Llansantffraid means "Church of Saint Bride" in the Welsh language and ym-Mechain refers to its location in the mediæval cantref of Mechain.
The name is based on the story of St Bhrid, who is said to have floated across the Irish Sea on a sod of turf, or was carried to norther Britain by two oystercatchers. The followers of St Bhrid possibly set up new settlements known by the Welsh as 'Llan Santes Ffraid', Church of Lady Saint Bhrid.
In recent years the correct spelling of the village name, with or without a "t", has been a contentious issue; the traditional spelling is with a "t", but the council in 2008 declared that this was a Victorian mistake, and correct Modern Welsh would require that there be no "t" in the name, so new roadsigns were erected to "Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain". A dual spelling of the village's name remained on road signs in the locality. In 2014 the council conceded that the "t" can remain in the village name.
Evolution of the village name
The earliest written form in Liber Landavensis, The Book of Llandav, a 12th-century document, refers to 'Llann sanfreit' in 1066. With so many places named Llansanffraid in Wales it was necessary to add location details, hence "ym-Mechain" (in Mechain) or 'Llansanffraid Glyn Ceiriog'. The earliest written record for Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain is 1254 as Llansanfret.
In 1526 the name of the village appeared as 'Llansayntefrayde' in an English document. "The 'saynte' suggests an English influence on the Welsh name." The English language Tithe Maps of the early 1800s use two forms; 'Llansaintffraid' and 'Llansaintfraid'.
When the railway arrived in the village in 1862, the station was called 'Llansaintffraid'. The Border Advertiser, was originally a railway company publication to advertise the railway but as it became a local newspaper it continued to use this spelling.
By the beginning of the 20th century the 'i' was lost and the spelling for some appears to change again. In 1922 when the Great Western Railway took over the Cambrian Railways, the station name changed to 'Llansantffraid'.
In 2008, the letter 't' was officially dropped by Powys Council, which claimed it was correcting a 'mistake'. Only in 2014 did the council concede the point and put the "t" back into Llansantffraid.
Many finds of Beaker pottery, dating from 2400 to 2000 BC, suggest settlement of the area first occurred in the Bronze Age. Earlier, Neolithic, settlement is likely, though there are currently no such sites known in the immediate area. During the Iron Age, around 700 BC, an increase in a sedentary lifestyle is evidenced by the increased number of settlements. A small hilltop enclosure was built around 400 BC where inhabitants grew wheat and barley, and kept cattle, sheep and pigs. Aerial photography of the area shows evidence that a pit alignment, possibly Iron Age in date, is present in the grounds of the nearby Bryn Tanat Hall Hotel.
Roman archeological evidence in the area includes a Roman fort in Bronhyddon field adjacent to Cae Hywel orchard. An archaeological excavation at this site revealed a barracks with attached Centurion's house.
The Plas-Yn-Dinas is one of the most historic sites in Wales. Some of the earthworks could be from the Roman period and it is reputed to be the site of the ancient Mediolanum.
Y Foel Camp is situated on the summit of the Foel Hill, to the west of the Winllan Road. It has many hallmarks of an Iron Age fortifications and there are signs of a rampart and a ditch.
Skirmishes and battles
Only two battles fought within this parish are recorded in history. The first battle is possibly mythical: the local tale tells that around the middle of the 5th century one Emrys wen Pascen induced the Saxons to attack the Welsh, and the battle was fought in the township of Llanerch. Emerys Benaur was appointed head of the Welsh army, and his victory secured the naming of the township in his honour. There is no history to back this up however.
The second recorded battle is more historical, and was fought between Meredydd and Ithel, sons of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn on one side and Bleddyn and Rhiwallon on the other. The battle was fought for the crown of Gwynedd and Powys. Ithel and Rhiwallon were slain and Meredydd took flight leaving Bleddyn the only king of North Wales and Powys.
- Football: The New Saints FC (formerly Total Network Solutions FC and originally Llansantffraid FC; the name comes with changes of sponsors). The New Saints no longer play their football matches in Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain, but in "Park Hall", a village in Shropshire two miles east of Oswestry.
- Pictures of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain and the area on Geograph.co.uk
- Historic Photos of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain
- BBC News 1 October 2014 - Llansanffraid village to have 't' back in its name
- Dr E. James. Terminology, Standardisation and Translation Unit, Welsh Language Board, (2010)
- Oswestry Ordnance Survey Drawing (1830) OSD 330.
- Neil Rhodes. Trains on the Border. Neil Rhodes Books (2012)
- BBC News, 22 November 2010 - Llansanffraid survey suggests villagers want 'T' back