A commote (Welsh cwmwd, sometimes spelt in older documents as cymwd, plural cymydau, less frequently cymydoedd), was a secular division of land in Medieval Wales. The word derives from the prefix cym- ("together", "with") and the noun bod ("home, abode"). The English word "commote" is derived from the Middle Welsh cymwt.
The basic unit of land was the tref – a small village or settlement. In theory, 100 trefi made up a cantref (literally, "one hundred settlements"; plural: cantrefi), and half or a third of a cantref was a cymwd, although in practice the actual numbers varied greatly. Together with the cantrefi, commotes were the geographical divisions through which defence and justice were organised. In charge of a commote would be a chieftain probably related to the ruling Prince of the Kingdom. His court would have been situated in a special tref, referred to as a maerdref. Here, the bonded villagers who farmed the chieftain's estate lived, together with the court officials and servants. Commotes were further divided into maenorau or maenolydd.
The Domesday Book has entries for those commotes that in 1086 were under Norman control, but still subject to Welsh law and custom. However, it refers to them using the Anglo-Norman word "commot" instead of hundred, the word used at the time for the equivalent land division in England. The commotes mentioned in the Domesday book, in general, represented recent Anglo-Norman advances into Welsh territory. Although the commotes were assessed for military service and taxation, their obligations were rated in carucate (derived from Latin for cattle or oxen), not in hides as on the English side of the border.
The customs of the commotes are described in the Domesday accounts of the border earldoms of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire. The principal commotes described in Domesday were Archenfield, Ewias, and the commotes of Gwent in the south; Cynllaith, Edeirnion, and Iâl (Shropshire accounts); and Englefield, Rhos and Rhufoniog (Cheshire accounts).
In legal usage, the English word 'commote' replaced cwmwd following the Edwardian conquest of Wales in the 13th century, when English was made the official language for all legal documents. The Welsh, most of whom knew not a word of English, naturally continued to use cwmwd and still do so today. In much of Wales, commotes had become more important than cantrefs by the mid-13th Century and administration of Welsh law became the responsibility of the commote court rather than the cantref court. Owain Glyndŵr called representatives from the commotes for his two parliaments during the rising of 1400–1409.
The boundaries of commotes, or in some cases cantrefi, were in many cases subsequently more accurately represented by church rural deaneries than by the hundreds issuing from the sixteenth century Acts of Union.
A considerable number of the names of adjacent medieval Welsh commotes contain is (meaning "lower", or "below" as a preposition) and uwch (originally uch and meaning "higher", or "above" as a preposition), with the dividing line between them being a natural boundary, such as a river, mountain or forest. Melville Richards noted that, in almost every instance where this occurs, the point of central authority was in the "is division" when the commote was named, and he suggested that such commotes were originally named in the sense of 'nearer' and 'farther' based on the location of that central authority—i.e., the terminology is for administrative purposes and not a geographical characterisation.
Richards attributed the use of is and uwch to some confusion in translating Latin sub (meaning "lower") and supra (meaning "upper") into Welsh in too literal a sense, when the proper sense was to consider sub to be an administrative synonym for Latin cis (meaning "this side of"), and to consider supra to be an administrative synonym for Latin trans (meaning "the other side of").
A number of smaller units, such as manors, parishes and townships, also use the administrative distinction of is and uwch, sometimes in their Latin forms (e.g., the manor of Clydach in Uwch Nyfer, divided into Sub Clydach and Ultra (Supra) Clydach).
This is unrelated to the common use of isaf and uchaf in farm names, where the terms are used in the geographical sense.
The Red Book of Hergest (1375–1425) provides a detailed list of commotes in the late 14th and early 15th century. The list has some overlaps and is ambiguous in parts, especially in the Gwynedd section. It should also be borne in mind that the number and organisation of the commotes was different in the earlier Middle Ages; some of the units and divisions listed here are late creations. The original orthography of the manuscript is given here together with the standard modern Welsh equivalents.
Ardudwy is an area of Gwynedd in north-west Wales, lying between Tremadog Bay and the Rhinogydd. Administratively, under the old Kingdom of Gwynedd, it was first a division of the sub kingdom (cantref) of Dunoding and later a commote in its own right. The fertile swathe of land stretching from Barmouth to Harlech was historically used as pasture.Caereinion
Caereinion (fort of Einion) was a medieval cantref in the Kingdom of Powys, or possibly it was a commote (cwmwd) within a cantref called Llŷs Wynaf. It was divided into the manors of Uwch Coed and Is Coed.It lay towards the south of the kingdom, bordering with the commote of Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr of the cantref of Mochnant and the cantref of Mechain to the north, the commotes of Ystrad Marchell and Llanerch Hudol in the cantref of Ystlyg to the east, the cantrefi of Cedewain to the south and Cyfeiliog to the west.It roughly corresponds to the later hundred of Mathrafal.Castle Caereinion, Caereinion Fechan, Llanfair Caereinion, Llanerfyl, Llangadfan, Llangyniew and part of Berriew are within the territory of this cantref.Cilgerran Hundred
The Hundred of Cilgerran (often written "Kilgerran") was a hundred in the north of Pembrokeshire, Wales. It was formed by the Act of Union of 1536 from the commote of the pre-Norman cantref of Emlyn included by the Act in Pembrokeshire and is otherwise called in Welsh Emlyn Is Cuch (Emlyn below the River Cuch), with the addition of the Cemais parish of Llantood. The area of the commote was about 106 km2: that of the hundred was 113 km2.
It was under the control of the medieval borough of Cilgerran. It was occupied by the Normans in the 12th century, and made part of the March, but remained exclusively Welsh-speaking. In addition to Cilgerran Castle, the Normans also constructed at least one other castle in the commote: Castell Chrychydd in Clydau.The commote comprised the parishes of Bridell, Cilgerran, Clydau, Capel Colman, Llanfihangel Penbedw, Manordeifi and Penrydd, and the western part of Cilrhedyn.Creuddyn, Ceredigion
Creuddyn was a medieval commote (Welsh: cwmwd) and, later, a lordship in Ceredigion, Wales. It was located between the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol, and was one of the three commotes of Cantref Penweddig. The name, of Old Welsh origin, probably refers to the Pen Dinas hill fort, anciently known as Dinas Maelor. The natural centre of the commote was Llanfihangel y Creuddyn where five roads meet at the village. The name survives in the name of a rural community and church of the same name; however the modern community is much smaller than the medieval commote.Cwmdauddwr
Cwmdauddwr (rarely referred to by its correct full name of Llansanffraid Cwmteuddwr) is a village in Powys, Wales. It is contiguous with the town of Rhayader on the opposite side of the River Wye. The village is located on the B4518 road linking Rhayader with the Elan Valley Reservoirs.
The parish of Cwmdauddwr corresponds approximately to the medieval commote of Cwmwd Deuddwr (English: Commote of the Confluence, literally: commote of the two waters). It was so called because of its location where the rivers Elan and Wye join. It has also been referred to as Elenydd and Elenid. It was in the area known as Rhwng Gwy a Hafren. It was also associated with Gwrtheyrnion on the east of the Wye, together they formed a cantref. This commote should not be confused with the commote of Deuddwr in Ystlyg which is also in Powys.
The village is home to a number of local shops, a pub (The Triangle Inn), village hall and a parish church dedicated to St Bride (Welsh: Sant Ffraid).
The Groe, a large park on the banks of the river, has walks, play areas and sports pitches.
Rhayader railway station was situated in the village until its closure in 1963.Cyfeiliog
Cyfeiliog was a medieval commote in the cantref of Cynan of the Kingdom of Powys. Cynan also contained the commote of Mawddwy. Other sources refer to Cyfeiliog as a cantref in its own right, possibly as a result of Cynan being renamed for the largest commote within it.It bordered the cantrefi of Penllyn in the north, Caereinion in the east and Arwystli in the south-east. Its border in the north-east was with the cantref of Meirionydd in the Kingdom of Gwynedd, and its south-east border was with the cantref of Penweddig in the Kingdom of Ceredigion.After the death of Madog ap Maredudd, the last Prince of the whole of Powys, and his eldest son and heir in 1160, the kingdom was divided up between his surviving sons Gruffydd Maelor, Owain Fychan and Owain Brogyntyn, his nephew Owain Cyfeiliog and his half-brother Iorwerth Goch. Cyfeiliog was inherited by Owain Cyfeiliog. He joined the Welsh alliance under Owain Gwynedd to resist the invasion of Henry II in 1165, but he changed his allegiance later and gradually gained control over a much larger area in the south of Powys, in particular by acquiring the territories of Iorwerth Goch and Owain Fychan. He passed his territories to his son Gwenwynwyn ap Owain in 1195 and they became known as Powys Wenwynwyn.Cynwyl Elfed
Cynwyl Elfed (Welsh pronunciation; sometimes Conwyl and formerly anglicised as Conwil Elvet or Conwil in Elvet) is a village and community in the county of Carmarthenshire, Wales. The community includes the villages of Cynwyl Elfed, Blaenycoed and Cwmduad. It is situated about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Carmarthen and had a population of 953 in 2001, increasing to 1,044 at the 2011 Census.The area around the village has yielded a significant number of Roman artefacts, including a statue of Diana. It was the most important centre of the commote of Elfed in the Middle Ages.
Cynwyl Elfed transmitting station stands on high ground to the north of the village.Cynwyl Gaeo
Cynwyl Gaeo is a parish and community located in rural Carmarthenshire, Wales, near the boundary with Ceredigion, in the upper Cothi valley about halfway between Lampeter and Llandovery. The population of the village at the United Kingdom Census 2011 was 940. It includes the villages of Caeo (or Caio), Crug-y-bar, Cwrtycadno, Ffarmers and Pumsaint.
Historically it was part of the commote of Caeo, which in turn was part of Y Cantref Mawr ("The Great Hundred"), a division of Ystrad Tywi.
It is the location of the Dolaucothi Gold Mines, part of Dolaucothi Estate, whose owner, John Johnes, was murdered by his butler in 1876. The mansion house was demolished in 1952.
The parish church of St Cynwyl in the village of Caeo is a Grade II* listed building.Dindaethwy
Dindaethwy was in medieval times one of two commotes of the cantref of Rhosyr, in the south-east of the Isle of Anglesey. It was between the Menai Strait and Conwy Bay (to the south), and the Irish Sea and Red Wharf Bay (to the north).
It included Penmon, the easternmost point of the island, opposite which is Puffin Island (Ynys Seiriol). It bordered the commote of Menai (the other commote of Rhosyr) to the west, and the commote of Twrcelyn in the cantref of Cemais, to the north.
The commote court and maerdref was at Llanfaes, the commote's most important settlement. Later in the Middle Ages, Llywelyn the Great founded a monastery at Llanfaes; his wife Siwan was buried there. Previously the commote had one of Anglesey's two most important religious communities in Penmon, which became a priory (Penmon Priory) in the 12th century.
Later, Dindaethwy was the home of Penmynydd, the family estate of the Tudors of Anglesey.
The name means "Fort of the Daethwy", which may refer to the hillfort of Bwrdd Arthur ("Arthur's Table") in the former parish of Llanfihangel Din Sylwy. The Daethwy were the local Celtic tribe, who also gave their name to the village of Porthaethwy (Menai Bridge). Alternative names are Tindaethwy and Tyndaethwy (Dindaethwy may be a lenited version of Tindaethwy). The fort of Dinas, in the parish of Llandysilio, may have been the tribal centre.
The word Dindaethwy also appears in the name of Cynan Dindaethwy, king of Gwynedd at the start of the 9th century, as he was from this part of Anglesey.Eifionydd
Eifionydd (Welsh pronunciation: [əiviˈɔnɨð]) is an area in north-west Wales covering the south-eastern part of the Llŷn Peninsula from Porthmadog to just east of Pwllheli. The Afon Erch forms its western border. It now lies in Gwynedd.
The commote of Eifionydd formed the northern half of the former minor kingdom of Dunoding within the Kingdom of Gwynedd. It traditionally took its name from Eifion, son of Dunod (who gave his name to the cantref) and grandson of Cunedda Wledig. The chief centre of the commote was at Criccieth, although there may have been an earlier royal residence at Dolbenmaen. Although it is not currently a unit of local government, the name is still in common use for the region. It includes the villages of Abererch, Llanaelhaearn, Pencaenewydd, Llangybi, Llanystumdwy, Llanarmon, Rhoslan, Pentrefelin, Penmorfa, Garndolbenmaen, Bryncir and Pantglas.
R. Williams Parry's poem Eifionydd contrasts rural Eifonydd with the bustling slate quarries of Dyffryn Nantlle.Ial
Ial or Yale (Welsh: Iâl) was a commote of medieval Wales within the cantref of Maelor in the Kingdom of Powys. When the kingdom was divided in 1160, Maelor became part of Powys Fadog (Lower Powys or Madog's Powys). Iâl had its capital at Llanarmon-yn-Iâl at the site of a shrine to Saint Germanus of Auxerre (Welsh: Garmon). The nearby castle was called Tomen y Faerdre. During the Conquest of Wales by Edward I, Iâl was taken very early on and added to the county of Shropshire, anglicised as Yale. However, it remained Welsh in culture and retained Welsh laws and customs until the Statute of Rhuddlan.Llanfwrog, Anglesey
Llanfwrog is a village in Anglesey, in north-west Wales. It lies about 4 miles to the northeast of Holyhead. The village lies near the coast about a mile east of Beach Gribin. A country road connects it with the A5025 road, one mile east, and Llanfaethlu, approximately 2.5 miles to the north.
According to tradition, it was founded by Saint Mwrog. In the Welsh language Llanfwrog translates as the place/church of St. Mwrog. The only other place that is associated with the name of a Saint Mwrog is Llanfwrog, Denbighshire. In the Middle Ages Llanfwrog parish lay in the commote Talybolion in the Hundred of Cemaes. The church belonged to the rectory of the parish of Llan by the eighteenth century.Llangadog
Llangadog (Welsh pronunciation) is a village and community located in Carmarthenshire, Wales, which also includes the villages of Bethlehem and Capel Gwynfe. A notable local landscape feature is Y Garn Goch with two Iron Age hill forts.Llangadog was the administrative centre of the commote of Perfedd and had a castle, destroyed in 1204. Although the borough declined in the Middle Ages, Llangadog retained its market, which was frequented by drovers into the 19th century.
The railway station on the Heart of Wales Line provides regular train services via Transport for Wales Rail. The station had a siding for accessing the Co-op Wholesale Society creamery, allowing milk trains to access the site. After railway access was ceased in the late 1970s, the creamery continued to operate until 2005, when it closed with the loss of 200 jobs. The site has since been redeveloped as a pet food factory.Llangynwyd
Llangynwyd is a village (and electoral ward) 2 miles to the south of Maesteg, in the county borough of Bridgend, Wales. It was part of the medieval commote (Welsh: cwmwd) of Tir Iarll.Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant
Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (Welsh pronunciation) is a village, a community and an ecclesiastical parish in the extreme north of Powys, Wales; about 9 miles west of Oswestry and 12 miles south of Llangollen, on the B4580. It lies near the foothills of the Berwyn mountains on the river Rhaeadr. At the top end of the valley is the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall, one of the Seven Wonders of Wales in the old rhyme. One mile north of the village is the hill Moel Hen-fache (515 m).
It was an important site in the ancient commote (or cantref; sources disagree) of Mochnant, as indicated by the ym-Mochnant in its name (translates to "in Mochnant").Until 1974, Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant was split into two civil parishes: the northern parish was in historic Denbighshire and the southern parish in historic Montgomeryshire; this reflected the division of the ancient commote in the 12th century. The divide continued between 1974 and 1996, with the former Denbighshire parish being placed in Clwyd and former Montgomeryshire parish in Powys. Then in 1996, both parts of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant were united within the county of Powys.Llanystumdwy
Llanystumdwy [ɬanɪstɪmdʊɨ] is a predominantly Welsh-speaking village, community and electoral ward on the Llŷn Peninsula of Gwynedd in Wales. It is not regarded as being part of Llŷn, but as belonging instead to the ancient commote of Eifionydd on the Cardigan Bay coast, where it boasts its own often-deserted rocky beach. The community includes the village of Chwilog and also Llanarmon, Gwynedd, and Llangybi, Gwynedd.Narberth Hundred
The Hundred of Narberth was a hundred in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It was formed by the Act of Union of 1536 from parts of the pre-Norman cantrefs of Penfro (the commote of Coedrath) and Cantref Gwarthaf (the commote of Efelfre). It derives its Welsh name, Arberth, from the town and district of the same name, which means "(district) by the wood" (i.e. the forest of Coedrath). The hundred spanned the linguistic boundary, with the parishes of Velfrey being identified by George Owen as Welsh-speaking, and the southern coastal part being English-speaking, part of Little England beyond Wales.Roose Hundred
The Hundred of Roose (sometimes called Rowse) was a hundred in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It has its origins in the pre-Norman cantref of Rhos and was formalised as a hundred by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. Its area was about 102 square miles (260 km2). The area became an English "plantation" in the 12th century, part of the English-speaking Little England beyond Wales.Twrcelyn Rural District
Twrcelyn was a rural district in the administrative county of Anglesey, Wales, from 1894 to 1974. The district took its name from Twrcelyn, one of the ancient cwmwds or medieval subdivisions of the island.
The district was formed by the Local Government Act 1894 as successor to the Anglesey Rural Sanitary District. The district consisted of the following civil parishes:
The rural district was abolished in 1974, when the Local Government Act 1972 amalgamated Twrcelyn with the other local authorities on the island to become the district of Ynys Môn - Isle of Anglesey.
Designations for types of administrative territorial entities
1 Used by ten or more countries or having derived terms. Historical derivations in italics.