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ONS nickname Welsh woodland ‘Teletubby Hill’ for emergency services database

08 May 2024 7 minute read
Teletubbies. Image: BBC

Stephen Price

Teletubby Hill and Sausage Island are two new nicknames revealed in a database created by the Ordnance Survey (OS) to help emergency service workers pinpoint the location of incidents across Wales.

The former refers to a woodland area in Burry Port – named by local residents after the classic children’s television show, whilst the unfortunately-named latter refers to Ynys-las off the coast of Ynys Môn.

The new system, called the Vernacular Names Tool, contains the nicknames of over nine thousand locations across the UK, with many being created and passed on by local communities.

UK-wide database

The Eye of the Butt is a coastal landform which can be found in the Western Isles of Scotland, whilst those looking for Sausage Island should head to the north-west coast of Wales.

Locations in Essex take a magical theme. Harry Potter Bridge can be found in Thurrock, whilst Peter Pan is a woodland area located in Southend.

The less than desirable Stinky Bay in Cornwall refers to Pentire Bay.

The Princess Royal even got involved with the naming process.

“Local knowledge”

During a recent visit to the OS headquarters in Southampton, she added “the wedding cake” to the database, which is an alternative name for the Queen Victoria Memorial opposite Buckingham Palace.

Chief coastguard Peter Mizer said the tool is an “incredibly useful resource”, and added: “It has allowed local knowledge to be shared across our operational network and there are examples where its use has improved the tasking of critical rescue assets.

“We are very proud to have played a significant role in its development and we are pleased to see it being made available to colleagues in other emergency services today.”

Controversy

The OS previously courted controversy in Wales for using invented English names, including “The Mushroom Garden” and “Milestone Buttress” for locations across Eryri national park.

The OS – the UK Government’s national mapping agency for Great Britain, has caused an outcry among locals, with Nant Peris resident, Eilian Williams, leading the fight locally and nationally.

Nation.Cymru was given access to just one of the complaints made by Eilian to the OS, where he made clear his dismay at the denial of the original Welsh names in favour of recent English monikers, mostly coined by visitors and hikers.

Examples include “The Mushroom Garden” for ‘Coed Carreg y Fran’, ‘Senior’s Ridge’ for ‘Crib y Clogwyn Du’ and many more such as ‘Far South Peak’ and ‘Heather Terrace’.

Eilian also points out that many Welsh names have not been included at all, adding them in the letter in the hope that they might be included before more English names are christened.

Ordnance Survey (OS) has been urged by Eilian to replace the extensive number of “offensive” names with their true, original Cymraeg ones – many of which were recorded by local shepherds.

He has also dealt extensively with Gwynedd council, Eryri National Park and the Welsh Language Commissioner but, as yet, found no resolution.

The letter

Eilian wrote: “I am horrified that the premium online map has many examples of new English forms which were never used until the massive outdoor industry started producing books and websites with their own invented names for large rocks, gullies etc. as well as their climbing routes.

“Let me give you the long-standing incorrect names first. I suspect that the only evidence for their use was in the literature of the proposers without any local verification.. So it would be unfair to ask us to provide evidence to change these names back to the original form.

“In April 2022, I started a Facebook Group “Eryri Wen” to collect and disseminate the correct Welsh names for the features of Eryri (specifically around Yr Wyddfa and Y Glyderau between Beddgelert, Waunfawr, Bethesda and Capel Curig and Dolwyddelan).

“You are welcome to join to learn how these names were collected. Let me give you examples of incorrect names. The most notorious of course was adding ‘The nameless Cwm’ to Cwm Cneifion near Glyder Fawr.”

“Made up”

“Please delete this ridiculous name as you already have its Welsh name on your map.

“Please delete ‘Upper cliffs of Glyder Fawr’ as this is a made up name from climbing books. There are two Welsh names. ‘Trigfylchau’ is the name for the whole area of the northern cliffs and cwms of the Glyder Fawr. Specifically the northern cliffs are called ‘Clogwyn Du Ymhen y Glyder’.

“Climbing websites have started to use ‘Senior’s Ridge’ to describe the ridge going to Clogwyn Du but ‘Crib y Clogwyn Du’ is the only name, not ‘Senior’s Ridge’.

Similarly I think Chasm or ‘Cliff of Glyder Fach’ is on the Premium Website. It is Diffwys y Glyder Fach (not Cliff or Chasm). Remember that nobody is even thinking of changing the Gaelic origin names of Scottish mountains to English so why should it happen here!

“On Tryfan you still have ‘Heather Terrace’ when it has an original Welsh name, ‘Y Llwybr Gwregys’ (the only name). Please delete Heather Terrace.

“On the premium website you have ‘North Peak’, ‘South peak’ etc but there are already Welsh names for the ridges or peaks of Tryfan. Closest to the northern side is ‘Ceg y Benglog’ – ‘Trwyn y Benglog’ is in the middle. ‘Ceg y Benglog’ is the most southerly peak of the 3.

Far South Peak & The Mushroom Garden

“Further south you have ‘Far South Peak’ on your map. This is a made up name for ‘Bryn Tryfan’.

“Near Tryfan you have ‘Bochlwyd Buttress’ on your map (any name with buttress on it has been made up by climbers). Its real name is ‘Clogwyn Crach’.

“You also have ‘Milestone Buttress’ between Tryfan and the road (A5). This is ‘Craig y Foty’.

“You add unnecessarily ‘Gribyn Facet’ to ‘Clogwyn Tarw’ near Llyn Idwal. Please delete this too.

“Above it you have ‘Sub Cneifiion Rib’ for ‘Clogwyni Idwal’. Another ridiculous made-up name.

“Further north you have ‘The Mushroom Garden’ for the correct ‘Coed Carreg y Fran’.

“Now onto Yr Wyddfa. Please delete the made-up name ‘The Horns’. These are small rocks in Cwm Brwyn.

Viral

Following Eilian’s campaign, a number of social media users have grown equally incensed, with Myfanwy Alexander writing on X: “Struggling to understand why the OS are considering putting recent made-up names on maps of Eryri.

“Gribyn Facet Heather Terrace and Far South Peak already have names – Clogwyn Tarw, Y Llwybr Gwregys & Bryn Tryfan. No group of Cagoule-clad visitors have the right to rename our land.

“If OS is really considering using climbers’ nicknames to replace existing historic Welsh place names, shall we return the compliment?

“Suggestions please. Pwll Diwaelod for London, Y Garthffos for the River Thames, Porthcaethweision for Bristol, Tre Arwerthwyr Tai for Shrewsbury?”

Response

An Ordnance Survey spokesperson said at the time: “As the national mapping service for Great Britain, Ordnance Survey maintains the national geographic database for the nation. Our remit is to capture and maintain names for both the natural and manmade environment, including buildings and natural features.

“Ordnance Survey makes enquiries and consults appropriate authorities in order to establish, with as much authority as possible, the most suitable name, form, and spelling for all places shown. This often involves working closely with the Welsh Language Commissioner, the National Parks, local councils and the landowners.

“A recent example of this process was the work with the National Park Authority, the School of Welsh at Cardiff University and the Welsh Language Commissioner to adopt a number of standardised Welsh place names for lakes for Eryri (Snowdonia) into our database. Further information on this project can be found here – https://authority.snowdonia.gov.wales/news/article/?id=27602

“In line with our Welsh names policy we are happy to work with our colleagues across the relevant authorities to investigate this recent enquiry.

“Ordnance Survey is committed to holding authoritative versions of Welsh place names within its mapping datasets. We offer a range of maps of areas wholly or partially in Wales at different scales in digital and paper format that have bilingual covers and legends where appropriate.” More information on our Welsh names policy can be found here – Welsh names policy (ordnancesurvey.co.uk)


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
14 days ago

The Ordnance Survey has lost the plot. Some years ago it disposed of its historical records some of which are in the National Archives. It produces relatively mediocre maps compared to best international standard and likely will ultimately be superseded by other commercial map makers. That is not to say that its arrogant attitude won’t damage the record of toponym both in Wales and other parts of the UK.

Glwyo
Glwyo
13 days ago

I’d argue that it has already been superceded by openstreetmap.

Gaynor
Gaynor
13 days ago

Burry Port and Llanelli people have been calling this Tellytubby Hill since the park was landscaped

Erisian
Erisian
14 days ago

They could have at least called it Bryn Tybbïaid Teledu !!!!

Riki
Riki
13 days ago

This is nothing short of cultural cleansing. They (The Germanic Royals) want a Britain without the Britons and their history, and only a Co-opted Anglo centric version of the original will be allowed to prosper. We need to start coming to the realisation of what is occurring, we don’t see it because it’s drip, drip, drip.

Glwyo
Glwyo
13 days ago

Their Welsh place name policy doesn’t count for much if somebody selling hiking books can just make up a bunch of names and get them given offical status as an “English form”.

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