In the vicinity of Pentresaeson and Gwernygaseg there was once a field, and probably an attached house, called “Ty yn y Celyn” or “Tyn y Celyn”. It was part of the Brymbo Hall estate, owned by the Griffith family, but seems often to have been let out to tenants – around 1700 to a Lewis Thomas, and by 1716 to a “Mrs Elizabeth Holland”, possibly a relative of the Griffiths. A coal pit was dug nearby in the 1680s (with a Lewis Thomas again mentioned). It last appears on the land tax assessments shortly prior to 1800, at which time the tenant of Penrhos occupied it. I have, very tentatively, identified it with a field just across from the Smelt Wood at Pentresaeson.

The name is most probably a variation on “tir y celyn”, the “holly land” – by the 19th century, the field at Pentresaeson is given the name “holly field”. However, it seems to have been quite a common name locally. There were two properties in Minera called Tyn y Celyn. One was near the Wern, while another was on the Gwenfro a little downstream for Gwern y Gaseg – an area probably enclosed from commonland. The second property was for a long time in the hands of the Burtons of Minera Hall, some of whom actually lived there. This house was only a very short distance from the probable site of the Brymbo Tyn y Celyn, suggesting a link between the two.

A fourth local instance of the name appears as far back as 1620, in Norden’s survey, noted by the jury of the Manor of Esclusham:

And they say that the towneshipp of Esclusham, beeing part of ye said manno’, is bounden from Minera by a little purle of water running from the mountayne called Glasbry, downe by the landes called Tir Kelin, and so to Clywedog upon ye west by the landes of Hugh ap Robert ap Howell in ye manno’ of Minera

So there were some lands certainly called the “holly lands” on the Esclusham / Minera border. This is not very far from the Wern, and indeed from the location of the Wern Tyn y Celyn. When added to the Brymbo “Tyn y Celyn”, and the nearby cottage in Minera bearing the same name, it suggests that the name (particularly if derived from the form “tir celyn”) was originally given to several larger pieces of land, and was only afterwards applied to several individual houses.

The really interesting thing about this spread of ‘holly’ names is that they may reveal something about land use in the pre-enclosure era. There is, or was, a type of upland “wood pasture” characterised by holly trees amongst which sheep were grazed. The hollies provided shelter for the flocks during harsh weather, and their upper branches, leaves and bark made a surprisingly useful and palatable winter fodder in the times when hay was used up and the spring grass was yet to appear (sheep were particularly fond of the bark). The use of holly as winter fodder persisted in the north of England as late as the end of the 19th century, and gave rise to a dialect word for the type of pasture I have described: “hollin”. Hollin was particularly associated with Yorkshire and Derbyshire, but there is no reason why similar uses of holly should not have been practised in north-east Wales.