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Strathnairn Heritage Association

Strathnairn Place Names


By Rev. Dr. John MacPherson M.A.

Place names also provide all sorts of information about an area - describing not just physical features but also giving social and economic clues to the location. The folowing article is an extract from the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, presented at their meeting of 11th March 1955 by the then parish minister, the Rev.Dr.John MacPherson. The names are overwhelmingly of Gaelic origin although some of the earlier Pictish names still survive.

Boundaries of the Parish

The parish is bounded on the south and east by the parish of Moy and Dalarossie, on the west and north-west by the parishes of Boleskine and Dores, on the north and north-east by the parishes of Inverness and Croy and Dalcross.

Archaeological Remains

There are stone circles at Daviot, Gask, Farr and Tordarroch which lead me to think that, at one time, the people who lived in the district worshipped the sun in the temples of the Druids.

What strikes me as peculiar is that there are no footprints of the Celtic missionaries, and no traces of the Celtic Church to be found in the district. There are no saints names commemorated in the names of the churches, burying places, wells or place-names.

Sources of Information

In writing this "paper" I have been fortunate in securing the help of people belonging to different parts of the parish who still spoke Gaelic and who know the correct pronunciation of the names in their own neighbourhood. In addition to the information which I collected locally, I have collected all the old records on which I could lay my hands, and I have thus gained a great deal of valuable information regarding the place-names and the history of the district.

Aberarder - The Pictish aber had two forms aber and ober. The latter alone has survived in modern Gaelic place-names (Obair-pheallaidh - Aberfeldy). Dobhar is a name for water.

Obair + ard + dobhar
"Confluence of high water"
There is a place of the same name at Kinlochlaggan with which I am familiar and there is another in Aberdeenshire.

Aberchalder - Obair + Chaladar at the west end of the parish means confluence of the Calder - Calder is a stream name and is very common in place-names throughout Scotland. It is a survival of early British- Caleto duberon- "hard water".

Achnahillin - Ach na h-iodhlainn, field of the corn-yard. It lies a little to the south of Daviot Station. It comes from Old Irish ithla, genitive ithland.
Ith + lann means corn enclosure.

Ach na Heilt - Ach na h-eilde, field of the hind. It lies south of Ach na hillin. There is a burn nearby which is known as Allt nah-eilde - Burn of the hind.

Achlas Choille - Armpit of the wood. This place was at one time a farm by itself, but it is now part of the farm of Faillie.

Achneem - Ach an Ime - field of butter. The grazing on this farm is good and the milk is rich in butter content, hence its name, im (gen. ime - butter).

Achloddan - Field of the little pool.

Achvaneran - Ach Mhainnirean, Field of the little sheepfold or pen. Mainnir gen. Mainnreach = sheepfold.

Achbain - Achadh Ban, fair field. It lies south of Scatraig farm.

Achvraid - Ach a' bhraghad, field of the upland. It is a small farm in an upland glen on the Flichity Estate.

Allt Beag - Little Burn, south of Loch Farr

Allt Mor - Big Burn, near source of River Nairn.

Allt nan Adag - Allt, burn +adag, sttok of corn or haddock. Burn of the haddocks or stooks of corn.

Allt na Fuar-Ghlaic - Burn of the cold hollow, glac, hollow.

Allt na Lairige - Burn of the Pass, lairig, a pass.

Allt Doire Leathain - Burn of the wide copse.

Allt Uisge an t-Sithein - Burn of the water of the fairy-hill.

Allt Cailtidh - Cailtidh is a reduced form of Caladar representing an early form caleto-dubron - hard water.

Allt na Beinne - Burn of the hill, near Achvraid.

Allt an Eoin Ruadha - For Allt An Eoin Ruaidhe, Burn of the red bird.

Allt Lugie - Burn of the twisted channel.

Ardochy - Ard + achadh, high field , or high place.

Ballindalloch - Baile na dalach, Stead of the dale.

Ballone - Baile an loin, Stead of the marsh.

Ballinluig - Stead of the hollow. Lag, hollow.

Baile an Lagain - Stead of the little hollow. It is situated between Lairgandour and Scatraig.

Balnaboc - Baile nam boc, stead of the goats.

Balnaboddach - Stead of the old men. Bodach, old man.

Balnaglachy of Drumbuey - Place of the stones of yellow ridge.

Balnafoich - Baile na faiche, Stead of the green field; faich, green field.

Baile na Froige - Stead of the hollow, frog, crevice or den. This place is part of the farm of Mid Craggie.

Balnoe - Baile Nodha, new stead. Nodha is from nuadh, new.

Ballachar - Baile a'Chair, stead of the mossy meadow. It is on Loch Ruthven.

Balvonie - Baile a' mhonaidh, Stead on the moor. Moorland farm.

Balvraid - Stead of the upland, braighe, upper part.

Balvoulin - Stead of the mill, Baile a Mhuilinn.

Baile an Tuim - Stead of the knoll, now part of the farm of Braeval.

Beachan - Beathachan, little nook of the birches.

Beinn na Buchanaich - Hill of the melodious sounds (birds singing).

Beinn a' Chuiridh - Hill of the roaring noise.

Beinn na Caillich - Hill of the old woman, cailleach, old woman.

Beinn Buidhe - Yellow hill.

Beinn Mheadhoin - middle hill.

Beinn Acha Bhraghad - Hill of the upland field.

Beinn Bhreac - Dappled hill.

Blar Buidhe - Yellow meadow. Covered with yellow flowers or golden corn.

Blar a' Char - Field of the bend, car, bend.

Brin - Braon, drop of water. Wet place.

Bunachton - Both Nechtain, Nechtain's stead. Both in Gaelic means hut but in Pictish it means stead.

Callan Odhar - Dun coloured nook.

Caochan Breac - Dappled, gurgling stream.

Carn an Fhreacadan - The watchman's cairn.

Carn Dearg - Red cairn.

Carn Doire na h-Achlais - Cairn of the copse of the armpit.

Carn Glac an Eich - Cairn of the horse's hollow.

Carn Ghriogoir - Gregor's cairn.

Carn Liath - Grey cairn.

Carn Liath Doire - Cairn of the grey copse.

Carn Loch na Leiter - Cairn of the slope of the loch.

Carn Mor - Big cairn.

Carn na Croiche - Cairn of the Gallows.

Carn Sguabaig - Cairn of the little sheaf.

Carn Saobhaidh - Cairn of the den of the fox.

Carn Odhar - Dun cairn.

Carn Pollochie - Cairn of the place of pools.

Carn Righean - Carn Ruighean. Cairn of the little ridge.

Caulan - Cuilean, a little nook.

Crask - Crasg, gen. Croisg, crossing. It is known as Crasg Sheumais, Jame's crossing.

Carn Dhearg - red rock.

Creag Dhubh - Black rock.

Craig Ruthven - Creag Ruadhainn, Rock of Ruthven. The first part is from ruadh, red, and the second part is from meinn, mine.

Cnoc Sgumain - Knoll of the stack of corn.

Creagan a' Chaise - The craggan of cheese. This craggan is opposite Craggie Cottage, Daviot. A craggan on the moor where travellers rested before crossing the hills to Aberdeenshire.

Creagan an Tuirc - The rocky hillock of the Boar. Torc, boar.

Croachy - Cruachaidh, place of peaks.

Cuil Chuinneig - Nook of the milking pail.

Culloden - Cuil fhodair. In modern Gaelic it means fodder-nook. In the year 1238 the spelling was Cullodyn. It has nothing to do with fodder. It comes from lodan, a little pool. It means nook of the pool.

Dalcrombie - Dail Crombaidh, the winding dell. It is derived from Gaelic oromb. O.Irish, oromb, bent.

Dalriach - Dail Riabhaich, the brindled meadow. It is on Brin Estate.

Dalveallan - From Gaelic dail, dell, and meall, mound. The dell of the little mound.

Deimhidh - It is from the root dem meaning "sure" or "strong".

Dalvourn - Dail Bhuirn, dell of water. I am informed that there are three wells there and besides the ground is very wet.

Dell - An Dail. The full name is Dail mhic Eachuinn. The dell of the son of Hector.

Drumboy - Druim Buidhe, Yellow ridge.

Druim Chal - Druim, ridge, Cal, hard. Old Celtic Caletos, hard.

Druimdubh - Black ridge on Farr Estate.

Druimlia - Grey ridge.

Dubh Challow - Dubh + Chailaibh. Black wet meadows. Cail, wet meadow.

Dunlichity - Dun + Flechate. Dun, hill or fort. Flichead, moisture. The hill of the wet place.

Dunmaglass - Dun mac Glais, Fort of the sons of Glas. It may be Dun magh glas, mound of the green field.

Elrick - Eilrig, a pass. It was used in connection with deer hunting. The deer were driven through the pass and shot down by hunters as they emerged at the other end.

Faillie - Fail, edge. The place on the edge or it may be from fad + ailledh, beautiful place. In olden times it was known as Faille grianach Srathnarunn, Sunny Faillie of Strathnairn.

Farr - There is a place of the same name in Sutherland. It is from Farr, over and above.

Flichity - In 1860 it was recorded as Flechate and comes from fluich, wet.

Feith Glas - Grey bog. It is on Farr Estate.

Fearnag - Little alder burn.

Gaig - Is Gaelic gag, pass or opening, gaig is locative.

Garbhal Beag - Garbh, rough + ail, rock. Garbhal Mor, garbh, rough, mor, big rock.

Glaic a' Chatha - Glac a' Chadha. The hollow of the pass, cadha, pass.

Gleann Fireachan - Fireach, hill land. Glen of the little moor.

Inverernie - Inbhir + fearna. Inbhir, at the mouth of, fearn, alder wood. At the mouth of the alder burn.

Gortean nan Gour - Goirtean nan Gobhar. The little field of the goats. Gort field, goirtean little field.

Knocknagroiseag - Knock, hill or knoll. Cnaimhseag, bearberry. Knoll of the bear-berries.

Lagmore - Lag, a hollow. Mor, big. Big hollow.

Lagg - Lag, hollow. It is the same as logie from logaich or logach, place in the hollow.

Lairigandour - Lairig an Tuir. Pass of the tower. In olden times the tower was for defence.

Leitirchullin - Leitir a'Chuillinn. Slope of the holly. Leitir is usually a slope with water at the foot of it.

Mid Lairgs - An Lairg Mheadhonach. The midddle pass.

Meallmore - Meall mor, big rounded hill.

Meall na Fuar Ghlaic - Rounded, mass of the cold hollow.

River Nairn - Abhainn Narunn, compare natare, to swim and snamh, swimming.

Pairc an Tailleir - The tailor's park. The tailor was murdered in a plantation at Flichity and is buried in the field which is called Pairc an Tailleir.

Shenval - Sean, old + baile, old stead.

Socaich - Land shaped like a snout, from soc, snout. Old Irish, seoc. This place lies a little west of Farr.

Tom a' Mhoid - Assembly hill where justice was dispensed.

Tomintoul - Tom an t-Sabhail, knoll of the barn.

Tom na Seangan - Tom nan Seangan. The ants' mound at Dunmaglass.

Tigh an Allan - House of the green near Tomintoul and is known now as Flichity Hotel. It was the doctor's residence about eighty years ago.

Tordarroch - Mound of the oak-wood.

Scatraig - This a name which has puzzled many and some maintain that it is not a Gaelic name at all. Cf Raig, a fort + sgath, outer, outer fort.

Tullich - An Tulaich, place of the stead on the knoll. Cf Latin tumor, swelling.

Tynrich - Tigh an fhraoich, house of the heather - fraoch, heather.