Avoch Parish Place Names
Attribution: Collage by Siobhan Fraser
Avoch – Baronia de Auach 1328 ; Auauch 1338 (Reg. Mor.) ; Alvach 1493 ; Awoch 1558 ; G.Obh’ch (for Abhach with change of a to o), from O. Ir. ab, later abh, a river, with -ach suffix : River-place. Cf. Loch Awe, Gael. Loch Obha, described by Adamnan as “stagnum fluminis Abae,” the loch of the river Aba. The stream on which Avoch stand he Goossburn” in connection with “the Goosswell of Killeane.”
Rosehaugh – A name imposed by Sir George Mackenzie towards the end of the 17th century. The old name was Petconachy 1456 ; Petquhonochty 1458 ; Pettenochy 1526 ; Petconnoquhy 1527 (with a mill), i.e., Pit Dhonnachaidh, Duncan’s stead. The spot where the gardens of Rosehaugh house now stand is still known as Pairc an Leothaid, Hill-side Park.
Castleton – Castletoun 1456 ; G. Bail’ a’ Chaisteil, from Ormond Castle hard by. The ruins of this once great and important seat may still be seen on Ormond Hill, also known as Ladyhill, from the fact that there was a chapel on or near it dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Reg.Sec. Sig. 1528). The castle of Ormond appears to have belonged to the De Moravia or Moray family from thirteenth century times, but there is little mention of it in records subsequent to the middle of the fourteenth. Frequent mention, however, is found of the Moot-hill (mons) of Ormond, in connection with the titles of Earl, Marquis, and Duke of Ormond.
Muiralehouse – Muirailhouse 1611 explains itself.
Halloch – G. ? (S)halach ; doubtful.
Lochala – G. Loch-ala, an obscure name,but cf. Welsh ‘alaw,’ water-lily.
Bennetsfield – Bennatfeld 1456 ; Bennatisfelde 1458 ; Bannathfield 1527 ; Bannagefield 1541 ; Bennetisfield 1548 ; G. Baile Bhenneit, Town of Bennet, i.e., St Benedict. Near it is Clach Bhenneit, Bennet’s stone, immediately below which is the holy well called Tobar Chragag, well of the little reck, still frequented on the first Sabbath of May.
Ballone – G. Bail an loin, town of the wet meadow.
Corrachie – G. Corrachaidh, from corrach, steep.
Arcandeith – Arkyndwycht 1586 ; Auchindeuch 1611 ; Arcanduth 1641 ; G. Arcan-duibh, Black Arcan ; cf. Arcan, Urray. Here ‘duibh’ is obviously a translation of arcan, the black place. On the place are the ruins of a small fortalice, whence the local explanation, airc-Eoin-dhuibh, Black John’s ark, or fortress. A Highland reaver, Black John has been evolved to lend colour to this piece of popular etymology, but the phonetics do not suit.
Newton – ? Newton 1456 ; G. am baile nodha.
Insch – The Inch 1576 ; G. an i’s, the meadow (innis).
Rhives – G. given as (1) na Ruighean, the slopes ; (2) (ann an) Ruigheas. The latter may be a Gaelic pronunciation of the English form. Rhives in Kilmuir is ‘na Ruigheannan ;’ Rhives, Golspie, na Ruigheach.
Coulnagour – G. Cuil nan gobhar, goats’ nook.
Killen – Kyllayn circ. 1338 Killan 1456; Killane 1524; G. Cill – Annaidh or Cill – Fhannaidh. The Gaelic form puts Cill-fhinn, White-church. or Church of St. Fionn out of the question, and there seems to be no saint whose name will suit the dedication. St. Anne, which would suit the phonetics, is hardly to be thought of on Gaelic ground.
Near Killen is Cnoc-an-teampuill, temple-hill.
Auchterflow – Ochtercloy 1456, Achtirflo 1560, Ochtercloy 1568; G. Uachdar-chlo. Clo is glossed by O’Mulconry ‘gaoth’, wind. In the Psalms we have ‘clo codail’, ‘vapour’ of sleep. The word appears to be obsolete in spoken Gaelic, but ‘windy upland’ gives good sense.
Buntata proinnt’ is bainne leo
Baidh bodaich Uachdar-chlo !
Pookandraw – G. bog an t-strath, Strath-bog, in the strath of auchterflow.
Blairfoid (really pron. Blairwhyte) – Blairfoyde 1627; G. Blar-choighde, Moor of Coit, with which may be compared Erchite, Dores, G. Airchoighd. This spelling represents the Gaelic pronunciation of the doubtless Pictish name, which may, perhaps, be compared with Teutonic hag, hedge.
Shawpark – G. Pairc an t-seadh; doubtful.
Ordhill – G. Cnoc an uird.
Templand – Tempilland 1586; no Gaelic found.
Geddeston – G. Baile na’ gaedas; ?town of the tufty heads.
Pitfuir – Pethfouyr circ.1338, Petfure 1456; Petfuyr, with its mill called Denemylne, 1526; G. Pit-fhuir, Pasture-stead, a Pictish name; cf. Dochfour, Balfour, Pitfure (Rogart), Inchfuir, and Porin. The mill is now called the Mill of Den.
Lochlaichley – G. Loch Ligh, spate-loch; cf. Loch Ligh in contin. Achalee appears min 1458.
Bog of Shannon – Boigschangie 1586; G. Bog na’ seannan, ?seann athan, bog of the old fords.
No Gaelic has been found for the following:- Crosshill, Tourie-lum, Gracefield, Knockmuir, Coldhome, Limekilns.
Place Names of Avoch Parish
This extract was taken, with the permission of the Trustees, from Prof. W.J. Watson’s – ‘Place Names of Ross and Cromarty’. The most recent edition of this work was published by HIGHLAND HERITAGE BOOKS Tir nan Oran, 8 Culcairn Road, Evanton IV16 9YT
Place Names of Ross and Cromarty p132