Urray Place Names
Attribution: not recorded or unknown
Kingis Urray c. 1560;
The New Stat. Acc. suggests ùr-àth, new ford, from the tendency of the rapid Orrin, near which the church and churchyard are situated, to shift its fords. This, however, does not satisfy the phonetics either in respect of the quantity of the ‘u’ or the quality of the ‘r.’ The first syllable is rather the preposition ‘ air,’ O. Ir. ar, air, Gaulish are-, meaning ‘ before,’ and cognate with the English ‘fore.’ In Gael. compounds it appears as ‘ur-‘ in ‘ur-chair,’ a shot (i.e., something cast forward), ‘ur-sainn,’ a doorpost (i.e., something standing forward), ‘ear-ball’ or ‘ur-ball,’ a tail. It is seen in such Gaulish names as Are-brignus (‘brig,’ hill) and Are-morica (‘mor,’ sea.) The second part may possibly be ‘àth,’ a ford, which would give the not very satisfactory sense of ‘projecting ford’; more probably it is ‘ràth, a circular enclosure or fort, ‘fore-fort,’ or, ‘fort on a projecting place.’ For phonetics cf. urradh, person, security, = air + ráth (Macbain).
G. Brathainn, as if loc. of bràth, a quern. W. brenan, handmill); “place of the quern” is the local tradition, which may be correct.
G. Tollaidh, from ‘toll,’ hole.
There was a chapel and also a burying-ground at Tollie: Cf. Tollie, Ardross, and Tollie, Gairloch.
G. Baile Shiamais.
Bealach nan Còrr: Cranes’ pass.
Half davach of Moy 1370,
le Moye 1479,
Moymore 1542; G. a’ mhuaigh, locative case of magh, a plain.
Moy Bridge is Drochaid Mhuaigh, and the ferry which existed before the bridge was Port Mhuaigh (Moy, Inverness, is a’ Mhoigh).
Ussie (loch and district):
Lytill Usui and Mekill Usui 1583;
G. ùsaidh; an obscure name, Pictish or pre-Pictish.
G. Baile ‘n fhàin, from ‘fàn,’ a low-lying place or gentle slope, not uncommon in place names; cf. na fàna, the Fendom (Tain); am fàin Braonach (Aultbea), Forsinain (Sutherland).
The two Ferburnys 1476,
Eistir Farbrawne 1538,
Avon Forbarin (Orrin River), Blaeu;
G. Farabraoin, or simply Braoin;
from ‘far,’ over, as in Cnoc Farrail, and braon, water, which in place-names is used to denote a wet spot, eg. Brin, Daviot, G. Braoin; cf. Lochbroom.
from Old Gael. ‘arc,’ black; Welsh ‘erch,’ dusky.
In a West Highland Fingalian tale, one of the characters is Arc dubh, where ‘dubh’ is a translation of ‘arc,’ Cf. Loch Arklet, in Stirling; Loch Arkaig, in Inverness-shire; and Arkendeith, in Black Isle.
G. Ach-da-bhannag, field of two cakes.
G. Allt-gobhraidh, Goat burn.
The regular Gaelic form would of course be Allt nan gobhar; but the formation seen here is not uncommon in Easter Ross; cf. Invergowrie, identified by Dr Reeves with “flumen Gobriat in Pictavia,” Act SS. Mart. II., P. 449.
G. Bail’ an lòin, town of the low damp place.
Tigh ‘n fhraoich, Heather-house.
Auchnasowle 1542 – Barnfield.
G. An Gàradh dubh, of which the English is a translation.
G. Clach-thuill, Hollowed stone.
The name comes from a stone hollowed out as if for ‘crocking’ barley; ‘clach an eorna,’ the barley stone-which may still be seen at the Inn of Clachuil. Cf. Clach-toll in Assynt.
G. Cnoc an airbh; cf. Cornhill in Strathcarron (Ardgay), formerly Knockinarrow.
it lies between the Gowrie burn and the Orrin, not far from their junction. The meaning is obviously ‘the field between’ (eadar), but the last syllable is puzzling. Perhaps with the extension of ‘eadar’ shown in Auchederson, we may compare ‘tarsuinn,’ from ‘tar,’ across, and ‘ur-sainn,’ from ‘air,’ before, in both of which the ending represents a primitive ‘-stan,’ from root ‘sta,’ to stand.
Point of the fold or enclosure; on the opposite side of the Orrin is
Cnoc an òir: – Gold Hill.
Duncan’s field. In the birch wood south east of it is Cnocan nam Brat, hillock of the mort-cloths, near a very small burying-ground, now disused and nameless.
Cadha bàn, white steep path.
Ruigh an dùin: Slope or stretch of Dun; adjacent to Dunmore.
G. Tigh an dalach, House of the dale; cf. Ballindalloch.
Aradie (in Glenorrin): G. Aradaidh.
It is at the junction with the Orrin of a stream flowing from a loch marked on the O.S.M. Loch Annraidh, but which is locally called Loch Aradaidh. The stream is also Allt Aradaidh. Aradie is thus a stream name, and we are safe in comparing it with Inverarity (Inuerarethin 1250), in Forfar, now the name of a parish, but primarily the junction of the Arity streamlet with a small burn. There is also Arity Den in Fife. The various streams Arity are probably to be connected with the Gaulish river Arar, of which Caesar says that its current is extremely slow that the eye can hardly distinguish in which direction it flows. This again points to the root seen in the Welsh ‘araf,’ slow, still. Another Gaulish stream, apparently from same root, is the Arabo, and there is a personal name Arabus. The ending is not uncommon on Pictish ground.
Great fort; there is a hill fort, of the usual type.
Taruedal 1240, 1278;
Constable of Tarradale 1278;
Ouchterwaddale and Onachtervadale 1275-94;
Norse ‘tarfr-dalr,’ bull dale.
Bail’ a’ mhadaidh, Dog’s or Wolf’s town.
from Hugh Baillie, son of a former proprietor; formerly ‘Cnocan cruaidh.’
Balnoknok and Hiltoun of Tarradaill 1586;
Kylchristan 1569: ‘ Christ’s Kirk.’
G. Bail’ a’ bhlàir, town on the plain.
cf. Kinkell Clairsair 1527;
G. Càrn a’ Chlàrsair, the Harper’s cairn.1
Recent and English.
Height of the crossings.
‘Crasg’ is usually applied to a crossing place in the hills; cf. Cnoc chroisg, Boath, Alness. Here, however, it is locally explained as from the old system, practised in Ardnagrask up to comparatively recent times, of cross rigs. On this system the arable land of the township was held in common, and allotments of rigs made at fixed periods in such a way that no two adjacent rigs fell to the same man, the idea being that so every man got his fair share of good and bad land. This is likely to be correct, and is favoured by the fact that in Ardnagrask ‘crasg’ is genitive plural, not singular as is usual elsewhere.
G. Cnoc a’ bhealaidh, or An cnoc bealaidh.
G. Caiplich; from ‘capull,’ horse, or mare-‘place of the horses’; a name of frequent occurrence.
G. Croit an àilein, croft of the green flat.
Balavullich: Bail’ a’ mhullaich, town of the summit.
A pathetic attempt at G. torr a’ phris draigheann, hillock of the thorn-bush.
The back place.
a word of doubtful meaning, which may perhaps be compared with Achiarnaig (Aviemore).
G. Glaic an dubhaig, hollow of the small black burn; ‘dubhag’ is a fairly common burn name.
G. Bail’ an t-seipeil.
The farm of Dreim (ridge) has swallowed up some small holdings such as Culblair, where some friends of Ewen Maclachlan’s once lived, while modestly curtailing its own ancient name to a monosyllable. A reference to Blaeu’s and Pont’s maps shows it to be identical with Hilculdrum 1476, Kynculadrum 1479, Kilquhilladrum 1707. With the old forms may be compared Kincaldrum, in Inverarity, Forfar; Kingoldrum, Forfar.
Esche (waterfall) of Balbrait 1527,
G. Bail’ a’ bhraghaid,
town of the upper part.
Tormuick: Swine’s hill.
G. an thèith bhàite, drowned, or wet bog.
Am baile nodha, new town.
Le Ord 1479;
G. An t-Ord;
Muir of Ord is Am Blàr Dubh. Near it are standing stones called ‘na clachan seasaidh.’
G. Bail’ a’ mhuilinn.
G. Tigh na crìche, march house.
G. Coire shaillidh, fat corry; noted for its grass; cf. Coire feòil, Contin. In Corriehallie Forest is Creag a’ Bhainne, Milking-rock.
Anglicised form of Drochaid riabhan, or Drochaid cheann a’ riabhain, connected with
G. Ceann a’ riabhain; ‘riabhain’ is a derivative from root of ‘riabhach,’ meaning ‘dappled, speckled place.’
G. an Leithdach, i.e., leith dabhach, half davach.
There are several Lettoch’s. Cf. Haddo, in Aberdeen, from Half-davach; Lettoch, Knockbain.
G. Tigh an t-sluic, bog-house; also given as Tigh-an-luig, house of the ‘lag’ or hollow.
G. Clais an torrain, hollow of the hillock.
G. Tigh na fidhle, Fiddle-house.
G. Doire Mhurchaidh, Murdoch’s copse.
Sron na saobhaidh:
Point of the den.
A hill at the entrance to Glen Orrin, with a large cairn on top, locally asserted to mark the grave of Judas! The ending; ais (open ‘a’) is that noted above in Kinnettes, and means ‘place of.’ The meaning of the root ùd-must be conjectural; but cf. Welsh ‘ud,’ howl, blast, which suggest ‘place of blasts’-appropriate in point of sense.
Cuthaill Bheag and Cuthaill Mhòr.
? N. kùafjall, cow-fell. Hills near Cnoc-ùdais.
G. Abhainn Orthainn, which would point to a primitive Orotonna or perhaps Orsonna. We may perhaps compare the Orrin with such names as the Fifeshire Ore, with which has been connected Ptolemy’s Orrea, a town of the Vernicones; and with Or-obis, a river of Gallia Narbonensis; there was also a Gaulsih highland tribe called the Orobii. The root syllable in all seems to be ‘or,’ which may or may not be the same as Latin ‘or-ior,’ start. The Orrin is notorious for shifting its channel during the sudden spates to which it is liable. The junction of the Orrin and the Conon is Poll a’ choire, kettle-pool. Cf. Joyce II., 432.
Place Names of Urray 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 p104 onwards