Place Names C - E - Gordon C Harrison
Photo 4028 Sunset over Loch Ewe and Isle of Ewe, Wester Ross

Listed below are all the place names (beginning with C-E) referred to on this website and for each an explanation, where possible, of it's origin and meaning. Click one of these links to access other place name lists for A-B, F-L and M-Z.

Following the notes for most place names are reference numbers indicating with reference to the source list the source(s) of the information provided. This is an ongoing project and not all the source reference numbers have been updated to each place name. The source list is displayed on the introductory place name page.

The names given in the list below in bold are the names as they appear or Ordnance Survey maps, and in the case of Gaelic and Norse names the map names are often a corruption of their true Gaelic and Norse names. The notes for each place name will, where possible, supply the proper Norse or Gaelic name.

The place name indexes are a work in progress and will be updated as new place names appear in my photographs. There are comment boxes at the end of each place name page and I welcome any thoughts you might have about the place name lists.

C

Cadha Beag; Gaelic. a steep road at Gruinard Bay. Professor Watson says that Cadha is usually a steep narrow path, but is sometimes applied to steep parts of a regular road, for example Cadha Beag and Cadha Mór at Gruinard. Thus Cadha Beag means the ‘small (from beag) steep path’. [1]

Cailleach Head; Professor Watson notes that in Gaelic it is Sròn na Cailleach meaning the nun’s point; in O.S.A. Rudha Shanndraig. Professor Watson does not explain what O.S.A is, however I assume he is referring to the OLD STATISTICAL ACCOUNTS. Cailleach is commonly thought to mean ‘old woman’ but I have read it has a wider usage and could denote a nun, an old woman, a widow, or a witch.

It was not clear to me why Professor Watson decided on the meaning ‘nun’ until a reader of this page kindly emailed me an explanation as follows – “Regarding Gaelic grammar the genitive plural is the same as the nominative singular so Sròn na Cailleach is 'nose of the old women' (not woman). Nuns were often called cailleach dubh (plural cailleachan dubha) - old black woman. There is a ruin in Uig, Lewis, called Taigh nan Cailleachan Dubha, 'The Nun's House’, so Professor Watson was probably correct.” [1]

Cairn Conmheall; I’ve only found one source giving the meaning of this Coigach peak. Clearly the first word is from the Gaelic càrn meaning a ‘heap’ or ‘pile’ (of stones). In the book ‘Place Names Highlands and Islands of Scotland’ by Alex MacBain Conmheall is described thus; “either High Lump or Hound Lump ; con may be the compositional form of cu, hound, or it may represent Early Celtic cimos, high. [11]

Camas a' Charraig; the rocky bay [12]

Camas a' Chlàrsair; Gaelic for the ‘Harpers Bay’. [1]

Camas an Aiseig; Ferry Bay [1,12]

Camas an Lochain; Bay of the small Loch [12]

Camas dà Phàidein; Gaelic for ‘Bay of two Patons or Patricks’. [1]

Camus Dubh; Black Bay [12]

Camusfearna; A fictitious name meaning the bay of alders. It was used by Gavin Maxwell instead of the real name of the place, Lower Sandaig, where he lived with his otters. The aim was to retain his privacy but people worked out where is was from clues in his stories.

Camas Gaineamhaich; At Little Gruinard. No direct reference to this name was found but Watson gives gaineamhach as meaning ‘sandy’ and as Camas is Gaelic for ‘bay’ this translates as the ‘sandy bay’, a perfect description. [11]

Camas Mór; A large bay just beyond Rubha Reidh lighthouse north of Gairloch. It is Gaelic for ‘Big Bay’.

Canisp; No reference to this name in my preferred sources. According to Wikipedia it is from a Norse word meaning ‘the white mountain’.

Caolas an Fhuraidh; this is the channel (Caolas) between the mainland and Eilean Furadh. Professor Watson suggests the final 'aidh' is from the Norse 'ey' meaning island but that the first part of Fhuraidh is obscure. 

Caolas Bad a’ Chròtha; This is the sound between Badachro village and the nearby islands. The sound (Gaelic Caolas) is named after the village of Badachro, refer to Badachro for further information.

Carn a’ Bhealaich Mhoir; Another name without out reference in any of the important sources, however the Gaelic elements are straightforward to translate to derive ‘Cairn at the Great Pass’.

Carn an Teas; a small hill beside Gruinard River not far from Inchina. Meaning ubcertain due to being unable to find any authoritative translations. Could mean 'hot cairn' from the Gaelic carn = cairn and from the gaelic teas = hot, however this seems an unlikely explanation.

Carn Mór; Gaelic for ‘Big Cairn’, in this case referring to a large outcrop of rock.

Carn na Feola; Cairn of the Flesh [Highland Council]

Carn na h-Aire; the Watch Cairn [1]

Clashnessie; Gaelic Clais an Easaidh meaning ‘the ditch by the small waterfall’. [6]

Cliff Hill; See Croft Hill. Clisham; The highest hill on Harris. The Gaelic name is an Cliseam and the only reference I could find was on the munromagic.com website which gave its meaning as ‘the rocky hill’. I’m sure a more scholarly explanation exists but I have not been able to find it.

Cnoc a Choilich; I was unable to trace any source for this name of a hill in Mellon Charles. Cnoc is Gaelic for a small hill. The Gaelic word Choilich (or Coilich) is referred to by Professor Watson as meaning ‘crests of broken water’. However in my own Gaelic dictionary is given three meanings, ‘a cock’, ‘a gush of water’, and ‘the rapids in a stream’.

Cnoc an Leathaid Bhig; The small sloping hill [12]

Cnoc Feadaige; No sources were found for this Gaelic place name but I have translated it as meaning ‘the small hill of the plover’.

Coast; A small village on the western shores of Loch Ewe. From the Gaelic an t-Eirthire meaning ‘sea coast’. [1]

Coigach; From Watson’s book the Gaelic name is a’ Chóigeach meaning ‘the place of fifths. Division of land into fifths was a common and ancient Celtic practice, the best known fifths being the five fifths of Erin – cóig cóigimh na h-Eirinn. Tradition makes the five-fifths of Coigach to have been Achnahaird, Achlochan, Acheninver, Achabhraighe, and Achduart – the five Ach’s, na cóig achaidean, and this is the local derivation of the name. [1]

Coire Dubh Mor; The Great Black Corrie [4]

Coire Mhic Fhearchair; The Corrie of Farquhar's Son [4]

Corriehallie; G. Coire shaillidh, fat corry ; noted for its grass [1]

Coulin; Gaelic is Cùlainn, meaning ‘place of enclosures’. Professor Watson said that Kinlochewe tenants of old had their shielings where the Coulin Lodge now stands. [1]

Cove; on the western shore of Loch Ewe, Gaelic, an Uaghaidh; the north part of Cove is Achadh na h-Uaghach meaning ‘Place of the Cave’ and ‘Field of the Cave’ respectively. [1]

Craig; Gaelic, a’ Chreag, ‘the rock’, near Duncraig. [1]

Crasg; At Gairloch; Gaelic, An Crasg, Gaelic, ‘the crossing’; a ridge crossed by the road. [1]

Creag an Duilisg; I have been unable to find any direct reference to explain the meaning of this name. However, creag is Gaelic for ‘crag’ and Duilisg I believe is Gaelic for ‘seaweed’. This implies the name translates as ‘seaweed crags’ but I have to confess I am guessing. I would appreciate it if anyone could point me in the direction of an authoritative explanation.

Creag Bheag; the small crag [12]

Creag Dhubh Fannaich; The dark crags of Fannaich: 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, ' gwan- egu,' 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 Hamh, the effect on the loch is said to be tremendous. [1]

Creag Ghuibhais; On west shore of Loch Maree. Gaelic, but none of my place name references listed this place. Clearly Creag is a crag, a good description for this rocky point. Referring to the OS Guide to Gaelic origins for the word Ghuibhais I found giubhas an alternative form of giuthas, which means ‘fir’.

Creag nan Garadh; At Plockton. Also listed as Greag nan Garraig by Professor Watson, Gaelic for ‘rock of the dens’. [1]

Creag Mhór Tollaidh; Gaelic; Creag, Rocks, crags, Mhór, big, Tollaidh, place of the holes. Thus, ‘big rocks at the place of the holes’. [1]

Creag Rainich; The crag of ferns [12]

Creag Ruigh a Bhraghad; The upper part of the slopping hill [12]

Croft Hill; This is a hill to the west of Poolewe and at its southern end is known as Croft Hill and at its northern as Cliff Hill. The Gaelic name is Meall a’ Cliubha and also Meall na Cliubha meaning the cliff hill, probably due to the propitious drop on its eastern flank. I have found no explanation as to why the southern end of this hill is known as Croft Hill. [1]

Cuillin; This is the anglicised spelling of the Scottish Gaelic An Cuilthionn or An Cuiltheann. From my researches into the meaning of the Gaelic names An Cuilthionn and An Cuiltheann it appears that etymologists are unable to provide a definitive answer. Some suggest the range owes its name to the legendary heroic figure, Cú Chulainn while others propose cuilionn, the Gaelic for holly. However, given the island's Viking heritage and the aspect that the Cuillin ridge presents from afar, the contention that the name comes from the Norse kjollen or keel-shaped, appears to be the most likely explanation. This explanation is from the skyesculpture.com website.

Cùl Beag; Gaelic; Cuthaill Bheag, The latter part of Cuthaill is from the Norse fjall, a hill; first part obscure. Professor Watson said the names recur in the parish of Urray where he doubtfully suggested it derived from the Norse kúa-fjall, Cow-fell. More probably kví-fjall, Pen-fell, Fold-fell. SNH in their Knockan Crag interpretation plan say it means ‘small hill of the cattle pen’. [1]

Cul Mor; Gaelic; Cuthaill Mhòr, The latter part of Cuthaill is from the Norse fjall, a hill; first part obscure. Professor Watson said the names recur in the parish of Urray where he doubtfully suggested it derived from the Norse kúa-fjall, Cow-fell. More probably kví-fjall, Pen-fell, Fold-fell. SNH in their Knockan Crag interpretation plan say it means ‘large hill of the cattle pen’. [1]

D

Dingwall; From the Norse Thing-völlr meaning ‘Field of the Thing’, the Thing being the Norse general court of justice. Dingwall was therefore the centre for the Norse administration in Ross. Dingwall in Gaelic is In’ir-pheofharan, Inver-peffray, meaning the ‘mouth of the Peffer’ after the River Peffery. Inverferan appears in a Bull of Pope Alexander IV in 1256. [1, 6]

Doire Crionaich; the grove (doire) of rotten trees (crionaich) [1,12]

Doire-aonar; the lonely copse

Dornoch; In Sutherland. The Scottish Parliament states that in Gaelic it is Dòrnach meaning the ‘pebbly place’. However Alex MacBain’s book ‘Place Names of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland’ states that it seems to be of Pictish origin, pointing to a Celtic Durnacon, the stem Durno appearing in both England and in Europe in Celtic place names and meaning ‘stronghold’, doubtless allied to the Gaelic Dorn, meaning ‘fist’. [6,11]

Druim Nam Fuath; Gaelic; The ridge above Mungasdale. No complete reference to this name has been found but Watson notes for other names containing the fuath element that it is referring to spectres or goblins, thus it translates as ‘the ridge of the goblins (or spectres)’. [1]

Drumbeg; In Sutherland, Gaelic An Druim Beag, meaning ‘the small ridge’. [6]

Drumchork; Gaelic Druim a choirc, the oat ridge. There was a farm at this place, perhaps it grew oats at one time. [14]

Duirinish; From the Norse dyra-nes meaning ‘Deer’s headland’. [1]

Duncraig; From the Gaelic Dùn Creige meaning ‘castle rock’ or ‘castle cliff’. The old name was am Fasadh, ‘the dwelling’. [1]

Dundonnell; In Gaelic Acha dà Dòmhnaill means the 'Field of two Donalds'. [1]

Durnamuck; Gaelic Doire nam muc meaning ‘swine copse’. [1]

E

Eilean an Tuirc; Watson states that place names are sometimes named after animals from the appearance of the place. Tuirc can mean a boar, a cat or the haunt of wild cats. [1]

Eilean Donan; is a small island in Loch Duich on which the castle of that name stands. Eilean Donan (which means simply ‘island of Donnán’) is named after Donnán of Eigg, a Celtic saint martyred in the Dark Ages. From Wikipedia.

Eilean Dubh; The dark island.

Eilean Fada Mór; One of the Summer Isles. I could find no direct reference to this name but as Fada is ‘long’ in Gaelic I have translated it as the ‘big long island’.

Eilean Furadh Beag & Eilean Furadh Mor; the small and large 'Furadh' Islands, Eilean is Gaelic for island. According to Professor Watson the 'adh' part of the islands names is from the Norse 'ey', meaning island but that the meaning of the preceding 'Fur' is obscure. [1]

Eilean Horrisdale; According to Dixon’s ‘Gairloch & Guide to Loch Maree’ this is of Norse origin, that the correct name is Eilean Thorisdal which translates as ‘Island of Thorsdale i.e. dale of the Norse God of Thunder, Thor. [14]

Eilean Mor; Big island.

Eilean Munde; Named after St Fintan Mundus, also known as Saint Fintan Munnu, who built a chapel here in the seventh century. From Wikipedia.

Eilean na Creige Duibhe; Near Craig, Plockton. No references found but it seems obvious that this translates is ‘Island of the black rock’.

Eilean Shieldaig; Named after Loch Shieldaig.

Eilean Sùbhainn; Gaelic. Originally this was thought to mean ‘everlasting isle’ assuming that Sùbhainn is derived from the Gaelic word suthainn. However research carried out by Roy Wentworth for Scottish Natural Heritage suggested it might be translated as the ‘island of berries’ from the root subh. [3]

Eilean Tioram; Gaelic Tioram is dry, thus Dry Island, because it can be reached on foot at low tide. [1]

Eileanreach; An estate near Glenelg, I have been unable to find any details about the origin and meaning of this name.

Elgol; In Gaelic it is Ealaghol. This might be a Norse name for a field and might include the word for wild angelica. Another explanation is that its name derives from a battle fought with five ships by Aella, a follower of Vortigern, against the Picts and the Scots – Aella-gol. From Wikipedia.

Etive; The name Etive is believed to mean ‘little ugly one’ from the Gaelic Goddess associated with the loch.

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