Main Menu - Misc. - Clothing/Textiles - Medieval Wales - Names - Other Medieval - Publications - Harpy Publications

This page last modified November 19, 2005

Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof

copyright © 1994 Heather Rose Jones, all rights reserved

Table of Contents

return to previous section

Names from Professions and Businesses

This category - so profitable a source in many languages - was the area for which I found the least useful information. Since I am focusing primarily on native Welsh institutions and Welsh-language terminology, the nature of the early Welsh economy again has an effect.

Professional Guilds

Guilds and professional organizations are largely a product of urban life, a situation rare in early Wales as noted above. The Welsh were not ignorant of the concept of guilds. The references in the third branch of the Mabinogi to Manawyddan's hostile reception when he tried to ply a trade in English towns are almost certainly influenced by the monopolistic attitudes of the craft guilds of the day.

There is some hint in the Welsh laws of some level of organization among certain crafts. The chief falconer of the court was entitled to a third of any fines paid by falconers and to the marriage-fine of their daughters, showing that he was in some symbolic sense "lord of the falconers". [Jenkins 1986 p.15] The chief groom of the court was entitled to similar fees from the other grooms [Jenkins 1986 p.19] while the chief smith was only entitled to the marriage-fees of other smith's daughters. [Jenkins 1986 p.38] The chief huntsman was entitled not only to these privileges but to collect a fee when a new huntsman took office. [Jenkins 1986 p.21] The pencerdd (chief of song) seems in some respects to be a court officer and in others simply the highest rank of bard. He collects the marriage-fee of the daughters of musicians (cerddorion) and a fee from musicians when they graduate from the horsehair harp and are free to solicit gifts. [Jenkins 1986 pp.38-9] He seems to have a set territory within which other bards must get his permission to solicit gifts. There are also references to gatherings of bards (on the occasion of a wedding feast) for the purpose of awarding ranks and licenses to their members. [Williams 1984 p.28]

All of this suggests some awareness of certain crafts as an organization, a meta-lordship, with a defined membership and hierarchy. In the case of the bards, further research could probably turn up fuller details of a guild-like system. [Author's note: Since the time I wrote this, I have written a paper on this topic. I is not et available on the web.] Unfortunately for the purpose of name-studies, there is never any name given to these groups beyond "the smiths", "the falconers", "the bards (or musicians)", etc.

Taverns and Inns

Many fanciful household names in the SCA are justified (often after the fact) as "inn names", inspired by pictorial signboards. This was one area where lack of time has prevented me from extensive exploration. The only reference by name that I have found to an institution of this type is in an English translation of a 15th century poem by Gwerfyl Mechain which refers to a tavern called "the Ferry". [Jones 1977 p.66] Inns, like towns in general, would have been an English introduction in Wales.

Other Commercial Organizations

Place names occasionally make refernce to local industry. There are numerous places incorporating Felindre "mill-town" in the name, or simply the element felin "mill". Pandy "fulling-house" also occurs. Several place names using the word llaeth "milk" (Llaethdy, Llaethgwm) may make reference to the ubiquitous dairy industry in Wales.

continue to next section


This site belongs to Heather Rose Jones. Contact me regarding anything beyond personal, individual use of this material.

Unless otherwise noted, all contents are copyright by Heather Rose Jones, all rights reserved.