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The History of Fettercairn
Chapter XXXVII.— Place-Names

THE aggregate number of farms, crofts and homesteads, old and new, in the parish was stated in chapter II. to be 114. Of that number only about 76 are now inhabited—the remaining 38, or one-third of the whole, are old and extinct homesteads, of which in many cases no trace remains other than their names, as recorded in the Parish Registers, and in the landowners' estate papers. To not a few of them it is now impossible to assign their respective localities. The place-names of the parish are very nearly one half wholly or partly Celtic, and one half purely Saxon: some three or four of the latter are new names of habitations recently founded. Places were originally named not indiscriminately, but with due regard to some peculiarity or leading feature of the locality. Down to a time not very remote, Gaelic was the universal language of the people, and their homesteads stood on the high and dry spots where the soil was good, with natural drainage and easy cultivation. This explains the reason why the names of all such localities, as well as of the farms and holdings on the hill slopes, are nearly all Celtic. Along the braes and higher grounds of the parish which, in ancient times, were the thickly populated parts, we find many of the names beginning with the prefix Bal, a home or town, as Balbegno, Balnakettle, Balfour, &c. And others with Drum, a ridge, as Drumhendry, and Am, tilled land, as Arnhall, &c.

The low-lying, wet and marshy lands were left by the Celts to be drained and improved by the generations that followed and ceased to speak the old language; so that new homes and holdings on these lands received names purely Saxon, as Boarstone, Causewayend, Moss-side, Nethermill; or Scotch, as Meikleha', Rashiemyres, Reekit-lane, &c. The names of places recently founded are Mossbank, Primrosehill, and Westburn. Not a few place-names on the.improved lands of the parish have either Celtic prefixes or postfixes, as Bog, a marsh, in Bogmuir and Blairbog; Cairfi, a heap, in Cairngreen; Craig, a rock, in Craighill; Crichie, clayey, in Crichieburn; Hare, a landsend, in Harestone; Srath or Strath, a valley, in Meiklestrath and Littlestrath.

A complete list of the parish place-names need not be given here; those of purely Saxon etymology may be omitted. The rest being of Celtic origin are mostly those with the same meanings as given by Surgeon-General W.G.Don, with the help of the writer, in his "Archseological Notes," recently published, and run as follows:—

Arnhall—Ar, tilled land; alia, high, or alluidh, pleasant. Or from am, alder, and hall (Saxon).

Balbegno—Bal, town; beg, little; no or noth, watery place (anciently, Balbegnoth).

Balmain—Bal, town; main or meadhon, middle. The mid-town between Balbegno and Esslie.

Balfour—Bal, town ; fuar, cold or watery.

Balnakkttle—Bal, town ; na, of ; kettle, den ; or ceit, sunny, with goll, gorge. Old crofts on Balnakettle were, Craigieleith— Craig, a rock {i.e., diminutive); lei, water. Skairhughes— SJceir, rocky hill; ginbhas, fir-wood. Skairruids—Skeir, with raids, bog-myrtle. . Stranosen—Srath, a valley; an oiseinn, of the corner; and the hill above, Bannock—Bonnach, circular or bonnet flat.

Barna, anciently Ballernoch—town on the eminence.

Bilbo, now Toghills cottages—Bil, border; 60 or both, dwelling.

Bogendollo— Bog, marsh ; an, of; du-loch, black lake. Old name,

Blacklatch—latch, a mire. Bonhary—Bo or both, dwelling ; airidh, green spot on the hill. Capo—Ceap, projectin ; o or och (auch), field. Compare Keppoch,

Inverness. Craigniston—Craig, rock ; innis, island; and town—Mains of

Craigniston, the upper part of Coldstream farm.

Dalally—Dal, field ; alluidh, high or pleasant.

Dalladies—Dal, with leithid aighis, terraces. The farm of terraced fields.

Disclune—Deis, south ; cluairi, green. Compare Clunie.

Denstrath—Dun, hill; strath, valley.

Drumhendry, corruption of the old name Drumry—Drum, a ridge, and ruighe, extended high ground. Esslie—Ais, elevated site; light, water. The height overlooking the old lake.

Fasque (formerly Faskie)—Fasga, shelter; dubh, black or dark.

Compare Fascally, the wooded shelter.

Flatnadriech—Plat, plot; na-driech, of the dark or shaded place.

GARROL or Garron (the hill above Fasque)—

Garbh, rough; meall, hill, or dun, fortified hill. The first is the older name, and perhaps more correct than Garron as now called.

Gourdon—Garadh, garden; dun, eminence.

Inch—Innis, island; the high ground in the surrounding bog.

Leith (part of the village)—Leehe, water. Compare Leith, Drumlithie, &c.

Monduff (hill above Thainston)—Monadh, hill; dubh, dark.

Stankeye—Stang, ditch or water hollow; duibhe, black.

Steelstrath—Steal I, stream ; srath, valley of outlet drainage.

Tarrywinnox (at West Woodton)—icinnox, windows; hollows in the hill through which the sun shone when low in winter.

Thornyhill—Torrainallnidh; Torrain, hillocks; alluidh, pleasant.

Tilxyfountain (now Caldcotes)—

Tilly, eminence; fountain for pundainn, poinding place of cattle strayed from Fasque.

Tillytoghills—Tilly, eminence; taobh, side; goutl, gully. The homestead was originally high up on the east side of the hill.

Whins, for "Quainzie" in the old Records; either from cuinge, narrowness (the narrowing lands), or chuineas, whins or furze.

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