Place Names M - Z - Gordon C Harrison
Photo 4028 Sunset over Loch Ewe and Isle of Ewe, Wester Ross
Photo 3233: Loch a' Bhraoin and A' Chailleach

Listed below are all the place names (beginning with M-Z) 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 place name lists for A-B, C-E, and F-L.

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.

M

Meall a' Bhuiridh; No authoritative references but according to visitscotland.com the name refers to ‘hill of the bellowing’ (of stags) from the Gaelic bùirich.

Meall a’ Ghlas Leothaid; No authoritative references list this name which is a hill near Loch Bad an Sgalaig. However Professor Watson defines the word Leothaid as Gaelic for slope and because ghlas is Gaelic for grey (or green) I translate this name as meaning ‘the hill of the grey(or green) slope.

Meall Airigh Mhic Criadh; Gaelic is Meall Airigh Mac-Griadh meaning the hill of the shieling of the sons of Griadh. [1]

Meall Aundrary; Gaelic is Meall Andrairigh; a Norse formation; possibly meaning Andrew’s shieling, Andreserg (erg borrowed from Gaelic àirigh). But this should give Andrasairigh. [1]

Meall Dearg; the red hill. [12]

Meall Dubh; the black hill [12]

Meall Gorm; the green/blue hill [12]

Meall Mheinnidh; The Middle Hill [12]

Meallan an Laoigh; the lumpy hill of the calf [12]

Meallan Ruadh; Gaelic meaning the small reddish brown hill. [1]

Meall Gorm; The Green (or blue) Hill from the Gaelic Meall ‘hill’ and Gorm 'green' or 'blue'. [10]

Màm na Gualainn; Gaelic, the ‘round hill of the shoulder’ - from the glencoe-scotland.net website.

Meall Nam Meallan; Near Mellon Udrigle, ‘hill of hillocks’?

Mellon Charles; Gaelic is Meallan Thearlaich, Charles’s Little Hill. [1]

Mellon Udrigle; A hybrid Gaelic/Norse name meaning ‘Udrigle's Hill’. Udrigle is possibly a Norse name, however Professor Watson suggests it may be derived from the Norse útargill, meaning outer cleft or gully.

Melvaig; Malfage in 1566; Gaelic is Mealabhaig from the Norse melar-vík; melr denotes bent grass, or a sandy hillock overgrown with bent grass; vík denotes bay. From melr we get the Gaelic Mealbhan, sandy dunes with bent grass, common on the Scottish West Highlands. [1]

Midtown; A village on the eastern shore of Loch Ewe. J H Dixon states that Midtown is an Anglicised version of the Gaelic Baile-meadhon from Baile, ‘a town’ and meadhon, ‘middle’. [14]

Mihol; part of Gairloch. Gaelic Mitheall (Wentworth) Miall (Watson) from the old Norse mjo-völlr, ‘narrow field . [1, 10]

Milton; Applecross. In Gaelic it is Bail’ a’ mhuilinn meaning ‘the mill village’. [1]

Moonen Bay; The only reference I have found so far is one states that the bay is named after a legendary Ossianic figure named Munan (perhaps Muna?) [Tour Scotland Website].

Morefield; Gaelic a’ Mhór-choille, meaning ‘the great wood’. [1]

Mullach an Rathain; Gaelic meaning summit if the row of pinacles. [12]

Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair; gaelic meaning the summit of the son of Farquhar's corrie.

Mungasdale; Recorded as Mungasdill in 1633 Gaelic Mungasdal; Norse Múnks-dalr, meaning Monk's dale. Faithir Mungas-dail, the shelving slope of Mungasdale., and Mealbhan Mungasdail, the links on the shore at the farm. Sron an Fhaithir Mhóir, ‘Point of the great shelving slope’ is on the coast further north. Faithir Mungasdail runs from Stattic Point nearly to Rudha na Mòine, ‘Moss Point’. [1]

N

Naast; There is some uncertainty about the origin and meaning of this place name. According to the Scottish Parliament it is Nàst in Gaelic, perhaps derived from a Norse word meaning ‘boat place’. JH Dixon agrees it is from the Norse and gives an alternative spelling, Naust. Dixon goes on to state that Fäste is Norse for fortress and that its Gaelic form with the article would be Näste; that there is a knowe by the sea called Dun Naast, apparently including the Gaelic Dun, a castle.

Professor Watson goes on to give the following account; “The Nastis in 1638 ; Gaelic Nàst ; doubtful. We may compare the Irish Naas, derived from nàs, a fair; t would easily develop. Norse naust, a boat-place, would land in Gaelic nòst, hardly nàst, unless we could suppose a change from o to a. Also Plàtach Nàst, the flat place of Naast ; and Dùn Nàst, Fort of Naast.” [1,14]

Neist Point; An Éist, ‘The Horse’ from Norse. A more full name is An Éist Fhiadhaich, ‘wild Neist’. In Gaelic Neist Point is Rubha na h- Éist or Gob na h-Éist. [8]

North Uist; In Gaelic it is written as Uibhist a Tuath from Tuath (North) and Uibhist which may mean ‘Corn Island’. Another explanation is that Uibhist may be derived from inni-vist, an old Norse word for ‘dwelling’ [9, wapedia]

O

Ob an Duine; Ob, Gaelic for bay, therefore ‘the man’s bay. [1]

Ob Gorm Mor; Ob, Gaelic, for ‘Big green bay’. [1]

Ob Mheallaidh; Listed as Ob ‘mheallaidh by Professor Watson. It is Gaelic meaning ‘Deceitful Bay’, dangerous due to large boulders. Its south-west angle is Camas dà Phàidein, ‘Bay of two Patons or Patricks’. [1]

Old Man of Stoer; See Stoer

Opinan; In Professor Watson’s Wester Ross Place Name book he gives the Gaelic name for this place as na h-Òbainean meaning ‘the little bays’; the Gaelic òb borrowed from the old Norse word for bay, hóp. Note that some other sources (such as Wikipedia) spell the Gaelic name differently; i.e. na h-Òbaidhnean, however both the Scottish Parliament and Professor Watson agree that the Gaelic spelling is na h-Òbainean. [1,8]

P

Plockton; The Gaelic name is Ploc Loch Aillse meaning ‘the lump of Lochalsh’ this due to the humpy promontory which ends in Rudha-mór. [1]

Poolewe; Gaelic Poll-iù, ‘the pool on the Ewe river’; Professor Watson states that the village was called by the natives in his time Abhainn Iù, Ewe River. He also said that Ewe, Gaelic iu, he had taken, with hesitation, from Irish eo, ‘Yew Tree’, but concedes that it may in fact be a Pictish name. [1]

Port Henderson; According to Professor Watson the native name for this place is Portigil, from port-gil, gate gully; by others Port an Sgùmain, Haven of the Stack. In Dixon’s Gairloch he suggests the name may derive from Port a geal, the white port. [1]

Priest Island; In Gaelic it is an Cléireach meaning ‘the Cleric’. Note that it is never written as Eilean a’ Chléireach. [1]

Q

Quinag; From the Gaelic cuinneag, meaning a churn or a pail, referring to its shape. [John Muir Trust]

R

Raasay; In Gaelic Raasay is Ratharsair or Ratharsaigh from the old Norse words Raa-s-oy, Ross-oy, Rásey or Hrossey meaning ‘roe deer island’. In Gaelic the island is also known as Eilean nam Fear Móra, ‘the island of the great men. [9]

Red Point; The anglicized version of the Gaelic name Rudha Dearg, but sometimes called Rudha Lachdunn, the dun or swarthy point. [1]

Rhue; A small village north of Ullapool on the Rubha Cadail peninsula. Professor Watson makes no reference to this village. Looking back at the first edition Ordnance Survey maps for this area the village is shown but is called Ardachadail. Professor Watson refers to Rudh’ Ard a’ Chadail which translates as the ‘sleep promontory’. Thus at that time the village was named after the promontory on which it was situated. I do not know exactly when or why the village started to appear on Ordnance Survey maps as Rhue but I do know that the 1920 maps still showed it as Ardachadail. [1]

River Carron; In Gaelic it is Carrann, Carrann meaning ‘rough’. The root is kars-, rough, as seen in , a rock, and càrn, a heap of stones, referring to the rough stony bed of the river. [1]

River Ewe; The River Ewe, Gaelic, Abhainn lu. Professor Watson said “that he had taken iu, with hesitation, from the Irish eo, yew tree; the fact that Tobar na h-Iu in Nigg showed the article is practically decisive in favour of iu being there at least a Gaelic word. No Pictish name is accompanied by the Gaelic article. But the River Ewe may be a Pictish name from the same root, or from a totally different one.” [1]

River Kerry; River Kerrie in 1638. Gaelic Abhainn Chearraidh, Norse kjarr-á, copse river, still as descriptive as ever. Also Inverkerry, Gaelic Inbhir-Chearraidh, and Loch Kerry. But Kerrysdale in Gaelic is a’ Chathair Bheag, the little fairy knoll or seat. [1]

Rona; Island off the east coast of Skye. The name Rona is from the old Norse hraun-ey meaning ‘rough isle’. [scotlandsplaces.gov.uk]

Rhuadh Stac; Listed by Professor Watson and J H Dixon as Ruadh stac, meaning ‘steep hill’ or ‘red peak’.  There are two Rhue Stac mountains in Wester Ross, Rhuadh Stac Beag (small) and Rhuadh Stac Mor (large) [1]

Rubh’ a’ Choin; On East shore of Loch Ewe, Gaelic; no reference found but I translate it as ‘Point of the Dog’. Rubha Mor; Listed by Professor Watson as Rudha-mór, ‘the big headland’. [1]

Rubha nan Sasan; A wild promontory just as one enters the Minch. Sasan is from sas, a hold or grip, and means metaphorically ' a place or thing that grips,' i.e., a point difficult to get past; or, where lines get entangled. [1]

Rubha Reidh; Listed by Watson and Dixon as Rudha-Réidh, ‘the smooth point’. [1]

S

Sail Mhor; One of An Teallach’s peaks; Gaelic Sàil Mhòr meaning ‘great heel’.[10]

Sandaig; From the Norse sanndaig meaning sand bay. [9]

Sand; At Laide, in Gaelic it is Sannda from the Norse sand-à meaning ‘sand stream’, as is proved by the presence of Inbhir-Shannda, ‘estuary of the Sand Burn’. The burial place is called Cladh Inbhirshannda from the Gaelic cladh, ‘burial place’. [1]

Sand Bay; From the Norse sannd, ‘sand’. [9]

Scalpay; Island near Skye. Gaelic is Scalpaidh (Watson) or Sgalpaigh an t-Sratha (Scottish Parliament). Derived from the Norse skálp-á, ‘ship-river’ applied to the island is ‘ship island’. [1,9]

Scoraig; Written as Sgoraig by Watson, from the Norse sgor-vík, ‘rift bay’, from a narrow gully at the place. [1]

Second Coast; Professor Watson gives two Gaelic names for this place - an t-Eirthire and an t-Eirthire shios which translate as ‘the brown shore’ or ‘on the shore side’ respectively.

The village next to Second Coast is called First Coast. I was told that the place names ‘First Coast’ and ‘Second Coast’ arose as a result of ‘confusion’ on the part of Ordnance Survey when they first mapped this area, which may be true, but I have found no evidence to support this. Given that the Gaelic names for both places (as per Watson) contain the Gaelic word for ‘coast’ (Eirthire) it is not unreasonable to assume that informal local names for these two adjacent villages would be First and Second Coast, but in Gaelic obviously. [1]

Sgeir Buidhe; Gaelic for ‘yellow sea rock’, sgeir is the Gaelic word for any sea rock. [1,12]

Sgeir Mhor; Big Skerry [12]

Sgurr Dubh; The black steep hill [12]

Sgurr a’ Ghaorachain; Professor Watson lists this as Sgùrr a’ Chaorachain so I assume the OS map spelling is incorrect. Sgùrr is a rocky peak and the Professor goes on to explain that the remainder of the name is based on caoir, a blaze of fire, with the secondary meaning of torrent. [1]

Sgùrr an Fhidhleir; Gaelic; meaning ‘the rocky peak of the fiddler’. [12, visitscotland.com]

Sgurr Ban; The white steep hill [12]

Sgurr Beag; Gaelic Sgùrr Beag; meaning ‘small peak’. [1]

Sgurr Breac; Gaelic Sgùrr Breac; meaning ‘spotted peak’. [1]

Sgùrr Creag an Eich; One of the An Teallach peaks. I could find no references giving the meaning of this name. From my own limited knowledge of Gaelic I would translate this as ‘the rock crags of the horses’.

Sgurr Dubh; The black steep hill [12]

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe; One of the peaks of Liathach. Perhaps it means peak of the dark man?

Sgùrr Mòr; Gaelic; Watson translates this as ‘Great skerry’ but as the name refers to a mountain, not a sea rock, I think it should be read as ‘Great Peak’. [1]

Sgùrr Fiona; Gaelic; Watson translates this as ‘wine peak’ from the Gaelic Fion for wine but other sources say it could mean ‘white mountain’ from the Gaelic fionn for ‘white’ or ‘pale’. [1]

Sgùrr Ruadh; One of the An Teallach peaks. No reference to this place name in my sources but I translate Gaelic name as meaning ‘red peak’ using the Apamapa elements. [10]

Shieldaig; Village named after Loch Shieldaig. In Gaelic Shieldaig is Sìldeag derived from the Norse síld-vík meaning ‘herring bay’. [1]

Skye; Skye's history includes the influence of Gaelic, Norse and English speaking peoples and the relationships between their names for the island are not straightforward. The Gaelic name for the "Isle of Skye" is An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (or Sgiathanach, a more recent and less common spelling). The meaning of this name is not clear. Various explanations have been proposed, such as the ‘winged isle’ or ‘the notched isle’ but no definitive solution has been found to date. [wikipedia]

Slattadale; Gaelic Sléiteadal from the Norse Sléttr-dalr, Even-dale. [1]

Slioch; Gaelic an Sleaghach; Here sleaghach is a noun. The base can hardly be other than sleagh, a spear, but the application is far from clear. [1]

Slios Garbh; Gaelic meaning the ‘rough slope’. [8]

Smithstown; Part of Gairloch; Gaelic Bail’ a’ ghobha ( Bail’ a’ Ghobhann in Apamapa) which takes its name from a smiddy that formerly stood by the river. [1, 10]

Sound of Raasay; Named after the island of Raasay. In Gaelic Raasay is Ratharsair or Ratharsaigh from the old Norse words Raa-s-oy, Ross-oy, Rásey or Hrossey meaning ‘roe deer island’. In Gaelic the island is also known as Eilean nam Fear Móra, ‘the island of the great men. [9]

Sound of Sleat; Sleat is derived from the Gaelic Sléibhte or Slèite which in turn are derived from the old Norse word sléttr meaning smooth, this due the southern area of Skye to which it is adjacent being much less mountainous. [9]

Spidean a Choire Leith; pinnacle of the grey corrie. [12]

Spidean Coire nan Clach; pinnacle of the stone corrie. [12]

Spidean Morich; Martha's peak so named  as this was the crag from which an ill-fated shepherdess was reputed to have fallen, becoming, as someone once wrote, the earliest recorded mountaineering casualty.[Google search]

Sron a Gheodha Dubh; Point of the black chasm [12]

Sròn an Dubh-aird; Listed as Dubh-airde by Professor Watson, ‘the black promontory’. The version on the OS Map Sròn an Dubh-aird would translate as the ‘point of the black promontory’ from the Gaelic SrònI, ‘point’. [1]

Sron nan Oban; Point of the small bay. [12]

Stac Pollaidh; I was unable to find this name referred to in any authoritative sources and a web search revealed conflicting definitions. From these researches it would appear that it is a hybrid Norse/Gaelic name. Stac from the Norse Stakkr meaning ‘hill’ or ‘precipitous rock’ and the Gaelic Poll meaning pool. Given that Stac Pollaidh towers over Loch Lurgainn this seems to be an appropriate name. Professor Watson said of the nearby river Abhainn Phollaidh that Pollaidh in this context means the river of ‘pools’ or ‘holes. [1]

Stac Ruadh; Red Cliff [12]

Stattic Point G. Stadaig ; -aig is N. vik, bay. The only N. word that would result in Gaelic stad is stdt, prudishness, which gives no sense.[1]

Stob a Choire Liath Mhor; One of Liathach's peaks the name meaning Point of the big grey corrie. [12]

Stoer; In Sutherland it is the name of a village, a bay, a peninsula, and probably most famously, as the ‘Old Man of Stoer’ a huge rock stack just off the coast. The Scottish Parliament website states that it is An Stòr in Gaelic and is derived from a Norse word meaning ‘large’. One might then ask, a large what?

According to ‘Place names of Highlands and Islands in Scotland’ by Alex MacBain it is derived from the Norse word stor meaning ‘big’ and that it is commonly used as a prefix in place names. This makes more sense and implies that the name Stoer on its own is missing something. It may be that the name originally was applied to the huge rock stack that we now call the Old Man of Stoer. The Norsemen may have called it something like Stor Stakkr and over time the suffix was dropped as the name Stoer was applied to various other local features such as the bay, the peninsula and the settlement.

To confuse the situation further a Highland Council publication concerning The Old Man of Stoer claims that the name Stoer comes from the Norse word Staurr meaning ‘a pole’. [9,11]

Stornoway; In Gaelic it is Steòrnabhadh and is derived from the Norse Stjórnar-vagr meaning ‘steerage bay’ or ‘rudder bay’. [1]

Strath; Part of the Gairloch settlement, Gaelic; an Srath (Watson) A’ Srath (Wentworth), that is ‘the low ground’.

Strathaird; In Gaelic is Srath na h-Àirde, that is ‘the strath with the headland’. [9]

Strath Beag; Written as Strathbeg by Watson. Gaelic; an Srath beag, the ‘small strath’ to distinguish it from Strathmore at the head of Loch Broom. [1]

Strathcarron; The strath of the Carron – see Loch Carron.

Strathmore; Gaelic an Strath Mór. ‘the big strath’ at the head of Loch Broom. [1]

Strath na Sealga; Strath of the hunts [1]

Stromeferry; Professor Watson states this is a hybrid name, ‘ferry’ is English while ‘Strome’ is Norse derived from straumr meaning current or stream. The Gaelic name is Port an t-Sroim where the presence of the article with Sroim indicates it was felt to have come from a Gaelic word. [1]

Stromemore; The village name derives from the Norse straumr, stream, and the Gaelic Mòr meaning ‘great’. [1]

Stuanmore; From the Gaelic An Sruthan Mór, ‘the big stream’. [9]

Stuc a Choire Dhuibh Bhig; pinnacle of the small dark corrie [12]

Suilven; A very dramatic shaped mountain in Sutherland. None of the authoritative sources I use list this name. Researching other sources on the web indicates its name is an amalgam of Norse and Gaelic derived from Sula Bheinn, where Sula is Norse for pillar and Bheinn is Gaelic for mountain.

Summer Isles; A collective name for a scattered group of islands lying close to the North-west coast of Scotland just north of Ullapool. From the Gaelic na h-Eileanan Samhraidh meaning ‘summer isles’. [1, 9]

Sutherland; From the Norse Suðerland, that is ‘South Land’. It may seem odd that the far north of Scotland should have a name which means ‘South Land’, but if you were on Viking raiding party from Norway it would have been an obvious name to choose. [Highlands and Islands Enterprise]

T

Tanera Beag; Gaelic Tannara; Norse h.fnar-ey with the usual prefixed t, meaning ‘Small Harbour Isle. [1]

Tanera Mor; Gaelic Tannara; Norse h.fnar-ey with the usual prefixed t, meaning ‘ Big Harbour Isle. [1]

The Little Minch; In Gaelic it is Cuan Canach where Cuan translates as sea but Canach translates as bog cotton or cotton grass which is obviously not a satisfactory answer. Research to date has yet to find a more satisfactory explanation. [Wikipedia]

The Minch; In Gaelic it is An Cuan Sgith which translates as ‘the weary sea’. In old Norse it was known as Skotlandsfjörð, ‘Scotland’s Fjiord’. [Scottish Natural Heritage, Wikipedia]

The Old Man of Storr; There is some uncertainty in the origin of this name. It is argued by some that it is derived from the old Norse word stórr meaning ‘big’ and thus might mean ‘the great man’. Another explanation concerns the word starr, defined in Dineen’s Irish-English dictionary as a ‘projection, a stump, tooth or tusk’, and this is a description that seems appropriate. Peter Drummond’s book ‘Scottish Hill Names : Their Origin and Meaning’ goes into this in more depth.

Tollaidh Crags; See Creag Mhór Tollaidh.

Tollie; Gaelic is Tollaidh, ‘place of the holes’, there are also Tollie Farm, Tollie Bay, Tollie Rock, Tollie Burn and Loch Tollaidh [1]

Tollie Crags; See Creag Mhór Tollaidh.

Torr a’ Mhuillir; My source for this is Kenneth C Mackenzies book ‘Place Names in and around Poolewe. Known by locals as An Torr its full Gaelic name Torr a’ Mhuillir, translates as the ‘the millers’ tower. Does this imply that in the past there was a Mill situated on this part of the River Ewe?

Torridon; Professor Watson gives a detailed account starting with the recorded history of this name – Torvirtayne 1464; Torrerdone 1584; Gaelic Toir(bh)eartan compare with the Irish tairbheart, to transfer, carry over, the infinitive of tairbrim. This would give the place the meaning of ‘place of transference’ with reference to the portage from the head of Loch Torridon through Glen Torridon to Loch Maree. The name applies specially to the strip of land at the head of the loch. [1]

Toscaig; Gaelic is Toghscaig from the Norse meaning ‘strip of land at the howe’. [1,9]

Tournaig; In Gaelic it is Tùrnaig. Professor Watson states this is a difficult name to explain. He explains that aig looks like it may be derived from the Norse vík, ‘bay’, but Tùrnaig in Strath Oykell, far inland, is seriously against it; and the first part, turn, is not readily explained from Norse sources. He concludes that it may be locative of the Gaelic tuairneag, a rounded thing; boss, hillock, which would suit the place. [1]

Trotternish; from the NorseTròndairnis meaning ‘Thrond’s Headland. Trotternish people were nicknamed coin ‘dogs’, and known as stapagaich, ‘stapag people’ by their neighbours in Duirinish. Trotternish itself was known as Dùthaich nan Stapag or am Fearann Stapagach, the stapag land’, stapag being an oatmeal-based dish. [9]

U

Udrigle; Udrigle is possibly a Norse name, however Professor Watson suggests it may be derived from the Norse útargill, meaning outer cleft or gully. [1]

Ullapool; Gaelic is Ullabul derived from the Norse Ulli-bólstaðr meaning ‘Ulli’s stead’. [1]

Unapool; A village in Sutherland. It receives its name from uni; it means ‘Uni’s Bol’. Allied to Bol is the Norse word bólstaðr meaning ‘farm stead’, thus meaning ‘Uni’s Farmstead’. This explanation is consistent with Watson’s explanation of the place name Ullapool. [11]

Ullinish Point; According to the Scottish Parliament website this name is derived from the Norse Uilinis or Uilbhinis meaning ‘Wolf Headland’. However some Skye websites, although agreeing on its Norse origin, claim it means Ulli’s point.

W

Witches Point; A common local name for a promontory on the eastern shore of Loch Maree, its Gaelic name being Rudha Chailleach, meaning ‘point of the old woman. According to J H Dixon this is the point where it is supposed women accused of witchcraft used to be ducked, or more probably drowned, but that no stories of witches connected with it are now extant. [14]

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