Monday, December 14, 2009

Llanhir or Llanllyr?

The Radnorshire Society want the authorities to use Llanhir instead of Llanllŷr yn Rhos, as the official Welsh language version of Llanyre.

I've always accepted the explanation given in various books that the name was originally Llanllyr and that the internal LL was dropped quite naturally, in the same way that Cardiganshire's Llanllwchaearn became Llanychaearn. Attempts to popularise Llanhir version I've seen as a misguided attempt to correct a supposed anglicism in the speech of Radnorians.

The Radnorshire Society, however, make a good case for doubting the authenticity of Llanllyr, resting as it does on a single reference in a document of 1566. I've also come across a confused 18C references in Cary's map of 1794 (see illustration) which is probably built on the sand of William Owen Pughe's map of 1788.

But what about Llanhir. The Society see this originating from Llwynhir, as in the farm name Dol Llwyn Hir - which Radnorians, even in Welsh speaking times, would probably have called Dolwner - the change from Llwyn to Llan being quite a common occurrence in farm names. However the archaeologists tell us that there is a llan (early medieval church enclosure) in Llanyre, so why the need to find a Llwyn when you have a Llan on the ground?

What the Radnorshire Society and your blogger both agree on is that the local pronunciation is old and Welsh. I missed the fact that Ffransis Payne used the form Llanhir but the two examples of bardic poetry he quotes in Crwydro Sir Faesyfed use the form Llan-ur, rhyming with dolur and eglur. The Society place a good deal of faith in the occasional use of Llanhir and its variants in various 19C Censuses, but it is a usage that the 16C bards seem to have missed.

All in all I accept the fragility of the case for Llanllyr but remain unconvinced by Llanhir. What is plain is that the local pronunciation is the most historically attested form of the name, no matter how you spell it.


Confused of North Brecknock said...

I thought your research proved it's in North Wales so who cares either way. Or did I misunderstand?

old radnor said...

Yep, you misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

I call it Legoland.

Anonymous said...

Or is that Legoverland