Glasgow’s Gaelic Place-Name
Ainmeanan-Àite Gàidheil Ghlaschu

A thaobh nam meadhan-aoisean, chan eil tùs a nochdas tuilleadh mu na cànain a bha gam bruidhinn gu h-ionadach na ainmeanan-àite. Ann an Glaschu, tha ainmeanan-àite a’ nochdadh gum b’ e A’ Ghàidhlig prìomh chànan an àite bhon 11d no an 12ra linn agus gun do lean seo fad tamaill. Ron sin, bha Briothannais ga bruidhinn sa sgìreachd seo fad còrr is mìle bliadhna. Is Briothannais an t-ainm a tha aig a’ mhòr-chuid a-nis air a’ chànan P-Ceilteach a bha ga bruidhinn ann an sgìreachd Ghlaschu agus sgìreachdan eile ann an ceann a deas na h-Alba, mar a tha Alba san latha an-diugh, gu ruige A.D. 1100 no mar sin. Chan eil an cànan ann tuilleadh ach, mas e is gun robh, bhiodh dlùth-dhàimh aige ri Cuimris. Gu dearbh, is e Cuimbris a th’ aig cuid air a’ chànan seo; cuirear Tuath-Bhriothannais air a’ chànan cuideachd. Bha dlùth-dhàimh eadar Briothannais agus Cruithnis. Tha lorg a’ chànain seo ann an cuid de phrìomh ainmeanan-àite baile Ghlaschu, mar a tha e san latha an-diugh, den leithid:

Glaschu

Chaidh Glasgu a chlàradh ann an 1128 san abairt Laidinnich seo leanas: ecclesia Sancti Kentegerni de Glasgu (‘eaglais Naoimh Chaointeoirn de Ghlaschu’). Is e dà fhacal Briothannach aig a bheil dlùth-dhàimh ris na facail Chuimreach seo leanas a tha aig bun an ainm-àite seo: glas agus cau. Tha co-dhàimhean againn sa Ghàidhlig. Aithnichear a’ chiad mhìr gun dragh: an dath glas. Is e co-dhàimh don fhacal Chuimreach cau a tha ann an cuas, nàdar de lag. Tha am facal cúa clàraichte san t-Seann-Ghàidhlig a tha nas fhaisge buileach air an fhacal Bhriothannach a bha ann. Mar sin, dh’fhaoidteadh gur h-e Glas-Chuas an tionndadh as fhèarr air Glaschu ann an Gàidhlig an latha an-diugh.

Baile a’ Ghobhainn

Tha Gàidheil air an tionndadh aca fhèin a chur air an ainm seo bho chionn ghoirid: cha robh iomradh air gobhann san ainm thùsail. Is e Guven an riochd anns an deach an t-ainm a chlàradh ann an 1128; dh’fhaoidteadh gu bheil Ouania, riochd a chaidh a chlàradh còrr is 350 bliadhna ron sin ann an 756, a’ buntainn ris an aon àite. Tha an t-ainm tùsail connspaideach ach tha sgrùdairean air dà fhacal Briothannach a mholadh aig a bheil dlùth-dhàimh ris an dà fhacal Chuimreach seo leanas: go- (a’ ciallachadh ‘beag’) agus ban (‘beann’).

Partaig/Pearraig

Chaidh an t-ainm seo a chlàradh mar Perdeyc ann an 1136 agus perthec ann an 1153. Faodar coimeas a dhèanamh eadar ciad mhìr an ainm seo agus am facal Cuimreach perth (‘preas’ no ‘doire’). Is coltach gur h-e meanbhan den fhacal seo a tha aig bun an ainm-àite agus gur h-e doire bheag as ciall dha. Is e facal, no co-dhàimh Chruithneach, a tha aig bun an ainm Peairt. Bha oighreachd rìoghail sa cheàrn seo de Ghlaschu bho shean agus is ann air oisean na h-oighreachd seo mar a bha a tha Oilthigh Ghlaschu san latha an-diugh. Ged is e Partaig a chluinnear san àbhaist am measg Ghàidheal san latha a tha ann, chaidh an riochd Pearraig a chlàradh san abairt seo leanas leis an Urr. Teàrlach M. MacDhonnchaidh (1864–1927): cho lùthmhor ri muileann Phearraig!

Borgh Ghlaschu

Tha e follaiseach sna h-ainmeanan-àite gun robh A’ Ghàidhlig ga bruidhinn ann an Glaschu mun do dh’ainmicheadh Glaschu mar bhorgh le Rìgh Uilleam I ann an 1176. Ron bhliadhna sin, bha Glaschu na tuineachadh easbaigeach. Bhon uair sin, bha còir aig muinntir a’ bhuirgh margaid a chumail gach Diardaoin agus leis an seo, leudaich Glaschu bho àite anns an robh cathair-eaglais agus caisteal easbaige gu ionad-malairt agus, le ùine, mòr-bhaile. B’ e dual-chainnt Seann Bheurla a Tuath no Meadhan-Bheurla tràth a bha ga bruidhinn am measg luchd-malairt a’ bhuirgh, mar a bha bitheanta anns na ciad bhorghan a stèidhicheadh ann an Alba. Is e Seann Bheurla Ghallta a tha aig a’ mhòr-chuid air a’ chànan seo a-nis, ged is e ‘Inglis’ a bha aig daoine air a’ chànan aig an àm. Tha ainmeanan-àite taobh a-staigh crìochan a’ bhuirgh mar a bha a’ nochdadh gum b’ e an cànan seo a bha aig muinntir a’ bhuirgh: Walkergate (‘sràid nan luadhadairean’), Briggate (‘sràid na drochaide’), Rottenraw (‘sreath nan radan’) agus Girth Burn (‘allt an tèarmainn’).

Ciad teaghlach Ghlaschu air clàr

Ged a b’ e A’ Bheurla Ghallta cànan a’ bhuirgh, b’ e a’ Ghàidhlig prìomh chànan muinntir Ghlaschu taobh a-muigh a’ bhuirgh. Is cinnteach gun robh tòrr de shluagh an àite dà-chànanach. Is cinnteach gum b’ e A’ Ghàidhlig prìomh chànan a’ chiad teaghlaich a chaidh a chlàradh ann an Glaschu. Tha luaidh air cairt rìoghail a chaidh a dhèanamh mu 1180 air clann agus eisimeilich fear dom b’ ainm Gillemachoi, mar a tha an t-ainm clàraichte san tùs. Is e ‘St Mungo’ a tha aig luchd-labhairt na Beurla air machoi, no MoChotha ann an litreachadh an latha an-diugh. Bha GilleMoChotha is a theaghlach ceangailte ri fearann Chinn Chluaidh, ainm a bha ga chur air a’ cheàrn air a bheil ‘Glasgow Green’ san latha an-diugh.

Glaschu agus an sgìreachd Ghàidhealach mun cuairt

A chionn is gun robh inbhe àrd aig A’ Bheurla Ghallta sa bhorgh, bha dlùth-dhàimh aig a’ chànan sin ri foghlam agus malairt. Mar sin, bha daoine a’ meas gum b’ e A’ Bheurla Ghallta seach A’ Ghàidhlig cànan an adhartais agus leasachaidh. Ged a chaill A’ Ghàidhlig a clì agus a h-inbhe, chaidh i an lughad gu mall. Lùghdaicheadh an àireamh aig an robh A’ Ghàidhlig ann an sgìreachd Ghlaschu mean air mhean tro na meadhan-aoisean ach bha i fhathast làidir dlùth ri Glaschu ann an Siorrachd Shruighlea, Siorrachd Dhùn Breatann, Gall-Ghàidhealaibh agus Carraig san 16mh linn. Bha a’ Ghàidhlig ga bruidhinn ann an ceàrnan aig ceann a deas Loch Laomainn san 18mh linn agus is e litreachadh Gàidhlig a chuir an t-Suirbhidh Òrdanais gu feum air clàran-dùthcha san sgìreachd sin ann am meadhan an 19mh linn. Bha Gàidheil a bhuin do dh’àiteachan den leithid Comhghall, Arainn, Bòd, Siorrachd Dhùn Breatann, Siorrachd Shruighlea agus Siorrachd Pheairt rin lorg ann an ciad deicheadan an 20mh linn.

Mìrean-measgte: ainmeanan-àite Ghlaschu

Mar a leudaich Glaschu ann an tìr a bha uair fo bhàrr is sprèidh, chaidh tòrr ainmeanan-àite Gàidhealach a thogail le luchd-labhairt na Beurla Gallta, fiù is mura robh iad gan tuigsinn. Chuir luchd-labhairt na Beurla Gallta ainmeanan ris an fheadhainn Ghàidhealaich a bha air an cur ann romhpa, a’ measgachadh nam mìrean uair eile, mar gum b’ eadh. Tha sgìreachd eaglaise Baile a’ Ghobhainn na deagh eisimpleir a thaobh seo: is e seo ceàrn den mhòr-bhaile anns a bheil àiteachan a chaidh ainmeachadh ann am Briothannais, sa Ghàidhlig agus sa Bheurla Ghallta. Is ann tric a tha luaidh ga dhèanamh air fearann garbh iomallach sna h-ainmeanan a chaidh a chur ann le luchd-labhairt na Beurla Gallta, den leithid Haggs, Kinning Park, Merryflats agus Sheils agus is coltach gun robh na daoine seo a’ cur fearann fo bhàrr nach robh air àiteachadh romhaid.

Alba: rìoghachd Ghàidhealach

Is e A’ Ghàidhlig an cànan aig an robh an inbhe as àirde san ùr-rìoghachd don ainm Alba a thàrmaich mu A.D. 900 agus is ann ri linn seo a thàinig A’ Ghàidhlig a-steach do sgìreachd Ghlaschu san 10mh agus an 11d linn. Bha an talamh ìseal tuath air Linne Foirthe aig cridhe na rìoghachd seo ach chaidh a crìochan a leudachadh le a cuid rìghrean san 10mh linn agus chuir na rìghrean seo Lodainn agus Srath Chluaidh fo an smachd bhon àm sin.

Co-thadhal chànan

Bha facail ann am Briothannais agus sa Ghàidhlig a bha gu math coltach ri chèile ach cha robh luchd-labhairt an dà chànain so-thuigsinn do chèile san 10mh agus an 11d linn. Mhair na prìomh ainmeanan Briothannach ionadach a chionn is gun robh iad air an stèidheachadh gu daingeann; chithear seo cuideachd le ainmeanan Gàidhealach air feadh na dùthcha a chaidh an togail linntean an dèidh sin le luchd-labhairt na Beurla is na Beurla Gallta ged nach robh A’ Ghàidhlig aca. Nuair a thogadh ainmeanan Briothannach le Gàidheil, chaidh cuid dhiubh an Gàidhealachadh los gun rachadh aig Gàidheil ainmeanan fhuaimneachadh a rèir an cuid dual-chainnte fhèin. Air uairean, chaidh mìrean ainmeanan ionadachadh le facail Ghàidhealach. A-rithist, chithear seo sna h-ainmeanan Gàidhealach a bha air an togail le luchd-labhairt na Beurla Gallta. Uime sin, tha e riatanach ann an sgrùdadh ainmeanan-àite na riochdan as sine den ainm-àite a lorg agus a sgrùdadh, a thuilleadh air riochdan agus fuaimneachadh an latha an-diugh.

Gàidhlig Ghlaschu

Is e ainmeanan-àite ionadach na h-aon tùsan a nochdas mar a bha Gàidhlig an àite sna meadhan-aoisean. Tha e follaiseach gun robh blas Briothannach air Gàidhlig Ghlaschu mar thoradh air co-thadhal chànain. Chithear seo ann an ainmeanan-àite den leithid Poll Mac Dè, ainm-àite a chruthaich Gàidheil ionadach. Chaidh an t-ainm seo a chlàradh ann an 1185 mar Polmacde. Feumaidh gun robh eaglais an seo aig an àm. A thaobh ciad mhìr an ainm, tha e glè choltach gun robh na Gàidheil ionadach a chuir an t-ainm seo air an àite a’ luaidh gu sònraichte air an allt a tha an seo; mar sin, cha do chuir iad am facal poll gu feum san t-seagh anns am bi am facal ga chur gu feum san àbhaist san latha an-diugh. Ann am Briothannais, b’ e am facal pol, mar a tha e ga litreachadh san àbhaist, a bhathas a’ cur air uillt agus sruthan sa bhitheantas agus tha seo a’ nochdadh gun robh Briothannais air buaidh a thoirt air Gàidhlig an àite. Is e feart cànain air leth inntinneach a tha seo ach tha e ag adhbhrachadh dhuilgheadasan do sgrùdairean ainmeanan-àite a chionn is nach eil e follaiseach air uairean cò an cànan Ceilteach anns an deach ainm-àite a chruthachadh sa chiad dol a-mach.

Ainmeanan-àite: aiteal air Glaschu mar a bha

Tha eachdraidh an lùib nan ainmeanan a dh’fhàg Gàidheil ionadach air an àite bhon 10mh linn a-mach nach fhaighear ann an tùs sam bith eile. Tha na h-ainmeanan seo a’ cur tìr dhùthchail am follais a tha falaichte sa mhòr-bhaile iar-ghnìomhachail. Le bhith sgrùdadh nan ainmeanan seo, faodar ceàrnan aithneachadh a bha uair fo sprèidh, ceàrnan a bha uair fo bhàrr agus far an robh talamh fliuch uair. A thuilleadh air sin, tha ainmeanan-àite anns a bheil grunn daoine agus grunn bhan ainmichte a tha a’ cur eachdraidh pearsanta am follais nach fhaighear ann an tùs sam bith eile.

Glasgow’s place-names are our most important source in tracing the languages which have been spoken here through the ages. They clearly indicate that Gaelic was the main local language for a significant period from at least as early as the 11th or 12th centuries. Before this, a different Celtic language known as ‘Brittonic’ (which was similar to Welsh, Cornish and Breton) had been spoken here for over a millennium. Traces of this language survive in the form of a number of place-names of Brittonic origin kept in use by Gaelic-speakers. These Brittonic survivals include several major names, such as Govan (‘small hill’), Partick (‘little wood or thicket’) and even the name of the city itself: Glasgow (‘green hollow’).

The burgh of Glasgow

Gaelic was well established locally by the time William I, king of Scots, granted the episcopal settlement of Glasgow the status of ‘burgh’ in 1176, with the right to hold a market every Thursday. This marked the beginning of the expansion of Glasgow from simply a cathedral and bishop’s castle to a trading settlement, and ultimately to the city we know today. As was the case elsewhere in early Scottish burghs, the main language of trade seems generally to have been a dialect of Northern Old English and early Middle English. This language is now referred to as Older Scots, although in medieval Scotland it was known as Inglis (‘English’). The dominance of Scots within the burgh is reflected in names like Walkergate (‘street of waulkers or fullers’), Briggate (‘bridge street’), Rottenraw (‘rat-infested row’) and Girth Burn (‘sanctuary burn’).

Glasgow’s earliest recorded family

For some time, however, the main language of the surrounding population was Gaelic and bilingualism would have been common. Glasgow’s earliest recorded family were Gaelic-speakers: a royal document from around the year 1180 mentions the children and dependants of Gillemachoi (in modern Gaelic: GilleMoChotha, meaning ‘servant or devotee of St Mungo’). Gillemachoi and his family were bound to the land of Kinclaith (the old name for the area around Glasgow Green).

Glasgow within the wider Gaelic-speaking area

Because of its status within the burghs, Scots became associated with education and commerce. Scots rather than Gaelic came to be considered the language of progress and advancement. Despite the loss of status for Gaelic, its decline was remarkably slow. Use of Gaelic slowly decreased in the Greater Glasgow area over the course of the Middle Ages but the language was still widespread in neighbouring Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire in the 16th century, as it was in Galloway and Carrick. Areas around the south end of Loch Lomond were Gaelic-speaking in the 18th century and the Ordnance Survey maps of the mid 19th century record place-names in these areas using Gaelic spelling. Gaelic-speakers native to Cowal, Arran, Bute, Dunbartonshire, Stirlingshire and Perthshire were still to be found as recently as the 19th century and even the early decades of the 20th century.

Glasgow’s place-name jigsaw

As the town of Glasgow expanded into what had previously been countryside, many of the old Gaelic names in its vicinity were adopted by Scots-speakers, whether or not their original meaning was still understood. Scots-speakers also coined new names, adding a third piece to Glasgow’s place-name-jigsaw. Within the important medieval parish of Govan, for example, we see a layer of Brittonic names, a layer of Gaelic names and then a layer of Scots names. These Scots names, such as Haggs, Kinning Park, Merryflats and Sheils, often refer to difficult or marginal terrain, which implies they were coined by Scots-speakers who were bringing into cultivation areas which had not previously been inhabited.

The Gaelic kingdom of Alba

The use of Gaelic had spread into the Glasgow area in the 10th and 11th century because of its high status as the language of the expanding kingdom of Alba, later known in English as Scotland. Alba’s heartlands were the eastern lowlands north of the Firth of Forth but, since the 10th century, Alba’s kings had been extending their political control southwards into Lothian and westwards into Strathclyde.

Language contact

Brittonic and Gaelic are both Celtic languages and, although Brittonic- and Gaelic-speakers could not have understood each other in the 10th and 11th centuries, they had many similar words. The major Brittonic place-names in the Glasgow area were already so well established that they remained in use even after Brittonic had died out, just as, centuries later, place-names of Gaelic origin are still used today by speakers of Scots and English. When the old Brittonic names were taken up by Gaelic-speakers, they Gaelicised them to a greater or lesser degree – remoulding unfamiliar sounds into something easier to pronounce and, sometimes, substituting similar-sounding words from their own language. Exactly the same kind of processes happened centuries later when Gaelic names were, in turn, taken up by Scots-speakers. This is why it is so essential to look at the earliest written forms of a place-name for clues as to its origin. Even after all this time, local pronunciation can also help identify the root of a place-name.

Glasgow Gaelic

Place-names are the only evidence we have for the nature of Gaelic spoken in the Glasgow area in the medieval period. They show that, through interaction between local Brittonic- and Gaelic-speakers, Glasgow Gaelic had a Brittonic flavour. This is traceable in local place-names like Polmadie, which is recorded as Polmacde in around the year 1185. Polmadie is a name created by Gaelic-speakers. The -madie part probably means ‘of the sons of God’ and it therefore provides evidence for a local church in this period. The first word in the name is Gaelic poll and, while this word usually means ‘a pool or a body of standing water’, the word is more likely to refer to a stream in the name Polmadie. This tells us that local Gaelic had been influenced by the related Brittonic word pol, which was the standard Brittonic word for a stream or flowing water. This is a fascinating feature of Glasgow’s place-names but it causes difficulties for place-name researchers: it is often difficult to be sure whether or not a local place-name was originally created by Brittonic-speakers or by Gaelic-speakers.

Place-names: a window on rural Glasgow

Place-names created by Gaelic-speakers living locally from the 10th century onwards bring Glasgow’s history to life in a way that no other source can. They reveal a once rural medieval landscape which can seem at odds with the modern post-industrial city. Glasgow’s Gaelic place-names allow us to identify areas within the modern city where livestock once grazed , where crops were once grown  and where there were once natural wetlands. They also link a handful of named individual men and women to specific local places in the medieval period, giving tantalising hints of otherwise anonymous lives.

 

 

As the town of Glasgow expanded into what had previously been countryside, many of the old Gaelic names in its vicinity were adopted by Scots-speakers