- Aber (which means estuary, mouth, or confluence of rivers)
- Ystwyth (which is a river name)
Therefore the city’s name means “the mouth of the river Ystwyth”.
Aberystwyth or Aberrheidol?
In fact, there are two rivers entering the sea in Aberystwyth. Besides the Ystwyth it is also the river Rheidol, which is actually the one closer to the city centre and also the one which feels a bit bigger. So the town’s name might as well have been something like “Aberrheidol” if the past inhabitants of Aberystwyth had chosen their other river. There was actually a castle named Aber Rheidol in the 12th century at the location of the later Aberystwyth Castle.
Other Aber- Towns
You will find some locals referring to Aberystwyth simply as “Aber”, which is obviously much easier to pronounce. That said, it might be a bit confusuing in some situations, because there are many towns and villages in Wales with names starting with Aber (yes, there are many rivers in Wales). For instance:
- Abergavenny (“mouth of the river Gavenny”, at the place where the Gavenny enters the Usk)
- Aberdare (at the confluence of rivers Dare and Cynon)
- Abergele (where the river Gele enters the Irish Sea)
- and many more.
In fact, the name of the Scottish city Aberdeen has similar origin (Aberdeen lies between the mouths of rivers Dee and Don, and the original name of the settlement was Aberdon).