What's in a name?

Earlier this week a decision on whether Wales' highest peak should only be referred to by its Welsh name of Yr Wyddfa in place of its English name Snowdon was delayed.

A notice of motion moved by Cllr John Pughe Roberts was defeated at a meeting of Snowdonia National Park Authority, believing that further discussions were needed on the implications of only using the Welsh forms.

The motion 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.

“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”.

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