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16 October 2014
See You See Me - Scots and Picts

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Place names

Many Scottish place names have their roots in either the Gaelic, Pictish, or Norse language. Here are some examples.


Many Scottish place names have their origins in the Gaelic language. Some are:-
‘Inver’ meaning meeting of the waters. Examples of these are Inverness and Inverkip.
‘Tigh’ meaning house. Examples are Tighnabruaich and Tyndrum.
‘Dun’ meaning fortress or castle. Examples are Dundee and Dunkeld.
‘Cill’ meaning chapel or church. Examples are Kildonan, Kilconquhar, Kilkenneth.

map of Scotland


Many Scottish place names have their origins in Pictish times.
Some are:-
‘Pett’ (pit) meaning portion or share. Examples are Pittenweem and Pitlochry (Some include people’s names eg Pitcarmick, Pitewan, Pitcalman or their job eg Pitskelly which means the storyteller’s share or place).
‘Carden’ meaning thicket. Examples of this are Kincardine and Urquhart.
‘Aber’ meaning river mouth. Examples are Aberdeen and Aberdour.


There are many Scottish place names which have Norse origins. Norse names are mostly found round the coast as the Norse arrived by boat and stuck mostly to coastal regions. Some are:-
‘dalr’ (-dale) meaning valley. Examples are Brosdale, Helmsdale, and Laxdale (2 norse words together!)
‘Lax’ meaning salmon. Examples are Laxay and Laxdale, both are villages in Lewis.
‘Vik’ (wick) meaning a bay. Examples of this would be Wick , Lerwick and Uig.
‘fjord’ meaning sea- loch. Examples are Gruinart, Snizort , Collafirth , Seaforth.

Find out what the meaning of your town or village’s name. Then email us with the meaning and we will post it in the My Town Your Town section of the site.

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