EWSNEWS – February 2021

The story so far

Tuesday 12 January. Funeral of Anne Roberts at 11.30am

Huw and Lilian John and I were invited to attend Anne’s funeral along with former colleagues, neighbours and friends. It was a clear sunny day made brighter by big bunches of golden tulips, and many happy memories of our time in Anne’s company. A donation to Epilepsy Scotland was made by the Society in Anne’s memory.

Forthcoming events

Friday 19 February. A Zoom  chat with Welsh Author Alis Hawkins at 7.30pm

I am absolutely delighted that Alis has agreed to join a zoom chat with us. Alis Hawkins writes fiction based in two centuries and two places: England in the 14th century; and West Wales in the 19th –  the Teifi Valley Coroner crime series. She has a splendid website if you want to get to know more before the evening.  I invite you to get comfy with a cup of tea and join in the chat.

Email gro.yteicoshslewhgrubnidenull@yraterces and ask for the meeting log-in details.

Sunday 7 March. A Zoom Gymanfa ganu at 3.00pm

A winning combination of talent comprising Margaret Brandie and Huw and Janet Thomas bring you our Gymanfa ganu to celebrate Dewi Sant. Please put the date and time carefully in your diary. Further details will follow shortly.

Our centenary St David’s celebration …

Your committee are looking into a very interesting replacement for our Cinio Gwyl Dewi 2021 and are zooming together on Monday next (8 February) to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. I expect to have all the information for my next EWSNEWS which I will send out as soon as possible.

And here is another contribution from Hedd …

What’s in a Name – Droving Names

Long before industry developed in South West Wales, the main produce was from the many farms and smallholdings – i.e. cattle (and also sheep). It resulted in locations being named after the various activities carried out in these areas. This was not a whimsical method of giving a place a ‘pretty’ name but a form of map and information for those who needed to be there.

There was an annual ‘drive’ of cattle from Dyfed to the well-known English fairs where they would be bought by English farmers – usually to fatten for beef, but sometimes to be used for breeding as the fresh bloodlines/breeds showed better aptitude for the grassland available to them in their new homes.  These herds were as many as 30,000 cattle (so, for those of you who have cursed when meeting a herd of milking cattle crossing the A40, this was a whole new ball-game!). Due to the numbers being moved, ‘droving’ routes were chosen so that the main ‘coach-roads’ could be avoided. This was not an attempt to appease other road users, but a cunning method of avoiding the toll-gates that lined the way.

Prior to setting off on their epic journeys, the cattle would be shod so that the hard ground did not take its toll on the cattle’s feet. The logistics of shoeing thousands of cattle were scary! The usual method was to herd them all into a given field for that purpose. These fields inherited names such as Cwmpedol, Maesygof, Pantyporthman etc. Maesybedol in Garnant is often thought to be named after the shape and layout of the estate, but is probably a throwback to droving times.

Before the journey to English markets began, Welsh cattle were first taken to various ‘fairs’ by their owners. The drovers were the entrepreneurs of the day and amassed more beasts as they travelled from fair to fair. Although a small number of cattle would be bought locally, the majority were destined for a long journey to English counties. As a result, the fair venue would sometimes take on another English nickname – one that suggested where the animals’ destination was to be. This is why there was a Piccadilly Square in Llanboidy, a Llundain Fach in Caio, a Pont i’r Sais in Conwil Elfed (which may also explain the village name of Pontarsais) and Smithfields in Llanybydder. Other place names like Glanrhyd Saeson, Travellers Rest and Halfway etc are also similarly connected.

The hostelries that gave shelter to the drovers were easily identified by names such as Drover’s Arms, Black Ox etc. Even the need to store their money safely resulted in establishments such the Black Ox in Llandovery becoming a bank (which was later taken over by Lloyds Bank and the Ox changed to a Horse!)

The journey was occasionally hazardous and the drovers attacked by robbers – places such as Cwm Lladron were named to mark these locations.

The drovers also took geese on their journeys. This was a double-edged sword as their bulk made them a marketable meat product at the journey’s end, while their abilities as ‘guard dogs’ were a useful tool against attack by robbers. They were obviously unable to be shod like the cattle, so they were walked through wet tar or pitch and then through fine sand. Once dry, this concoction gave them adequate protection for the long walk. The places that this practice was carried out also became named accordingly – Maesygwyddau in Llanllwni for example. The lower part of Laugharne is known as Gosport – a mis-spelling of Goose-port – which bears testimony to the sea trade as well as droving.  Heol y Gwyddau in Carmarthen is another example of a place being noted for the preparation of geese for their journey. Quite how St Catherine (after whom the street is also named) came to be involved is another story!

Thank you, Hedd.

Stay safe and I hope to see you via Zoom soon.


Jennifer Welsher – Ysgrifenyddes CCD / Secretary EWS