Contin Parish Place Names
Attribution: unknown (Old bridge at Contin, c. 1812)
Contin is primarily the district at the confluence of the rivers Conon and Blackwater; from this the name has been extended to cover the extensive Highland parish which stretches from Contin proper to the neighbourhood of Kinlochewe. The Old Stat. Acc. suggests as a derivation ‘con-tuinn’ from ‘con’, together, and ‘tonn’, wave, meaning ‘meeting of the waves’, an explanation which satisfies the phonetics; cf. Contullich, from ‘con’ and ‘tualach’. The question, however, is whether ‘tonn’ would be naturally applied to the water of a river, and it will, I think, be agreed that such a usage would be very difficult to parallel, ‘tonn’ being, except in the language of poetic metaphor, confined to the waves of the sea. The first syllable is certainly ‘con’, together, and the meaning is doubtless something like ‘confluence’. If we turn to Gaul, we find that the mstock name for a confluence is Condate, represented in modern French by Condé. This name appears often on the map of ancient Gaul at the junction of streams, and we find also Condatomagus, plain of the confluence, as well as Condatisco. In ancient Britain, Condate appears once, at the junction of the ? Weaver (Cheshire) with a small stream. The word is analysed into ‘con’ and the root ‘dhe’, set, a root familiar in Latin and Greek, the etymological equivalent of Condate being in Greek ‘syn-thesis’, and in late Latin ‘con-ditio’, from ‘condo’, a setting together. It is tolerably certain that in Contin we have the representative of some such word as ‘Condationn-‘, an extension of Condate. As a Scottish place-name, Contin, though rare, is not unique. Dr Macbain, in his Badenoch Place-names, notes that Killiehuntly in Badenoch is in Gaelic “Coille Chunndainn’, the Wood of Contin, and refers also to Contuinn in Ireland, on the borders of Meath and Cavan. There is also Bohuntin in Glenroy, Gaelic Both-chunndainn. Both these Scottish names apply to confluences. Cf. also Confluentes, now Coblenz.
Hechely (Easter and Wester) 1528,
the two Achelies 1529,
The ‘t’ of the English form is late and euphonic, and appears also in Achiltybuy, in Coigach. Achilty is a Pictish name, of the same origin as Welsh ‘uchel’, Ptolemy’s High Bank. The variation between ‘o’ and ‘a’ is common; cf. Scone, old Gaelic Scoan, genitive Scòine; modern Gaelic Sgàin.
alehouse of Coul 1576;
Essy Coull and the mill of the same 1586;
Escoule (Waterfall of Coull) 1669;
G. a’ Chùil, the corner, recess.
from ‘comar’, confluence, meaning Place of the confluence. The confluence is that of the Conon from Lochluichart, and the Meig from Strathconan. Cf. Comar in Strathglass, Comrie in Perthshire, and elsewhere. It appears also in Cumbernauld, i.e. ‘comar-nan-allt’, where it has developed a ‘b’, just like the English ‘number’ from Latin ‘numerus’. There is a Combaristum in Gaul, on a tributary of the Liger.
Scathole Mekle 1479;
the two Scatellis 1529;
G. Scatail beag and Scatail mòr;
from Norse scat-völlr, i.e. common grazing land, the holders of which paid scat or tax for the grazing privileges.
? Strathconon 1309,
The initial difficulty about Strathconon is that its river, which by all analogy ought to be the Conon, is the Meig. There is a local saying –
Abhainn Mìg tre Srach-chonuinn,
Abhainn Conuinn tre Srath-bhrainn,
Abhainn Dubh-chuileagach tre Srath-gairbh;
Tri abhnaichean gun tiarbh iad sin.
The River Meig through Strathconan,
The River Conon through Strathbran,
The River of black nooksÝ through Strathgarve;
Three rivers without profit these.
Possibly ‘River of black flies’.
The omission of the two last words of the fourth line would be an improvement; but I give it as I got it, and it is a hard saying at best. In the first place, Strathbran has a river of its own, the Bran, which, as is proper, gives its name to its strath. The head waters of the Bran come from the watershed west of Loch Chroisg (Loch Rosque), and the river is called Bran the moment it leaves that loch. Thence it flows through Strathbran, widening out to form Loch Achanalt, Loch a’ Chuilinn, and finally Loch Luichart. Issuing from Loch Luichart, it has a course of a little over a mile before it joins the Meig above Comrie, and it is in this last short stretch that it is called the Conon. Thenceforward the Conon is the name of the joint stream. The solution of the difficulty that occurs to me is that the name Conon applies properly only to the stream below the junction with the Meig. On this supposition Strathconon would originally have been restricted to the valley of the joint stream, but in time extended to the valley of the Meig, of which it is a continuation. This would be natural enough, and it would also be natural to extend the name of Conon to the short stretch of river from Lochluichart, though, as this latter valley is a continuation of Strathbran, the original name of its stream most probably was the Bran, and the name Strathbran would have covered the whole valley down to the junction. Such a change of name would be helped by the size of Loch Luichart, and the increase volume of water issuing from it.
A somewhat similar difficulty is presented by Stratherrick (Inverness) and the river Faragaig. The Faragaig ought to be in Stratherrick, G. Srath-fharagaig, but in point of fact it flows through a neighbouring glen.
As to derivation, it is natural to connect Strathconon with the personal name Conan. Conan was the name of a Fenian hero; also of a Celtic missionary, whose name appears in Killachonan, Fortingall, Perth, and perhaps in the R. Conon, Uig, Skye, G. Abhainn Chonnain, where Conan is a diminutive of Conn, a proper name. There is, however, no authority for the connection of either hero or saint with Strathconon, nor will either Conan or Connan suit the phonetics of Srath-chonuinn. I should suggest that Conon represents a primitive Conona; -ona is a good Gaulish river termination, and Endlicher’s glossary (in a 9th century MS.) actually explains onno as flumen, river. For con we have three choices – con, together; con from Gaulish kunos, high; con, stem of cù, dog, giving respectively joint-stream, high-stream , dog-stream. If we could be certain that onno was a genuine Gaulish name, and not merely a termination raised to the standing of an independent word, it would be natural to render Conon as ‘Joint-stream’. This, however, is uncertain; ‘Dog-stream’ is unobjectionable; ‘High-stream’ does not suit the physical requirements. The tidal part of the Conon appears in the Dingwall charters as Stavek, which may be N. staf-vík, staff-bay; cf. Stafá, Staff-river; and Stafa-holt, Staffwood, in Iceland; Staffa, the isle, is N. Stàf-ey, Staff-isle, from the columnar formation of its rocks.
Loch Beannacharan –
G. Loch Beannacharan;
‘bean’, a top, horn, peak, gives adjective “beannach’, peaked, pinnacled; whence ‘beannachar’, place of peaks, of which ‘beannacharan’ is a collective form. The classical representative of ‘beannach’ is probably seen in Lake Benacus, the ‘horned lake’, in Cisalpine Gaul, now Lago di Garda. Loch Beannach, horned loch (from the shape), is a common Highland name. The best known Beannachar is Bangor in Ireland, whence the Welsh Bangor. Another well-known Irish form is Banagher. A locative formation from ‘beannachar’ is seen in Banchory Devenick and Banchory Ternan. Loch Beannacharan, then (for which the Ord. Survey Beannachan is a mistake) means ‘the loch of the place of the peaks’, a name appropriate and descriptive. On the north side is Allt an Fhasaidh, Burn of the dwelling, O.G. fasadh, at a green place with signs of old habitation. On the south side is Allt na Faic’, Burn of the lair or hiding-place, half-way up the hillside from which is Bac an Airigh, doubtful; ?shieling. At the west side is Cnoc a’ Mhinistir, Parson’s Hill, and near it a small graveyard. A large rock on the loch side is called na Caidhean, perhaps from caid, a rock, summit (O’Reilly). At the outlet of the loch is
G. a’ Chàrnaich,
from ‘càrn’, a cairn, place of cairns; to be taken in connection with Beannachar as far as meaning is concerned.
Innerquhonray 1479 and 1538,
G. Inbhir chòrainn (o nasal).
The ‘inver’ is the confluence of the stream flowing through Glencoran with another small burn just before it reaches the Meig. The old form shows ‘n’, which has disappeared, but has left its influence on the nasal ‘o’. Côran is a stream name, and its old form, Quhonray, or rather Conray, is paralleled by the stream Conrie, flowing through Glenconrie in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, into the Don. Both are high-lying streams, which suggests the first syllable to be the Gaulish ‘kunos’, high; it can hardly be ‘con’ together. The second part may be the root seen in ‘drùdhadh’, oozing; cf. the stream Druie in Strathspey; Gaulish Druentia. This would give ‘con-druent-‘, which, with assimilation of ‘d’ to ‘n’, would become ‘connruent-‘, resulting in ‘còrrainn’, high oozing stream. Opposite Invercoran, on the river is Creag Iucharaidh, probably based on iuchair, fish spawn, whence iucharach, place of spawn.
Main and Glenmeanie –
Meyn in Strquhonane 1479,
Innermay 1479 and 1539,
Meyn in Strachonane 1538,
Gaelic Gleann mèinnidh;
Leithdach Mèinn (half davach of Main);
from ‘mèinn’ ,
ore; cf. Allt na mèinn in Edderton, Lub na mèinn in Kincardine. The term is applied usually where the water is marked by the rust of oxidized iron. Innermany is the junction of the stream Mèinnidh flowing through Glenmeanie with the Meig. Opposite it, and west of Baile na Creige, Rocktown, is an Annaid, The Annat, or early church, a triangular piece of ground.
Teanacallich – Old woman’s house.
Craigdarroch – Oak rock; there are still oaks.
Drumandarroch – Oak ridge
Càrn na buaile – Cairn of the cattle fold.
Glascharn – Grey cairn; common name.
Carn Sgolbaidh and Loch Sgolbaidh – Cairn and loch of splinters; showing old locative of sgolbach.
G. Caoruinn, place of rowans;
in Old Irish we have Caerthend, dative Caerthiund, from which latter comes our name Caoruinn.
Loch a’mhuilinn – Loch of the mill.
Allt na Fàinich – Burn of the flat place, from fàn;
also Poll na Fàinich, in the river. O.S.M. Allt tuill an fhàire còise!
Càrn na cloiche mòr – Cairn of the big stone.
Loch na làrach blàire – Loch of the white-faced mare.
Loch an uillt ghiuthais – Loch of the fir burn.
Balnault – G. Bail’ ‘n uillt, Burn-town.
Càrn na h-Annaid – Cairn of the Annat. Annat has been already explained. We have here also Allt na h-Annaid, Cladh na h-Annaid, Clach na h-Annaid, so that there is strong place-name evidence of an early Celtic religious settlement.
G. a’ Ghlaic odhar, dun hollow (among hills). There is another Glacour in Kilmuir-Easter.
From the root seen in ‘loirean’, a bedraggled or bemired person; ‘loireachan’ thus means a boggy or wet place, which applies exactly. Loireag means a water-sprite.
‘driumeinn’ being the locative of ‘drum’, ridge.
Cnaigean na leathrach – Leather knoll;
a knoll east of the bridge over the Meig, not far from the U.F. Church of Strathconon. When the river is high, this knoll is surrounded by water, and it was used of old in connection with the process of tanning leather.
Dalnacroich – Hanging or gallows plain. There is also a hillock called Cnoc na Croiche, where malefactors are supposed to have been buried.
Cnoc na h-ùige – Hill of the recess, or retired place.
Cnoc na carrachan – Hill of wild liquorice.
This is one of the best preserved examples in Scotland of the Pictish word so common in the aspirated form – ‘four’, e.g. Pit-four, Doch-four. The root is that seen in the Welsh ‘pori’, to graze, eat; and ‘poriant’, pasture. The Strathconon Porin is a flat piece of land by the river side. Cladh Phòrainn, Porin graveyard, was formerly Cladh Mèinn, Main graveyard, and one good authority says that he has heard it called Cladh Ceann-loch-Beannacharan, but this is probably a confusion with the graveyard at the west end of that loch, noted above.
Milltown – G. Bail’ a’mhuilinn; close by is Allt a’ mhuilinn, Mill-burn.
Dalbreac – Speckled dale.
G. a’ Chrannaich, place of trees; common.
G. Blàr na bìth;
‘bìth’ means resin, pitch; the name having doubtless arisen from the presence of fat fir-wood in olden times, either as growing trees, or more probably as ‘stocks’ in the moss.
Allt a’ choir’ àluinn – Burn of the beautiful corry.
Carn Uilleim – William’s cairn; Loch Gruamach, gloomy loch; Creag ghaineamhach, sandy rock; Loch an spardain, from ‘spàrdan’, a roost, but also, metaphorically, a level shelf or resting-place in a hillside; cf. suidhe in this sense; Meall Giuthais, Fir-hill, Corry sleuch and Allt coire na sleaghaich, cf. Slioch, Gairloch.
‘Sgard’, a scree, is in common use, as is also its diminutive sgardan. Scardroy means ‘red scree’. Popular etymology has explained it from a circumstance connected with the over-driving of cattle by Lochaber raiders, who had lifted a ‘creach’ from the Strathconon direction, and were being hotly pursued. The tale appears in Mr Dixon’s “Gairloch”.
Corriewick – G. Coir’ a’ bhuic, buck’s corry.
Gleneak (in Kintail) 1542; G. Glean fhiodhaig, glen of the bird cherry tree. Cfr. Loch fhiodhaig in Lairg.
The Meig is the river of Strathconon. Its source is at the head of Gleniak, and, after a course of about ten miles, it widens out into Loch Beannacharan. After the junction with the stream from Loch Luichart, it is merged in the Conon. The Gaelic is Mìg (i long and nasal). The long vowel before ‘g’ points to compensatory lengthening from the dropping of an original ‘n’, whiloe the ‘g’ itself is reduced from an original ‘c’. This gives a primitive ‘minc’, with which we may compare the Mincius, the stream of Cisalpine Gaul which flows by Virgil’s birth-place, Mantus. It is a curious coincidence that our Meig flows through Loch Beannacharan, while the Mincius comes from the lake Benacus. The root I take to be that seen in Latin mingo, mic-turio; Old English migan; Lithuanian miglà, mist; Welsh, migen, a bog; the root in all cases being ‘mic-‘, and the notion involved, that of ‘pouring forth’. Cf. the Fife Strathmiglo, with its river, the Miglo, known also as the Eden; perhaps also Loch Meiklie in Glen Urquhart, G. Loch Miachdlaidh; Meigle in Perthshire, which appears in the legend of St Andres as Migdele; and Maikle.
Sròn na Frianaich –
Frianach occurs in Loch na Frianaich, far up the R. Orrin, and in several other places; meaning doubtful, but it may possibly be friamhnach, place of toors. (In Ross freumh is, of course, pronounced friamh).
Maoil Lunndaidh (3294) –
“Maoil” as a hill name is common, and is to be compared with G. maol, bald, and Welsh moel, a conical hill. It is applied to bare, rounded hills. Lunndaidh is Englished Lundy, a name of very frequent occurrence, always in connection with lochs or bogs. We have lochs of this name in Lochalsh, Applecross, Knockbain, Golspie, near Invergarry, and in Forfarshire. There is also Lundin in the parish of Largo, Fife, but these are sufficient to show the frequency and area of its occurrence. In certain parts there may still be heard in common speech the word ‘lunndan’, meaning a green spot, but apparently primarily a green wet placeÝ From all this it is clear that Lunndaidh or Lundy means a wet place, a boggy loch or stream. As to derivation, it may be regarded as a nasalised form of ‘lod’, a puddle, the root of which is seen in Latin lutum, mud. Hence, most probably, London, Latin Londinium; and we may compare Lutetia Parisiorum, the muddy town of the Parisii, now Paris, if, indeed, the reading Lutetia can be accepted as correct. South of Maoil Lunndaidh is
Maoil Choinnl’mas –
Candlemas Bare-hill, a very curious term.
For this, as for much more information, I am indebted to the Rev. Charles M. Robertson.
Sgùrr nan Conbhair –
(1) dog-kennel (H.S. Dict.);
(2) greedy person (E. Ross);
(3) dog-man, attendant on dogs (W. Ross).
‘Peak of the dog-men’ is most likely to be the meaning here. There are legends of Fingalian hunters attached.
Sgùrr a’ Chaoruinn (3452 ft.) –
‘Sgùrr’ is locative of ‘sgòr’, a sharp rock, and is applied to sharp pointed rocky hills. “Rowan Peak’.
Sgùrr nan ceannaichean –
Merchants’ Peak. I do not know the legend annexed, if there is one.
Càrn Eiteige – Quartz Cairn.
An Crom-allt – The bent burn at head of Gleniak.
Loch Coireag na’ mang – Loch of the little corry of the fawns.
Cnoc an t-Sìthein – Hill of the sìthean, or small fairy mound.
Loch Carn Mhàrtuinn, and
Allt Carn Mhàrtuinn –
Cairn, loch, burn of Martin.
Leanaidh – Locative of lèanach, based on lèan, a swampy plain.
Càrn Chaoruinn – Rowan cairn; Allt na crìche, Boundary burn.
G. Camaisidh, a stream name, also applied to the sheep farm; from ‘cam’, bent. The stream is very winding. Cf. for ending Lienassie, and for meaning Crombie.
Apparently a collective from ‘càiseach’, abounding in cheese, a reminiscence of shieling times.
Càrn na Fèith-rabhain –
Rabhan is said to mean refuse left by the tide or a stream in flood; cf. Bad-a-rabhain, Dunrobin Glen.
G. Bad-a-fhliuchaidh, clump of wetness.
Auchnanald 1682; G. Ach’-an-allt, Field of the burns.
Sgùrr a’ ghlas-leathaid – Peak of the grey hill-side.
Sgùrr a’ mhuilinn – Mill-peak.
Sgùrr ronnaich – “Ronnach’, of which ‘ronnaich’ is locative, means ‘abounding in saliva’. There is a cliff over which there is a continual drip of water.
Loch Rosque –
G. Loch ‘Chroisg,
loch of the crossing; from ‘crasg’, a crossing. The crossing referred to is that from Kinlochewe through Glen Docharty, and so on to the low lands. Around Loch Rosque are the three following:-
Bad a’ mhanaich –
Monk’s clump; not so strange a situation for a church-name when it is considered that it lay in the regular track from Kinlochewe to the east.
Locative of lùb, a bend, ‘loop’; distinguished also as Lùb `’a Ghargain, bend of the rough place. The old inn of Luib was once a welcome stage between Achnasheen and Kinlochewe, and thus appears in song:-
“S e tigh-òsda Chailein
Dh’ fhàg mo phòcaid falamh;
‘S ioma stòp is glainne
“Chuir mi ‘n tarruing ann
Lèanach. – Place of swamp meadows, on the south side of the loch.
Loch Crann, tree loch;
Lolchan Sgeireach, skerry lochlet.
Allt Ducharaidh –
Cf. Cnoc Ducharaidh, Alness, locative of dubh-chath’rach, a place of black broken ground.
An Cabar – The antler.
Ledgowan – Leathad ‘ghobhainn, hillside of the smith; also Loch Gowan.
Dosmuckaran – G. Dos-mhucarain, clump of the place of swine; mucharan is from mucar, place of swine; cf. Crochar, Beannachar.
Achnasheen– Auchownosein 1633; G. Ach-na-sìn’, field of storm; sìan, stormy wseather, gen. sìne.
G. Gairbh, rough (place);
cf. R. Garry;
probably here also a river name, since we have Strathgarve. The river is now the Blackwater. The N. Stat. Acc. Says it was known as the Rasay, but if that was so, the name has completely gone. Yet the Life of St Cadroe mentions the river Rosis in these parts, and it might well be Norse hross-á, horse-river.
Garbat – Garrowbat 1633; rough clump – garbh bad.
Gorstan of Garve –
G. Goirtean Gairbh, or simply ‘an Goirtean’,
the small corn-enclosure, from ‘gort’, cognate with ‘garth’, garden, hortus. The old ‘in-town’ of Garve.
Loch Garve –
In G. Loch Maol-Fhinn,
Loch of the shaveling or follower of St Fionn, to be connected with Killin, G. Cill-Fhinn, at the west end of the loch. Taken together these names are conclusive as to the existence of a saint named Fionn, to whom the Garve Killin, and probably other places of the same name, were dedicated. “Cill-Fhinn ‘s Cill-duinn, ‘s Cill-Donnain, na trì cilltean is sine an Albainn”; Killin, Kildun, and Kildonan, the three oldest churches in Alba.
G. An Dìridh mòr,
‘the great ascent’; the highest part of the road between Garve and Ullapool. Strath Terry, Straintirie 1635; G. Srath an Dìridh, Strath of the ascent.
G. Tairbhidh, from ‘tarbh’, bull; ‘place of bulls’.
Cf. Tarvie and Tarvie Burn in Glen Brerachan; Tarvie Burn in Banff; Tarves, Aberdeen-shire. Here may be noted the local saw: daoine beaga Roagaidh, ‘s crogaichean Thairbhidh, buic Srath-Gairbh, meanbhlach Srathbhrainn, fithich dhubh Loch-Carrainn, ‘s clamhanan Loch Bhraoin; the little men of Rogie, the crogs (i.e. worn-out sheep) of Tarvie; the bucks of Strathgarve; the slender folk of Strathbran; the black ravens of Lochcarron, and the kites of Lochbroom: names descriptive of the people of these districts.
Loch na cròic – Antler loch; it is shaped like the tine of an antler.
Achnaclerach, on the road from Garve to Ullapool, Clerics’ field, probably identical with Auchinaglerach 1479; to be connected with Killin.
Loch an Droma – Ridge-loch, between Loch Garve and Loch Achilty.
Am Fireach – ‘Fireach’ is a mountain acclivity or hill ground; ‘fireach an fheidh’, hill of the deer. This is the mountain-side along the left bank of the stream from Loch Luichart.
there are also Sgùrr Marcasaidh and Sàil Marcasaidh, Peak of Marxie and Heel of Marxie. Marcasaidh is based on marc, horse; cf. Rosemarky; -asaidh is difficult. It may be regarded as a double extension of the root, and compared with Lienassie, G. Lianisidh, and Livisie, G. Lìbhisidh, Glen Urquhart, but might here be the locative of fasadh, dwelling; marc-fhasaidh, horse-stead. As coupled with glen, we should expect it to be a stream name, but Sàil Marcasaidh and Sgùrr Marcasaidh rather point to its being primarily here the name of a place.
Some easy names follow:
Strone, near Loch Achilty;
Loch an eich bhàin, Grey-horse loch;
Loch a’chlàrain, Loch of the small flat place;
Loch ruigh a’phuill, Loch of the marshy stretch;
Creag a’ chaoruinn, Rowan rock;
Cadha fliuch, wet pass;
Loch nan eilid, hinds’ loch;
Loch na’ sgarbh, cormorant loch;
Loch a’ chairn dhuibh, black-cairn loch;
Loch a’ bhealaich (thrice), Loch of the gap;
Loch nan dearcag, berry loch;
Loch a’ choire léith, grey corry loch;
Loch Bhaid ghaineamhaich, sandy-clump loch;
Loch a’ Chuilinn, Holly loch;
Dubhchlais, black hollow;
Loch an alltain bheithe, Loch of the birch burnlet;
Carn na Crè, Clay cairn.
Locative case of ‘longphort’, an encampment, or simply shieling, in which sense it is used here. Longphort is primarily a harbour, from ‘long’, ship, and ‘port’, harbour, but passes into other derivative meanings. From it come ‘lùchairt’, palace; and the place-names, Camusloncart on Loch Long, bay of the encampment; Lungard and Loch Lungard in Kintail; Luncarty.
G. Aird’ a’ chaolais,
Height of the Kyles, or narrows, where Loch Luichart contracts at its lower end.
Cnoc na h-iolaire –
Eagle hill, on north-east side of Loch Luichart.
G. Coire mhuillidh, v. Corriemulzie in Kincardine.
Godfrrey’s grove; Gorry, from God frid, God’s peace, was a favourite name among the Macdonalds (Macbain).
Strathvaich – Strathwaith 1635; from ‘bàthach’, cow-house, a frequent element in place-names.
Lubfearn – Alder bend, or angle.
Druimbuidhe – Yellow ridge;
Lubriach, brindled bend;
Sròn gorm, green point;
Meall an torcain, hill of the young boar;
Tombàn, white hillock;
Coire nan laogh, Calves’ corry;
Meallan donn, brown hillock;
Coir’ a ghrianain, corry of the sunny hillock;
Allt coir a’ chliabhain, Corry of the little creel;
Meall na glaic bàine, hill of the pale hollow;
Allt beithe, birch burn;
Allt a’ ghlastuill mhòir, burn of the great green hollow;
Creag Rainich, bracken rock;
Creag mholach, shaggy rock;
Càrn gormloch, green-loch cairn;
Creag chlachach, stony rock;
Toll-muic, sow hollow;
Clach sgoilte, split stone (at the meeting point of three estates);
Glenbeg, small glen.
Kirkan – G. na Cearcan, the hens; there are numerous boulders, whence apparently the name.
Glascarnoch – G. Clais-chàrnaich, cleft of the Carnach, or stony place.
Aultguish – G. an t-Allt giuthais, Firn burn.
Meall Mhic Iomhair – Maciver’s hill.
Strathbran and River Bran –
‘Bran’ is an obsolete word meaning raven. As applied to a river, the reference is not very clear, but it may have been given simply from ravens having haunted some parts of it. It is possible to suppose the name to have been given from the black colour of the water; most probably, however, there is a mythological reference. The Ross-shire Bran must be carefully distinguished from the Perthshire Bran, the Gaelic of which is Breamhainn.
Loch Fannich –
G. Loch Fainich.
In spite of its Gaelic ring, Fanaich is rather an obscure and difficult word. Assuming that the ‘f’ is radical and does not represent an aspirated ‘p’, we may compare with Welsh ‘gwaneg’, a surge, ‘gwanegu’, to rise in waves, Welsh ‘gw’ corresponding to Gaelic ‘f’, as in W. gwern, G. fearn, alder. Another step backward would lead us to an early Celtic ‘van-‘, or ‘ven-‘, which suggests a comparison with the Gaulish Lacus Ven-etus, now Lake of Constance, and the two Gaulish tribes of Veneti, both maritime. But the name is one on which it is unsafe to be positive. In point of fact, when stormy winds from Strathcromble and from Cabuie meet at the nose of Beinn Ramh, the effect on the loch is said to be tremendous.
G. Grùididh, is the river from Loch Fannich falling into the Bran half-way between Loch-a-Chuilinn and Loch Luichart. There is an Allt Grùdidh on the south side of Loch Maree, and an Abhainn Gruididh in Durness, Sutherland, also Gruids, near Lairg, so named from Allt Grùididh from Loch na Callich and Lochan na fuaralaich which flows at the back of it. I am not aware of any to be found further south, but the examples given above go to show that we are dealing with a river-name. The root is most likely ‘ghru’, gritty, which is at the bottom of such words as ‘grothlach’, a gravel pit; ‘grùdair’, a brewer; ‘grùid’, lees; ‘grùthan’, the liver; allied with Eng. Grit, Welsh grut, grit or fossil. The notion involved may be either ‘gravelly’, or ‘full of sediment’. Near the end of the wood on the Fannich road is Lèum Ruaraidh, Rorie’s leap, close to a fine fall on the river. Further up is an t-Eilean Crithinn, aspen isle, in the river, with many aspen trees.
The Hill Difficulty, a hill with bare ribs of rock at the north-east end of Loch Fannich. Near its west end is Beinn Ràmh, hill of oars or of rowing; it is at a very stormy part of the loch.
An t-Alltan Mailis – The sweet burn, at Eiginn; its water is good; mailis is a variant of meilis, the usual Ross form of milis, sweet.
Aultdearg – G. an t-Allt, Dearg, Redburn; on the way to Fannich.
Aultchonier – G. Allt a’ Choin uidhir, burn of the dun dog, i.e. the otter; Otterburn.
G. an Nead, the nest;
the finest of the magnificent corries of Fannich forest.Ý In it is Comunn nan Caochan, meeting of the streamlets, a point where five small burns meet. Other corries are an Coire Mòr, the big corry, with Cadh’ a’ Bhoicionn, Path of the goat-skin, at its upper end at the west; an Coire Riabhach, the brindled corry; an Coire Beag, the little corry, with, at its top, Coire nam Mang, Fawns’ Corry. At the east side of Coire Beag is Gob a’ Chùirn, Beak of the Cairn, a remarkable projecting mass, with broad top almost perfectly flat and grassy.
In 1542 appear “the waste lands of lie Ned, between Lochboyne on the north, Lochtresk on the south, lie Ballach on the west and Dawelach on the east”. Lochboyne is either Lochivraoin (Lochaidh Bhraoin) or Loch Broom; Lochtresk (?Loch-cresk) is Loch Chroisg; which Bealach or Gap is referred to as the western boundary, is hard to say. Dawelach I cannot identify.
Meall nam Peithirean – Lump (i.e. shapeless hill) of the foresters; origin unknown; also Cadh’ a’ Bhàillidh, the bailiff’s path; both behind Fannich Lodge.
Sgùrr nan Clach – Stony skerry; on its side, very high up, is éigintoll, difficulty hole, a small corry dangerous and difficult of access.
Sgùrr Mòr 3637 – Greak skerry; a peak from which on a clear day may be seen practically all Scotland north of the Grampians.
Fuartholl Mòr and Fuartholl Beag – Little and big cold-hole; wild corries adjacent to each other.
Loch Ligh – Spate loch; above it is Toll Ligh, spate-hole, a deep and narrow corry; from it goes Allt Gus-ligh, probably for Giuthais, fir-wood of Li.
A’Bhiacaich – The place of the bellowing; also Cadha na Biacaich, path of the same; a place where stags roar.
An Coileachan 3015 –
“The cockerel’; the application is difficult, but we say ‘tha an coileachan air siubhal an diugh’ of a fall when spray is seen rising off it; ‘tha coileachan math air a’ ghaoith’ of a gale; ‘tha coileachan air an loch’ of waves. On the other hand the name may mean literally ‘Place of grouse cocks’, which is the accepted meaning of Kyllachy, G. Coileachai(bh),.
Meallan Raìrigidh – (O.S.M.) Is not known in Fannich.
G. an Cadha Buidhe, the yellow path.
Behind Cabuie Lodge is an Sgaoman, the stack, from its sharp conical shape.
G. Srath chrombail, ‘winding strath’.
‘Crom’, bent, here develops a ‘b’ before the suffix, as it does in Aber-crombie, Dalcrombie. Similarly from ‘lom’ we get Innis-lombaidh (Rosskeen), and ‘lombar’, a bare place. The last example suggests that the form ‘crombail’ may have arisen by dissimilation from ‘crombair’, parallel to ‘lombar’. The Gaelic for Grantown-on-Spey is the same.
Loch Droma –
the ridge on which it lies is the great ridge of Drumalban, which forms the natural division between the east and west of Scotland, running from Argyllshire northwards.
Loch a’Gharbharain –
Loch of the rough place, is the first of a series of five lochlets, connected by a stream running almost due south. Into this, the largest of the five, flows also Allt Mhucarnaich, Burn of the place of swine.
Loch Coire Làir,
north of the last mentioned loch. Into it flows Allt Làir. Here làr is used in the sense of ‘low place’, or ‘place at the foot’; e.g. làr a’ ghlinn, lower part of the glen; cf. Lair, Lochcarron.
Loch na Still – Loch of the Spout; from ‘steall’, a spout of water, or long narrow strip of anything, e.g. grass, ribbons.
Loch Prille, a curious word, suggesting comparison with Welsh prill, a little brook or rill; cf. Lacus Prilius in Etruria.
Loch Tuath – North Loch; the most northerly of five small lochs.
Seann Bhràigh’ – Old upland.
Fionn Bheinn (3060) – White Hill, south-west of Loch Fannich.
Airiecheirie and Allt Airiecheiridh –
waxen shieling, from céireach, waxen.
The local explanation, which seems sensible enough, is that in summer, in walking through the grass, one’s boots get a yellow waxen coating, testifying, as was thought, to the excellence of the pasture.
Place Names of Contin 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 p147 onwards