Cornwall Place Names
|Cornwall Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
|aber||mouth (of a river), confluence, a meeting of waters||Aberfal (English: Falmouth)|
|bre / bronn||hill|
|eglos||church||Egloshayle (Cornish: Eglosheyl)|
|lann||church, churchyard, village with church, parish||Lanhydrock (Cornish: Lannhydrek)|
|pen||head (headland or hill)||Penzance (Cornish: Pensans)|
|pol||pool or lake||Polperro|
|porth||harbour||Perranporth (Cornish: Porthpyran)|
|rys||ford||Camelford (Cornish: Ryskammel)|
|Bodmin||Bosvenegh||From bos 'dwelling' & menegh 'monks'|
A much more complete exposition of Cornish names and the meaning thereof can be found in the book, "Cornish Names" by T. F. G. Dexter.
Most non-Cornish people will be surprised at the pronunciation of many Cornish places, which often seems to bear little resemblance to what most English speakers might suppose. This has created challenges in research when census and other records have been recorded using a spelling devised by someone attempting to write the name of a place reported to them. A comprehensive compilation of place names, including not only the main villages, but also tiny hamlets and other places was published in 2003 and is generally available. Titled "How Do You Say . . .? Places in Cornwall" by June Lander, it gives the name, the location, meaning, and a phonetic pronunciation in the local dialect of more than 1000 places in Cornwall.
Many towns and villages are named for Celtic saints who spread Christianity throughout Cornwall approximately 1500 years ago. These saints are often unknown outside of Cornwall, and these place names are often unique to the Duchy. Many of the names have been modernized since they were attached to the localities, but retain the Celtic character of their origins.