Llanfairpwllgwyngyll shown within Anglesey
|Population||3,040 (2001 UK census)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Ynys Môn|
|Welsh Assembly||Ynys Môn|
Llanfairpwllgwyngyll is a large village and community on the island of Anglesey in Wales, situated on the Menai Strait next to the Britannia Bridge and across the strait from Bangor. It is alternatively known as Llanfairpwll, Llanfair PG, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (pronounced [ˌɬanvairˌpuɬɡwɨ̞nˌɡɨ̞ɬɡoˌɡɛrəˌχwərnˌdrobuɬˌɬantɨ̞ˌsiljoˌɡoɡoˈɡoːχ] ( )).
At the 2001 census the population of the community was 3,040, 76% of whom speak Welsh fluently; the highest percentage of speakers is in the 10–14 age group, where 97.1% speak Welsh. It is the sixth largest settlement on the island by population.
The long form of the name was invented for promotional purposes in the 1860s; with 58 characters it is the longest place name in Europe and one of the longest place names in the world. Visitors stop at the railway station to be photographed next to the station sign, visit the nearby Visitors' Centre, or to stamp their 'passport' at the adjacent shop. Another tourist attraction is the nearby Marquess of Anglesey's Column, which at a height of 27 metres (89 ft) offers views over Anglesey and the Menai Strait. Designed by Thomas Harrison, the monument celebrates the heroism of Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey at the Battle of Waterloo.
The long form of the name is the longest officially recognised place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest in the world at 58 characters (51 "letters" since "ch" and "ll" are digraphs, and are treated as single letters, in the Welsh language).
The name means: [St.] Mary's Church (Llanfair) [in] the hollow (pwll) of the white hazel (gwyn gyll) near (go ger) the rapid whirlpool (y chwyrn drobwll) [and] the church of [St.] Tysilio (llantysilio) with a red cave ([a]g ogo[f] goch).
This village was originally known as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll (and is sometimes still referred to as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll) and was given its long name in the 19th century in an attempt to develop it as a commercial and tourist centre (see Significance of the name below). The village is still signposted Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, marked on Ordnance Survey maps as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll and known to locals as Llanfairpwll or Llanfair.
The name is also shortened to Llanfair PG, which is sufficient to distinguish it from the many other Welsh villages with Llanfair in their names. Other variant forms use the full name but with tysilio mutated to dysilio, and/or with a hyphen between drobwll and llan. In Welsh, the initial Ll may be mutated to a single L in some contexts (the f in "Fair", the g in "gyll" and in "goch" and the d and b in "drobwll" are similarly mutated).
Significance of the name
The long name cannot be considered an authentic Welsh-language toponym. It was artificially contrived in the 1860s to bestow upon the station the feature of having the longest name of any railway station in Britain, an early example of a publicity stunt. The village's website credits the name to a cobbler from the nearby village of Menai Bridge. According to Sir John Morris-Jones the name was created by a local tailor, whose name he did not confide, letting the secret die with him. The current postmark shows the name Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, but there are contemporary examples of the full name seen below.
The village was originally known as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll ("St Mary's church in [the township named] hollow of the white hazel"). Pwllgwyngyll was the original mediaeval township where the village is today. Old variants (with the Welsh spelling normalized) were Llanfair y Pwllgwyngyll (y = "(of) the") and Llanfair Ymhwll Gwyngyll (mh is a sandhi change (nasal mutation) from 'n p', and "yn" = 'in').
The village is split into two smaller villages, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-uchaf (Upper Llanfairpwllgwyngyll), the original part of the village, and Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-isaf (Lower Llanfairpwllgwyngyll), the newer area nearer the railway station. These are occasionally referred to as Pentre Uchaf and Pentre Isaf (Upper Village and Lower Village).
The full name of the village is [ˌɬanvairˌpuɬɡwɨ̞ŋˌɡɨ̞ɬɡoˌɡɛrəˌχwərnˌdrobuɬˌɬantɨ̞ˌsiljoˌɡoɡoˈɡoːχ], or with [ɪ] for [ɨ̞], [pʊɬ, bʊɬ] for [puɬ, buɬ], depending on the speaker's accent.
Male Welsh speaker pronouncing Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
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The approximate pronunciation in English orthography is given at the station as: Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-chwurn-drob-ooll-llantus-ilio-gogo-goch. The ch is a voiceless uvular fricative [χ] or voiceless velar fricative as in "Bach" ([bax]: see ach-Laut) in most varieties of German. The ll is a voiceless lateral fricative [ɬ], a sound that does not occur in English and is sometimes approximated as [θl] (thl as in athlete) or even [xl] by English speakers. There is even a song on iTunes with a lesson on how to pronounce the name.
There have been several attempts to steal the village's record:
- The Carmarthenshire village of Llanfynydd unofficially and temporarily adopted the name Llan hyfryd dawel lle hynafol y barcud prin dan fygythiad trienus y llafnau o le (spaces inserted here to ease interpretation) in 2004 in protest at plans to erect a wind farm nearby (the name means "a quiet beautiful (churchyard of) an historic place with rare kite under wretched threat from blades out of place").
- A station on the Fairbourne Railway was named Gorsafawddacha'idraigodanheddogleddollônpenrhynareurdraethceredigion (translated as "the Mawddach station and its dragon under the northern peace of the Penrhyn Road on the golden beach of Cardigan Bay") for promotional purposes.
No such attempts have gained widespread recognition amongst official bodies or transport authorities.
A settlement has existed on the site of the village since the Neolithic era (4000-2000 BC), with subsistence agriculture and fishing the most common occupations for much of its early history. The island of Anglesey was at that point reachable only by boat across the Menai Strait. The area was briefly invaded and captured by the Romans under Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, temporarily abandoned in order to consolidate forces against Boudicca, then held until the end of Roman Britain.
With the withdrawal of the Roman forces, the area fell under the control of the early mediaeval Kingdom of Gwynedd. Under this feudal system, the residents worked small farms for the king. The rural nature of the settlement meant that the village had a population of only around 80 in 1563.
With the introduction of estates in the 16th century, much of the land was absorbed into the Earldom of Uxbridge, which later became the Marquisate of Anglesey; the inhabitants became tenant farmers on enclosures. In 1844, for example, 92% of the land in Llanfairpwll was owned by just 3 individuals. The population of the village boomed, with a population of 385 in the 1801 census and 83 houses, most of them in the old village (Pentre Uchaf, Upper Village).
In 1826, Anglesey was connected to the rest of Wales by the construction of the Menai Suspension Bridge by Thomas Telford, and connected with London in 1850 with the building of the Britannia Bridge and the busy North Wales Coast railway line, which connected London to the ferry port of Holyhead. The village decentralised, splitting into Upper Village (Pentre Uchaf), which was made up mainly of the older houses and farms, and the new Lower Village (Pentre Isaf), built around the railway station and consisting mostly of shops and workshops. The village became a hub of commerce, as the railways and road network brought traders and customers from across north Wales.
The first ever meeting of the Women's Institute took place in Llanfairpwll in 1915 and the movement (which began in Canada) then spread through the rest of the British Isles.
In popular culture
The Welsh band Super Furry Animals called their debut E.P. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgoger-ychwyndrobwllantysil-iogogogochynygofod (in space).
The song "Red Cave" by Brooklyn-based indie rock band Yeasayer references the English translation of the town name with these lyrics: "Mary's house in the hollow of the white hazel rapid whirlpool at the church of the red cave."
The name was used in the movie Barbarella as the password for the headquarters of Dildano, the comical revolutionary, and by Peter Sellers in the film The Road to Hong Kong where he plays a quack doctor who asks Bob Hope to say it instead of the more usual "Ahh" when examining his teeth.
The name was used as a solution in a crossword compiled by Roger Squires for The Telford and Wrekin News when royalty visited Ironbridge in 1979 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the first iron bridge, for acceptance by Guinness World Records as the longest word to appear in a published crossword. The clue was “Giggling troll follows Clancy, Larry, Billy and Peggy who howl, wrongly disturbing a place in Wales (58)”, an anagram.
A sign with the town's name in the music video for "See Those Eyes" by Altered Images.
- Neighbourhood Statistics
- Melville Richards, "Place Names", in An Atlas of Anglesey (Anglesey Community Council. Llangefni, 1972). The late Professor Melville was one of Wales' leading authorities on place names.
- "Blog Archive » Guardian 25,102 / Rufus". Fifteensquared. 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
|Look up Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Village website, listed in the 2002 Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest valid Internet domain name
- BBC Article at H2G2
- Explanation of village name
- Flickr photos
- photos of Llanfair PG and surrounding area on geograph
- Musical "How To" lesson on the correct pronunciation