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Snowdonia Peak Renamed 24/09/2009

Following a concerted campaign by the Princess Gwenllian Society, the Ordnance Survey has agreed to put her on the map by changing the name of a mountain in Snowdonia's Carneddau range. Carnedd Uchaf is set to become Carnedd Uchaf/Carnedd Gwenllian on future maps.

This coming Saturday, Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones and Assembly Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas will mark the renaming of the mountain at a ceremony in Beaumaris.

Princess Gwenllian was the daughter of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last ruling prince of an independent Wales. After Llywelyn's death in 1282, the whole of Wales came under Norman control. King Edward I of England ordered the baby Gwenllian, Llywelyn's heir, to be interned in an English convent (Sempringham Abbey) so that she would not have children who might rebel against him. There she remained until her death 53 years later.

Britain's national mapping agency does not have the authority to alter place names itself, but the Ordnance Survey has agreed to put Gwenllian on the map, following consultation with parties including the Snowdonia National Park Authority, local authorities, The National Trust, and emergency services.

The next revision of the 'Explorer' map of the area, to be published in September 2009, and the next revision of the 'Landranger' map to be published in January 2010, will include both names.

Back in November 2005, the BBC reported that the landowners, The National Trust, were uncertain about the renaming. At the time a Trust spokesperson said: "There would be many implications to consider if it was proposed to rename a known landmark such as a mountain. Not only would it involve endless updating of maps and documents, it also has an impact on the safety of walkers trying to navigate - and it could cause complications when reporting an accident."

Clearly the Society has plenty of influence as one commentator on grough.co.uk, Richard Williams-Ellis, noted: "The Princess Gwenllian Society have also recently secured a commemorative plaque near the Summit of Snowdon, which is quite a feat as it follows a decision by the Snowdonia National Park Authority that no memorials or similar would be allowed there."

Richard Williams-Ellis also added: "To most people, both Welsh and otherwise, the renaming...is as likely to be seen as some further recognition of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd...and would be as deserved." This Gwenllian, the daughter of Gruffudd ap Cynan, the last King of North Wales and hereditary Lord of Snowdon, led an army against the Normans and died a century before Princess Gwenllian was born.

The suggestion that naming the peak Carnedd Gwenllian is befitting since the nearby tops of Carnedd Llywelyn, Yr Elen and Carnedd Dafydd  are named after her father, mother and uncle respectively, isn't necessarily correct. The etymology of Carnedd Llywelyn isn't clear and it may refer to Llywelyn the Great, an earlier prince of Gwynedd, with the nearby Dafydd being named after his son and successor, Dafydd ap Llywelyn. Yr Elen could also be derived from the Welsh word for leech, gelen, since Yr Elen appears to be attached to the side of the Carneddau rather than after Gwenllian's mother, Eleanor.

Despite this uncertainity, Paul Beauchamp, of the Ordnance Survey, is quoted by the Western Mail as saying: "As agreement has been reached, we are delighted to reflect the name change and to be playing a role in reuniting Princess Gwenllian with her father, mother and uncle among the mountain peaks of her homeland."

Carnedd Uchaf (Upper Cairn) 926m (3038ft) is the undistinguished rise between between Foel Fras and Foel Grach and is sometimes known as the fifteenth peak in the traditional list of 14 Welsh mountains over 3000ft. It was missed off the list until its height was re-calibrated at the time the Ordnance Survey went metric in the seventies and would have been an important marker for drovers crossing the Carneddau.

The name change clearly doesn't please everyone. Bryn posted on grough.co.uk: "What a ridiculous thing to do - what right has the Princess Gwenllian Society to decide to rename a mountain? If every tiny society started renaming mountains because they felt like it we would have chaos. I suggest we all stick to the proper name and petition the OS to remove the 'new' name."

Topic: Princesss Gwenllian, Snowdonia National Park, Carneddau, Carnedd Uchaf

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