A NATIONAL project to standardise the spelling of place names across Wales has been met with some criticism for suggestions of how some Pembrokeshire names should be spelled.

The Welsh Language Commissioner published a list of standardised place name spellings for Wales on June 20.

The aim of this work is to provide a recommendation to official bodies when they are spelling place names, and to eliminate multiple spellings of the same name.

But the commissioner’s recommendations for some place names in south Pembrokeshire have been met with criticism for not taking into account their historical origins.

Rob Scourfield, a buildings conservation officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, has had a personal interest in the place names of Pembrokeshire for a long time.

“Any attempt to standardise Welsh place-names is prone to local controversy - but having looked at the list of those in Pembrokeshire, there are disappointing inaccuracies and omissions in both Welsh and English which require correction,” he said.

Mr Scourfield emphasised he is both pro-Welsh and pro-English language, but is disappointed the commissioner appears not to have referred to the book Place-names of Pembrokeshire by Dr B G Charles, published in 1992.

Some of the standard spellings he has concerns about include changing Creselly to Creseli, and Begelly to Begeli, which he believes deviate too far from their historical origin.

“I note that my home patch Cresselly will become Creseli.

“This makes no sense, as the name originates form the Welsh 'Croes-eli' or' Croes-heli' (Eli/Heli's Cross).

“Begelly becomes Begeli – even though the origin – again Welsh – is thought to be 'Bugeildy' (Shepherd's house).”

Residents south of the Landsker have given differing opinions on the changes.

Hugh Harrison-Allen, of Cresselly House, has had family living in in the village since 1564, and is frustrated the name change to Creseli does not take into account the area’s history.

“I take a pretty dim view of it,” he said. “It seems to me there is no good reason for the change.”

Cllr David Pugh of Kilgetty and Begelly said: “I think they should look very carefully at the origin of the names in case they deviate too far from what I would call the translatable origin.

“These are not major changes, but why make the change if there is not historical significance attached to it?” he said.

South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart said: “Local experts dispute the accuracy of these claims and as such they risk alienating the local community rather than inspiring people to unite around the language – that cannot be wise.”

“This is not Welsh versus English, far from it. It’s of huge cultural, localised and historic significance rather than purely an academic exercise.”

Western Telegraph:

Simon Hart MP and Hugh Harrison-Allen

The Welsh Language Commissioner’s standardised place names list is decided by a panel of experts with academic backgrounds in linguistics, history and Celtic studies.

A spokesperson for the commissioner said it was not the panel’s intention to ‘change’ standard place-names, but instead choosing a standard form when several are in use.

“Deciding on one form (or two when there are Welsh and English names) is essential to facilitate public administration and official documentation; however there is no need whatsoever for societies or local groups to change their spelling of a name.”

On Pembrokeshire’s place names they said: “We cross-referenced our list with lists provided to us by the local authority.

“In the instance of Creseli, this is the current Welsh form used by the local authority and is an accurate Welsh representation of Cresselly.

“The Panel's Guidelines state that if the difference between the Welsh form and the 'English' form consists of only one or two letters, the use of a single form is recommended, with preference being given to the Welsh form.”

The spokesperson added that the place name standardisation panel is always open to discussion.

“The List is a living document and may be amended should the Panel receive sufficient evidence of historic or current use of particular forms.

A query form is available at: comisiynyddygymraeg.cymru