Place-names are an invaluable tool for understanding the evolution of languages
as well as giving important pointers about the impact of man on the landscape. Wales' place-names
are formed from a mixture of languages - Welsh (including archaic British), English, Latin, Scandinavian
and Norman-French. In 1998, the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society established a survey to record
and study the place-names of Carmarthenshire. This was not the first time the Society had been instrumental
in such a venture, because it had published a paper on the subject as early as 1912.
The initial aim of the survey was to collect place-names forms from early maps
(original OS Surveyors' drawings about 1812; 1" OS map of 1830; the Tithe maps of each parish;
and the 6" OS first edition). This was a mammoth task undertaken by a group of volunteers co-ordinated
by Peter Wihl. At the early planning stage, it was agreed that the information should be computerised
and a database was set up for entering and interrogating the development work for this was undertaken
by Terry James who set up a four-table relational framework using FoxPro. Subsequently he collaborated
with Simon Taylor who was working on the place-names of Fife in Scotland. They first met at a symposium
on the computerisation of place-names at Belfast. Since then, with the formation of the Scottish
Place-name Society, the two have been working on a more comprehensive data structure for the collection
and study of place-names. The FoxPro application, called Enwau, (pronounced en-why) has two main
modules: one based on the original 4-table structure in use in Carmarthenshire, and the 'international'
module. This has more tables and is aimed at the analysis of forms with the use of phonetics and
information on medieval charters, general and specific bibliographical sources
The Carmarthenshire Survey completed the initial task of collection from the main
map trawl in 1997. Since then, Peter Wihl has concentrated on collecting form manuscript sources
including estate maps in the Carmarthen Record Office. Work has also started on collecting forms
from medieval sources. These are mainly from printed transcripts and calendars. In total over 46,000
ecords have been entered. The information includes (where possible) an accurate map reference and
altitude of the 'site', a list of the historic forms with sources and dates and the parish name.
The database is already capable of undertaking searches according to any chosen place-name element,
or provide distributions of all the names from particular sources. It has been used to provide information
for the former existence of mammals which no longer or only rarely exist in the county. On going editing is undertaken by members of the Society, so that the database continues
You can download the database as a PDF here -
When the PDF has completely downloaded, you can search using the search facility on your PDF viewer.
If the search box is not showing,
press the Ctrl+F or Cmnd+F buttons on your keyboard to bring the search panel up. Enter the name you are looking for in the search box and press return.
More information on the database can be viewed here.