, as the latter only takes in bounded land and not the overall hill.
It is favourable to use a name for the overall hill in preference to a name applied to one of the respective hill’s ridges, unless it is the ridge name that is prioritised locally.
The priority in which to favour a summit name or a ridge name should be given to which is prioritised locally.
The priority in which to favour a summit name or a cynefin name should be given to which is prioritised locally.
The priority in which to favour a ridge name or a cynefin name should be given to which is prioritised locally.
It can be appropriate to use the main named feature of the hill as that used for its name within a hill list. However, caution should be applied as there is greater precedence for a hill to be known by a rock outcrop or cliff near to its summit rather than a patch of land constituting a marsh or bog that is situated on the lower part of the hill.
The name of the hill should be prioritised over the name of a feature taking in the area of the summit; such as a wood or forest, unless it is known otherwise locally.
Using names such as Bwlch (mountain pass / col) within the context of a hill name may sound unusual but it is not without precedence, and before prioritising such a name local confirmation should be sought.
If no other name exists for a hill either in historical documentation or in local knowledge, it is appropriate to use the name of an inanimate object if the hill is known as such locally. Examples of this practice are unusually common as names associated with ancient cairns and castles are covered by this protocol.
Documented Name or Undocumented Local Name:
There is now a trail of sources that a person can access, many of these are listed above, and usually they take the form of written documentation. However, if a hill remains unnamed on current maps but there is historical evidence of a name, and yet the same hill is now known locally by a different name that has not been documented in the written format, the decision on which one to prioritise for listing purposes will be partly subjective based on any differing historical documentation and the use of the locally known name, be it by one or two people or the local community at large.
If after historical and local research a hill remains seemingly unnamed the point (Pt.) notation is used to signify that the author does not know an appropriate name for the hill. The point notation is given for the height of the hill, as in Pt. 485m and this appears in the column designated for the Hill Name. The preference given this system over that of using a Directional Name, Invented Name or a Supplanted Name also leaves the prospect of future research open for others who may unearth an appropriate name for the hill, rather than invent a name that has no historical or local evidence of use and one that may become established and then perpetuated in the hill bagging community.
When two summits that can also be listed as two separate hills are known locally by one collective name, each is listed by the same name without reference to a Directional Name or reference to the point notation.
The Value of Hill Names
The importance of a hill name should not be underplayed as their use and meaning can be historical and take in the history of the area where the hill is situated as well as that of the language used. They form an intrinsic part of a country’s heritage and as such should be documented and preserved.
The majority of upland place-names in Wales, and those specifically for hill names usually comprise simple descriptions, either of a specific feature or the hill itself, these take the form of many variations; be it Foel Fras ([the] broad, bare summit) or Y Garn (the cairn), they are eloquent in their description and apt in their summary, with few being complicated in their composition.
There is an oral history of Welsh upland place-names being passed from one generation to the next by the people who work the land where the hill is situated, these people on the main comprise the farmers and shepherds, and until recent times with the advent of maps and more specifically the Ordnance Survey, upland place-names were in the main not written down, and therefore their passage from one generation to the next was reliant upon this oral tradition and because of this the survival of any name was always under threat, as a single name could easily be forgotten and therefore lost and not passed to the next generation.
There is an importance laid upon an upland place-name by the people who work the land as it can be used as a signifier of place when gathering sheep. This tradition has been in place for many centuries, but the traditional ways of sheep gathering have changed over recent generations and where it was once conducted on foot or horseback, it is now in the main done by quad bike. This form of gathering seems to have also coincided with the younger generation not being aware of the same quantity of upland place-name features as their forbearers. This latter statement is a generalisation, as there are members of the younger generation who show interest in this subject but time and again during years of research it was evident that the older generation were the people to seek out for their knowledge, as well as being evident to me this was also evident to the farmers and shepherds as once they imparted their knowledge they would usually direct me toward someone older than themselves, ‘someone who knew more of the names’.
As well as being descriptive a name can be a document of history, portraying deeds from a bygone age, these can take the form of a cairn’s name, or they can commemorate a specific event, one either of fact or myth. The historical significance of upland names is important with many names having been first documented hundreds of years ago and their use still evident today locally as well as on current maps.
Upland names are also a conduit for language, and especially so for Wales, where the closeness of our neighbour and its language has resulted in a quaint mixture between Welsh and English in border country, where some names have been anglicised and others cymricised, and where many names comprising more than one word are known by singular words from each language. This language history can be followed back in time through researching historical documents, and it can also be examined in present and recent time where in certain areas of the country Welsh as a language is now lost and the people who work the land of the hill are solely English speakers. When the latter happens new names for hills are sometimes formed and these are usually in the language used by the people who work the land of the hill, or live immediately below it. This is only natural, and any new names should be documented, but precedence should be given to the originator name if the newly formed name is based on its predecessor, and which is usually that of the language of Welsh.
My view does not conform to everyone’s, but I consider a name found through historical documentation even if not presented on a current Ordnance Survey map, to be more appropriate than a name invented by a hill list author, and especially so if it can be substantiated locally.
Much of the research conducted to date has been reliant upon the people who work the land where the summit of the hill is situated, and in the main these are the farmers and shepherds, without the generosity of these people much of this research would not have taken place, and I thank them for their patience especially whilst communicating with a non-Welsh speaker, the willingness to impart their knowledge and the hospitality they have shown.
Myrddyn Phillips (September 2016)