The landscape of the North-west Highlands and the Gaelic language are intimately connected. Other languages have contributed to the richness of our place names, notably Norse, but the North-west Highlands have for centuries been a Gaelic landscape. For the meanings of place names click on the links below.
Note that the place names listed are primarily based on the places I have photographed. Therefore, while reading the captions for photographs in the gallery and you want to discover the meaning of the place names mentioned in these captions all you need do is just click the relevant link below. There are also links to the place name indexes listed below from every gallery page to make navigation as simple as possible.
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.
LINKS TO NORTH-WEST HIGHLAND PLACE NAMES
PLACE NAME SOURCES
In listing the meanings of place names I have relied on authoritative sources wherever possible, including the following;
1. PROFESSOR W J WATSON’S BOOK ‘PLACE NAMES OF ROSS AND CROMARTY’ REPRINTED IN 1996
2. GAELIC PLACE NAMES OF BEINN EIGHE NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE (SNH/ROY WENTWORTH)
3. PLACE NAMES OF LOCH MAREE ISLANDS NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE (SNH/ROY WENTWORTH)
10. APAMAPA website, AN INTRODUCTION TO PLACE NAMES BY NEVIS HULME WITH AN EMPHASIS ON THE GAIRLOCH AREA. [Unfortunately this is no longer available - see notes re Apamapa below]
11. PLACE NAMES OF HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND BY ALEX MACBAIN
12. GUIDE TO GAELIC ORIGINS OF PLACE NAMES IN BRITAIN BY ORDNANCE SURVEY
13. SCOTTISH PLACE NAME SOCIETY INDEX OF CELTIC AND OTHER ELEMENTS IN W.J.WATSON'S 'THE HISTORY OF THE CELTIC PLACE-NAMES OF SCOTLAND'.
14 'GAIRLOCH AND GUIDE TO LOCH MAREE' BY J H DIXON.
NOTES ON SOURCES
Sources 2 and 3 above are not available on-line but can be purchased from Scottish Natural Heritage.
The source I use most often (because it covers all of Ross and Cromarty in considerable detail) is Professor Watson's 'Place Names of Ross and Cromarty'. Professor William J. Watson, 1865-1948, was a toponymist, that is one who makes a study of place names. He is considered by specialists, such as the Scottish Place Name Society, to have been the pre-eminent Scottish scholar in this field. I have a well thumbed copy of this excellent book but an online version has been published by the Internet Archive and it can be viewed by clicking the link in the list of sources given above.
The Apamapa website deserved a special mention. It concentrated on Wester Ross place names with a particular emphasis on the Gairloch area. Created by Nevis Hulme and also incorporating research conducted by Roy Wentworth from 1996-1999 it was the best resource available for place names in the area surrounding Gairloch. It also had a truly excellent INTRODUCTION to place names and their study covering topics such as the history of and accuracy or otherwise of place names on OS Maps, and the correct pronunciation, spelling and grammar of the Gaelic language. This introduction illuminated for me many otherwise mysterious aspects of Gaelic place names and the language. It is unfortunate it is no longer available but I was fortunate to benefit from it as a research source while compiling my own lists. A very small part of the Apamapa website continues to exist on a Geocities website for the Gairloch High School Geography Department.
In addition to the above named sources there are many community websites for the various towns and villages in the North-west Highlands. I have used them as a source of information only when the sources listed above fail to provide information on a particular place name.
In some cases there are conflicting explanations for place names and where this is so I have listed the different explanations. In a few cases I have been unable to find any explanation for certain place names and I have indicated where this is so. If anyone can add to the information given or suggest corrections to the place name explanations under each photograph I will be very happy to hear from them.