How you can help protect the future of Welsh place names

Picture by Jaggery (CC BY-SA 2.0)

*English follows below*

Sara Wheeler

Enwau – maent o’m hamgylch ymhobman, pob dydd, ac ym mhob rhan o’n bywydau.

Ein henwau personol, enwau clefydau, enwau bandiau, enwau mudiadau (e.e. gwleidyddol), enwau adar a bywyd natur, enwau ffilmiau ac enwau nwyddau a brandio; pob math o enwau, a phob un yn dylanwadu ar ein profiadau personol a chymunedol, mewn rhyw ffordd neu’i gilydd.

Haf diwethaf, cawsom gryn dipyn o drafod yma yng Nghymru, am ailenwi’r ‘Ail Groesfan Hafren’. Os ydy hynny’n swndio braidd yn llond ceg ddryslyd, mae hynny oherwydd ei bod hi – gan mai disgrifiad, yn hytrach nag enw, oedd gan yr ail bont ar y pryd.

Felly roedd angen ailenwi, neu enwi yn y lle cyntaf, yr ail bont; y drafferth oedd, y diffyg ymgynghoriad hefo’r cyhoedd, gyda phroses tryloyw o unrhyw fath, ynghyd a’r enw dadleuol a ddewiswyd, sef ‘Pont Tywysog Cymru’.


O ran hanes a gwleidyddiaeth Cymru a Lloegr, mi roedd hwn yn enw profoclyd, ond ar ben hyn mi roedd hefyd yn dangos diffyg dychymyg, gan ychwanegu at y rhestr o bethau topograffigol hefo’r un enw.

Mi ellir dweud ei fod yn ychwanegu at y broblem o ‘anhysbysrwydd parhaol’ yng Nghymru, megis yr hyn a chwynir amdano gan George Graham (Cofrestrydd cyffredinol) ynglŷn ag enwau personol Cymraeg yn y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg.

Ceir hefyd yma diffyg cysylltiad perthnasol i’r cyd-destun lleol, lle byddai wedi bod yn bosib gwneud o ran llenyddiaeth berthnasol i’r Afon Hafren.

Bregus

Ar adeg y ffrae dros ail(enwi’r) ail bont, esboniodd yr Athro David Thorne, Cadeirydd Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru, y byddai’r ffwdan yma wedi ei hosgoi pe bai deddf wedi cael ei phasio gan Gynulliad Cymru i ddiogelu enwau hanesyddol Cymru.

Y broblem oedd, fod Deddf yr Amgylchedd Hanesyddol (Cymru) 2016 ddim yn rhoi amddiffyniad o gwbl i enwau lleoedd yng Nghymru. Fuodd ymdrech gan yr Aelod Cynulliad Plaid Cymru, Dai Lloyd, i gynnig mesur i ddiwygio hyn, ond mi fethodd, gan adael enwau lleoedd Cymru’n fregus.

Mae’r sefyllfa yma yn parhau, ac rydym wedi gweld enghreifftiau diweddar o ddisodli enwau lleoedd a thai yng Nghymru, wrth iddynt gael ei chyfieithu neu ei diystyru.

Mae hyn yn drist, gan fod enwau lleol, a’r storïau cysylltiedig, yn rhoi mewnwelediad pwysig i hanes ardaloedd ac maent yn rhan bwysig o’n hetifeddiaeth a’n hunaniaeth.

Ymwybyddiaeth

Sefydlwyd Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru yn 2011, hefo’r nod i hybu ymwybyddiaeth, astudiaeth a dealltwriaeth o enwau lleoedd a’u perthynas ag ieithoedd, amgylchedd, hanes a diwylliant Cymru. Fuont yn llwyddiannus mewn bachu grant Loteri, yn ôl yn 2013, at y prosiect ‘Gwarchod’, a dan y cyllid yma maent wedi cyflawni gwaith onomasteg bwysig trwy gynnal gweithdai, ysgolion undydd a chynadleddau rhanbarthol, darlithoedd a theithiau tywys, a thrafod wyneb yn wyneb gyda’r cyhoedd i gasglu gwybodaeth a storïau.

Felly, er gwaethaf y siom ynglŷn â’r ddeddf a’r mesur perthnasol, mae Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru yn parhau i weithredu i warchod enwau lleoedd, ac ym mis Mehefin, fuont yn llwyddiannus unwaith yn rhagor mewn bachu grant gan Gronfa Dreftadaeth y Loteri, at brosiect treftadaeth newydd o’r enw ‘Llwybrau’.

Bydd y grant newydd, werth £38,000, yn galluogi’r gymdeithas is barhau, dros y ddwy flynedd nesaf, i godi ymwybyddiaeth o werth enwau lleoedd fel rhan o’n treftadaeth ddiwylliannol ac annog cofnodi enwau er mwyn eu diogelu i’r dyfodol, a hynny gan ddefnyddio llwybrau ar hyd a lled Cymru yn thema ar gyfer y gwaith.

Bydd y gwaith yn cynnwys trafod hefo pobl leol i gasglu a chofnodi mân enwau lleol – yn enwedig y rheini sydd wedi eu cadw a’u trosglwyddo hyd yma ar lafar yn unig; bydd Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru hefyd yn cynnig cymorth i ddadansoddi a dehongli’r enwau hyn.

Trawiadol

Os oes gennych ddiddordeb ym mhrosiect ‘llwybrau’ ac/ neu mewn enwau lleoedd Cymru yn gyffredinol, beth am gefnogi Cymdeithas Enwau Lleol Cymru trwy ddod yn aelod?

Mae’r wybodaeth o sut i wneud hyn ar gael ar y tudalen cysylltu/ ymuno. Hefyd ar y wefan, ceir cyn-gopïau o gylchlythyr y gymdeithas, ynghyd a llenyddiaeth berthnasol, megis erthyglau yn y maes. Dyma hefyd lle gewch wybodaeth ynglŷn â digwyddiadau a newyddion y gymdeithas.

Mae’r gymdeithas hefyd yn weithgar iawn trwy’r cyfryngau cymdeithasol – mae ganddynt dudalen Facebook ac maent yn trydari ar @EnwauLleoedd

Wrth baratoi’r erthygl yma, cofiais am yr olygfa fwyaf trawiadol yn addasiad ddiweddar Opera Cymru o’r llyfr ‘Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd’ gan Islwyn Ffowc Elis, lle mae Ifan Powell wedi teithio mewn amser i Gymru dystopaidd:

Ifan:                                        Ble mae Llanwrda?

Yr Athro Richards:            Murddun, fy ffrind.

Ifan:                                        A Thal y Llyn?

Seeward:                              Ruin 16

Ifan:                                        A Bryncrug?

Seeward:                              Ruin 15

Ifan:                                        A Llanegryn?

Yr Athro Richards:             Mae wedi mynd.

(Libreto, Tudalen 42-43)

Mae Ifan yn gweiddi “Na! Dim mwy! No More” gan dal ei ben, wrth ddod wyneb yn wyneb a’r hunllef “Western England”, fel y mae Cymru yn y dyfodol paralel hwn, gyda’r enwau lleoedd annwyl i gyd wedi ei disodli a’r pentrefi wedi ei difethaf.

Er mai ffuglen yw hyn, nid yw’n naid enfawr y dychymyg i weld goblygiadau peidio gweithredu nawr i warchod enwau lleoedd Cymru – a gyda chyllid Loteri yn gefnogaeth, nid oes wedi bod amser gwell i ddod yn rhan o’r ymgyrch.

Nid yw Sara Wheeler yn ysgrifennu ar ran Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru.


Picture by Still ePsiLoN (CC BY 2.0).

Names – they’re all around us, every day, and in every aspect of our lives.

Our personal names, names of diseases, names of music bands, names of movements (e.g. political), names of birds and other wildlife, film names, product names and branding; all kinds of names, and each one having an influence on our personal and community experiences, in one way or another.

Last summer, we had quite a lot of discussion here in Wales, regarding the renaming of the ‘Second Severn Crossing’ bridge. If that sounds like rather a confusing mouthful, that’s because it is – this is because the second bridge had a description, rather than a name.

So there needed to be a renaming, or naming in the first place, of the second bridge; the problem was, the lack of public consultation, with any kind of a transparent process, coupled with the controversial name which was chosen: ‘The Prince of Wales’ bridge.

In terms of the history and politics of Wales and England, it was a provocative name, but in addition it showed a lack of imagination, adding to the list of topographical things already bearing the moniker ‘The Prince of Wales’.

It could be said, therefore, that this renaming adds to the problem of ‘perpetual incognito’ in Wales, such as that complained about by George Graham (Registrar-General) when referring to Welsh personal names in the nineteenth century.

There was also a lack of appropriate connection made to the local context, where it would have been possible to do this through the relevant literature to the River Severn.

Sad

At the time of the arguments over the (re)naming of the bridge, Professor David Thorne, Welsh Place-Name Society Chair, explained that the difficulties could have been avoided if the Welsh Assembly had passed an Act protecting the historical place names of Wales.

The problem was that, the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016 did not offer any protection at all for Welsh place names. An attempt was subsequently made by Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, Dai Lloyd, to propose a measure to amend this, but it was not successful, leaving Welsh place names vulnerable.

This situation continues, and we have seen recent examples of Welsh place names in Wales being replaced, as they have been translated or disregarded.

This is sad, because local place names, and their associated stories, offer important insights into the history of local areas and they’re an important part of our heritage and sense of identity.

Protect

The Welsh Place-names Society was established in 2011, with the aim of raising awareness and understanding of place names and their relationship to the languages, environments, history and culture of Wales.

In 2013, the society were successful in capturing a Lottery Heritage Fund grant, for the ‘Gwarchod’ (protect) project, through which they have completed some important onomastic work – hosting workshops, one-day schools and regional conferences, lectures and guided tours, and discussing face to face with the public to collect information and stories.

Thus, despite the disappointments regarding the Act and the Measure, the Welsh Place-Names Society continue their work to protect place names in Wales, and in June this year, they were once again successful in capturing a new Lottery heritage Fund grant, for a new heritage grant called ‘Llwybrau’ (paths).

The new grant, worth £38,000, will enable the society to continue, over the next two years, to raise awareness regarding the value of place names as part of cultural heritage, and to encourage the recording of place names in order to protect them for the future, doing this by using paths across Wales as a theme for the Work.

The work will involve discussions with local people to collect and record local minor names – especially names safeguarded and transmitted through oral tradition until now; the society will also offer support in analysing and interpreting these names.

Striking

If you have an interest in the ‘Llwybrau’ project and/ or Welsh place names generally, then maybe you could support the Welsh Place-Names Society by becoming a member?

The information on how to do this is on the Contact us/ Join page of their website. Also on the website, you can find previous copies of the society’s newsletter, along with relevant literature, such as articles from the field. Here you can also find information about news and forthcoming events.

The society are also very active through social media – they have a Facebook page and they tweet at @WelshPlaceName

Whilst preparing this article, I was reminded of the most striking scene in the recent Opera adaptation of Islwyn Ffowc Elis’ famous book ‘Wythnos Yng Nghymru Fydd’ (A Week in the Wales of the Future), where Ifan powell has travelled forward in time to a dystopian Wales:

Ifan:                                                                Where is Llanwrda?

Professor Richards & Seeward:            A ruin, my friend.

Ifan:                                                                And Thal y Llyn?

Seeward:                                                      Ruin 16

Ifan:                                                                And Bryncrug?

Seeward:                                                      Ruin 15

Ifan:                                                                And Llanegryn?

Professor Richards:                                  It’s gone.

(Libreto, Pages 42-43)

Ifan shouts “No! No more! No more”, holding his head, faced with the nightmare of “Western England”, as Wales has become in this parallel future, with the dear place names all replaced and the villages destroyed.

Although this is fiction, it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to see the implications of not acting now to protect place names in Wales – and now with the backing of the Lottery funding, there has never been a better time to become part of the effort.

Sara Wheeler is not writing on behalf of the Welsh Place Names Society.

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