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Placenames of Easter Ross

Placenames of Easter Ross

 

a series of five bilingual articles by Davine Sutherland published in the Seaboard News in 2013, based on a research paper she did in 2011 for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. (English versions in blue.)

 

Online versions, with photos, in her seaboardgàidhlig blog: http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/?s=placenames

 

 

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Ainmean-Àite an am Machair Rois 1

– na Cruithnich agus na Lochlannaich /

Placenames of Easter Ross 1 – the Picts and the Vikings

 

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/02/26/2013-am-mart-ainmean-aite-march-seaboard-placenames/

Ged nach e ceàrnaidh glè fharsaing a tha ann am Machair Rois, tha cruth na tìre eadar-dhealaichte agus eachdraidh fhada is inntinneach aice, agus tha seo gu math follaiseach anns na h-ainmean-àite a dh’fhàg gach sluagh, agus gach ginealach air a’ mhapa. ‘S urrainn dhuinn am leantainn ann am mapaichean sean is ùr, ann an goireasan sgrìobhte ( mar W J Watson, Placenames of Ross and Cromarty) agus tro fhiosrachadh bho mhuinntir nam bailtean-iasgaich fhèin, agus an ceangal ris na feartan caochlaideach agus seasmhach den tìr agus de dhòigh-bheatha muinntir na sgìre.

Bidh mi a’ sealltainn ris na sluaghan agus na cànanan sin anns na h-ath artaigil no dhà.

 

Na Cruithnich

Ged a tha fios againn bho Ptolemy, neach-cruinn-eòlais Ròmanach, mu na Decantae, treubh a bha stèidhichte ann an Ros an Ear c. 120 AD, chan eil ainmean-àite air fhàgail a tha le cinnt bhuapa. ‘S e na Cruithnich an ath shluagh anns an sgìre a nochd anns na cunntasan, air an ainmeachadh leis na Ròmanaich agus anns na sgrìobhaidhean mu Chalum Chille. Bha iad a’ fuireach air taobh tuath agus sear na h-Alba bhon 3mh chun 9mh linn. Tha lorgan Cruithneach gu math pailt ann am Machair Rois, leis na leacan mòra snaighte ann an Neig, Seannduaig agus Bail’ a’ Chnuic (c. linn 7-9), agus feadhainn eile na bu shìne ann an àiteachean eile, agus làrach na manachainn Chruithnich ann am Port MoCholmaig, Tairbeart.

Ach ged nach eil sgrìobhaidhean Cruithnis againn, chan e a-mhàin na leacan aca a tha air fhàgail againn. Tha aon ghnàth-eileamaid ann an ainmean-àite Rois an Ear a tha na comharra chinnteach gun robh tuineachaidhan nan Cruithneach an seo:

Pit-      cuid fhearainn, baile, tuineachadh

ann am Pitkerrie, Pitcalnie, Pitcalzean, Pitnellies, Pithogarty, Pitmaduthy etc

(‘S e faclan Gàidhlig, sa mhòr-chuid, a tha air cùlaibh nan eileamaidean sònrachaidh; barrachd san ath artaigil.)

Tha Petley ann cuideachd, ach ‘s e ainm pearsanta ùr a th’ ann.

 

Na Lochlannaich

 

Tha dualchas Lochlannach aig an sgìre cuideachd. Tha fianais ann an arc-eòlas Thairbeirt nach tàinig iad an-còmhnaidh gu sìtheil (bha làrach na manachainn Chruithnich air a chreachadh) ach tha e follaiseach anns na h-ainmean-àite gun robh tuineachaidhean Lochlannach ann an Ros an Ear cuideachd. ‘S dòcha gun do dh’fhuirich iad ùine taobh ri taobh leis a’ mhuinntir ionadail, na Cruithnich agus na Gàidheil as an dèidh, mar a thachair ann an àiteachean eile – chan ann tric a tha briseadh glan eadar na sluaghan ann an àite sam bith.

 

Leis gun robh na Lochlannach ainmeil nam màraichean, cha chuir e iongnadh gu bheil ainmean oirthireach ann le gnàth-eileamaidean mar:

ness   Seann Lochl., rubha

ann an Tarbat Ness (Rubha Thairbeirt),

sand     Seann Lochl. sandr, gainmheach, agus

wick  Seann Lochl. vik, bàgh

ann an Shandwick (Seannduaig), mapa aig Pont ‘Sandwyck’ (c.1590), agus ‘s dòcha ann an Nigg (Neig) cuideachd, tro Ghàidhlig: vik > uig > an uig > ‘a Nuig’ (ach v. Na Gàidheal mìos sa tighinn)

bay     Seann Lochl. vagr >G. bàgh

A-staigh san tìre tha fianais Lochlannach anns na h-ainmean le

-bol     Seann L. ból / bólstadr, tuathanas, tuineachadh

Arboll : Arkbo (mapa Pont c. 1590) ork-ból. ‘ark-stead’ no ‘seal-stead’ (Watson WJ 1976: 47)

Cadboll (Cathabol): Cattbo (mapa Pont c. 1590) kattar-ból , ‘cat-stead’ (Watson WJ 1976: 40),

– dal    Seann L. dalr, gleann, srath

Bindal: bind-dalr, ‘sheaf-dale’ (Watson WJ 1976: 46),

Gean- Seann L. gja, mòr-bheàrn

Geanies: gja le cruth iolra Gàidhlig gàan > Gathenn

-eye    Seann L. eith, leth-eilean no uisge eadar dà loch > G. uidh

Loch Eye (Loch na h-Uidhe): bha ‘uidh’ ann eadar Loch Eye agus loch eile, Loch Slinn, nach eil ann tuilleadh.

Ach tha a’ mhòrchuid de na h-ainmean-àite againn a’ tighinn bho Ghàidhlig, agus bidh sinn a ‘ sealltainn riuthasan an ath thuras.

 

Placenames of Easter Ross 1 – the Picts and the Vikings

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/02/26/2013-am-mart-ainmean-aite-march-seaboard-placenames/

Although Easter Ross is not a large area, it has a very varied geography and a long and interesting history, and this is is well attested in the placenames that each people, and each generation, left on the map. We can follow this on old and new maps (like Pont’s map of c. 1590, and OS maps), in written resources (such as WJ Watson’s Place names of Ross and Cromarty, 1904), and in information from the inhabitants themselves.

I’ll be looking at these peoples and their languages in the next few articles. Any comments or further information very welcome.

 

 

The Picts

Although we know from the Roman geographer Ptolemy about the Decantae, a tribe who were established in Easter Ross around 120 AD, there are no placenames which can definitely be attributed to them. The Picts were the next people who appear in accounts of the area, mentioned by the Romans and in writings about St Columba. They were living in the North and the East of Scotland from the 3rd to the 9th century. Pictish remains are thick on the ground in Easter Ross, with the massive carved standing stones of Nigg, Shandwick and Hilton (c. 7th – 9th centuries), and the site of the Pictish monastery at Portmahomack.

But although we don’t have any Pictish writings, it’s not just the standing stones that they have left us. There is one basic element in Easter Ross placenames which is a sure sign that there were Pictish settlements here:

Pit – a portion of land, town, settlement.

We see it in Pitkerrie, Pitcalnie, Pitcalzean, Pitnellies, Pithogarty, Pitmaduthy etc

(The other part of the name is usually of later Gaelic origin – more in the next article.)

There is also the placename Petley, but this is unrelated – it’s a modern personal name.

 

 

The Vikings

The area also has a Viking heritage. There’s archaeological evidence from Tarbat, in the sacked Pictish monastery site, that they didn’t always come in peace, but it’s very clear in the placenames that there were Norse settlements in Easter Ross too. It’s likely that they lived side by side with the local population, the Picts and later the Gaels, as happened elsewhere. It’s rare that there are clean breaks between peoples, in any area.

 

 

With the Vikings being such reknowned seafarers, it’s small wonder that there are coastal names with basic elements such as:

ness   Old Norse, point

> Tarbat Ness

sand     Old Norse. sandr, sand, and

wick  Old Norse. vik, bay

> Shandwick, ‘Sandwyck’ on Pont’s map (c.1590), and possibly in Nigg too, via Gaelic: vik > uig > an uig > ‘a Nuig’

bay     Old Norse. vagr >bay

(So Shandwick Bay actually means Sand Bay Bay!)

Inland there is also evidence of the Viking settlers in names with:

-bol     Old Norseból / bólstadr, farmstead

> Arboll (Arkbo on Pont’s map c.1590): ork-ból. ‘ark-stead’ or ‘seal-stead’ (Watson WJ 1976: 47)

Cadboll (Cattbo on Pont): kattar-ból , ‘cat-stead’ (Watson WJ 1976: 40),

– dal    Old Norse dalr, glen, strath

> Bindal: bind-dalr, ‘sheaf-dale’ (Watson WJ 1976: 46),

Gean- Old Norse. gja, chasm

> Geanies

-eye    Old Norse eith, peninsula or ‘water between two lochs’ (> Gaelic uidh, step, stage)

> Loch Eye (Loch na h-Uidhe): there apparently used to be a ‘step’ of water between Loch Eye and the long gone Loch Slin.

 

But the majority of Easter Ross placenames come from Gaelic, and we’ll be looking at some of those the next time.

 

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Ainmean-Àite ann am Machair Rois 2

– Na Gàidheil: Bailtean is Cruth na Tìre /

Placenames of Easter Ross 2

– the Gaels: townships and the landscape

 

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/04/01/2013-an-giblean-ainmean-aite-2-april-seaboard-placenames-2/

 

Chunnaic sinn mìos sa chaidh gu bheil iomadh ainm-àite ann am Machair Rois a thàinig bho na Cruithnich agus na Lochlannaich, ach ‘s ann bhon t-sluagh Ghàidhealach a thàinig a’ mhòr-chuid de na h-ainmean san sgìre seo. Ged a bha cuid Bheurla agus Bheurla Ghallda ri lorg tro na linntean ann an Ros an Ear, mar a chithear ann an artaigil eile, ‘s e prìomh chànan muinntir na sgìre a bha ann an Gàidhlig bho na Meadhan Aoisean tràth a-nuas chun na ficheadamh linne. Air an adhbhar sin bha buaidh Ghàidhlig làidir air na h-ainmean-àite, an dà chuid ann an ainmean gu tur Gàidhlig agus ann an ainmean le ceanglaichean ri cànanan eile, mar a chithear ann an eileamaidean measgaichte agus eadar-theangachaidhean.

Leis gu bheil uiread de dh’ainmean Gàidhlig anns an sgìre, dèiligidh mi ri taghadh comharrail ann an diofar roinnean – an turas seo bailtean agus cruth na tìre, an ath mhìos cruth na h-oirthir.

 

Bailtean, tuineachaidhean

 

Bal-     G. baile Gnàth-eileamaid as cumanta ann an cruthan Beurla nan ainmean air a’ mhapa, leis cho dùmhail ‘s a bha na tuineachaidhean air an fhearann torrach againn an coimeas ris a’ Ghàidhealteachd air fad.

Balintore(Baile an Todhair) – fianais na h-obrach le lìon o chionn mòran linntean. Bha ‘Balintoir‘ mìle no dhà a-staigh san tìr air mapa Phont (c.1590) agus ‘s e ‘Abotsheaun‘ a tha aige air a’ bhaile air an oirthir. Bha ‘Port an Ab’ cuideachd air Baile an Todhair aig àm WF Watson, c. 1900, air sgàth a’ cheangail ri Manachainn Rois.

Balaldie        Baile + allt + -aigh (seann tuisal ionadach > ie) ; ged nach eil allt ann a-nis. C.f. Loch Slin – an robh drèanadh tuathanasach na b’ fheàrr a’ tioramachadh an fhearainn?

Balnagore     Baile na gobhar

Balmuchy   Baile nam muc? Tha ‘Balemucky’ aig Pont (c.1590). Tha an tùs mì-chinnteach, a-rèir Watson. ‘S dòcha bhon Chruithnis ‘Pitmuchy‘ – baile nam muc, air neo bho na seann fhaclan Gàidhlig / Gaeilge ‘much‘ (ceò), no ‘mocha‘ (cailleach-oidhche). Tha taghadh agad!

Ballone / Balloan   Bail’ an lòin

Balnaphuile   Baile + poll /phuill

 

Tha iomadach eiseimpleir eile ann, m.e.

Balnabruach, Balnaha, Balnuig, Balnagall, , Balblair, Balinroich, Balachladich, Balindrum, Balcherry.

Tha e coltach gun robh seann tuineachaidhean nam measg air an robh Pit‘ seach ‘Bal-‘ bho thùs, oir tha eisempleirean gu leòr ann far a bheil ‘Pit‘ anns a’ chruth Bheurla agus ‘Baile’ anns an ainm Ghàidhlig, agus far a bheil eileamaid shònrachaidh Gàidhlig as dèidh ‘Pit-‘

Pitcalnie        Baile-chailnidh. Watson: ‘an obscure name’.

Pitcalzean     Bail’ a Choillean – baile na coille bhige. Pont ‘Pitkaill’ (c.1590)

Pitkerrie        Baile-Chèiridh , bho ciar > cèiread, no bhon fhacal ‘cèir’ – bha sgeulachd ann nach do rinn na seilleanan ach cèir seach mil às a’ chonasg an sin, a-rèir Watson.

Pitmaduthy   Baile (m)ic Dhuibh

Agus tha ainmean Beurla air a’ mhapa air an robh cruthan Gàidhlig fad linntean:

Broomtown G. Baile a’ Bhealaidh, Ballewallieann am Beurla Ghallda.

Thaamaladh-cainnte ann a bha beò fhathast c. 1970:

Caorich Baile a’ Bhealaidh ag ithe bealaidh aig beulaibh Baile a’ Bhealaidh.

 

Cruth na Tìre

A-staigh san tìr chan eil cruthan cho drùidhteach agus a tha iad ann an Ros an Iar, ach tha cnocan, lochan is eile ann a thug ainmean sònraichte dhan sgìre. Ma bheir sinn sùil air mapa OS sam bith, chì sinn an t-uabhas de dh’ainmean Gàidhlig a tha againn fhathast air feartan na tìre air feadh na sgìre.

Cnoc  Cnocan Seasg (neo-thorrach), Cnoc Taigh Chaluim, Cnoc a’ Mhaide, Cnoc Grìanach, fiù ‘s Cnoc a’ Mhuillinn Ghaoithe.

Baile a’ Chnuic – ainm Gàidhlig air Hilton; neo ‘Bail’ a’ Chnuinc’, mar a chanadh muinntir na sgìre.

Druim–   Drumancroy (an druima cruaidh), Drumossie (+ mosach), Balindrum.

Allt      Allt nan Dàmh (seann roinn-shealgair air Beinn Neig), air a’ mhapa OS ann an 1911 ‘Aultandown’; Aldie / Balaldie (fiù ‘s gun allt an-diugh).

Loch   Lochslin (slinn, inneal breabadair, B.sley), nach eil ann tuilleadh, Loch Eye (faic mìos sa chaidh, Na Lochlannaich), Loch Clais a’ Chrèadha, Loch Dhu, agus iomadach ‘Loch’ beag air a’ Mhoraich Mhòr. Bha ‘Inverlochslin’ air Inver roimhe > Inbhir na h-aibhne bho Loch Slinne.

Clais    Clashnamuaich (Clais na maigheach), Clais a’ Chreadha

Cul      Culnaha (Cul/Cùl na h-àtha), Cullisse (cùl + lios)

Bog    Bogbain, Am Bog (B. Arabella)

Moraich   (< mor’ oich) = fearann còmhnard ri taobh na mara: a’ Mhoraich Mhòr

Mios sa tighinn bheir sinn sùil air cuid de na h-ainmean Gàidhlig timcheall air an oirthir.

 

 

Placenames of Easter Ross 2

– the Gaels: townships and the landscape

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/04/01/2013-an-giblean-ainmean-aite-2-april-seaboard-placenames-2

Last month we saw that there are many placenames in Easter Ross which came from from the Picts and the Vikings, but the vast majority of placenames in this area came from the Gaels. Although there was some English and Scots used in Easter Ross over the centuries (as we’ll see later), the main language of the local people from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century was Gaelic. For that reason Gaelic had a particularly strong impact on placenames, both in completely Gaelic names and in names with combinations of Gaelic and other languages.

As there’s such a wealth of Gaelic names, I’ll just be looking at a representative sample here, under different headings, starting this month with townships and the landscape, and the coast next month.

 

Townships and settlements

Bal – Gaelic baile = township, settlement, ‘stead’. The one most common basic element in the names on the map in their modern (Anglicised) form, a sign of the density of the population in our fertile area compared with the Highlands as a whole.

Balintore < Baile an Todhair – bleaching town: evidence of the local linen industry down the centuries. ‘Balintoir’ was a mile or two inland on Pont’s map of c.1590, and the harbour settlement was called ‘Abotsheaun’ (Abbotshaven). In WF Watson’s time (c. 1900) Balintore was also called ‘Port an Ab’ (Abbot’s Port), due to its connections with Fearn Abbey.

Balaldie <. Baile + allt (stream) + -aigh (typical place-ending) ; although there isn’t a stream there nowadays. Remembering the disappearing Loch Slin, perhaps improved farm drainage led to a general drying out, or rerouting of waterways?

Balnagore     < Baile na gobhar – town of the goats

Balmuchy possibly < Baile nam muc – town of the pigs (it’s on Pont’s 1590 map as Balemucky). Origin obscure, according to Watson. Possibly from Pictish for pigs or from Old Gaelic for mist or even owls – take your pick!

Ballone / Balloan     < Bail’ an lòin – settlement of the low damp meadow

Balnaphuile  < Baile + poll / phuill – settlement of the boggy pool

There are countless other examples, such as:

Balnabruach, Balnaha, Balnuig, Balnagall, Balblair, Balinroich, Balachladich, Balindrum, Balcherry.

It’s likely that there are very old settlements among those whose names would originally have included the Pictish ‘Pit-‘, instead of the Gaelic ‘Bal-‘. We still see plenty of examples of these mixed-language placenames which have kept the ‘Pit-‘ in their English versions, along with a second Gaelic element:

Pitcalnie        < Baile-chailnidh. Watson: ‘an obscure name’.

Pitcalzean     < Bail’ a Choillean – town of the small wood. (Pont ‘Pitkaill’)

Pitkerrie   < Baile-Chèiridh , < ciar > cèiread (dusk), or from the word ‘cèir’ (wax) – there was a story that bees could only make wax, not honey, from all the whins there, according to Watson.

Pitmaduthy   < Pit/Baile (m)ic Dhuibh – Macduff’s stead

And there are English names on the map now for places that had Gaelic names for centuries, for example

Broomtown / Broomton < Baile a’ Bhealaidh (town of the broom), Ballewalliein Scots.

There’s a Gaelic tongue-twister about it that was still around well into the 20th century:

Caorich Baile a’ Bhealaidh ag ithe bealaidh aig beulaibh Baile a’ Bhealaidh. (“Broomtown sheep eating broom in front of Broomtown”. – It isn’t quite as effective in English!)

 

The Landscape:

In inland Easter Ross we don’t have the impressive landmarks that Wester Ross has, but we still have our hills, lochs and so on that added their own names to the map. If you look at any OS map, you’ll see the striking number of Gaelic names we still have for landscape features throughout the area.

Cnoc  = hill, e.g. Cnocan Seasg (infertile hills), Cnoc Taigh Chaluim (hill of Calum’s house), Cnoc a’ Mhaide (hill of the stick), Cnoc Grìanach (sunny hill), even Cnoc a’ Mhuillinn Ghaoithe (Windmill Hill).

Baile a’ Chnuic – Gaelic names for Hilton; or ‘Bail’ a’ Chnuinc’, (Bal -a-chruink) as the locals pronounced it.

Druim–   = back, ridge, e.g.Drumancroy (an druima cruaidh= the hard ridge), Drumossie (+ mosach, boggy, moorlike), Balindrum (town of the ridge)

Allt      = stream, e.g. Allt nan Dàmh (stream of the deer – old hunting ground on the Hill of Nigg), on the OS map of 1911 as ‘Aultandown’;

Other examples: Aldie, Balaldie. (even if now ‘streamless’)

Loch   Lochslin (loch +slinn, weaving implement, English ‘sley’), no longer extant, Loch Eye (see last month – the Vikings), Loch Clais a’ Chrèadha (loch of the clay hollow), Loch Dhu (black), and many other tiny lochs on the Moraich Mòr. Inver used to be called ‘Inverlochslin‘ > at the mouth of the river from Loch Slin.

Clais  = ditch, hollow, e.g. Clashnamuaich (Clais na maigheach – hollow of the hares), Clais a’ Chreadha (clay hollow)

Cul = back, nook, e.g.Culnaha (Cul/Cùl na h-àtha – ‘kiln-nook’), Cullisse (cùl + lios – garden, enclosure)

Bog    = marsh, moss, soft ground , e.g. Bogbain (white marsh), Am Bog (The Marsh – renamed Arabella)

Moraich = sea plain, as in the Morrich More / a’ Mhoraich Mhòr – ‘the big plain by the sea’

Next time we’ll look at some of the many Gaelic placenames around the Seaboard coastline.

Anyone who’s seriously interested in local names should try to get hold of ‘Place Names of Ross and Cromarty’ by WJ Watson, originally published in 1904, reprinted 1976. There are also wonderful old maps you can look at on the website of the national Library of Scotland: http://maps.nls.uk/scotland/index.html

 

 

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Ainmean-àite ann am Machair Rois 3 – na Gàidheal: an oirthir

Placenames of Easter Ross 3 – the Gaels: the coast

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/05/01/2013-an-ceitean-ainmean-aite-3-an-oirthir-may-seaboard-placenames-3-the-coast/

‘S e oirthir an Ear am pàirt as drùidhtiche den sgìre againn agus tha na h-ainmean-àite a’ toirt fianais air sin. Anns an t-uabhas de dh’ainmean ionadail air creagan sònraichte, mar eisimpleir, chithear cho cudromach agus a bha a’ mhuir aig daoine, airson iasgaich agus mar dhòigh-shiubhail.

Tha aon Beinn ann, Beinn Neig. Chan eil e cho àrd ri beanntan eile ann an Ros, ach ‘s e feart gu math greadhnach a th’ ann. Aig a’ cheann eile den ‘Seaboard’, tha Rubha Thairbeirt a’ cumail faire air an leth-eilean.

creag –   Tha cus ann airson liosta coileanta ach ‘s ann air oirthir an Ear, eadar an Rubha agus Baile a’ Chnuic, a nochdas a’ mhòr-chuid:

Creag Ruadh, Creag Mhaol, Creagan Dubha, Creag a’ Chinn Bhig amssa.

Tha cuid mhòr de na h-ainmean ceangailte ri eòin:

Creag nan Eun, Creag na h-Eala, Rubha na h-Iolaire,

fianais air a’ phailteas de dh’eòin-mhara a bha ann agus a tha ann fhathast an sin.

Tha stac, clach, sròn agus ail (creag)ann cuideachd:

Stac Mòr agus Stac Beag , Clach Dhubh, Clach Ghlas, Sròn Liath, Tarail. Tha abairt ann: “Tarail Mhòr is Tarail Bheag is Tarail fo na Chreag”.

Ann an Down to the Sea (J. Macdonald, A. Gordon, J. Sutherland), air fhoillseachadh ann an 1971 bunaichte air rannsachadh nas tràithe, tha mapa làmh-sgrìobhte le ainmean ionadail air cha mhòr gach clach agus creag eadar Baile a’ Chnuic agus Geanies (Gàthan). Bha iad air an cruinneachadh le Anne Gordon agus na peathraichean J. Nic Dhòmhnaill (an sgrìobadair) agus J. Shutharlanach (an dealbhadair), an dithis aca às a’ bhaile, bho na h-iasgairean a b’ aosta. Bha na creagan seo cudromach mar chomharran-mara, airson clèibh a chur sìos agus a lorg, agus airson seòladaireachd.

‘S ann sa Ghàidhlig a tha a’ mhòr-chuid agus ‘s e ainmean air leth cuingealaichte a th’ annta; chan eil iad rin lorg air mapaichean ‘oifigeil’. Tha ainmean dealbhach ann mar ‘Boineid Frangach’ (sic) agus ‘Skaravak’ (creag nan sgarbhan – eòin a-rithist, agus ainm freagareach), Tha feadhainn eile ceangailte ris an eachdraidh ionadail:- ‘Creag na Bainsheann’ (sic) – na Baintighearna, faisg air làrach Caibeal Mhoire, no ri daoine na sgìre: ‘Eilean Sheòrais’, Jessieport, Tom & Mary Port. Bidh mòran de na h-ainmean an sin air an cleachdadh fhathast an-diugh fhèin am measg sheantansan Beurla, oir chan eil ainmean Beurla ann orra. ‘I’m going to the Porst / Porst Culag / Skaravak / Uilleam’s Pool, the Uaireachan’ amsaa.

Tha ‘Port Lark’ ann cuideachd, ach tha e coltach nach e eun a tha ann an turas seo; seo cruth Beurla de ‘Làirig’, ‘Lathaich’ air a mhapa (oidhirp fuaimneachaidh ionadail a sgrìobhadh?) Tha ‘the Larachans’ ann cuideachd, sreath chreagan ri taobh an Phuirt, ‘s dòcha le ciall ceangailte.

(Ma bhios barrachd fios ionadail aig daoine sam bith mu na h-ainmean seo no feadhainn eile, bhithinn toilichte cluinntinn bhuaibh! Chòrdadh e rium ionnsachadh an uiread ‘s a ghabhas mus tèid a h-uile rud a dhìochuimhneachadh.)

Air taobh eile Rubha Thairbeirt, eadar an taigh-solais agus Port MoCholmaig, ‘s e port an t-ainm as cumanta air a’ chladach. Chan e fìor chalaidhean a tha annta ach acarsaidean beaga, oir tha an taobh sin nas fhasgaiche. ‘S e cruinneachadh inntinneach de dh’ainmean a tha an seo cuideachd, le ainmean pearsanta – Port Uilleim, no tuairisgeulach: Port a’ Chrithinn (craobhan, B. aspen), Port nam Marbh, Port a’ Chaisteil amsaa. ‘S e Port nam Faochag a th’ ann an Wilkhaven, fìor chaladh (ged a tha e beag) faisg air Rubha Thairbeirt.

Aig ceann eile an leth-eilein tha Beinn Neig agus an oirthir mun chuairt oirre, le creagan agus tràighean. Chan eil uiread de dh’ainmean air a’ mhapa an seo, ‘s dòcha gun robh e ro chunnartach dha na h-iasgairean, leis na sgeirean mar ‘the King’s Sons’ agus Creag Dhaibhidh, agus tha mòran uamhan ann mar ‘the King’s Cave’. ‘S dòcha gur e Port an Rìgh a th’ ann am Port an Druidh a-rèir Watson cuideachd, seach ceangal ri draoidhean . Chan eil fìor chinnt ann cò na rìghrean, agus iomadach fionnsgeul mu an cuairt. Ach àrd air mullach na creige tha Castlecraig (creag a’ Chaisteil), comharra cudromach do mharaichean fada a-muigh air a’ mhuir.

Ged a tha argamaidean ann airson freumha Lochlannaich anns an fhacal ‘Neig’ (vik ) mar a chunnaic sinn, is dòcha gun tàinig e bho fhacal Gàidhlig:

eag > gin. eige > an eige (> a’ Neige) :(B. notch, indentation)

Chan eil cinnt ann an e Tràigh Neig fhèin (eag san oirthir), na Sùdraichean, no làrach na seann eaglaise (aig ceann eige san tìr) a bha anns an eag seo. ‘S e ‘place of the tanners’ a bh’ anns Na Sùdraichean, agus mar sin, leis an uiread de leathair a bu chòir a bhith ann, ‘s dòcha gur e an fhìrinn a th’ anns na sgeulachdan mu ghreusaichean!

 

 

Placenames of Easter Ross 3 – the Gaels: the coast

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/05/01/2013-an-ceitean-ainmean-aite-3-an-oirthir-may-seaboard-placenames-3-the-coast/

From the landscape point of view, the eastern coastline is the most impressive part of our area, and the placenames bear witness to this. In the huge number of local names for particular rocks, for example, we see how important the sea was to people, for fishing and for travel.

There’s one Ben, Beinn Neig – the Hill of Nigg. It’s not as high as other bens in Ross-shire, but it’s still a majestic feature. At the other end of the Seaboard, Rubha Thairbeirt (the Point of Tarbat), Tarbat Ness, watches over the peninsula.

creag – rock, crag. There are too many too list, but the majorty of named crags are on the eastern stretch of coast, between Tarbat Ness and Hilton, e.g.

Creag Ruadh (red rock), Creag Mhaol (bald rock), Creagan Dubha (black rocks), Creag a’ Chinn Bhig (rock of the little head) etc.

There are quite a few with names connected to birds:

Creag nan Eun (rock of the birds), Creag na h-Eala (rock of the swan), Rubha na h-Iolaire (point of the eagle),

evidence of the abundance of seabirds which was and still is to be found there.

There are the names with stac (stack), clach (stone), sròn (nose) and ail (cliff) too, e.g.

Stac Mòr and Stac Beag (big and little stack), Clach Dhubh (black stone), Clach Glas (blue-grey stone), Sròn Liath (white-grey nose), Tarrel (Tarrail = tar+ail – over-cliff).

There’s saying about the Tarrels: “Tarail Mhòr is Tarail Bheag is Tarail fo na chreag” (Big Tarrel and Little Tarrel and Tarrel under the Cliffs – Rockfield).

In Down to the Sea (J.Macdonald, A.Gordon, J. Sutherland), printed as a book in 1971 but researched earlier, there’s a hand-written map with the local names of almost every rock and crag between Hilton and Geanies, collected by Anne Gordon and the Hilton sisters Jessie Macdonald and Hansy Sutherland (the illustrator of the book) from the old fishermen.These rocks were important as sea-markers, for setting and locating creels, and for navigation.

The majority of these names are Gaelic, and have a very local reference – you won’t find them on ‘official maps’. There are descriptive names, like ‘Bonaid Frangach’ (Frenchman’s bonnet) and the well-named ‘Skaravak’ (Gaelic sgarbag – pronounced Skaravak, means ‘rock of the cormorants’ – sgarbh=cormorant – birds again). Others are linked to local history: ‘Creag na Bainsheann’ = Creag na Baintighearna (rock of Our Lady), near the site of the chapel of St Mary, or to local characters: ‘Eilean Sheòrais’ – George’s Island, Jessieport, Tom and Mary Port. The Porst itself is just the Gaelic pronunciation of ‘port’. Many of these Gaelic names are still used today in the middle of sentences in English, as there are no English names for them. “I’m going to the Porst / to Porst Culag / to Uilleam’s Pool / the ‘Wireachan’,” etc.

There’s a ‘Port Lark’ too, but this probably has nothing to do with birds this time – it’s an Angliscised version of Port Làirig or Làirich (obscure: ‘port of the site / battlefield/ floor / ruins/ mares’take your pick), given as ‘Laithich’ on the map – possibly an attempt to render the local pronunciation of soft ‘r’ as ‘th’. There are also ‘the Larachans’, a row of rocks beside the Port, which may have a related meaning.

(If anyone has more local knowlege about any of these, please get in touch! I’d love to learn as much as possible about them before it all gets forgotten.)

 

On the other side of Tarbat Ness, between the lighthouse and Portmahomack, Port is the most common name along the shore. These aren’t real harbours, just small anchorages, as this is the more sheltered side. It’s an interesting collection of names we find there too, including personal names, like ‘Port UIlleim’, or descriptive ones like ‘Port a’ Chrithinn’ (Port of the aspen trees), ‘Port nam Marbh’ (Port of the Dead), ‘Port a’ Chaisteil’ (Castle Port) etc. Wilkhaven is called ‘Port nam Faochag’, which literally means ‘port of the whelks’, a real harbour this time, if a small one, close to Tarbat Ness.

At the other end of the peninsula we have Beinn Neigg, the Hill of Nigg, and the the coast around it with its crags and beaches. There fewer names on the map round here, perhaps because it was too dangerous for fishermen, with the ‘King’s Sons’ and ‘Creag Dhaibhaidh’ (Davy’s Rock), and there are many caves, like ‘the Kings Cave’. It’s probable that ‘Port an Druidh’, noted by Watson, had nothing to do with druids but came from ‘Port an Righ’, King’s Port. It’s not absolutely certain who these kings all were, but there are many legends about them. On top of the cliff is Castlecraig (Creag a’ Chaisteil), an important landmark to seamen far out at sea.

Although there are arguments for Viking roots in the word ‘Neigg’ (possibly from ‘vik’, as we saw earlier), it’s also quite likely that it came from a Gaelic word:

eag, meaning a notch or cleft, or indentation. ‘The hill of of the cleft’ would be ‘Beinn an eige’ in Gaelic, which could easily have turned into Beinn Neigg , and then Nigg. It’s not clear which ‘cleft’ would have been meant – the Bay of Nigg, the Sutors, or the site of Old Nigg Church on the edge of a small ravine. The Sutors in Gaelic are Na Sùdraichean, ‘places of the tanners’, so with all that leather about, perhaps the shoemaker stories are true!

 

Correction from last month: Pitcalnie, Gaelic Baile Chailnidh

Apologies, Pitcalnie folk! There are theories on this after all:

Baile-chailnidh,  “Farm at the hard place”. It’s also called Cuilt Eararaidh, “secluded spot of the (grain) parching”.

Strath of Pitcalnie – Srath Chuilt Eararaidh.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Gaelic/placenamesP-Z.pdf

 

 

 

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Ainmean-Àite 4: na Gàidheal – Creideamh is Caistealan /

Placenames 4 – the Gaels : Faith and Fortresses

 

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/06/02/2013-an-t-ogmhios-ainmean-aite-4-creideamh-is-caistealan-june-placenames-4-faith-and-fortresses/

 

Creideamh

Ged a dh’fhaodas a bhith fianais air ‘Draoidhean’ anns an sgìre anns na h-ainmean

‘Port an Druidh’, agus ‘Cadha Port an Druidh’ air Beinn Neig, ‘s dòcha ceangailte ris na Decantae (c. 120 BC), chan eil eòlas cinnteach againn dè na h-ainmean-àite a dh’fhaodas a dhol air ais chun an àm ron chreideamh Chrìosdail. Mar a chunnaic sinn, ‘s dòcha gur e am facal Gàidhlig ‘righ’ a tha air cùl ‘druidh’. Tha mòran tobraichean ann, gu h-àraidh ann am paraiste Neig, mar Tobar na Slàinte, fhathast ann an-diugh fhèin, air a’ chladach faisg air Port an Druidh, agus Tobar Chormaig, faisg air an tuathanas aig Seannduig. Tha làrachTobar na h-Iù faisg air ‘an t-sìthean’ (Dùn Rath-riachaidh, Rarichie), agus bha feartan draoidheil aice a rèir coltais. Bha agus tha saobh-chràbhadh riamh ann anns na bailtean-iasgaich, taobh ri taobh le creideamh Crìosdail làidir, ‘s dòcha air fhagail aca bho àm nan Ceilteach na bu thràithe.

Ach ‘s ann bhon an eaglais Chrìosdail a thàinig an àireamh a bu mhotha de na h-ainmean anns an roinn seo. Bho àm Chaluim Chille co-dhiù bha eaglaisean agus manaich ann, gu h-àraidh aig Port MoCholmaig, (Port Naomh Colmag / St Colman) far an robh manachainn Chruithneach. As dèidh sin thàinig Manachainn Rois. ‘S e ‘Feàrn’ an t-ainm a bha oirre roimhe, oir dh’imrich a’ mhanachainn bho Fheàrn, faisg air Eadardan, agus ‘s e Fearn an t-ainm a chùm i sa Bheurla. ‘S e Port an Ab an seann ainm ionadail air Baile an Todhair. Thug Templecroft faisg air Bindal ainm bho Theampall Earach, uamh anns na creagan far an robh (a rèir beul-aithris) seirbheisean-eaglais de sheòrsa air choreigin.

Aig Baile a’ Chnuic tha làrach Caibeal Mhoire ann le ‘Creag na Baintighearna’ air an tràigh, agus ‘Bàrd Mhoire'(agus Lady Street sa bhaile fhèin, ainm a thàinig le cinnt bho na linntean ron Eaglais Chlèirich.) Tha tobraichean ann an sin cuideachd, faisg air an allt (is e ga chleachdadh fhathast nuair a bha mise òg), agus fear eile faisg air làrach cladh a’ chaibeil, Lady’s Well, far an deach clann gun bhaisteadh a thiodhlacadh. Thachair an aon rud ri taobh Clach a’ Charraidh, ainm ionadail air Clach Sheannduaig, agus tha e coltach gun deach an fheadhainn a thiodhlachadh an sin cuideachd a dh’eug den cholera. Do na truaghain sin, bha na tursachan Cruithneach iongantach seo, leis na samhlaidhean Crìosdail orra, nan ‘carragh’ dhà-rìribh.

Tha pàirt de Phort MoCholmaig air a bheil Gaza mar ainm; ‘s e ainm bìoballach a th’ ann, agus tha dà mhìneachadh ionadail ann, a rèir Watson: airson ‘s gun robh e mar fhàsach leis a’ ghainmheach a bh’ ann, no air sgàth ‘s gun robh “muinntir Ghaza” (‘Philistines’) aig a’ mhinistear air na daoine an àite leis nach biodh iad a’ dol dhan eaglais tric gu leòr!

 

Caistealan is Daighnichean

 

B’ fhìach riamh fearann torrach Mhachair Rois a dhìon, agus bho na linntean a bu thràithe tha iomadh ràth, dùn agus caisteal ann, no tha co-dhiù na h-ainmean air fhàgail againn.

ràth daighneach cruinn (Ceilteach no na bu thràithe)

Rhynie  ràthan (tha dà ann, Rhynie agus Meikle Rhynie)

Rarichie  ràth-riachaidh (air sgàth nan drisean no a’ chonaisg a th’ ann fhathast?) – làrach daignich Chruithnich, air an robh fhathast ‘Danish Fort’ air a’ mhapa OS 1911. Bha muinntir a’ bhaile riamh glè dheònach creidsinn gum b’ ann bho na Lochlannaich a bha gach leac is dùn, fiù ‘s na leacan Cruithneach fhèin (chuala mi fhìn an sgeul gur ann an sin ‘where the three king’s sons were buried’ nuair a bha mi òg), agus bha clann leithid mo mhàthar an-còmhnaidh a’ cladhach airson ‘Viking treasure’ anns na dùin agus fiù ‘s an làrach Caibeal Mhoire..

Ach tha sinn an dòchas gum bi fios a bharrachd againn mu na làraichean Cruithneach seo a dh’aithghearr, leis gum bi planaichean arc-eòlach mòra air an son.

http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/new-excavations-to-find-lost-pictish-kingdom-1-2925006

 

dùn     Dunskaith G. Dùn Sgàth, làrach caisteal Rìgh Uilleim (‘an Leòmhann’)

caisteal          Castlecraig G. Caisteal Crag (sic) – ceangailte ri Dunskaith, agus làraich no tobhtaichean chaisteil eile air feadh na sgìre, m.e. Caisteal Chathabol, Caisteal Bail’ an Lòin (Ballone) – ‘s e ‘Cast.Terbart’ a bha aig Pont air (c.1590).

Tha fiù ‘s Blàr a’ Chath ann, faisg air Rubha Thairbeirt.

Bha sinn a’ coimhead air mòran seòrsaichean eadar-dhealaichte de dh’ainmean-àite Gàidhlig ann am Machair Rois – bailtean is feartan na tìre, an oirthir, an eaglais agus na daignichean. Tha iomadach ainm-àite Gàidhlig eile anns an sgìre, ach b’ e seo taghadh de na raointean as cudromaiche. An ath thuras thig cuairt air na h-ainmean-àite Beurla agus Beurla Ghallda.

Placenames 4 – the Gaels : Faith and Fortresses

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/06/02/2013-an-t-ogmhios-ainmean-aite-4-creideamh-is-caistealan-june-placenames-4-faith-and-fortresses/

 

Faith

Though there’s a faint chance that we have evidence of Druids in the area in the names ‘Port an Druidh’ and ‘Cadha (pass, ravine) Port an Druidh’ on Nigg Hill, maybe connected to the ancient Decantae tribe (c. 120 BC), we don’t have any names that go back with certainty to pre-Christian times. As we saw, ‘an druidh’ is probably a corruption of the Gaelic ‘an righ’, the king

There are many wells, especially in the parish of Nigg, such as the Well of Health (Tobar na Slàinte) by the shore near Port an Druidh, and St Cormac’s Well (Tobar Chormaig) near Shandwick farm. The site of the Well of the Yew (Tobar na h-Iù) is near the ‘fairy hill’ of Rarichie (Dùn Rathriachaidh), and it allegedly had magical properties. Superstition, or acceptance of the supernatural, existed and still does in the fishing communities, side by side with a strong Christian faith, probably passed down from earlier Celtic times.

But it’s from the Christian church that the majority of faith-related place-names come. From the time of St Columba at least there were churches and monks here, especially in Port MoCholmaig (St Colman’s Port – Portmahomack), where there was a Pictish monastery. Later there followed Manachainn Rois , the Monastery of Ross. Its previous name had been Feàrn (alder tree) as the monastery moved to Easter Ross from Feàrn, near Edderton, and Fearn is the name the Abbey has kept today in English. Balintore’s old local name was Port an Ab, the Abbot’s port. Templecroft, near Bindal, took its name from Teampall Earach, Easter Temple, a cave in the cliffs where (tradition says) church-services of some kind were held.

Near Hilton there’s the site of Caibeal Mhoire, St Mary’s Chapel, with the rock called ‘Creag na Baintighearna’, Our Lady’s Rock, on the beach, and ‘Bàrd Mhoire’, St Mary’s meadow, and Lady Street in the village itself, a name that has certainly existed since pre-Presbyterian centuries. There are wells there too, near the burn (that one was still being used for domestic water needs when I was young), and another near the chapel cemetary site, Lady’s Well, where unbaptised children were buried. The same thing happened beside Clach a’ Charraidh (Monument Stone), the local name for the Shandwick Stone, and it seems likely that those who died of cholera were also buried there. For these poor souls, the amazing Pictish stones with the Christian symbols on them were monuments, indeed

There’s a part of Portmahomack called Gaza; it’s a Biblical name, and there are two local explanations according to Watson. Either it was because it was like the desert of Gaza with all the sand, orbecause the minister referred to the residents as ‘muinntir Gaza’ (people of Gaza, i.e. ‘Philistines’) as they were not in the habit of attending church often enough!

 

Fortresses

 

The fertile land of Easter Ross was always worth defending, and from the earliest centuries there are many forts, duns and castles, or at least their names, which have come down to us.

ràth – a Celtic or earlier word for a fortified circular enclosure or mound.

> Rhynie = ràthan + i, place of the mounds (there are two, Rhynie and Meikle Rhynie)

> Rarichie – ràth-riachaidh – ‘fort of the scratching’ (possibly because of the brambles which are still there?). A Pictish fort site, which as late as 1911 was still being called a ‘Danish Fort’ on the OS map. Local people were always very willing to believe that it was the Vikings who were behind every standing stone and mound, even the Pictish stones (I remember myself being told the story ‘that’s where the three king’s sons were buried’ when I was young), and children (like my mother) were always digging for ‘Viking treasure’ below any mound, even on the chapel site.

But we’re hoping to get a lot more information on the Pictish sites here soon with the grand archeological plans that are afoot now: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/new-excavations-to-find-lost-pictish-kingdom-1-2925006

 

dùn – fort

> Dunskaith– Dùn Sgàth, ‘protected fort’, site of a castle built by William the Lion

caisteal – castle

> Castlecraig – Caisteal Creag / Creag a’ Chaisteil – connected to Dunskaith;

and the sites of other castle ruins around the area, e.g. Cadboll Castle (Caisteal Chatabol), Ballone (Bail’ an Lòin) – which was called ‘Cast.Tarbat’ on Pont’s map of c.1590.

There’s even the name ‘Battlefield‘, ‘Blar a’ Chath’, near Tarbat Ness.

In these last 3 issues we have been looking at the Gaelic names that dominate the others around the Seaboard under three main headings – settlements and landscape, the coast, faith and fortresses. In the last instalment it’ll be the turn of Scots and English names.

 

 

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Ainmean-àite 5Beurla agus Beurla Ghallda /

Placenames 5: English and Scots

 

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/07/01/2013-an-t-iuchar-ainmean-aite-4-beurla-is-beurla-ghallda-july-placenames-4-english-and-scots/

 

Mar a chunnaic sinn mar-thà, ‘s e eachdraidh fhada agus gu ìre chaochlaideach a bha aig Machair Rois. Ach tha aon rud ann a bha seasmhach: bha an-còmhnaidh ùidh mhòr aig luchd-riaghlaidh na h-eaglaise agus na stàite anns an dùthaich thorraich fhasgaich aig ceann Linne Mhoireibh. Bha cudromachd ro-innleachdail aig an làrach seo – dh’fheumadh feadhainn a bha a’ strì airson cumhachd poilitigiche, armailtiche, eaconamiche no cràbhaiche air a’ Ghàidhealtachd, air tìr no air muir, bunait a stèidheachadh an sin. Thàinig na daoine seo – rìghrean, uaislean, easbaigean, seanailearan, marsantan – no na riochdairean aca, gu tric à ceann a deas na h-Alba (no fiù ‘s na b’ fhaide air falbh) agus ri ùine thàinig Beurla Gallda no Beurla còmhla riutha.

Chì sinn air na seann mhapaichean (Pont, Blaeu ammsa) gu bheil mòran chruthan Beurla aig ainmean-àite far an robh cruth Gàidhlig aig muinntir na sgìre: Abbotshaven seach Port an Ab, Hilton seach Baile a’ Chnuic, Castle Tarbat seach

Caisteal Baile an Lòin, agus ri ùine nochdaidh eiseimpleiren ùra air na mapaichean: Mounteagle seach Cnoc na h-Iolaire, Broomton seach Baile a’ Bhealaidh, agus -fields gun chrìoch. Fhuair na sgrìobadairean-mapa fios bho dhaoine ‘cudromach’ an àite, nach robh gu trice às an sgìre fhèin, fiù ‘s nam b’ e daoine foghlaimte agus fiosrachail a bh’ annta – ministearan, luchd-teagaisg, fir-lagha amsaa. ‘S dòcha gun robh iad den bheachd gur e ainmean ‘nas fheàrr’, nas fheumaile no fiù ‘s nas sìobhailichte a bh’ anns na h-eadar-theangaidhean seo, agus ri ùine bhiodh cuid de mhuinntir na sgìre a’ creidsinn seo cuideachd, agus iad a’ cleachdadh Beurla co-dhiù airson ghnothaichean na b’ fhoirmeile.

Thug luchd na Beurla seo, no in-imrichean saidhbhreachailas an dèidh (no uaislean ionadail ‘Beurlaichte’), ainmean le brìgh phearsanta air na dachaighean agus oighreachdan aca cuideachd: Brucefield seach Cnoc an Tighearna, Arabella seach Am Bog, Ankerville seach Cinn-dèis (Kindeace), Petley, Kimberley, amssa.

Ach bha buaidh na Beurla Gallda ann cuideachd, an dà chuid bho rùnairean is eile às a’ Ghalltachd aig àm nam manachainnean ‘s nan rìghrean, ‘s dòcha ri fhaicinn

ann an Hiltoun, Newtoun, Meikle Rany (mapa aig Pont c. 1590), agus bhon fheadhainn eile a thàinig tro na linntean nan tuathanaich, ceàrdan agus iasgairean – Hirsel (croit-caorach bheag), Skinnerton, Fishertown, Carse of Bayfield. Thàinig na daoine sin, à Moireibh no na b’ fhaide gu deas, a dh’obair, gu ìre mhòr, chan ann a riaghladh, agus bha iadsan a’ fuireach taobh ri taobh le muinntir Ghàidhealach na sgìre. Tha e coltach gur e sin an t-adhbhar air an uabhas de dh’ainmean le eilamaidean measgaichte – ainmean Gàidhlig le facal Beurla no Beurla Gallda air a chur riutha – mar Little Tarrel, Easter Rarichie, Lower Pitcalzean, Loans of Fearn, Clay of Allan, Balnapaling, Nigg Mains, amsaa.

Ann an Ros an Ear, agus ann am Machair Rois gu h-àraidh, tha stòras air leth pailt de dh’fhianaisean eachdraidheil, cruinn-eòlach agus sòisealta anns na h-ainmean àite. Le bhith a’ sealltainn gu mionaideach air mapa OS an latha an-diugh, gheibh sinn a-mach cò na sluaghan a bha ann, dè na cànan a bhathar a’ bruidhinn, dè an obair a bha aig na daoine tro na linntean, cò aig a bha cumhachd phoiliteagach no eaglaiseil, agus cuin, agus cò ris a bha am fearann coltach linntean air ais. Bha agus tha am pìos fearainn seo tlachdmhor is luachmhor do dhaoine bhon taobh a-muigh.

Tha am mapa ag atharrachadh fhathast; air mapaichean OS nas ùire chì sinn na h-ainmean as aosta còmhla ris an fheadhainn nas nuaidhe: Pitcalzean agus Balnabruaich dlùth ri taobh ainmean mar Nigg Oil Terminal Graving Dock agus Helipad. Agus ann an cuid bhliadhnaichean eile, leis an leasachadh as ùire san sgìre, ‘s dòcha gum bi seo ag atharrachadh a-rithist, agus sinn a’ sealltainn air mapa Ros an Ear air a bheil aon uair eile Cnoc a’ Mhuilinn Ghaoithe.

 

Placenames 5: English and Scots

 

http://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2013/07/01/2013-an-t-iuchar-ainmean-aite-4-beurla-is-beurla-ghallda-july-placenames-4-english-and-scots/

As we have already seen, Easter Ross has had a long and fairly colourful history. But one thing has remained constant: there has always been immense interest on the part of church and state rulers in the fertile sheltered land at the head of the Moray Firth. This site was of strategic importance; anyone who was battling for political, military, economic or religious control of the Highlands, by land or sea, had to establish a base here. These people – kings, nobles, bishops, generals, merchants – or their representatives all came into the area, often from the south of Scotland (or even further afield), and in the course of time the Lowland Scots or English languages came with them.

We see on the old maps from the 1590s on (Pont, Blaeu etc) that there were many English forms suddenly appearing for places which already had Gaelic names as used by the local population: Abbotshaven instead of Port an Ab , Hilton instead of Baile a’ Chnuic, Castle Tarbat instead of Baile an Lòin (Ballone). Over time new specimens appeared on the maps: Mounteagle instead of Cnoc na Iolaire, Broomton instead of Baile a’ Bhealaidh, and umpteen placenames ending in -field. The map-makers got their information from the ‘important’ folk of the area, who often weren’t locals, even if they were educated, well-informed individuals such as ministers, teachers, lawyers etc. Maybe they actually believed that these Anglicised versions were ‘better’, more useful, or even more ‘civilised’, and over time maybe even some of the locals began to believe that too, as they had already started using English for more formal business.

These English-speakers, and later gentry incomers (or Anglicised local gentry) also gave their homes or estates names with personal significance to them: Brucefield instead of the existing name Cnoc an Tighearna (The Lord’s Hill), Arabella instead of Am Bog, Ankerville instead of Cinn-dèis (Kindeace), Petley, Kimberley etc.

But there was a Scots influence too, both from court administrators and others from the Lowlands at the time of the monasteries and the kings, probably as seen in the names Hiltoun, Newtoun, Meikle Rany on Pont’s map of 1590, and also from those who came over the centuries as farmers or farmworkers, tradesmen and fishermen: Hirsel (small sheep croft), Skinnerton, Fishertown, Carse of Bayfield etc. These people from Moray and further south came, to a large extent, as ordinary workers rather than administrators, and they would have lived side-by-side with the local Gaelic-speaking population. It’s likely that that is the reason for the large number of mixed names with Gaelic roots and English or Scots appendages, like Little Tarrel, Easter Rarichie, Lower Picalzean, Loans of Fearn, Clay of Allan, Balnapaling, Nigg Mains etc.

In Easter Ross, and especially on the Seaboard, there’s a wealth of historical, geographical and social evidence in the local placenames. If we look closely at the OS maps even today, we can find out which peoples lived there in the past, what languages were spoken, what work people did there over the centuries, who had the political or ecclesiastical power (and when), and what the land looked like centuries back. This piece of the country was and still is attractive and valuable to those from outside its borders.

The map is still changing. On recent OS maps we see the oldest names side by side with modern ones: Pitcalzean and Balnabruaich close to names like ‘Nigg Oil Terminal Graving Dock‘ and ‘Helipad‘. And it may not be long before that changes again, and (given the latest developments) somewhere on the map of Easter Ross we will once again have a Cnoc a’ Mhuillinn Ghaoithe – Windmill Hill.

 

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