Cornwall Place Names

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Stem Meaning Examples
aber mouth (of a river), confluence, a meeting of waters Aberfal (English: Falmouth)
avon river
bre / bronn hill
eglos church Egloshayle (Cornish: Eglosheyl)
lann church, churchyard, village with church, parish Lanhydrock (Cornish: Lannhydrek)
nan, nans valley Nancledra
pen head (headland or hill) Penzance (Cornish: Pensans)
pol pool or lake Polperro
pons bridge
porth harbour Perranporth (Cornish: Porthpyran)
rys ford Camelford (Cornish: Ryskammel)
tre settlement Trewithen
treth beach

English Cornish Meaning
Bodmin Bosvenegh From bos 'dwelling' & menegh 'monks'
Camborne Kammbronn
Calstock Kalstok
Camelford Ryskammel

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.

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