Kiltearn Place Names

Attribution: Photo copyright S. Fraser

Kiltearn Place Names

Kiltierny 1227,
Keltyern 1296;
G. Cilltighearn.
Usually explained as ‘Lord’s Kirk’, either in the sense of Church dedicated to the Lord, or from some early chief of the Munros having been buried there. As for the first of these explanations, there seems to be no parallel for such a dedication, though we find indeed Gill Chriosd. As to the second, the burying-place of the family of Fowlis, from the earliest times of which we have any record, was in the Chanonry of Ross, and it is in any case extremely improbable that the church should receive its designation from the burial of a chief. A third theory is a dedication to St Ternan, who is supposed to have been a contemporary and pupil of Palladius. This also is unsatisfactory, for though Ternan’s name is preserved in Banchory-Ternan, dedications to him are extremely rare, and, moreover, it is difficult to see how Ternan would suit the phonetics, for the last syllable, ‘-an’ could hardly have been dropped. The most feasible explanation is a dedication to Tighernach, cf. Kiltierny in Ireland with Kiltierny 1227.

The parish includes in its western part the old parish of
Lemnelar 1227,
Lymnolar and Lumlar 1548;
G. Luim na làr luim, locative of lòm, a bare surface; làr is most probably genitive plural of làir, mare; làr, the ground, not being suitable in respect of meaning and gender.
Names from the various words for ‘horse’ – each, capull, marc- are very common, arising. from the old practice of keeping the horses on a pasture by themselves; cf. Glenmark, Glenmarkie, Ardincaple, Kincaple, Caplich, Dalneich. The church of Lumlair, according to the Old Statistical Account dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and in modern times known as St Mary’s Chapel, stood at Lumlair near the sea-shore. The site referred to is close by the roadside, about two and a-half miles east of Dingwall. The foundations of the chapel are still visible, with an ancient and now disused burying-ground, called Cladh ma-Bhrì (Kilmabryd, Blaeu). This burying-ground is doubtless called after the saint to whom the chapel was dedicated, and who, moreover, from the above well-known modern Gaelic form of the name, could not have been Mary. Blaeu’s Kilmabryd suggests Bridget, but her name in Gaelic is always Brìd, never Brì. The only name that satisfies the phonetics is Bríg, later Brìgh. There were at least two Irish female saints so called.

G. Fólais (narrow o);
cf Allt Fólais in Gairloch (Loch Maree) ,
Foulis in Aberdeen (G. FóIais),
Fowlis in Perth,
Fowlis in Forfar.
The oldest forms of all are similar to the modern. The phonetics indicate a lost ‘g’ or ‘d’ before ‘l’, which suggests fo-glais, foghlais, from fo, under, and O.G. glas, water, ‘Sub-water’, or ‘Streamlet ‘; cf. for, meaning Welsh ‘goffrwd’, streamlet, the philological G. equivalent of which is ‘fo-sruth’. (For the phonetic process involved, cf: ‘foghnadh’, sufficiency, from O. Ir. fognam.) A small burn, Allt Fólais, runs through the Glen of Fowlis, and there are burns near all the other places of the same name.

G. Druimein, locative of drum, ridge; cf: Drymen, in Stirling.

Balkenny 1333 and 1341; (see note 1)
G. Bailcnidh, based on baile, strong; Welsh balch, proud; for the extensions of the root cf. Delny. The Gaelic form is decisive against baile, a town or stead, and compels me regretfully to give up a former identification (by myself) of Balkenny of 1333 with Petkenny of 1281 (see note 2 ) The traditional explanation is Baile Còmhnuidh, dwelling place, to wit, of the Earls of Ross; but the meaning cannot be other than ‘the strong place’.

Teanord– G. Tigh ‘n ùird, Ord-house.

Keatoll 1608;
G. Cìadail; Norse kvi, fold; dalr, dale; cf. kvia-bolr, milking place; kvia-bekkr, fold-beck.

Sweredull 1479;
G. Suardal; Norse svöror, sward; dalr, dale.
Note 1. Charters granted at Balkenny by Hugh, Earl of Ross, and by William, Earl of Ross.
Note 2. In 1281 William, Earl of Ross, granted a quarter of land, which was called Petkenny, to the Bishop of Moray. Petkenny cannot be located.

Balachladich – Shore- town.

G. Aird-ilidh; the latter part may represent’ ileach,’ variegated, in which sense may be compared the uses of breac, riabhach, ballach, blàr; ‘speckled height’. Dìlinn, as in leac dhìlinn, natural rock, will not suit, as the i of Aird-ilidh is short.

Pellock 1583;
G. Peallaig.
Rob Donn uses ‘peallag’ in the sense of ‘rough garment’ – dimin. of ‘peall’, hairy skin, borrowed from Latin pellis, hide. But the meaning is not satisfactory as a place-name, and the word may be non-Gaelic – as is indeed suggested by the initial ‘p’. ‘Peallaidh’ is a Pictish river-name, seen in Obair-pheallaidh, Aberfeldy. Peallaidh is used in Lewis as the name of a water-sprite. (Cf. German quell, a spring.)

Clachan Biorach
‘Pointed’ or ‘standing’ stones they consist of two equal ovals joined to each other, and are described minutely by the late Mr Roderick Maclean in his “Notes on the Parish of Kiltearn” (Gaelic Society Transactions XV). North of the Clachan Biorach is Cnoc an Teampuill, Temple Hill. There are also Clachan Biorach at the head of Clare.

Fliuch leathad, wet hillside, with -aidh ending.

Bogginduiry 1696;
G. Bog an dùbh- raidh, gloomy bog.

Culbin-Back of the hill.

Octobeg – G. An t-ochdamh beag, the small octave, i.e., eighth part of a davach; cf. Ochto, Kincardine.

Cnoc Vabin – G. Cnoc Mhàbairn, a name showing the good Celtic termination -ernos, but otherwise obscure; perhaps a personal name.

Fuaranbuy – Yellow-well.

Strongarve – Rough nose or point.

Skiach (water) –
Scraiskeith 1479;
G. Allt na sgitheach;
O. Ir. sce, G. sgeach, hawthorn; a common element in names; cf. Altnaskiach, near Inverness.

Culnaskiach – Culnaskeath 1546; nook of the Skiach, or of the hawthorn.

Teachatt (so, 1608) – G. Tigh-chait, Cat-house; cf. Cadboll.

Knockancuirn – Cnocan, dimin. of cnoc; caorunn – rowan.

Rhidorach – Ruigh, slope; dorach, dark; dark slope.

Clare – Clearmoir 1608; G. An Clàr; but also, anns na Clàr; clàr, board, hence a fiat place. But cf. Poll na’ alar in Alness.

Gortan – G. Goirtean, small field of corn

Knockantoul – Barn-hill.

Druim – Ridge.

Achleach – Achlich 1608; Achleich 1633; G. Achleitheich, locative of “ach-leitheach” half-field, i.e. field on a hill side. A cold sunless place.

Sgorr a’ Chléi’ – Creel peak; an exceedingly steep piece of land, where, according to tradition, manure, etc., had to be carried in creels.

Gleann and Meall na Speireig – Glen and Hill of the Sparrow-hawk – ‘speireag’.

An Socach – The Snouted Hill; a spur of Wyvis.

Cabar Fuais-The Antler of Wyvis.

Allt nan Caorach – Altnagerrack 1608; sheep-burn; its precipitous sides are dangerous for sheep.

Loch Glass and Glen Glass
O.G. glas, water; cf. R. Glass in Strathglass;
Douglas Water, where Eng. ‘water’ is a translation of ‘glas’; Glenfin- glas (fionn-glas. white-water). Findglais and Dubglas appear in a list of ‘healing waters’ in Ireland (O’Curry, M. and C. III. 97). Dub glas (Blackwater) is somewhat disguised in Inveruglas (L. Lomond). The river flowing through Glenglass is called in its lower reaches, where it passes through the famous chasm of the Black Rock, the Allt-grannda, Ugly Burn. The old name, at least of the upper part, must have been Glass. The river flowing into Loch Glass is now known as Abhainn nan èun, Bird-river (O.S.M.)

Corrievachie – G. Coire-bhacaidh, an old locative of Coire-bhacach, bent corry.

Cuilishie – G. Caolaisidh, the narrows. “The narrow passage at the lower end of Loch Glass. Here is the ford of the old drove road that passed that way.” – Mr R. Maclean. cf. Lienassie.

Kinloch – At the eastern end of Loch Glass.

Eileanach – Place of islands; it lies low by the river side, and is liable to be flooded.

Allt na Cailce – Chalk Burn; on its right bank is considerable deposit of lime, which is constantly added to by a tiny rivulet.

Cnoc a’ Mhargadaidh – Market Hill. There is a tradition of a market, which is probably correct, in view of the nearness of the old drove road from Sutherland. Certain enclosures near the foot of the hill may be explained as connected with this market, or they may be very much older. There are numerous small cairns and some fine hut circles. There are traces of a road leading to the top, and on the top is black earth with charcoal fragments. At least one flint has been found on the top.

Coneas – The remarkable double waterfall below Eileanach. Con, together; eas, waterfall: ‘combination of falls’; cf. Conachreig, Contullich, Contin, Conval, Conchra, Conglas, Conaglen.

Clon 1231,
Clonys, 1264,
Clyne 1350-1372 ;
G. an Claon. the slope; now Mountgerald. ‘Amadan a’ Chlaoin’ (the Fool of Clyne) was a well-known character in the earlier half of the 19th century.

Kilchoan – Church of St. Congan, now Mountrich.

Loch nan Ambaichean
Loch of the Necks;
Loch Gobhlach (O.S.M. Loch nan Gobhlag) , Forked Loch;
Loch Coire Feuchain (?);
Feur Lochan, Grassy Lochlet;
Loch Bealach nan Cuilean;
Loch na’ Druidean (O.S.M. Lochan Driogan) , Loch of the Starlings:
Loch Mhiosaraidh (O.S.M. Loch Measach), Loch of dairy produce, are all in the uplands of the parish.

Allt Dubhag – The small black burn.

Ath a’ bhealaich eidheannaich – Ford of the ivy- pass.

Balnacrae – G. baile na crè, cf. Jay-town.

Culcairn – G. Cul-chàirn, behind the cairn; the cairn exists no longer.

Dun-ruadh – Red fort.

Teandallan – Explained by Mr Maclean as “house of swingle-trees or plough-yokes”. “A carpenter lived here, who made a trade of them.” Dallan also means a winnowing-fan.

Altnalait – G. allt na làthaid, burn of the miry place; near Tulloch, and at the western boundary of Kiltearn. Based on root of làthach, mire, with ending seen in Bialid, &c.

Modern names are:

G. Bail’ Eoghainn, or am bail’ ùr, New- town, as opposed to the old village of Drummond on the west side of the river. Evanton dates from about 1800.

Part of Swordale; formerly am Bogriabhach, brindled bog

Mountgerald, formerly Clyne, so called, says Mr Maclean, by a Mackenzie who owned the place about the middle of the 18th century, in honour of the supposed Fitzgerald descent of the Mackenzies.

Obsolete are:
Arbisak, 1608, and
Badnagarne – a pertinent of Keatoll.

Place Names of Kiltearn 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 p85 – 92

Place Names of Ross and Cromarty

Please submit your comment

Do you have any more information about any of the content on this page.

Your comments are always welcome: