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Buckley Society Magazine Issue Four: The Welsh Place Names in the Township of Bannel by Hywel Wyn Owen: map of the Township of Bannel"

Bannel, Buckley

April 1976

Buckley Society Magazine Issue Four, April 1976

[Please note that we have been unable to highlight all the field details, so that the original will need to be consulted for further information - ed.]



Map of the Township of Bannel


The map is based on the Tithe Apportionment Schedule and Map dated 1839, with the spelling normalized. The Welsh field-names have been shaded and those which disappeared by 1839 are in brackets.


p. 2 - 5


The Welsh Place-Names in the Township of Bannel.


While the decline in the Welsh language in the parish of Hawarden has been taken for granted (up to the middle of this century at least), well-attested historical facts to substantiate this impression are rare. Evidence can be furnished however by the place-names of the various former townships within the parish.


Pentrobin, for example, has over 450 recorded place-names up to the beginning of this century. Only three of those seem to be Welsh: Bryn Tygg Farm is a very late name and therefore is of little historical or linguistic significance; Tipurdine(1706) is probably Ty Purdan, 'purgatory house', but this may prove to be identical with the same name found in 1685 in the far more Welsh manor of Ewloe; and finally Pentrobin or Pentre Hobyn, 'the settlement of Hobyn'. Thus by the late eighteenth century, the only real evidence of Welsh left for posterity was the name of the township itself.


The same was not true of the Bannel. Geographically one might expect a slightly more representative selection of Welsh names in this most southerly township of the former Lordship of Hawarden close to the more Welsh Lordship of Hope. Of over 200 recorded place-names fifteen are Welsh: fourteen fields (all in the southern half of Bannel) and the name of the township.

The derivation of Bannel is probably the Welsh for 'broom', banadl or banal. This indication of the state of the land is supported by the presence of eight field-names containing the English element gorse or Welsh element eithin, which is a fairly high proportion in such a comparatively small township (399 acres on the 1871 O.S. map). It was, of course, and still is, an agricultural township, with no town, village or hamlet within its boundaries, which has resulted in a scarcity of significant names after the principal name (both Pen-y-Mynydd and Pen-y-Ffordd were in the Lordship of Hope). The original or preliminary survey for the 1840 O.S. map has only one other name, White Well, and on the 1871 O.S. map this was again the solitary name, Whitewell House, later Whitewell Farm. All the other extant names are field-names.

There are three major sources for field-names in the Parish of Hawarden.

(a)1785 A Survey of Hawarden Parish (Clwyd R.O. D/BJ/345).

(b)1815 Survey of the Parish of Hawarden in the County of Flint (Clwyd R.O. D/BJ/346).

(c)1839 Tithe Apportionment Schedules and Maps (N.L.W. Copy in Clwyd R.O.).

The collections of Hawarden and Coleman Deeds (N.L.W.), together with various miscellaneous deeds, documents and manuscripts also provide valuable information, but (b) and (c) are of vital importance since the maps accompanying them permit a particular name to be located precisely.

They alsoenable us to see exactly what happened to the Welsh names in a little over half a century.


Some field - names remained unchanged:

1785 1815 1839

Cae Gwyn Cae GwynGee Gwyn

Hirdir HirdirHir dir

Pwllpeny Brin Pwll pen y brynPwll pen y bryn

Big Gae Nichol Cae NicholCae Nichol


Significantly the first three are among the most southerly fields in the Bannel. Cae Gwyn means 'white field' and oddly enough there was a White Field fairly near. In older field-names white often contrasts with the 'blackland', the heath and woodland; in the Bannel this could well be the case with so many references to gorse or broom and with the adjacent plot of land to the south of Cae Gwyn being called Bannel Wood (in 1815). Hirdir means 'long land' and probably alludes to the rectangular shape of the field. Pwlpeny Bryn is 'pool near or at the top of the hill'; pwll could mean 'pit' but it is unlikely that any coal-pit or shaft is referred to here (SJ 29706170). Cae Nichol represents a personal name which is as yet untraced.


Some fields retained their Welsh names but in a contracted form, suggesting that the significance of the original elements was by then lost. In all these cases cae 'field' is assimilated into the main element following it.

Cae RodyumCrodenCroden

Cae RynallCrynaltBig Field

Far Cae Ithin )

Little Cae Ithin )CaethinsFar Caething

Cae CythinNear CaethinsNear Caething


Cae Rodyum represents cae'rodyn or cae-yr-odyn '(lime-) kiln field' oddly enough, as with Cae Gwyn and White Field, there was a Kiln Field to match Cae Rodyum - an interesting pair of parallel names. Cae Rynall was the 'field of Rynalt' (modern Welsh Reinallt); a certain Rynalt was the tenant of the adjacent field in 1785. Cae Ithin is cae+eithin 'gorse field' a parallel to the Gorsey Field nearby and to the several Gorsey or Gorsty Fields found in the Bannel. Caethins is probably the English plural form, since it covered two of the 1785 fields; by 1839 the ending -in had been transformed to -ing which made greater sense to the increasingly English population. Cae Cythin is interesting. If we assume that it is not a scribal error with the C - copied in both words (and the -ythin spelling as opposed to Ithin in the other examples leads us to that assumption), then the probable line of development would be some thing like this: Cae Eithin > Caethin > Cythin > Cae Cythin

As Cythin became apparently meaningless, the Welsh tenant added Cae to it, duplicating the element in the name, as one might have, for example, Gorseyfield Field. This had happened by 1785 when the area was more Welsh than in 1815, by then 'Cythin Field' would probably have been the result.

One field-name was adapted easily into English:

Cornel lssaCorner IssaCorner Isaf

Cornel means 'corner' and Issa 'lower' (as in Mynydd Isa), so it was natural to adapt a word so similar in both languages, but it was most unnatural however to change the colloquial Issa to the more formally and grammatically correct lsaf. Someone was being rather pedantic here, perhaps the recorder in the manuscript; let us be grateful that Mynydd Isa has withstood such schoolmasterly touches.

Cornel does appear in another field-name:

Cornal FieldLower FieldLower Field

Its appearance as Cornal Field rather than Cae Cornel suggests it was even in 1785 subject to anglicizing influence, but this does not necessarily explain why it was changed completely in 1815. It could easily have developed into 'Corner Field', but we should note that it was the most northerly of the Welsh field-names. Suffice to say that it was replaced by an English field-name as was Cae Rynall above (Big Field 1839).


One field-name adapted itself simply:

Cae MarlMarl FieldMarl Field

Theprincipal element is the same in Welsh and in English which facilitated the tranfer.


One of the 1785 field-names was lost completely, Quitia Mawr. This comes from coetgae, which is coed 'trees' + cae 'field' + mawr 'big'. This is a fairly common Welsh field-name element and usually means 'Land enclosed by a hedge'. On the other hand, two field-names appear for the first time in 1815 suggesting clearly that Welsh was for some still a living language:

Fron Goch FawrFrow goch Fawr

Fron goch fechynFrongoch Fecham

bron or fron means 'hill-side, slope', coch, goch 'red', mawr, fawr 'big' and fechan 'little'. The adjacent field in 1815 was Red Meadows which bears out the description; in all probability this is a reference to the clover known as Red or Meadow Clover rather than to the soil. There are three other fields in the Bannel carrying the clover element. Since there are several references in 1815 to trees in the close vicinity of Fron Goch Fawr /Fechan (eg. Wood Piece, Wood Croft, Bannel Wood), it is very tempting to identify these two fields with the lost Quitia Mawr.


While the main aim of this article is to note these Welsh place-names for the sake of historical information, it is interesting to try to deduce the reason for these particular fields being Welsh at all. It was suggested earlier that they were all in the southern half of the Bannel, furthest away from the anglicizing influence, but that fact helped only to preserve the names and does not account for their existence. They occur in two pockets, two groups fairly near to each other, with all the fields (with one exception) adjacent within the group. Of the twelve field-names in 1785, ten are held by just three tenants, Beavan (2), Rynalt (2) and Bennion (6); the others are held by John Thomas and Samuel Huett. These names are traditionally Welsh (Beavan, Bennion, for example, are from Ab Evan, Ab Einion). The Welshness of the actual tenants of the fields may also explain the way in which the names were preserved. In 1815, nine of the fields were still held by the Beavan family (including those fields previously held by Bennion, Rynalt and Huett); the other tenants were 'Edward Griffith's widow' and the 'Widow Piercy'. Similarly in 1839, Davies held nearly all the 'Welsh' fields; the other tenants were Peters and Beavan (one field each).


To argue the language of the tenants from the names is not good historical practice at so late a date, but at least the fields were not held by the clearly English Atkins, Hill or Lee in 1785; Prince, Wainwright or Wilcox in 1815, or Astbury in 1839; (it would be convenient to be able to forget that the two new field-names in 1815, Fron Goch Fawr/Fechan, were held by George Wright!). But the pattern of a principal tenant for the group is fairly clear, a unifying factor which may have helped to preserve the Welsh field-names in the Bannel, the most recently Welsh township of the Parish of Hawarden.



Author: Owen, Hywel Wyn


Year = 1976

Month = April

Document = Journal

Landscape = Cultivated

Work = Agricultural

Extra = Pre 1900

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