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Scottish Placenames

There are no place names in Scotland that are Roman in origin. The people that occupied an area can not be definitively stated from a place name but trends can be established

There are a number of different languages that contribute to placenames. An area occupied by Brythonic (Old Welsh) speaking people may have place names associated with that language. “Aber” meaning river mouth is found across the east of Scotland. An area occupied by Scottish Gaelic-speaking people will adopt these placer names – “Inver” meaning mouth of a river. Then the Vikings came and northwestern Scotland has an abundance of Norse place names. The Normans added their language and finally English. When maps were produced the word written down is what the person thought they heard adding further confusion. Transcription errors in old documents contribute to confusion. Invading forces may also adapt a native word for an area into their own language

Notable geographic words and their origins.

WordMeaningLanguageExamples
Abermouth ofBrythonicAberdeen, Aberlady, Aberfeldy, Aberlour
CaerfortBrythonicCramond (Cair Almond)
DalevalleyNorseHelmsdale
DunfortGaelicDundee, Dumbarton, Dunkeld
Invermouth ofGaelicInverness, Invergordon
KilChurchGaelicKilmarnock, Kilwinning
VikbayNorseLerwick, Wick

References

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