The first part of the name, Llangattock, is straightforward: it signifies that the church is dedicated to the saint Cattwg, or Cadoc. The modern word llan, meaning church, comes from an older word lanna, meaning land. Originally, llan meant an enclosure and later it came to signify the buildings, always of a monastic character, built on a given piece of land. Often, these cells were attached to larger monasteries, so the original llan referred in most cases to a cell where one or two monks lived a hermitic life and devoted themselves to evangelizing in their particular district. In most cases they obtained the good will of a local chieftain, who gave them a grant of land; this land was the original llan, and later, the very rude buildings erected on it.
To begin with this single name alone was sufficient for most purposes: for example, in the minister's return to the lord of Abergavenny, the manor is simply Llancadoc. However, several other llans, particularly in this area, had the same dedication,
which meant that it became increasingly necessary to distinguish them by means of an
additional descriptive element. This is where the problems start.
The first complication is the fact that an alternative Welsh name is Llangattwg Gellenig.This may well have been the earliest double form, that first appears as Lancaddoc Kellenny, in the early 12th century. Bradney takes it as meaning Llangattock of the Gellis, referring to the three farms, Upper, Lower and Little Celliau, where Celliau is the plural of Celli (a grove). Osborne and Hobbs suggest more plausibly that the derivation is from Welsh celyn holly trees (celenyg being an adjective meaning abounding in holly trees). This form persisted into the 18th century, occuring as Langottage-Gleming in 1763.
The second problem is that there is no satisfactory explanation of Lingoed. The "obvious" derivation from Welsh llyn, 1ake, and coed, wood, is unlikely, given that there is no sign of a lake hereabouts. (Morgan, though, suggests that llyn may simply mean 'pool', rather than 'lake', which is slightly more plausible since there is a small pool near the church.) Osborne and Hobbs offer the suggestion that llyn is an abbreviation of celyn, in which case celynnig and (ce)llyn(n)goed mean the same thing, i.e. holly wood, but there is no evidence that the name changed over time in this way. In fact, both forms are often found together in documents from around the same period (for example, both Llangattock Clennyg and Llangattock Llyngoyed are found in Quarter Session documents of 1576-77).
The first date at which the name appears in the current form is 1348, when it is given as Lancadok Lyncoyd. Significantly, other documents from around this time clearly indicate that two different places are meant: Lancadok et Lyncoyd Capella in 1348 and 1349, Llancaddock by [iuxta] Llincoed in 1397 and Llan Cattoge Iuxta Lyncoyd in 1434.
Osborne and Hobbs believe the name derives from the adjacent Grange of Llyncoed, which was granted to Dore abbey by Henry II and confirmed by Hubert de Burgh in 1228-29. In a document relating to the Lay Subsidy of 1292 there is reference to "land of the lord abbot of Dore at [or near] Lyncoyht". This is plausible, but does not explain how the grange itself came to be so called. In fact, it is not the earliest known use of the name: a letter from Pope Eugene III to Prior William of the church of St John in Llanthony in 1146 confirms the Priory's various properties, including land "next to Linchoit" and other land "near St Michael" [Llanfihangel Crucorney], which allowed them "use of the forest of Linchoit". (These privileges were first granted by Innocent II in 1131.) There is also a reference in the Reeves returns to the lord of the manor in 1257 to the trunks and the dead wood sold in the park of Lyncoyt. This and later references clearly indicate that this was the name originally given to the lord of Abergavennys hunting area, later known as Park Lingoed or simply the Park. The park is equally likely as the source of the second, identifying element in the name, but again offers no clue to its meaning.
Around the year 1540 John Leland journeyed from Hereford to Abergavenny via "Lincote wode" (the mileages given would place it on Campston Hill, which is where the grange was located). A little later, in 1602, George Owen's Description of Wales was published, in which he lists "Grismond" (i.e. Grosmont) as one of the "forestes and greate wooddes" of Monmouthshire. Henry Owen, his late nineteenth century editor, claims that Llingoed was the Welsh name for this "great woodland of olden times", but unfortunately offers no evidence. However, the park, the grange and the Llanthony Priory properties and privileges together cover a wide area and give strong support to the idea that Llingoed was the name of an extensive forest between the Skirrid and Grosmont and probably stretching down to the river Monnow. Sadly, although this confirms the 'coed', it still does not provide us with a 'llyn'.
Sir Joseph Bradney, A History
of Monmouthshire, Volume 1, Part 2.
Richard Morgan, Place Names of Gwent
Graham Osborne and Graham Hobbs, The Place-Names of Eastern Gwent
George Owen, The Description of Pembrokeshire, Volume 3 (ed. Henry Owen, 1906)