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Outcry as Ordnance Survey uses English names on official maps of Eryri national park

27 Jan 2024 9 minute read
Tryfan & Y Carneddau. Image: Andy Harbach

Stephen Price

Ordnance Survey (OS) has been criticised 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 has been given access to just one of the complaints made by Eilian to the OS, where he makes 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 writes: “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.”

Hikers queuing in fog to Yr Wyddfa’s summit on the first weekend of July 2023 – Image: BBC

“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’.

“Further north you add unnecessarily the made-up name ‘Pillar of Elidir’ to Clogwyn Cwrwgl. ‘Pillar’ is not needed – in Nant Peris, the problem is different. The climbers have changed the traditional names to new names that they devised.

“‘Craig Nant Peris’ is called that by nobody. It‘s called ‘Clogwyn Sgyrfil’. ‘Craig Geifr’ has been changed to ‘Clogwyn y Grochan’ on your maps by climbers. The position of ‘Esgair Felen’ is incorrect. It should be slightly more west and lower down.

“Many important rocks and other features are missing. On the south side is Y Glyder, Yr Olau Fawr, Pen yr Olau Fawr, Cernia, Braich Llwyd, Bryn Melyn Rhos, Llyn y Cwn Rhinfa, Cwm Nadroedd, Nant Cra, Llech Llwynog, Cwm Cwn, Cwm Cerwyn, Clogwyn Mawr, Cwm Cerwyn, Rhiwiau Clogwyn Du, Rhiwiau Esgair Maen Gwyn Clogwyn Blaen Coed, Maen Bugail, Pendys, Ysgafell Greigddu and Llwybr Yr Ysgar, Llwybr Llusgo Llwybr Main. Llwybr Carw should be there, as well as Clogwyn Mawr Cwm Ffynnon and Maen Cerlain.

‘The Horns’

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

“If you must name them, they are ‘Clogwyni Cwm Brwyn’. Yr Wyddfa is noted by the omissions. Between Gorffwysfa (which you name ‘Pen y pass’ and ‘Garreg Walch’) is ‘Cwm Garw’. To the right of Garreg Walch is Cwm Brwyn and the rocks there are called Diffwys.

“What you mark as ‘Dinas Bach’ is ‘Bost Ddu’ above Cwm Drosgol/Cwm Beudy Mawr is Clogwyn Mawr Cwm Beudy Mawr, and ‘Diffwys Criafol’ to its left.

“There is ‘Cymoedd Bychan’, ‘Cwm Garreg Wen’ near. In the northern side of Grib Goch the moraine is called ‘Doman Goch’ and ‘Sbarion Gwynion’/’Pentre Bach’.

“Under Y Grib Goch from the left is Bwlch Geifr Cwm Lloua, Diffwys Dwr, Castell, Rhiwiau Gwartheg, y Gwter Fawr, Diffwys Du. Between Grib Goch and Clogwyn Person is Bwlch Coch, Bwlch Nuoedd, Castell Bwlch Nuoedd.

“Then Padell Clogwyn Person and Trwyn Clogwyn Person towards Nant Peris is Gyrn Las, Bwlch Chwarenog, Adwy Chwarenoog, Simne Sion a Sian, Cwm Main, Bryn Pen Llyn. Clogwyn Rysgwydd, Bwlch Maen Llus, Cwm Gorllwyn Pen Bol Du, Ysgar Llan, Tryfan Bach below Tryfan.

“Around Tryfan are Bwlch Llannerch Cloch and Bwlch Gwynt. I think that these significant features should be on the OS map.”

Viral

Following Eilian’s campaign which is now gaining traction, 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

Responding to his campaign reaching a wider audience, Eilian told Nation.Cymru: “I feel that by giving English names all over the sacred home of our nation, that is the final stage of colonisation.

“Many of the names refer to our past sacrifices, others are poetic names of great beauty.

“Eryri was where we lost our independence and it is the last stronghold of our culture… It represents our resistance to English rule.

“We do not use guns against the English occupation, only our language. It is our last arm to maintain our distinctness and to resist assimilation.”

An Ordnance Survey spokesperson said: “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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Catherine
Catherine
1 month ago

…well, you know what? Perhaps its time we used more than our language to be heard because it is obvious the Saesneg are not listening … they have no respect for us, our diverse peoples, our culture, our land or our language.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
1 month ago
Reply to  Catherine

Beth am gael maps yn Gymraeg, Saesneg a Franeg a wedin mae pobol yn gallu gael dewis.

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
1 month ago

Appears that OS are in breech of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul ap Gareth

Eryri Wen advocates painting out the English on signs, obliterating English from everyday life in a majority Welsh speaking independent Wales.
Worth bearing in mind where that would leave the status of English speakers under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
Such things are not rendered acceptable or unacceptable depending on whether or not the other people are “the bad guys”.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Thomas

I don’t think the simple act of painting out or obliterating the English on signs in areas where the majority speak Cymraeg would actually change the status of English speakers at all. They’d still have the right to speak Englsih, and I’m sure that most locals would be happy to accommodate them, and local authorities and the state institutions would be legally obligated to respect their linguistic rights in any case. However, eliminating the omnipresence of English would be a psychological boost to those who speak Cymraeg and also serve as a reminder that Cymru isn’t England, or an extension… Read more »

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Thomas

Oh yeah, that seriously endangered language called English, my heart bleeds for it.

Keith Parry
Keith Parry
1 month ago

Why is Ordinance Survey not devolved to Welsh Government Control?

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Parry

Ordinance????

Mr Walrus
Mr Walrus
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Parry

Because the current Welsh government has shown itself unfit to run a drinking session in a brewery, nevermind taking over a successful national organisation!

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Walrus

No different to what we have in Westminster then isn’t it? If you’re not happy with the current Welsh Government then vote them out, not restrict their powers.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 month ago

Gwarthus! Disgraceful!!!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

That was a tour de force, you are to be applauded for that article. I feel the same about Cader…

All those climbing guides will have to be re-written…

I have a pile of Alpine climbing guides that I got from the late Jack Baines of Caergybi and there is not one English word in them if that helps…

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
1 month ago

I look forward to my road trip from Llundain to Castellnewydd via Caerlŷr. I might even take a detour to Ardal y Llynnoedd. 😉

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Who remembers the TV series ‘The Dragon Has Two Tongues’ with Wynford Vaughan- Thomas and Gwyn Alf Williams (The man who along with Lewis Lloyd and Neil Evans convinced me to read Hanes Cymru at Aber many years ago). Perhaps it needs a rerun…

Just saying…

RIP GAW and LL

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

RIP indeed Mab Meirion. I note that you mention Neil Evans, are you also a Coleg Harlech alumni?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

You bet and it was a crime what happened to the place, I pass weekly and it really hurts to see it. I loved that library, a crime indeed !

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
30 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I was utterly distraught to hear about the closure, and wrote a piece for NC encouraging readers here to sign a petition calling on the Senedd to discuss the future use of the college buildings. Our petition was affected by the sudden change in the rules which meant that a petition had to reach 10,000 signees instead of the previous 5,000, but eventually the Petitions Committee did consider it, but it was pretty much a forgone conclusion. In retrospect, the closure could have been seen coming long ago, as it was in 1994 that the two year Diploma course came… Read more »

Nia James
Nia James
1 month ago

A work colleague mentioned Bannau Brycheiniog at a conference in Bristol. One person asked them “where is that?” When my colleague explained the person then said “Oh! I have been there. It is lovely. But why have the Welsh racists changed its name?”

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Nia James

I hope you put them straight!

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
1 month ago

There should be nothing unsurmountable for the OS to amend the maps so that if you click on the Welsh/Cymraeg name that your phone or computer gives you an audio recording of the pronounciation, or if you say right click (and whatever the phone equivalent is) that you get the climbing bastardised name.
Names are history and by changing names you are changing the past history and the current visitor will not know any different.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Right down to field names and especially the field names because the history of the people of the place is contained therein…

that is what I call reading the landscape…

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

Eryri has too many visitors and too many who just turn up to consume the environment.

If some visitors are put off by 20mph limits, Cymraeg or some other pet peeve and stay away then those visitors who appreciate a calmer travel experience and are interested in our unique language will have a better less crowded experience.

And of course visitors who have a better experience will likely be willing to spend more.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago

There is no way on earth that Mountaineers or hill walkers would go to places like Austria or Nepal and try to get the names changed to English.
Of course Cymru is a soft option and bullies will only go for an easy target.

Richard Edwards
Richard Edwards
1 month ago

It must be understood that the OS is true to its origins – 100 per cent Set up ⬆️ and run as an imperial tool for invasion and conquest by Gvt . The aim was not what Ellan seeks but a tool for the military and imperial civil servants to check on their subjects for tax, Planning and admin of the conquest. The late lecturers and councillors Dafydd Orwig and John K Williams @ Coleg Normsl fought tooth and nail in the 1970s and 80 to encourage Wales towards developing its own cartography service as Ireland has. This has returned… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

More disrespect and scant regard for our culture. The master and servant British empire ideology that we are an inferior people whose language & history can be easily be suppressed or replaced by anglicised place names is alive and kicking at the Ordinance Survey. They need not only to be taken down a peg or two but reeducated that those ancient names either altered , corrupted or replaced by English versions are bastardised and need removing with immediate affect.

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

English empire, British pre-dates English usage and was first used to describe the people the English now call Welsh.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
1 month ago

What a stupid complaint by a bunch of insecure individuals. OS maps are published in English, they are aimed at English speakers. Do the people complaining call Spain, España or Germany as Deutschland? I think not. You know what the French call Wales? They call it Pays De Galles, yet I doubt the complainers take issue with this too… No doubt this will negatively effect tourism, I have witnessed it myself but many in North Wales have a chip on their shoulder about the English. Many of these prejudices are based on events that have faded from living memory and… Read more »

Mawkernewek
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

In this day and age, it isn’t just a matter of a published map, the data is on the digital services, and the OS have gone and given a kind of official stamp to an English alias that someone wrote in a climbing book at some point because they either didn’t want to learn to pronounce the Welsh name, or in ignorance of a traditional Welsh name for that specific feature. This English alias then will be the name that would get served up to anyone using the data on apps etc. and then would start to appear elsewhere drowning… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Let’s get one thing straight, yes? Cymraeg is the national language and it gives meaning to features in the landscape that belong to the native people. Most of those (completely unnecessary) English names are recent impositions by those who lack the respect of using the original names simply becuase they find them a little difficult to pronounce. Most people would rather that the tourists would p**s off to the Costas rather than come to Wales and cause huge problems for the locals. Tourism contributes a mere 4% of Cymru’s GDP. It’s of course useful money, but I’m pretty sure that… Read more »

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Sounds like you are trying to speak for the majority of Wales, when in fact you do not. When communicating in English, our nation is known as Wales and the official language is Welsh. Your thoughts on tourism are frankly terrifying. The majority of Wales simply does not appeal to tourists. The more heavily populated areas are frankly rather ugly. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to visit the likes of Merthyr, Newport, Neath or even Swansea (students aside). These places make up some of the most heavily populated areas of Wales. But without much tourism, they must rely on other… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Its you that doesn’t speak for the majority in Wales,if anything it’s those who are anti Welsh language who are in the minority. In India places have reverted back to their pre colonial names of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Even Australia has embraced Uluru.Yet when Cymru tries to revert back to Cymric places names then all hell is let loose which defies all human logic. It’s a myth that tourism brings any massive benefits to Wales, with very few exceptions at best it provides low wage seasonal employment. What is needed is well paid sustainable all year round employment which… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

Go on, I’m listening…

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

I did enjoy your rant while walking along the coastal sands of the world renownded Gower Peninisula at Swansea. On my way home i will to northern Cymru , i will be stopping to admire the fantantastic Bannau Brechiniog in Methyr County Borough.. You also may wish to check and correct your translation of the English as “ saesneg “ (sic). .

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Pays De Gales is different as it refers to the ancient name of the Britons (Cymric), Gales meaning the land of the Gauls. Specifically the Brittonic Gallic people now called Welsh in English. How do people not know this simple history? One is used to describe an nations ancient origins whereas the other is used to erase it.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

What more proof do you need that clearly shows they seek to erase our nations history. And in doing so, it makes it seem young, and intern meaning the Britons have no historical right to Britain. They’ve already stole the term British, noe they seek to take even more.

Paul
Paul
28 days ago

Why can’t I just buy a Welsh language map OR an English language map? I’m not Welsh, I find Welsh hard to read and difficult to pronounce. I don’t dislike or disrespect Welsh people, their culture or heritage because of this fact. I just want to communicate efectiveley about great experiences and navigate comfortably whilst having them. If there’s an English word or name for something, I’m going to use it because I’m English and speak English, not because I want to offend anyone. If you’re Welsh, speak about these places in Welsh, buy a Welsh language map, tell me… Read more »

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