Llan (placename element)

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Llan or Lan is a common place name element in Brythonic languages such as Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Cumbric, and possibly Pictish. In Wales there are over 630 place names beginning with 'Llan', pronounced [ɬan]. In Cornwall and Brittany the element is usually spelled 'Lan' or 'Lann', occasionally 'Laun'.

The original meaning of llan in Welsh is "an enclosed piece of land", but it later evolved to mean the parish surrounding a church. Most places beginning with Llan have some connection to a saint, usually of the Celtic church. The element following 'Llan' is usually the name of the saint, for example Llandewi 'Enclosure or Church of Saint David'. The English word lawn is cognate to llan, being derived from the common Old Celtic root landa through the Old French launde meaning 'heath', 'barren land', or 'clearing'.[1][2]

However a number of place names beginning with Llan evolved from other Welsh words like 'Glan' ('river bank') or 'Nant' ('stream' or 'small valley'), for example Llanbradach (from Nant Bradach, 'valley of the River Bradach'). In Cornish as well, some place names beginning with 'Lan' derive from Cornish 'Nans' ('valley'), such as Lanteglos from Nanseglos ('valley of the church').

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.

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.

In fiction[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Etymonline.com. 1927-06-10. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  2. ^ "laund". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  3. ^ "GO BRITANNIA! Wales: Sacred Places - Llandaff (Thlan daff) Cathedral". Britannia.com. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 

External links[edit]