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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Names in Scots - Places in Scotland

This section of the website is intended to provide a guide to Scots forms of personal and place names. There are few areas where the process of smothering Scots is more apparent than in its names for people and places. Around the year 1800 – though the process varied from place to place – it was apparent that the Anglicised upper classes in Scotland were attempting to change place (and personal) names into English equivalents. One parish minister in Aberdeen, for example, writing in the 1790s, noted “…We cannot give a better example…of the advances…which we are daily making towards English. We almost never hear now of the Braidgate and the Castle Gate. They are become universally the Broadstreet and the Castle Street…” and also that over the past fifty years all new ways had been named streets and lanes rather than gates or wynds by the council. In another instance, in the burgh of St Andrews, the provost (mayor) of the town embarked on a sustained campaign to change Scots names to English equivalents during the mid-19th century. A good example of this is Baxter Wynd which was changed to Baker Lane, though, more recently, St Andrews has acknowledged these Anglicised changes. It is now generally admitted that if one loses personal and place names the identity of a language becomes impaired. This has now become so acute that many people who otherwise speak and write consistent Scots will habitually use the English forms of personal and place names, without even realising there are Scots equivalents. It is also common practice for writers of personal and place name guides to either ignore the Scots forms (not being aware of them), or, worse, relegate Scots to the status of ‘pet’ forms of English, while at the same time being careful to detail, say, Gaelic forms (as separate from Irish). Even when the existence of Scots forms is pointed out there is often a reluctance to acknowledge them. A proposal to include Scots signs in the new Scottish parliament, alongside English and Gaelic, was rejected in 1999. Under the provisions of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, ratified by the UK government in 2001, Scots is accorded stage III status. The charter specifically cites the use of names in Scots forms as being essential to the maintenance of the identity of the language. But, for the time being, the Scots language remains largely invisible at the heart of Scottish government.

A good, modern source for Scottish place names in their Scots forms is ‘The Scots Map and Guide/Cairte in the Scots Leid’ published by MMA Maps, Glasgow, in 1993 (ISBN 0-9522629-4-0) which came complete with a guide and gazetteer in Scots, German, French and English, and provided tourist information on the map itself. The map is currently out of print.

Scottish Place Names in Scots
The following place names indicate both local pronunciation and/or distinct forms of names which have evolved within Scots-speaking Scotland. By no means is this list exhaustive. These can be found in both the Scottish National Dictionary and MMA's Map in Scots. In each case the form accepted in English comes first and is then followed by the Scots form.

Aberchirder - Fogieloan
Aberdeen - Aiberdeen
Aboyne - Abyne
Alford - Aaford
Anstruther - Ainster or Enster
Auchtermuchty - Muchtie
Banff - Bamff
Berwick - Berrick
Bridge of Allan - Brig Allan
Broughty Ferry - Brochty
Burghead - Brochheid
Caithness - Caitnes
Campbeltown - Cammeltoun
Coatbridge - Coatbrig
Coldstream - Castrim
Cowdenbeath - Coudenbaith
Cumbernauld - Cummernaud
Dingwall - Dingwal
Dornoch - Dornach
Dumbarton - Dumbartoun or Dumbertan
Dunfermline - Dumfaurlin
Dunkeld - Dunkell
Edinburgh - Embra or Edinburrae
Elgin - Ailgin
Falkirk - The Fawkirk
Falkland - Fauklan
Forfar - Farfar
Fort William - The Fort
Fraserburgh - The Broch
Galashiels - Gallae
Galloway - Gallowa
Glasgow - Glesca
Haddington - Haidintoun
Hawick - Haaick
Helmsdale - Helmsdal
Holyrood - Halyruid
Inverkeithing - Innerkeithin
Inverary - Inverera
Inverness - Innerness
Inverurie - Innerurie
Jedburgh - Jethart
Kelso - Kelsae
Kilmarnock - Kilmaurnock
Kilsyth - Kilseyth
Kingussie - Kineussie
Kirkcaldy - Kirkcaudy
Kirkcudbright - Kirkoubrie
Kirkwall – Kirkwal
Lanark - Lanrik
Lerwick - Lerrick
Lesmahagow - Lismahagie
Linlithgow - Lithcae
Livingston - Leivinstoun
Lossiemouth - Lossie
Old Deer - Auld Deer
Perth - Pairth
Peterhead - Peterheid
Saint Andrews - Saunt Aundraes
Saint Boswells - Bosells
South Isles - Sooth Isles
Stirling - Stirlin
Stonehaven - Steinhyve
Stornoway - Stornowa
Stranraer - Stranrawer
Thurso - Thursa
Troon - The Truin
Western Isles - Waster Isles
Wick - Weik
Wigtown - Wigtoun
Wishaw - Wishae