Llan (placename)

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"Llan" redirects here. "Llan" could also be a short form for any place which begin with "Llan", such as Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch..

Llan (Welsh pronunciation: [ɬan]) and its variants (Breton: lan; Cornish: lann; Pictish: lhan) are a common placename element in Brythonic languages. In modern orthography, it is treated as a prefix, but was sometimes formerly written as a separate word. The (mutated) name of the relevant saint or location[1] follows the element: "Llanfair" is the parish or the settlement around the church of St. Mair (Welsh for "Mary").

The various forms of the word are cognate with English land and lawn and presumably initially denoted a specially cleared and enclosed area of land.[2][3] In late antiquity, it came to be applied particularly to the sanctified land occupied by communities of Christian converts. It is part of the name of over 630 locations in Wales and nearly all have some connection with a local patron saint. These were usually (but not always) the founding saints of the parish,[4] relatives of the ruling families who invaded Wales during the early Middle Ages.[5] The founder of a new llan was obligated to reside at the site and to eat only once a day, each time taking a bit of bread and an egg and drinking only water and milk. This lasted for forty days, Sundays excepted, after which the land was considered sanctified forever.[4] The typical llan employed or erected a circular or oval embankment with a protective stockade, surrounded by wood or stone huts.[6] Unlike Saxon practice, these establishments were not chapels for the local lords but almost separate tribes, initially some distance away from the secular community.[7] Over time, however, it became common for prosperous communities to either become monasteries forbidden to lay residents or to become fully secular communities controlled by the local lord.[8]

In the later Middle Ages, llan also came to denote entire parishes, both as an ecclesiastical region and as a subdivision of a commote or hundred.

Place names in Wales[edit]

Places named after saints[edit]

(All pages beginning with "Llan")

Place names with religious connections other than a saint[edit]

Place names without a religious connection[edit]

Place names in England[edit]

Cornwall and Devon[edit]


The Cumbric language was spoken in Cumbria up to the Early Middle Ages, and so some place names in Cumbria have a Celtic origin.

  • Lamplugh (Cumbria), Saint Moloch (the second element -plugh has also been explained as equivalent to Welsh plwyf 'parish' or blwch 'bare')

English counties bordering Wales[edit]

Place names in Brittany[edit]

Place names in Scotland[edit]

Some place names in Scotland have Pictish elements such as Aber and Lhan that are cognate with other Brythonic languages such as Welsh.

  • Lhanbryde (Gaelic: Lann Brìghde), Saint Bride (the place name is first recorded as Lamanbride in 1215, and the modern Welsh-like spelling is probably a 19th-century innovation)

In fiction[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A number of placenames now beginning with llan owe their present form to confusion, having originated as glan ("river bank") or nant ("stream, hollow"). An example is Llanbradach, which was originally Nant Bradach ("Valley of the Bradach"). An example in Cornish is Lanteglos, from an original Nanseglos ("Church Valley").
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "land, n.¹". Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1901.
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "laund, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1902.
  4. ^ a b Baring-Gould, Sabine. The Lives of the Saints, Vol. 16, "The Celtic Church and its Saints", p. 67. Longmans, Green, & Co. (New York), 1898.
  5. ^ Baring-Gould, p. 40.
  6. ^ Baring-Gould, p. 33.
  7. ^ Baring-Gould, p. 92.
  8. ^ Baring-Gould, pp. 37–38.
  9. ^ "GO BRITANNIA! Wales: Sacred Places - Llandaff (Thlan daff) Cathedral". Britannia.com. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 

External links[edit]