Map of Wales

A commote (Welsh cwmwd, plural cymydau, less frequently cymydoedd[1]), sometimes spelt in older documents as cymwd, was a secular division of land in Medieval Wales. The word derives from the prefix cym- ("together", "with") and the noun bod ("home, abode").[2] The English word "commote" is derived from the Middle Welsh cymwt[3].


Medieval Welsh land organisation

The basic unit of land was the tref - a small village or settlement. In theory, 100 trefi made up a cantref (literally, "one hundred settlements"), and half or a third of a cantref was a cwmwd although in practice the actual numbers varied greatly. The plural of cantref is cantrefi. Together with the cantrefi, commotes were the geographical divisions through which defence and justice were organised. In charge of a commote would be a chieftain probably related to the ruling Prince of the Kingdom. His court would have been situated in a special tref, referred to as a maerdref. Here the bonded villagers who farmed the chieftain's estate lived, together with the court officials and servants.[4] Commotes were further divided into maenorau or maenolydd.

Commotes in the Domesday Book

The Domesday Book has entries for those commotes that in 1086 were under Norman control, but still subject to Welsh law and custom. However it refers to them using the Anglo-Norman word "commot" instead of "hundred", the word used at the time for the equivalent land division in England. The commotes mentioned in the Domesday book, in general, represented recent Anglo-Norman advances into Welsh territory. Although the commotes were assessed for military service and taxation, their obligations were rated in carucate (derived from Latin for cattle or oxen), not in hides as on the English side of the border.

The customs of the commotes are described in the Domesday accounts of the border earldoms of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire. The principal commotes described in Domesday were Archenfield, Ewias, and the commotes of Gwent in the south; Cynllaith, Edeirnion, and Iâl (Shropshire accounts); and Englefield, Rhos and Rhufoniog (Cheshire accounts).


In legal usage, the English word 'commote' replaced cwmwd following the Edwardian conquest of Wales in the 13th century when English was made the official language for all legal documents. The Welsh, most of whom knew not a word of English, naturally continued to use cwmwd and still do so today. In much of Wales commotes had become more important than the cantrefs by the mid-13th Century and administration of Welsh law became the responsibility of the commote court rather than the cantref court. Owain Glyndŵr called representatives from the commotes for his two parliaments during the rising of 1400-1409.

The boundaries of commotes or in some cases cantrefi were in many cases subsequently represented more accurately by church rural deaneries than by the hundreds issuing from the sixteenth century Acts of Union.

List of commotes, organised by cantref

The Red Book of Hergest (1375–1425) provides a detailed list of commotes in the late 14th and early 15th century.[5] The list has some overlaps and is ambiguous in parts, especially in the Gwynedd section. It should also be borne in mind that the number and organisation of the commotes was different in the earlier Middle Ages; some of the units and divisions listed here are late creations. The original orthography of the manuscript is given here together with the standard modern Welsh equivalents.


  • Cantref Tegigyl (Cantref Tegeingl):
    • Kymwt Insel (Cwmwd Insel)
    • Kymwt Prestan (Cwmwd Prestatyn)
    • Kymwt Rudlan (Cwmwd Rhuddlan)
  • Cantref Dyffryn Clwyt (Cantref Dyffryn Clwyd):
    • Kymwt Colyan (Cwmwd Colian)
    • Kymwt Llannerch (Cwmwd Llannerch)
    • Kymwt Ystrat (Cwmwd Ystrad)
  • Cantref Rywynyawc (Cantref Rhufoniog)
    • Kymwt Rhuthyn (Cwmwd Rhuthyn)
    • Kymwt Uch Alech (Cwmwd Uwch Aled)
    • Kymwt Is Alech (Cwmwd Is Aled)
  • Cantref Rhos
    • Kymwt Uch Dulas (Cwmwd Uwch Dulas)
    • Kymwt Is Dulas (Cwmwd Is Dulas)
    • Kymwt Y kreudyn (Cwmwd y Creuddyn
  • Cantrefoed Mon (Anglesey)
    • Kymwt Llan Uaes (Cwmwd Llan-faes
    • Kymwt Kemeis Cwmwd Cemais
    • Kymwt Talebolyon (Cwmwd Talebolyon)
    • Kymwt Aberffraw (Cwmwd Aberffraw)
    • Kymwt Penn Rhos (Cwmwd Penrhos)
    • Kymwt Rosvyrr (Cwmwd Rhosyr)
  • Cantref Arllechwed (Cantref Arllechwedd)
    • Kymwt Treffryw (Cwmwd Trefriw)
    • Kymwt Aber (Cwmwd Aber)
  • Cantref Aruon (Cantref Arfon)
    • Kymwt Uch Konwy (Cwmwd Uwch Conwy)
    • Kymwt Is Conwy (Cwmwd Is Conwy)
  • Cantref Dinodyn
    • Kymwt Rifnot
    • Kymwt Ardudwy (Cwmwd Ardudwy)
  • Cantref Llyyn (Cantref Llŷn)
    • Kymwt Dinmael (Cwmwd Dinmael)
    • Kymwt is Clogyon (Cwmwd Is Clogion
    • Kymwt Cwmdinam (Cwmwd Cwm Dinam)
  • Cantref Meiryonyd (Cantref Meirionnydd)
    • Kymwt Eftumaneyr (Cwmwd Ystumaner)
    • Kymwt Talybont (Cwmwd Tal-y-bont)
  • Cantref Eryri
    • Kymwt Cyueilawc (Cwmwd Cyfeiliog)
    • Kymwt Madeu
    • Kymwt Uch Meloch
    • Kymwt Is Meloch
    • Kymwt Llan Gonwy (Cwmwd Llangonwy)
    • Kymwt Dinmael (Cwmwd Dinmael)
    • Kymwt Glyndyudwy (Cwmwd Glyndyfrdwy)


  • Cantrefoed Powys Madawc
    • Kymwt Iaal
    • Kymwt Ystrad Alun
    • Kymwt Yr Hop
    • Kymwt Berford
    • Kymwt Wnknan
    • Kymwt Trefwenn
    • Kymwt Croesosswallt
    • Kymwt y Creudyn
    • Kymwt Nant Odyn
    • Kymwt Ceuenbleid
    • Kymwt Uch Raeadyr
  • Cantrefoed Powys Gwennwynwyn
    • Kymwt Is Raeadyr
    • Kymwt Deu Dyswr
    • Kymwt Llannerchwdwl
    • Kymwt Ystrad Marchell
    • Kymwt Mecheyn
    • Kymwt Caer Einon
    • Kymwt Uch Affes
    • Kymwt Is Affes
    • Kymwt Uch Coet
    • Kymwt Is Coet


  • Cantrefoed Maelenyd
    • Kymwt Ceri
    • Kymwt Gwerthrynnyon
    • Kymwt Swyd Uudugre
    • Kymwt Swyd Yethon
    • Kymwt Llwythyfnwc


  • Cantref Buellt
    • Kymwt Penn Buellt (Cwmwd Pen Buellt)
    • Kymwt Swydman (Cwmwd Swyddfan(?) : Cwmwd Dinan)
    • Kymwt Treflys (Cwmwd Treflys)
    • Kymwt Is Iruon (Cwmwd Is Irfon)


  • Cantref Eluael (Cantref Elfael)
    • Kymwt Uch Mynyd (Cwmwd Uwch Mynydd)
    • Kymwt Is Mynyd (Cwmwd Is Mynyd)

Brecheinawc (Brycheiniog)

  • Cantref Selyf
    • Kymwt Brwynllys (Cwmwd Brwynllys)
    • Kymwt Talgarth (Cwmwd Talgarth)
  • Cantref Tewdos
    • Kymwt Dyffryn Hodni (Cwmwd Dyffryn Hoddni)
    • Kymwt Llywel (Cwmwd Llys Hywel)
    • Kymwt Tir Rawlf (Cwmwd Tir Rawlff)
  • Cantref Ida
    • Kymwt Ystrat Yw (Cwmwd Ystrad Yw)
    • Kymwt Cruc Howel (Cwmwd Crughywel)
    • Kymwt Evyas (Cwmwd Euyas)

Ystrad Tywi

  • Cantref Bychan
    • Kymwt Hirvryn
    • Kymwt Perued
    • Kymwt Iskennen
  • Cantref Eginawc
    • Kymwt Kedweli
    • Kymwt Carnywyllawn
    • Kymwt Gwhyr
  • Cantref Mawr
    • Kymwt Mallaen
    • Kymwt Caeaw
    • Kymwt Maenawr Deilaw
    • Kymwt Cetheinawc
    • Kymwt Mab Eluyw
    • Kymwt Mab Utryt
    • Kymwt Widigada

Ceredigyawn (Ceredigion)

  • Cantref Penweddig
    • Kymwt Geneurglyn (Cwmwd Genau'r Glyn)
    • Kymwt Perued (Cwmwd Perfedd)
    • Kymwt Creudyn (Cwmwd Creuddyn)
  • Cantref Mabwynyon (Cantref Mabwnion)
    • Kymwt Meuenyd (Cwmwd Mefenydd)
    • Kymwt Anhunyawc (Cwmwd Anhuniog)
    • Kymwt Pennard (Cwmwd Penardd)
  • Cantref Caer Wedros (Cantref Caerwedros)
    • Kymwt Wenyionid (Cwmwd Gwinionydd)
    • Kymwt Is Coed (Cwmwd Is Coed)


  • Cantref Deugledyf (Daugleddyf)
    • Kymwt Castel Hu (Castell Gwis)
    • Kymwt Llan y Hadein (Llanhuadain)
  • Cantref Wartha (Gwarthaf)
    • Kymwt Amgoet (Amgoed)
    • Kymwt Derllys (Derllys)
    • Kymwt y Uelfre (Efelfre)
    • Kymwt Eluyd (Elfed)
    • Kymwt Pennryn (Penrhyn)
    • Kymwt Peluneawc (Peuliniog)
    • Kymwt Talacharn (Talacharn)
    • Kymwt Estyrlwyf (Ystlwys)
  • Cantref Pebideawc (Pebidiog)
    • Kymwt Menew (Mynyw)
    • Kymwt Penncaer (Pencaer)
  • Cantref Rhos (Rhos)
    • Kymwt Castell Gwalchmei (Castell Gwalchmei)
    • Kymwt Hawlfford (Hwlffordd)


  • Cantref Gorvynyd
    • Kymwt Rwng Net A Thawy
    • Kymwt Tir Yr Hwndryt
    • Kymwt Rwng Neth ac Avyn
    • Kymwt Tir Yr Iarll
    • Kymwt Y Coety
    • Kymwt Maenawr Glyn Ogwr
  • Cantref Penn Ychen
    • Kymwt Meisgyn
    • Kymwt Glyn Rodne
    • Kymwt Maenawr Tal y Vann
    • Kymwt Maenawr Ruthyn
  • Cantref Breinyawl
    • Kymwt Is Caech
    • Kymwt Uch Caech
    • Kymwt Kibwr
  • Cantref Gwynllwc
    • Kymwt Yr Heid
    • Kymwt Ydref Berued
    • Kymwt Edelygyon
    • Kymwt Eithyaf
    • Kymwt Y Mynyd
  • Cantref Gwent
    • Kymwt Is Coed
    • Kymwt Llemynyd
    • Kymwt Tref y Gruc
    • Kymwt Uch Coed


  1. ^ Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (University of Wales Dictionary), p. 643
  2. ^ Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, p. 643
  3. ^ Brown, Lesley (ed), "New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary", Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993 ISBN 0-19-861134-X
  4. ^ Rhys 1906:401 – 402, The Welsh People
  5. ^ Rhys 1890:407 – 412, Red Book of Hergest, Cantreds and Commotes of Wales.

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