1 Apr 2016

Naming Our Fields

Bruce Langridge

Although our organic farmland has been open to visitors for 15 years, we’ve only occasionally referred to the names of the fields.

“Meet me up in the whorled caraway meadow”, “There’s some yellow rattle in the field with that oak tree that was struck by lightening”, “The pond sedge is overtaking field 26b”, “There’re some nice butterflies up in the field on the right of the well at the top of the track.”

Over the past year, we’ve put a name to every field on Waun Las NNR. We found some on old maps and documents, some were verbally passed down to our farmers Tim and and Huw, and the rest we’ve had to make up ourselves, using terms we’ve been using for the past few years, dominant plants or features in the landscape. Most names are in the Welsh language and some names can tell us something of the past. So, Cae Tegeirianau means orchid field, Cae Gwair means field of hay and Cae Derwen is field of the oak tree.

So how do we let visitors know what the names are? Luckily we have some fantastic volunteers to help us. Some of you may well have seen and talked to Les Bryan, the driving force behind our woodcraft festivals and hobbies weekends, as he can often be found wood-turning in the Great Glasshouse. A great supporter of the Garden, Les has turned the fallen wood of an old oak tree from the Garden into some beautifully made and letter routed new signs featuring the names of individual fields.

These signs were then sanded and varnished by John Smith, a long-standing volunteer with the Education Department. Then this week, volunteers from our Tuesday Wildlife Group, who first thought up the idea of putting up field name signs, helped Les put five of the signs up.

So next time you come to the Garden and go off exploring Waun Las NNR, have a look for these signs, try learning the names and have a go working out how they got their names. This is obviously much harder for non-Welsh speakers so let me help you with a few of the signs that have already gone up.

Cae Blaen is ‘field in front of you’. This is directly next to the site of Paxton’s Middleton Hall.

Cae Pisgwydden is ‘field of linden trees’. You’ll find this on the round walk around Pont Felin Gat and when you find it, have a look at the clump of trees in this field and try and work out what they are!

Cae Brwyn is ‘field of rushes’. This is a wet rushy meadow on the ‘blue’ circular walk around Waun Las which turns white with the rare whorled caraway in late June.

The exact meaning of Cae Treillon is debatable but we think it refers to sheep dog trialling which may have gone on here years ago. The site of the 17th century Middleton Hall is on this meadow and it can be found at the entrance to Waun Las NNR.

(We’ll soon be producing a map with all the field names – I’m too embarrassed to upload the hand drawn map I’m using).