Historic place names are an important part of our heritage, providing fascinating insights into linguistic, social and historical changes that have shaped Wales. They form a rich legacy for present and future generations. Their significance was recognised in the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016, which requires the Welsh Ministers to establish a list of Wales’ historic place names.
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has undertaken to compile and maintain the List of Historic Place Names of Wales on behalf of the Welsh Ministers. It was launched on 8 May 2017 and is freely available online and through the Welsh historic environment records. The list already contains nearly 350,000 entries collected from a variety of historical sources. This, however, is only the beginning. The list will continue to grow as further records are gathered. Users of the list are also encouraged to contribute their own information on particular place names by using the comment function.
This is the first statutory list of historic place names in the UK, if not the world. It will raise public awareness of the importance of historic place names and encourage their continuing use in daily life. The list will be invaluable tool for academic researchers or members of the public who are simply curious about the history of their property or locality. It will also provide a centralised and easily accessible resource for property owners, developers and public bodies who may need to take account of historic place names when planning projects or developments.
Since the list is accessible through the historic environment records, it is specifically considered in the statutory guidance, ‘Historic Environment Records in Wales: Compilation and Use’, that the Welsh Government has issued for local and National Park authorities and Natural Resources Wales. It directs the named public bodies to take account of the list if any of their functions involve the naming or renaming of streets, properties or other places. An annex contains specific guidance for local authorities on the use of the list in the discharge of their statutory responsibilities for the naming and renaming of streets and properties.
The list will be curated by a full-time member of staff at the Royal Commission, who will also be able to answer queries from public bodies, businesses and individuals.