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Historic place names

Historic place names are an important part of our heritage, providing 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 compile and maintain a list of Wales’ historic place names.  

The List of Historic Place Names of Wales is managed by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. It is freely available online and through the Welsh historic environment records. The list provides a centralised and easily accessible resource and already contains nearly 350,000 entries. It will continue to grow as further place names are collected from a variety of historical sources.

The list is also an invaluable tool for academic researchers or members of the public who are simply curious about the history of their property or locality. Users of the list are also encouraged to contribute their own information on particular place names by using the comment function. By raising public awareness of the importance of Wales’ historic place names, the list will help to encourage their continuing use in daily life.  

The Welsh Government has published statutory guidance for local and National Park authorities and Natural Resources Wales that requires those public bodies to take account of the list of historic places names when considering the naming and renaming of streets, properties and other places, either directly or by another party. The guidance includes specific directions for local authorities in the discharge of their statutory street naming and numbering functions. If an authority receives an application for a change to a historic property name, it should encourage the applicant to retain the historic name.