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Debate reopens on spelling of Snowdonia Wood

Uncovering the history of Llennyrch and Coed Felinrhyd, the Celtic Rainforest.

The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) is reopening the question of the spelling of one of its most iconic woods in Snowdonia. In 2015 Woodland Trust ran a fundraising appeal to buy the Llennyrch, 222 hectares of woodland and farmland, following a successful fundraising campaign. The land borders Coed Felinrhyd, which has been in the care of the Woodland Trust since 1980s. The site includes an old farmhouse that is of great historical interest, which is believed to date from the sixteenth century, and the Trust is keen to investigate and interpret the history of the farmhouse and the land.

The Woodland Trust is therefore keen to recruit a volunteer Heritage Reseacher to investigate and uncover more about the history of this magical site. And as many of the documents are likely to be in Welsh, the charity is keen to find a Welsh speaker who could do this.

An amazing history

Kylie Jones Mattock, Woodland Trust Estates Manager for Wales, says: "Coed Felinrhyd has an amazing history. It is the only Woodland Trust wood mentioned by name in the Mabinogion(1)! In the fourth section of the book, Pryderi, the Lord of the Deheubarth, or South Wales, is killed by the wizard Gwydion, after a great battle that takes place in the 'Felen Rhyd near Maen Twrog'. This is clearly a reference to this wood. We believe that the word 'felen', meaning yellow, refers to the moss that still grows on the stones where the old road crosses Afon Prysor."

When the Woodland Trust bought this wood, the name on the deeds was Coed Felinrhyd, with "i", even though this means “mill” and there is no record that there has ever been a mill on site. In 2001 the Trust considered changing the spelling to "Felenrhyd", so as to match the original spelling in the Mabinogion. But at that time Talsarnau Community Council was opposed to this idea. Today, however, the charity is ready to reconsider.

"We would love to go back to the spelling in the Mabinogion," said Kylie Jones Mattock, "but only if we're confident that local people are in favour of doing this."

For that reason, Woodland Trust is keen to find out what local people think about this, and the charity has invited local people with a view on the matter, whether in favour or against, to contact kyliejonesmattock@woodlandtrust.org.uk or to call 0343 770 5785.

Volunteer opportunity

Kylie would also be keen to hear from local people who have amusing or interesting stories about either of these two woodlands. That would offer the volunteer the opportunity to do more research into any stories received.

Details of the volunteering opportunity as a Heritage Investigator in both woodlands are woodlandtrust.org.uk/volunteering

Notes:

  1. The Mabinogion are the earliest prose stories in the history of Britain. They were compiled in Middle Welsh in the 12th-13th centuries from earlier oral traditions, in the White Book of Rhydderch and the Red Book of Hergest. The first full English translation was published by Lady Charlotte Guest between 1838–45.