Earlier this year I attended a Gaelic place names lecture, led by Hebrides-born Cailean Maclean, as part of the Fort William Mountain Festival. It was fascinating and helped me to understand the names of some of our hills, valley and settlements. Whether you walk, run, cycle or ski through our countryside, it’s good to know what the names of places mean.
And today a new guide is launched at the Skye Book Festival that celebrates Gaelic’s far-reaching links with our cultural and natural heritage. Gaelic in the Landscape: Place-names of Strath, Isle of Skye, is bilingual and was co-ordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba (AÀA), the national advisory partnership for Gaelic place-names in Scotland.
The project has received funding from the national Gaelic language and culture research network Soillse. Place-name researchers Ruairidh Graham and Edit Wenelius, with training and support from Dr Jacob King and Eilidh Scammell of AÀA, collected information and associated stories on more than 100 place names from members of the community. Many have never appeared in print before.
SNH project co-ordinator Robyn Ireland said: “In understanding the meaning behind place names we have an opportunity to interpret the landscape differently.
“These place names generally offer a uniquely Scottish, and Highland, perspective of the link between the land and the communities who lived there for generations. We are thrilled to launch this new publication.”
The booklet can be found at Place-names of Strath.
There are also publications for Islay and Jura, North west Highlands and Lochaber.