Discovering the islands through their place-names is one of the best ways to understand their past history. It also provides an insight in their natural features and the way Hebridean people looked at their environment and interpreted it through the lens of their rich culture.
Watch this space for an audio guide of how to pronounce the Gaelic names. We are working on this at present!
A' Chill: The field where the Celtic Cross is situated. It takes its name from the Early Celtic church that once stood there - A' Chill means Church in Gaelic - close to a monastery dedicated to St Columba. The area being one of the most fertile on the island, it became its main settlement, known from the 17th century onwards as Keill. Most of its inhabitants were cleared to Greod on nearby Sanday in the Clearances of 1850.
Am Mialagan: The name of the hill above the shrine on Sanday and the short cut over to Sanday when the tide is in.
An t-Each: Stac of the Horse (An t-Each means horse in Gaelic)
An t-Oban: the small wide bay - the same as the town of Oban
Cannaidh: The name Canna is of unknown origin. An ancient fort at the west end of Canna is called Dùn Chana and may have been called after the person for whom the fort was created. The Vikings who plundered many of the west coast islands are perhaps the originators in part of the name, with the word “ey” meaning island in Old Norse. The two together creating the name Cannaidh.
Carn a Ghaill: At 210 metres this is the highest point on Canna, translated as the Cairn of the Stranger
Ceann an Eilean: Literally means Head of the Island - where the lighthouse is located
Clach a'Pheanais: Punishment Stone
Cnoc Bhrostan: it refres to the hill behind Tighard, Brostan's Hill.
Cnoc na Ceàrdaich: The Mound of the Fairy Smithy: it is the name for the small mound near the graveyard gate. Plough irons used to be left there for the fairies to sharpen.
Conagearsaigh: refers to the old dairy above Garrisdale, may come from the Old Norse.
Coroghon: comes from thre Gaelic Corra-dhùn: odd or peculiar fort, where the Medieval fortified tower stands.
Corogon Mòr: the Big Strange place
Creag Ard: the High Crag
Cùil a' Bhainne: the Hollow of the milk – on the road to Tarbert, probably a good pasture.
Dùn Mòr: the Big Fort: refers to the Stac at the back of Sanday where the puffins are.
Eilean a' Bhaird: the Island of the Bard: refres to the island in the middle of the bay - named after the famous bard, Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, who lived on Canna in the 18th century.
Garbh Asgarnish: Dangerous Place
Garrisdale Point: Gaelic Rubha Garreasdail: The point at the far west end of Canna – probably an Old Norse word.
Geordh Sgeir na Crubag: Rough skerry of the crabs – known to be a good diving place.
Greod: Old Norse for Rocky field. the place in Sanday behind St Edwards Church where people from Keill were cleared to.
Grob nan Dallaig: Reef of the dogfish; a reef off Sanday beach where it's said dogfish are best caught
Halaman: The tidal island of Halaman is likely to have its origins in the Old Norse word Hallhomr meaning sloping inlet.
Heiskeir: Probably means flat skerry, it is only 32 feet high at the highest point.
Humla: from the Old Norse Hummer, referring to the surf that breaks upon the small island between Canna and Heiskeir.
Iorcail: Hercules' Stac.
Laig nam Boitean: the Hollow of the Sheaves, where Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair was said toi have been composing his poetry, in the sahde of an upturned boat. Now the name of one of the NTS's holiday houses.
Rubha Cairinis: Uncertain meaning, refers to the promontary that runs from the Church of Scotland to the pier. On the west side there is a rock, submerged at high spring tides, called Leum an Dobhrain, the Otters Leap.
Rubha Sgorr nam Ban-Naomha: The Point of the Scree of the Holy Women - the remains of an Early Christian nunnery
Sanday: Sanday is an Old Norse term for an island with a sandy beach. The Gaelic equivalent is An t-Eilean Gainmhich, literally the sandy island.
Sgeirean Dubha: Black skerries – rocks off Sanday beach.
Suileabhaigh: This name for the wide bay at back of Sanday has its origins in both Gaelic and Old Norse.
Tallabric: Highest point on Sanday - another Old Norse word, meaning unknown.
Tighard: The Highground house, refers to the house high up in the hill overklooking the bay, once the home of the Thom family.
Uamh Rìgh Lochlainn : Litterally the Cave of the King of Norway, an archaeological site on the north side of Canna. According to tisland tradition, it is the grave of a Viking king.
Eillean Eige: The “island of the notch”. Eag ( genitive Eige) is an Old Norse word meaning notch or wedge. It refers to the distinctive shape of the Sgurr on the skyline.
To gain a better experience and understanding of the Gaelic placenames on Eigg we have used Eigg's 5 most popular walks which are colour coded. Here are the Gaelic place names that you will encounter in each of these walks.
The Pier to the Sandavore and back (yellow track)
Galmisdale: Valley of the Roaring Surf, from the Old Norse Galmr (roaring surf) and Dalr (valley). It is the name of the area of land from the pier to the base of the Sgurr, which was one of the eight island farms in Clan times and up to the 1900’s.
Eilean Chasteail: Looking across from Galmisdale Point, Eilean Chasteail - Castle Island - is actually an approximate rendition of “Eilean Thàthasdail,” meaning Thathasdal’s island , after the Norse Giant – Thàthasdal (Hasdal) - associated with it in the island‘s mythology, and who used to fight with another giant named Thuthasdal (Husdal) (see Grulin).
Rubha an Iasgaich: The “ fisherman's promontory” on Eilean Thàthasdail
Maol an Eilean: “The brow of the island”. Maol - meaning “bald head” in Gaelic - refers to the rounded island summit where the grave of Robert Laurie Thomson is situated. R.L. Thomson owned Eigg and Muck from 1890 to 1913.
Bogha Mhac Gill’ Iosa: The “promontory of the companion of Jesus”. This may refer to a holy man that may have found refuge from the world on the island in Early Christian times.
Creig nan Sgarbh: Prominent rock facing Eigg, meaning the Cormorant’s Crag
Sgeir nam Bagh: “Bay rock” the distinctive flat reef on the south east side of Eigg after Galmisdale point on which the new pier is now situated. Sgeir is an Old Norse word.
Garbh Sgeir: Cormorant skerry, marking the access channel to the new pier. Many cormorants do indeed use it as their resting spot. Sgeir is an Old Norse word.
Flod Sgeir: left of Garbh Sgeir is mostly visible at low tide, hence its name, floating skerry
Rubha na Tankaird: Tankard Point, between the pier at Galmisdale Point and the caves.
Nead na Feannaig: “Crows’ Nest”, the name was given to a pair of cottages converted in a home for the MacPherson family who owned Eigg from 1828 to 1890, probably because of the view they offered of the bay and the mainland. The name now applies to the house build in the 1930’s by the next owners –the Runciman family - as the doctor and then the factor’s residence.
Leth – Allt: Half stream. This stream running down the Sgurr right of Nead na Feannaig and the Lodge used to mark the northern boundary of Galmisdale farm. It feeds one of the island's Hydro schemes.
Sandavore: “ The large sandy place”. The name Sanda in Sanda Mhòr (Sandavore) like in Sanda Bheag (Sandaveg) - the small sandy place - the neighbouring area, comes from the Old Norse. Both Sandavore and Sandaveg stretch from the sandy beaches at the pier to the hills towards the middle of the island, and were two of the 8 farms or tacks in which the island was divided in clan times. Sandavore farmhouse was once an inn where a famous piper lived, MacDonald of Cross Farm near Arisaig.
Cnoc Parlain : MacFarlane‘s hill, the hill left of the track or the main road by the post box.
Druim an Alt: The ridge of the Stream, on which the solar panels are situated
Druim Liurnais: Possibly “Noisesome ridge”, the large piece of ground right of the main road up from Pier Hill.
Grulin (green track)
Galmisdale Farmhouse: Built on kelp profit in the 18th century, this farmhouse was a hotel and post office in the late 19th century.
Tobar Chatriona: St Catherine’s well, a well concealed well below the track, opposite the start of the Sgurr track. It was one of many holy wells on the island.
Carn na Piòbaire: Piper’s Cairn: the cairn was built to commemorate the resting place of the funeral party that took a famous 18thcentury piper, An Piòbair Mòr (the great piper) Donald MacQuarrie, who had studied with the famous Skye MacCrimmons, from his home in Upper Grulin to the graveyard at Kildonan. Everyone that passes the cairn is duty bound to add a stone in memory of the Piòbair Mòr.
Gualainn na Sgùrra: The Shoulder of the Sgurr. Gualainn is a gaelic word applying to a rounded hillside similar in shape to a shoulder.
Cnoc airigh Dhonnchaidh Mhic Neill: Hill of Duncan Mac Neill’s shieling. Refers to an area that would have been used as summer pasture, below Gualainn na Sgurra
Garbh bealach: The rough pass
Cnoc an Uillean: Elbow hill, referring to distinctive rounded hill on the left of the track before reaching Upper Grulin.
Grulin Uachdrach: Upper Grulin. Grulin, an Old Norse word meaning stony place, was one of the island 8 farms or tacks until the mid 19th century when the township inhabitants were cleared to make way for sheep in 1853. Grulin then became part of Laig farm for a time. It is now part of Sandavore Farm, which encompasses the southern part of the island.
Clach Thùsthasdail : Husdal’s Stone: this huge erratic boulder of Sgurr stones was held by legend to be the limpet hammer of the Norse giant Husdal (Thùsthasdal)
Tobar nam Ban Naòimh: The well of the holy woman. The water from this well springs from under Clach Thùsthasdal . Its name infers that there may have been a nun living there as an Early Christian hermit in the 7th century.
Dubh Sgeir: Dark skerry. This is a prominent skerry between Eigg and Muck
Maol Eskernis: Eskernish headland. (The word maol indicates that it is rounded in shape)
Sgeir Eskernis: Eskernish skerry, meaning unknown, probably Old Norse in origin.
Grulin Iochdrach: Lower Grulin. In the early 18th century this was the tack and farmhouse occupied by Iain Dubh Mac ’ic Ailean - John MacDonald, a tacksman from the Benbecula branch of the Clanranalds. A poet and veteran of the 1715 rising, he was given Lower Grulin in recompense for his military service and lived there until his death, farming and composing stirring Jacobite verses.
Allt na Crìche: Stream of the Marsh, running down from the Sgurr.
Sgeir Sgaothaig: Skerry of the little swarm, flat skerry west of Lower Grulin
Bogha na Curaich: Coracle Reef. This reef is only visible at low tide, 1/2 mile west from Lower Grulin
An Sgurr and the Lochs (red track)
An Sgùrr: “The Sharp Peak”. The distinctive shape of the Sgurr has given prominence in Gaelic, making it “the” sharp peak by excellence. It represents the abrupt nose of a mile long ridge of hard columnar pitchstone lava, the remains of an ancient river bed filled by lava from the Rum volcano during an ash -flow style eruption and left proud amongst the softer surrounding basalt by ice erosion.
Gualainn na Sgùrra: The Shoulder of the Sgurr. Gualainn is a gaelic word applying to a rounded ridge remisnescent of a shoulder in shape
Cnoc airigh Dhonnchaidh Mhic Neill: Hill of Duncan Mac Neill’s shieling. Refers to an area that would have been used as summer pasture, below Gualainn na Sgurra
Bruach Dearg: The red steps. The abrupt slope below the Gualainn nan Sgurra beyond Leth- Alt and above the Sandavore woods .
Coraven: from the Gaelic Còra Bheinn – “Pointed Mountain”, a conical mountain made of columnar basalt, south of the Sgurr.
Loch Caol na Cora Bheinn: This little L- shaped loch, nestling under the Coraven shows a narrow part in its middle, hence “ the narrow loch of the Coraven."
An Corrach: The pointed one: Continuation of the Sgurr ridge , left of Loch na Ban Mora.
Loch Nighean Dhughaill: Loch of Dugald’s daughter, named after a Grulin girl who fell prey to the dreaded Each Uisge, the water-horse which sometimes assumed human shape.
Gleann Charadail: Glen of the twisting valley, Caradal being a combination of Dalr, Old Norse for valley and “car” meaning “twisting, meandering” in Gaelic.
Abhainn Gleann Charadail: Glen Caradal river: the large stream flowing from Loch Nighean Dhughaill towards Laig.
Cnoc Creagach: The craggy hill: again a descriptive place name for this high rocky hill below the Coraven right of Glen Haradal.
Cnoc airigh Mhic Dhomhnall Bhain: Hill of the shileing of the son of fair Donald.Refers to an area that would have been used as summer pasture, below Cnoc Creagach
Beannan Breaca: Speckled mountain, an accurate description of the remarkable cobbled structure of the Sgurr ridge, in this instance, the end of the ridge above Loch Beinn Tighe and opposite Beinn Tighe.
Loch Beinn Tighe: The loch of Ben Tighe
Beinn Tighe: “Tighe” means “Fatest , thickest”, this word possibly refers to the large size of that part of the ridge: ie “the fat mountain.”
Sliabh Beinn Tighe: “The mountain ridge of Ben Tighe.” The large mostly flat area on the west side of Glen Caradal.
Bidein Boidheach: Beautiful summit – the top of the sea cliffs marking the abrupt end of the Sgurr ridge.
Rubha an Fhasaidh: Promontary of Delivery.
The Caves (purple track)
A’ Chleit : Another name from the Old Norse which means “the rockface”, refers to the vertical rocky outcrop on the shore, right of Galmisdale point, and south of Craigard.
Craig nam Faoileann: Seagull’s crag: a distinctive crag on the coast below Craigard
Craigard: “High crag” refers to a circular rocky outcrop overlooking a’ Chleit and the cliffs on the south coast of Eigg. It is now associated with the cottage build below it.
Uamh Fhraing: “Francis’ cave” is Eigg’s infamous Massacre Cave where the islanders took refuge from a retaliatory MacLeod’s raid in the early 17thcentury. They were eventually found and suffocated to death when a fire lit at the entrance deprived them from oxygen. Their bones remained in the cave until collecting by early tourists caused them to be finally buried in hallowed ground in the late 19th century.
Uamh na Chrabhaidh: Literally the “Cave of devotion”, now known as “Cathedral cave” where priests used to land to celebrate mass in secret during the times of Catholic proscription in the late 17th century.
Clanranald Pier area (Orange track)
Leth – Allt: Half-Stream. This stream running down the Sgurr used to mark the boundary of Galmisdale farm. It feeds a hydroelectric dam, which is part of Eigg’s green grid.
Gortain ‘ic Iain : Iain’s son’s field. (Gortain is a small cornfield or patch of arable land.) This long, flat piece of ground is now the location of the community orchard.
Ruigh na Traghad: Beach field. Ruigh or righe being is a field generally situated at the bottom of a valley, in this case, it refers to the land below the woodland that slopes down to the beach, and where is situated the “official” wild camping site.
Eilean an Fheòir: In Gaelic this means the Grassy island and is called in English “the Green island” a grassy promontory where the arctic terns are nesting. Best to avoid it at nesting time, as the terms will not hesitate to dive bomb the intruder!
Sandaveg: “The Small Sandy place”, refers to the land stretching from the shore right up to the Church of Scotland, past the Manse, and as far as the School.
Na Gurraban: The crouching ones. This name refers to a small circular knoll at the point where the ruins of a house can be seen above the shore. The house was destroyed by the wave that took away the Tay Bridge. At low tide, it is possible to walk to Kildonnan through Poll nam Partan
Poll nam Partan : Crab pool, that part of the bay was said to be especially good for crab fishing.
Kildonnan (Orange track)
Kildonnan: Donnan’s church from the Gaelic word Cill, meaning church. : the area is named at the monastic settlement established by Donnan, an early Christian saint in the 7th century. Donnan was martyred there on 17 April 617 with his monks. A new monastic community was re-established from Iona but was destroyed by Viking raiders. A parish church was established there in medieval time and endured until the Reformation, giving its name to the whole area, which was the main farm on the island in Clan times.
Druim an Aonaich: Mountain Ridge, refers to the columnar structures towering above Kildonnan.
Allt a’ Mhuilin: Mill burn.
Taigh a' Mhuillin: Mill house: The 18th century Mill, complete with breast-shot wheel and dam was used to grind the islanders’ oats until the 1900’s. It was built by the chief of Clanranald as a modern improvement to his island estate: the reluctant islanders were forced to use it after their hand-querns were broken on his orders.
Crois Mhòr: Big Cross: The large field on the east side of the burial ground stretching up to the coast. There was a tradition that there was a cross standing there at one time, hence the name of the field.
Crois Bheag: Small Cross: the small field opposite the burial ground
Taigh a ‘ Bràighe: Braes house.
Taigh Bhreac: The speckled house: now known as Hill cottage, this was the place given by Clanranlad to his batman Maclennan after the ‘45.
Rubha na Crannaig: Crannog Point: the site of an Iron Age fort which may at one time have only been accessible at low tide as the name of the point would suggest. Its circle of grass-grown boulders shows evidence of later use, possibly as a monastic settlement in the 7thcentury.
Bràighe: an area mid way up a slope, Braes, here this is the place midway up to Beinn Bhuidhe, at one time the location of a whole township, and where the Kildonnan fank is now situated.
Monadh a’ Bhràighe: Braes’ moor. The moorland behind the township of Braighe.
Eilean Dubh an Fhaing: The dark island of the fank
Leac a’ Ghuidal: flat rock of Guidal
The Woodland Walks & Laig (light green and dark blue tracks)
School to Laig via Cuagach
Glac an Dorchadais: The hollow of darkness, now part of the new forestry opposite the school
Beinn Bhuidhe: Yellow mountain: take its name from the bent grass turning yellow in the autumn
An Cruachan: The hip: the craggy outcrop at the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe
Cam Lòn: The Crooked pool
Allt a’ cham Lòn: The burn of the crooked pool. This burn coming down Beinn Bhuidhe makes a sharp turn to join onto Allt a’ Bhlàir Dhuibh
Cachlaibh nam Marbhaidh: The gateway of the dead: the boundary between the Cleadale and Kildonnan farms, where people passed through with a funeral cortege, where Allt a’ Cham Lòn passes through the road.
Chleith Mhòir: The great High ground, Cleith meaning high ground.
Sgumban: The Sgumban, a bump on the road where vehicles jump when going fast, much to children’s delight.
Bealach Clithe: The steep pass, referring to the steep descent into Cuagach and Cleadale
Allt a’ bhealaich chlithe: The burn of the steep pass.
Cnoc Smeòrdail: Butterdale hill, An Old Norse place name referring to what would have been a hill surrounded by rich pasture in the narrow valley which runs off Bealach where it turns sharply at right angle.
Sròn Laimhrige: Anchorage Point, the rocky promontory below the Bealach Chlithe at the edge of a large boggy area. Its name hints that it may have been at one time at the edge of a shallow bay where Vikings anchored their ship. Parts of a Viking longship were recovered in the peat nearby.
A ‘Chuagach: The awkward place, referring to the awkward bend in the road after the Bealach.
Allt a' Chuagach: Cuagach burn. The burn coming down from Beinn Bhuidhe down to Laig bay.
Woodland Walk to Laig
Blàr Dubh: Dark marsh, the flat land on the left, opposite Beinn Bhuidhe.
Allt a’ Bhlàr Dubh: Burn of the dark marsh.
Coire nam Fala: The blood corrie. This narrow corrie was the place where cattle were taken to be bled at the end of winter when food was scarce. Blood mixed with oatmeal made a kind of black pudding.
Bealach Airidh an Leir: Pass of the shieling of the sight, meaning unclear, but could be referring to the place where an islander experienced the second sight by having a vision of black face sheep flocks then unknown on the island.
Lochan na Fhiantaiche: Lochan of the footprint, the footprint was said to have been that of a giant.
Druim an Lochain: Lochan ridge
Lathaig (Laig): Surf beach: a name coming from the Old Norse. The historic 18th century farmhouse is built on an ancient site overlooking what would have been shallow waters in Viking times, enabling ships to be drawn far inland: Laig was originally the seat of the MacDonalds of Laig, a junior branch of the Clanranalds, who led the Eigg men at war during many risings, including the 1745 when 12 of the surviving Eigg men who rose with Bonnie Prince Charlie were condemned to be transported to Jamaica. From 1790, the farm was tenanted by Ranald MacDonald, son of Alexander MacDonald, the greatest Gaelic poet of its time, who himself compiled an anthology of Gaelic poetry known as the Eigg Collection.
Na Sidheanan: The fairy mounds. These distinctively pointed hills stand at some distance behind Laig.
Sidhean na Cailleich: The fairy mound of the Hag. This little mound stands opposite the mouth of Glen Caradal burn.
Cnoc Chroileaman: Possibly Hill of the little fold.
Traigh Chlithe Clèadail: Should be Traigh Chlèadail, Cleadale Strand, now known as Laig beach
Poll Duthaill: Duthall’s pool (meaning of Duthall unknown).
Clach Alaisdair /Clach an t-Sionach: Alaisdair’s rock/Fox’s rock : a distinctive rock much used as perch for cormorants, named after the fearless islander that dove into the water at that point to “outfox” the pressgang pursuing him.
Cleadale to Singing Sands (turquoise track)
Cleadale: From the Old Norse for valley of the Cliffs
Corr-airigh: the high shileling: the place where the social houses are built below the cliffs near the post box.
Lageorna: the barley field.
Cùl nam Pàirc: litterally the back of the Park, Pairc being an enclosed field in Gaelic, where traditionally, Old crofters used to gather on summer evenings to have a natter and a smke of their pipes. Now the Cleadale Crossroad, it is the location of the island's war memorial.
Cnoc Mòr: the big hill.
Cnoc Oilteag: the hill of the Broonie. The Oilteag, Broonie in Scots, is the supernatural shaggy hairy being that helped farmers with their work if given some offerings of milk.
Cnoc an t-Sabhail: the hill of the stable
Druim na Croise: the ridge of the cross.
Pàirc nan Each: the Horses' Parc. This is the Crofters' common Garzing ground that you cross to go over the Singing Sands. Crofters' horses used to pasture there.
Traigh na Bigil: the strand of the Chirping: this refers to the shrill sound produced by the sand compressed underfoot.
Camus Sgiotaig: another name for the Siinging Sands, refering to the sandy bay. The meaning of Sgiotaig is unknown, probably an Old Norse word.
Cuig Peighinnean: 5 Pennies, a Viking measure of land, refering to an ancient farm situated there.
Thulain: englicised into Howlin, from the Old Norse meaning stony ground under the hill.
Lòn nan Gtruagach: The watersprite's pool. The Gruagach is a female spirit said to inhabit watercourses.
Tobar Chaluim Chille: St Columba's well. The water from this well dedicated to St Columba was used to baptize new-born babies.
Taigh Iain Dhonnchaidh: JD's house, the Cleadale Crofting museum, once the home of John Duncan Campbell and his family.
Bidein an Tighearna: the pinnacle of the Lord, a distinctive landmark of the Cleadale Cliffs, looking like a finger pointing skywards.
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Offshore - rocks and islands
Dubh Sgeir: The black rock; on your left hand as you come into the island's main harbour. Sgeir normally indicates a rock or islet, which is above water at all states of the tide.
Dorus Mòr: The large door; the main channel between Dubh Sgeir and the reef (only visible at low water) which runs out from the shore at Crossan and guards the entry to the harbour.
Dorus Beag: The small door; the channel between Dubh Sgeir and the shore of Muck at the Castle. Much narrower than the Dorus Mòr and to be used with care, for there is a half-tide rock in the middle of it.
Bogha Ruadh: The red rock; visible below half-tide at the outer end of the reef at the Dorus Mor. Bogha usually denotes a rock which is covered at full tide, and sometimes all states of the tide, so that only the breaking waves denote its presence. The red stone of which it is formed can be seen at the base of the low cliffs on the eastern side of the harbour.
Bogha na Fionn-ard: The rock of the white headland or high ground; off the southernmost point of the island where waves break particularly heavily.
Sgurr a'Mhurchadh: Murdoch's rock; the islet off the westernmost point of Muck. The identity of Murdoch is now unknown.
Bogha Iar: The western rock; a little north of the westernmost point of the island. It does not show above the water, but the breaking waves are usually visible.
Bogha Philip: Philip's rock; near Horse Island. As with Sgurr a'Mhurachadh, the identity is unknown, but there is another rock named after Philip near the north channel into Arisaig.
Egamol: The notched headland; the small, island off Horse Island.
Eilean nan Each: the Island of the horses; now generally called Horse Island.
Dubh Sgeir nan Sgarbh: The black rock of the cormorant; off Egamol - a very good description of it.
Sgeir nan Ban: The women's rock; who the women were is not now known.
Sgeir nan Siucair: The rock of the sugar; both this and Sgeir nan Ban are off Lamb Island. The reason for the name is not known, but one can imagine that a ship carrying sugar was once wrecked there.
Sgeir Ruadh: The red rock, the islet at the eastern-side of the entrance to Port Chreadhain.
Bogha Port na Lice: The rock in the harbour of the flat rocks.
According to Forbes, leac "generally means a ledge of rock jutting out from the base of a cliff on the foreshore and covered by the sea at flood-tide". Port na Lice, itself is on the northern side of the island, a little east of Cairidh.
Godag: The small island off the northeast corner of Muck. Possibly a Norse name - J.L. Campbell has pointed out that obvious features of the shoreline tended to retain their Norse names. The meaning is uncertain.
Along the Shoreline
Caisteal an Duin Bhain: The castle of the white fortress; Dun Ban is the southernmost height on the ridge running across the island, of which the Castle, at the entrance to Port, forms the southernmost tip.
Port an t--Seilich: The harbour of the willows; the second bay beyond the Castle - the willows have long since gone.
Leabaidh Dhonnchaidh: Literally, Duncan's bed, but also used for a place on the shore where boats may be pulled up. Possibly named for one of the MacGlashans who used to live in the house at the far end of Port an t-Seilich; the small inlet where a boat may come to land is still used.
Sloc na Dubhaich: The sad or gloomy hollow; a very apt naming of the semi-circular bay on the southern coast beyond Port an t-Seilach,
Fang Mòr: The big fank or sheepfold; together with Beul nam Fang the mouth of the fank; the bay at the northern end of An Leachdach and the valley leading down to it. Fang was not always a constructed thing - natural features would be used as far as possible as at Fang nan Copag on Horse Island.
Sgeir Fhada: The broad rock between Fang Mòr and Camus Mòr.
Camus Mòr: The big beach; again, a most apt name.
An Stac: The steep pinnacle, under cliffs of Ben Airean.
Sgorr nan Laogh: The hill of the calf; the crag towards the south-western end of the shore at Camus Mor, below the rock pillar - not marked on the map - known as Spichean.
Sron na Teiste: The point/rock of turmoil, heavy waves; the point of land at the farthest south-west end of Camus Mor. More correctly, Sron na Seidheadh., the point of "turmoil or blowing, for it is a notorious rough spot, where Camus Mor opens out to the full force of the Atlantic.
Rubh' Leam na Laraich: The rock of the mare's leap; the rock at the westernmost corner of the island, almost separated from the mainland by a gully.
A'Ghlasaird: The grey (or sometimes green) headland; on the north shore, facing Horse Island.
Creag na Liuth,( rather than Liugh) the rock of the lythe, for this spot, on the north shore of the island, is good for rock-fishing.
Port Mòr: The big harbour; self-evident.
A'Chill: The church; on the slope inland from the head of the bay above Port. Little can now be seen of the original structure dedicated to St. Finnan. The present graveyard is an extension of the original site higher up the slope; the small grass-covered ruin is a former cottage, and not a religious structure. Anglicised, as Keil, the name is also applied to the village, now ruined, above the graveyard,
Blàr na Fionn-Ard: The field of the white headland; inland from the Fionn-Ard itself. Blar usually indicates a level, peaty stretch of ground, though there is no peat on the southern side of the island.
An Leachdeadh: The hilly ground; in this case on the eastern side of Camus Mor - its cliffs harbour the island's main colony of sea birds. Strictly speaking the name applies only to the cliffs; the map applies it wrongly to the area inland.
Torr nam Fitheach: The hill of the raven; between Fang Mòr and Camus Mòr. There are ravens there again after some years absence.
Druim an Fhradhairc: The ridge of the vision or sight; between Fang Mòr and Gallanach. The reason for this name is not known, but it gives a fine view both to the north and south of the island - an admirable spot for a lookout.
Beinn Airean: The hill of the herdsman; the highest point on the island.
Gleann Mhairtean: Glen Martin; behind Beinn Airean.
Achadh na Creige: The field of the crag; a level grassy stretch below some inland cliffs on the northern coast.
Torr a'Builg: The hill of the bellows; on the west side of the bay at Gallanach. The sight of the smithy can still be seen on the shore below the house.
Cnoc na Curran: The small hill of the carrots; inland and a little to the west of Gallanach. This is a comparatively recent name, dating perhaps from the time of the Thorburns (ca. 1860) it was formerly known as Cnoc Beinn Hiant.
Cnoc nan Calman: The small hill of the pigeons; just inland from Gallanach. Uamh nan Calman, or the Pigeons Cave, is at the south end of Port an t-Seilich.
Gallanach: The main bay on the northern shore, together with the farmhouse and the larger of the two fields to the south from the farm. Named after the broad-leaved weeds that proliferate between the farm and the Square to the west. Cf. Gaelic Words from South Uist; "a strong large-leaved weed like rhubarb leaf
Druim Mòr The big ridge; the main ridge across the island between Port and Gallanach.
Cnoc na Croise: The small hill of the cross; above the graveyard.
Eilean ard nan Uan: The island of the headland of the lambs; generally called Lamb Island now. Northwards from Gallanach, and only an island at the highest spring tides. A slightly puzzling name as sheep are a relatively recent introduction into the island.
Laimhrig a' Mheig: The harbour of the whey; on the southern shore of Eilean nan Each.
Corolag: Possibly a place with many hollows; a very fair description of the hummocky tidal islet just offshore at Gallanach.
Port Chreadhain: The harbour of the clams; the long channel east of Gallanach, with a very old jetty at its head. The safest harbour on the island and the best for laying up a boat, but little used now, for the channel is narrow and not well known. The map gives the name to one entry to the harbour, but it is now applied to the harbour as a whole.
Camus na Cairidh: The beach of the fish-trap; just below the road from Port to Gallanach, on the north coast. The site of this fish-trap is not now visible, but there is a fine example at the head of the first sandy bay beyond the end of the road at Gallanach, and a very large one now almost buried in sand at Gallanach itself.
Port na Lice: See Bogha Port na Lice, above.
Innachamus: An accurate description of this spot on the north shore where two bays nearly meet on a promontary; 'Tarbet’, a common name in the Highlands for such a promontary, would imply that a boat, could be dragged from one side to the other, which is not the case here.-
Port nam Maol: The bay of the brow of the hill; the bay below Am Maol, the flat-topped hill at the north-eastern corner of the island. (Possible Port nam Mol, the pebbly beach, which describes it well).
Eilean Dubh: The black island; a tidal skerry at the eastern corner of the island.
Rubh a'Chroisein: The rock of the crossing - now anglicised as Crossan; on the east side of Port, by the inner end of the reef. A useful short cut when the tide was right or when the weather was unsuitable, for a heavy swell often runs at the outer end of Dubh Sgeir.
Sgeir nan Ròn: The seals' rock; on the eastern shore of Port Mòr - a landing place at the lowest point of the tide, not much used. now.
Fang nan Copag: The fank of the dockens; on the southern side of Horse Island. The two walls of rock have been used in the structure; as in Fang Mor and Fang a Ghille Ruadh it is more a place into which cattle might be driven than the later square drystone structures to be seen elsewhere on Muck.
Sean Bhaile: The old town: above the graveyard at Port. This appears to be a ghost name, for there are no memories of this name ever being applied to the group of houses built by those who lost their land elsewhere on the island in the early nineteenth century.
Carn Mhic Asgaill: McAskill's hillock; to the left of the road between Port and the middle gate. Although there have been no McAskills in Muck for many years the family were once prominent.
Cnoc Alasdair: Alasdair's hill; in the field to the right of the road down to the middle gate. The reason for this name is not now known.
Toaluinn: Possible toll-uaine, the green hole; between Cairidh and the Maol, on the north-side. There is indeed a large green marshy tract at this point.
Blàr Mòr: The big moor; inland from the northeastern coast.
Torr nan Gobhar: The hill of the goat; one of the hillocks northwards from Port.
Am Maol: The flat-topped hill; at the northeastern corner of the island.
Fang A'Ghille Ruadh: The fank of the red boy; on the eastern hill.
Cachlaidh Ruadh: The red gate; the gap between the two most prominent hillocks as you go from Port to the Maol. The house that once stood .here was distinguished by the red stone used in building it.
Feur Lochan: The grassy lochan; between Port and the cliffs facing Eigg.
Uchd A'Bhlair: Literally the breast of the moor; the small breast-shaped hillock rising out of the southern end of Blar Mor.
Carn Dearg: The red hill; above the pier in Port. The most obvious landmark when one approaches the island from the east. Also the name given to the easternmost tack (or divison of land) in the island. The wall dividing it from its neighbour can still be seen.
Torr Creagach: The rocky hill; eastward from Carn Dearg. More correctly 'na torran creagach’, for there are three hills here, and that is how they were known.
Lag a'Bholla: The hollow of the bolls of meal; the field below the plantation, inland from Port - Also known as Blàr na Cailleach, for a mysterious woman was once seen here.
Whilst the origin of the name Rum remain obscure, the island’s place-names are very influenced by the Old Norse, reflecting a long period of occupation of by Viking settlers. Most of place-names describing the geographical features of the island - the various types of hills, valleys, coastal features are Old Norse. The Gaelic place-names tend to refer to natural or cultural features, whether they describe an association with plants (iris, primrose, bog-cotton) or birds (crows, eagle, seagulls) and agricultural practices (the various types of fields and enclosures, the type of ground) or the cultural landmarks (chapel or ports). Gaelic place names describe geographical features by using body terms: maol (bald head), mam (breast), Sròn (nose) gualann ( shoulder).
Ceann Locha: the head of the Loch, anglicised into Kinloch
Abhainn Cheann Locha: Kinloch River
Gleann Cheann Locha: Kinloch glen
Loch Sgrèasort: Loch Scresort, from the ON for fjord
Mountains, glens and corries
Ainseabhal, Ainshival From the ON àas fjal, hill of the rocky ridge
Àrd Mheall: High lumpish hill:
Àrd Neabh: The heights of the nose. From the ON nef, meaning nose
Asgabhal: Askival, ON for askr fjall, ashwood hill
Barcabhal: Barkeval, ON bjarg fjall, precipice hill
An Coire Dubh: the dark corrie
Coire nan Grunnd: corrie of the thrift. From Gaelic Grunnd, ground or thrift
Coire nan Stac: corrie of the precipices
Creag na h-iolaire: the Eagle's crag
Creag nan Steàrman: the terns' crag, also known as Bloodstone hill
Dìobadal, Dibidil, from the ON diupr dalr, deep valley
Fionnchra: meaning obscure, from Gaelic Fionn, white
A' Ghlac Mhòr: the big hollow
Gleann Càrn nan Dòbhran : glen of the otters cairn
Gleann Chille Mhoire: Kilmory glen
Gleann Dìobadail: Glen Dibidil
Gleann Ghiùradail: Glen Guirdil
Gleann na Hearadh: Glen Harris
Gleann Seileastair : Glen of the Yellow Iris
Gìorada, Guirdil, from the ONl for Giord’s valley.
Allabhal,Hallaval, ON Hallr fjal, Ledge hill
Inbhir Ghil: the River-mouth of the steep watercourses
Lag Sleitir: Sleitir hollow, Sleitir; meaning obscure, possibly ON
Meall a' Ghoirtein: the lumpish hill of the enclosure
Mionaiseal,Minishal, from the ON minna fjall: smaller hill
Am Monadh Dubh: the black moorland
Am Mullach Àrd: the high summit
Am Mullach Mòr: the big summit
Orrabhal, Orval: from ON orri fjal, grouse hill
Pappadal, Papadil, from ON papi dalr, priest's valley
Ruinnseabhal: Ruinsival, from the ON hruna fjall, stoneheap hill
Sgaoriseal: the Cleft hill, from the Old Norse.
Sgorr an t-Snighe: the narrow creek of the drips
Sgurr nan Gillean: the sharp hill of the lads
Sgurr nan Goibhrean: the sharp hill of the goats
Trollabhal: Trollaval, from the ON troll fjal, troll hill
Àirigh na Maithinnse: shieling of Maithinnis
Bàgh na h-Uamha: the bay of the cave
Beinn nan Stac: the hill of the precipice, near Stac nam Faoileann
A' Bhrìdeaneach: the place of the oystercatchers. From Gille Bhrìde, Oystercatcher, literally St Bride's companion
Fiachanais: the wild point, from Gaelic Fiach, wild and ON ness, point
Fearann Laimhrig: the land of the landing
Camas na h-Àtha: sandy bay of the Kiln:
Camas na Pliosgaig: sandy bay of the Foolish Woman.
Cille Mhaelrubha: St Maelrubha chapel, anglicised into Kilmory:
Creag na h-iolaire: the Eagle's crag:
Na Hearradh: Harris, from the ON hӕrri, higher ground
Port nan Carannan: the port of the turnings. Carannan refers to tidal movement.
An Ruadh Mhol: the beach of the red shingle
Rubha Camas na Pliasgaig: headland of the beach of the Foolish Woman
Rubha na Meirleach: the thiefs's headland
Rubha na Mòine: the headland of the peat
Rubha na Roinne: the headland of the seals
Rubha Port nan Carannan: the headland of the Port of the Turnings
Rubha Sgoir an t-Snighe: headland of the narrow Creek of the Drips
Rubhan Shamhnan Insir: Samhnan Insir headland .
Rubha Mhoil Ruaidh: headland of the Red Round promontary.
Rubha na Cairidh: the headland of the fish-trap, from Gaelic cairidh, fish trap.
Rubha na Feannag: the headland of the Crows.
Samhnan Insir: Meaning unknown. From the Gaelic Samhnan, trout.
Sgeir a’ Mhain- ard: litterally the skerry of the downward highground
Sgeirean Mora: the big skerries.
An t-Sròn: the sharp point, known as Welshman's Point. From Gaelic Sròn, nose
Sròn an t-Saighdear: the soldier's point:
Sròn na h-iolaire: the eagle's point.
Stac nam Faoileann: the seagulls' precipice.