Posted: Tue 4th May 2021

Motion to ditch “Snowdon” for Welsh form of “Yr Wyddfa” kicked into long grass for now

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

A national park has delayed any decision on ditching the English name of “Snowdon” despite calls for Wales’ highest peak to only be referred to by its Welsh name of “Yr Wyddfa”.

With the motion having also called for the park to use “Eryri” rather than “Snowdonia” in future, authority chiefs have instead set up a working group to consider its future policy on Welsh place names.

The park was established in 1951, covering 827 square miles (2,140 km2) of mainly mountainous land in Gwynedd and Conwy counties.
An earlier petition calling for the national park to drop “Snowdon” and “Snowdonia” was rejected by the Senedd last year after it was found to be the responsibility of the park itself rather than Cardiff Bay.

But a meeting of authority members last week – consisting mainly of councillors sitting on Gwynedd and Conwy councils – kicked a motion by Cllr John Pughe Roberts into the long grass, believing that further discussions were needed on the implications of only using the Welsh forms.

It’s understood that this task group will look to adapt guidelines on the general use of Welsh place names.
“Yr Wyddfa” means grave, with legend stating that the giant Rhita Gawr was buried on the 3560 ft mountain. However, it was also known as Carnedd y Cawr (the Cairn of the Giant).
“Eryri”, meanwhile, is believed to originate from the Latin “oriri” (to rise) and was first documented in the 9th century, despite it long being thought to refer to the Welsh name for Eagle – “Eryr”.

The more recently popularised English forms of “Snowdon” and “Snowdonia” are thought to derive from the Saxon “snow dune” meaning “snow hill”.

There is a precedent for the ditching of English place names for popular tourist attractions, however, with Ayres Rock in Australia now formally known by its much older Aboriginal name of Uluru.

Were the park to follow a similar route, however, it would not compel other bodies and/or individuals to stop using “Snowdon” or “Snowdonia”.

Previous efforts have been made to drop the English forms including one from language pressure group Cymuned in 2003, who claimed that the area only became known as Snowdonia due to Victorian day-trippers.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the decision, Cllr Roberts said: “I’m naturally disappointed as I felt this was a real chance to make a statement on the need to protect our indigenous Welsh place names.

“There’s much talk of people wrongly changing Welsh house names into English and long established place names being eradicated, but the public sector has a duty to lead the way here rather than insisting on this bureaucracy of kicking the can down the road to another committee.”

The Independent Gwynedd county councillor for Corris/Mawddwy added: “I am disappointed that some Plaid Cymru members didn’t support the motion today, but I am not giving up and will be continuing to put pressure on the authority and for the outcome of this working group to be made public as soon as possible.”

In response, national park chair Wyn Ellis Jones, said: “Authority members decided that there was no need to consider the motion today as a Welsh Place Names Task and Finish Group has already been appointed.

“This follows previous consideration by the Members in a Working Group which recommended to establish and adopt guidelines to guide the use of place names by the SNPA. Members will consider these issues once the Task and Finish group is able to make recommendations.

“The authority is committed to protect and promote the use of native place names for everyday use and future generations.”

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter



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