Dinorwig or Dinorwic?

My village has a bit of an identity crisis. To summarize:

Dinorwig is the original Welsh name, the only title used on Ordnance Survey maps, and by the local authority to which it belongs, Gwynedd County Council. But if you are ordering goods on line, the UK Post Office database will only recognize Dinorwic. What’s this all about?

The true Welsh version means “hill fort of Orwig”, which refers to a prominent structure a few miles away, (OS grid reference SH54986528) best seen from aerial photgraphs at https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/95283/details/dinas-dinorwig-hillfort. This is on private land and not open to the public. This was in use before the Roman occupation of Britain, but continuing as a settlement by the original population during it. The most likely derivation of “Orwig” is from the Iron Age tribe occupying the area at the time of the Roman invasion, expressed in Latin as “Ordovices”. A Roman road runs very close to it, and there is also some slight evidence of a Roman fort in the vicinity, a typical configuration in the occupation of Roman Britain which had advanced to this area by AD61. As so often happens, “Dinas Dinorwig” is a tautology since Dinas and the stub Din- have the same meaning. It’s also common for place names to move a few miles over the years. There was also a Llys (“royal court”) Dinorwig at SH56296322 on the site of a modern caravan park, of which there is nothing to be seen now.

After the formal annexation of Wales into England in 1536, many of the Welsh names took on an English form. What is now the village of Dinorwig is a creation of the slate mining industry in the nineteenth century, and as the quarry was English owned it became called Dinorwic. Now the quarry has gone and devolution has taken place, useage is reverting to the correct Welsh spelling, except for the Post Office postcode database, which doesn’t yet recognize it.

The identity crisis is reflected in the current population, I am an incomer born and brought up in England, and so are quite a few of my neighbours. There is still a Welsh population, but as in many parts of North Wales many of the properties are now either second homes or holiday lets. More of that some other time.


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