Place-Name Research Centre



.User Guide.


Interrogating the Database

The intention of the owners of the copyright and BU is that the archive must be protected in its digitised form as it is in the archive of slips in BU. The Archive Department's search-room provides for viewing and copying, and AMR affords the same facility. AMR allows researchers to view and print pages of 20 records per page in order to determine the distribution of a particular name, or the frequency of a place-name element.

The Archif Melville Richards database search page features six search boxes. These correspond to the main information categories within the database. They are:

  • Head-name
  • Parish
  • Form
  • Date
  • County
  • Source

It is possible to search by category or by multiple categories by typing the object of your search in to the appropriate search box(es).

For example:

To search for every record containing bangor as its Head-name:

  • Type bangor into the search box Head-name.
  • Click on Search.

To search for every record containing bangor as its Head-name and which contains a historical form taken from the source Mostyn:

  • Type bangor into the search box Head-name.
  • Choose Mostyn from the cascading menu tied to the Source search box.
  • Click on Search button.

Using the star character *
It is also possible to search for parts of words or names by using the star character *.

For example:

Searching for bangor in the Head-name will show all records containing only bangor, as in Bangor.

Serching for *bangor in the Head-name will show all records containing bangor as the last part of a name or word, for example Capel Bangor, Bryn Bangor and Bangor.

Searching for bangor* in the Head-name will show all records containing bangor as the first part of a name or word, for example Bangor Is-coed, Bangor Fawr and Bangor.

Searching for *bangor* in the Head-name will show all records containing bangor as the middle part of a name or word, for example Cored Bangor Fawr, Cefn Bangor Isaf and Bangor.

Displaying search results
After a search query has been entered into the database a table will be created to display the search results . The columns of this table are as follows:

  • Head-name
  • Parish
  • County
  • Date
  • Form
  • Short Source
  • Source
  • Edition/Page etc.
  • National Grid Reference (numeric system)
  • National Grid Reference (letter system)


Sorting search results
Any of the columns can be alphabetically sorted. To do so, click on the title of the column which you would like sorted in alphabetical order. The data in all other columns will be re-arranged to correspond with the selected column's order.

Selecting elements
In writing up the slips Melville Richards was, fortunately, in the habit of standardising the head-name. Consequently, despite there being, for example, only a few examples of the historical form Kaye Koghion, Melville Richards's head-name is Caeau Cochion, enabling you to access the elements cae and coch(ion) by searching in the Head-name box rather than the Form box. You will also need to beware strings of letters that match elements, such as Cefn Cerddinen masquerading as an example of din, or Cae'r as caer.

Welsh place-names are subject to the regular phonological variations known as mutation, usually lenition. You will need at least a working knowledge of these phonological patterns in order to access all the possible variations of an element. For example, to access all instances of coch, you will also need to request goch; for bach, also fach; for gwaun, also waun; for pen, also ben; for celli, also gelli; for ma-, also -fa; for Cybi, also -gybi. Care must be taken with lan as a variant of both glan and llan. In many instances the string search will probably identify most of the relevant variants. An authoritative list of variants may be found in English in Bruce Griffiths, Dafydd Glyn Jones, Geiriadur yr Academi, The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1995), xxviii-xlii.

Inflected variants
You need to be aware of inflected variants. Thus, (g)wyn and the feminine form (g)wen, coch and the plural cochion. Geiradur yr Academi xlii-xliii provides a definitive list. The string search will probably identify most of the plural and some of the feminine variants.

Spelling variants
Some non-standard spellings, often reflecting dialectal variants, have become embedded in place-name usage, such as cadair as Cader, isaf for Isa, tref as Tre, (g)waun as Waen. The string search will probably identify most of the relevant variants.

Cautionary notes

Scope of the archive
This is not, and was never intended to be, an exhaustive collection of the place-names of Wales. The archive represents what one person was able to collect in one lifetime. Melville Richards could not possibly encounter all the documents available to someone working on a single parish, commote or county; not all parts of Wales are represented with the same degree of detail. The slips do not propose etymologies.

Melville Richards's handwriting was regular and neat. However, on occasions, particularly in transcribing unfamiliar names into AMR, some uncertainty arose

  • in distinguishing his letters
    i, u, v, n, r, m, nn, nr, ri, J, L
  • in distinguishing 5 and 8
  • in distinguishing initial capitals from initial lower case
  • in determining precise word divisions, including head-words
  • in distinguishing his slightly stylised letter d from the symbol used by many Welsh scholars in the late 19th and 20th century as a convenient shorthand for dd.

Where you discover what appears to be a conflict with other documentary evidence you are advised to examine the actual slip or the original document to form your own judgement on the correct reading.

Many medieval documents used several symbols to represent the Welsh ch. Melville Richards followed that usage but AMR has transcribed them as z. The context will almost always indicate where z represents ch.

The original programme could not insert the circumflex on w, W, y and Y. The later programme does have the circumflex on the lower case letters, but not those in upper case.

Where such distinctions are critical to philological interpretation, you are advised to examine the actual slip or the original document.

Dôl and dôl appear intermittently as Dol and dol, an inconsistency uncharacteristic of Melville Richards which never appears in his publications. AMR has retained the inconsistency.

The original programme required the head-name to be converted to capitals, a convention which had to be retained. Care therefore needs to be taken when citing names in standard orthography, especially following a hyphen (so that BETWS-Y-COED is Betws-y-coed in standard usage, TON-TEG is Ton-teg but LLANDRILLO-YN-RHOS is Llandrillo-yn-Rhos and MOEL Y GAER is Moel y Gaer). For the standard modern orthography of Welsh place-names, refer to Elwyn Davies, A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1957, 1975).


Melville Richards indicated the administrative location of a place where it was known to him or where it was apparent from the documentary evidence. However, this administrative unit can variously be expressed as a township, ecclesiastical or civil parish, rural or urban district, county borough, commote, cantref, lordship or county. In designing a search, care must therefore be excercised in interpreting AMR's locational categories of Parish and County. A useful guide is Melville Richards, Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1969).

Occasionaly, for well known major names, no location was offered.

A ful list o documentary sources and abbreviations is included as a separate drop-down menu within AMR, which can be accessed by clicking on Load Sources.

The citation is not always consistent so that references to the same Mostyn papers can be Mostyn and FRO Mostyn.

Some documentary sources are yet to be identified (as explained above).

Some record offices have revised catalogues and schedules since 1973.

Occasionally, a slip has a form, followed, not by documentary primary evidence, but simply by reference to an article or book. This should not be taken as a historical form.

Users should inform us of any emendations and revisions.