Place names of Fife - The meanings and
I have had numerous queries to my definitions of how the
parishes got their names. Some thanking me,some saying I have some entirely
wrong. So I have again searched various sources in my local library , I have
attempted to discover the meanings of the names for the Parishes and towns
and villages of Fife, and I will continue to search..........to give
you different opinions and let you all decide what definition you like.
There are numerous variations in the
way people pronounce some of the names I hope my list is helpful to most of
you.The pronounciations are my own.
The different coloured lettering are the dates the meanings were
posted and each colour means the same source.
BLACK (First) RED (Second) BLUE(Latest)
ABBOTSHALL: (abbots-hawl) A hall or residence of the Abbot.(in
this case of Dunfermline).
ABDIE: (ab-di) Lands belonging to an Abbacy (of Lindores).
ABERDOUR: (aber-dower) Mouth of the Water.
ABERDOUR: 'mouth of the River Dour'; aber
(Brittonic) mouth, confluence; dobhar (Gaelic) water,
ABERDOUR: Mouth (aber,Brythonic Gaelic)
of the water.
ANSTRUTHER: (an-struther) (Locals call it enster) A place abounding in streams.
ANSTRUTHER: 'the little stream' ; an (Gaelic) the; sruthair
(Gaelic) little stream.
ANSTRUTHER: 'The (an) rivulet (struthair)' .The mouth
of the 'rivulet' forms the town's harbour, effectively dividing the town in
ARNGASK: (arn-gask) Height of the pass.
AUCHTERDERRAN: (ock-ter-derr-an) Height of the oakwood.
AUCHTERDERRAN : 'Top (uachdar) blackthorns
AUCHTERMUCHTY: (ock-ter-muck-ti) Boar's height.
AUCHTERMUCHTY: 'upland for swine'; uachdar
(Gaelic) upland; muc (Gaelic) swine.
AUCHTERMUCHTY : 'Upper (uachdar) pig (muc) house (tigh)'.Some would make
muchty one element 'pig rearing'.
AUCHTERTOOL: (ock-ter-tool) Of the river Tiel. Tiel is derived from tuil =
BALGEDIE : 'Settlement (baile) of the narrow
strip of land (gead)'.
BALLINGRY: (bal-in-gray) Town of the garden.
BALMERINO: (bal-mereeno)(Locals call it ba'mirnie) Merinach's town, Merinach
was the name of a companion of St.Regulus of St Andrews.
BEATH: (beeth) Birch Tree
BENARTY HILL : 'Mountain (beinn), high (ard),hill (Eng)
BLAIRADAM : Level clearing (blar) of (the) Adam (family)
the family that included the famous Scottish architects and interior designers.
The name was originally that of the estate; the village within it, established
by William, father of Robert, was initially called Maryburgh (after William's
BRUNTON : Stream (burna), community (tun)
BURNTISLAND: (burnt-eye-land) Where the lands were set on fire for improvement.
BURNTISLAND: maybe 'Burnet's Land' ; The origin of this
name is obscure. There is a story which tells of a fire on a small island close
to the shore, but this is not confirmed.
CAMERON: (cam-e-ron) Crooked gap or pass.
CARDENDEN : Wooded (cardden, Brythonic gaelic)
CARNBEE: (car-in-bee) Cairn of the peek.
CARNOCK: (car-nok) Abounding in cairns.
CARR ROCKS : Boulder (carr, proto-Goidelic)
rocks (Eng).The dangerous rocks lie 3 miles off the ancient town of Crail.
CERES: ( seer-iss) Enclosure for swine.
CERES: obscure, but possibly 'black water' ; searach
COLINSBURGH : Village founded and named by Colin Lindsay,
3rd Earl of Balcarres, in 1705.
COLLESSIE: (cawl-less-i) Back of the garden ground.
COMRIE: 'confluence' ; comar (Gaelic) confluence.
COWDENBEATH: 'birch woods' ; coilltean (Gaelic) woods;
COWDENBEATH : Wooded (coilltean) (with)birch
first element of the name is shrouded in conjecture.
CRAIGROTHIE : Fell (creag) of the old fortification
(rath)to the north west there is a suitably ancient tower ,but
to the south are the better known remains of the once magnificent Struthers
CRAIL: (cr-ale) Probably identical with the Irish name Cairill and the family
name O'Carroll. See ELIE
CRAIL: 'rock'; carr (Gaelic) rock; all
CRAIL : Ancient town with a name more ancient than
most : Boulder ( carr, pro-Goidelic) rock (ail, pro-Goidelic).
CREICH: (cree-ik) Boundary or district.
CULTS: (kults) Plural of coille = Wood.
CULROSS : 'holly wood'; cuillenn (Gaelic) holly,
ros (Brittonic) wood, point.
CULROSS : A brythonic name; Holly (celyn)
CUPAR: ( coo-per) Back of the top.
CUPAR : 'common pasture'; comhpairt (Gaelic) common
CUPAR : the) Common (land) (comhpairt): that is pastureland
held in common by local villagers,some people would prefer an older derivation.
DALGETY: ( dal-getti) Field of spears.
DUNBOG: ( dun-bog) The word occurs in Dunbog(Dunbolg).In Gaelic "bolg" means
a sack,but the probability is that the name is pre-Celtic.
DUNBOG : Fortified premises (dun) (on) a rise (builg).
DUNFERMLINE: (dun-ferm-lin) The hill or fort of the winding stream or rivulet,and
may refer to a small peninsulated hill in Pittencrieff Glen.
DUNFERMLINE : possibly 'hill-land' ; dun
(Gaelic) hill, fortress, mound; lann (Gaelic) land. The 'ferm' element may have something
to do with tax exacted on the land.
DUNINO: (dun-eeno) Fort on the uncultivated heath.
DYSART: (dye-sart) A place of retirement for religious purposes.
DYSART : Retreat (diseart)
ELIE: ( eel-i) (Formerly known as The Elie) Several tribes in Ireland took
name from an ancestor Eile,and the districts occupied by them came to be known
by the same name the same name,each being distinguished by the addition of a
family or clan name.
ELIE : 'tomb' ; ealadh (Gaelic) tomb;
covered cemetery. There was once such a cemetery at Elie. Some graves were filled
with precious items and from this sprang the Gaelic for treasure ulaidh. Pronounced
ELIE : Tomb (ealadh),The place is
the site of a formerly well known cemetery.
FALKLAND: (faw-kland) Land of falconry; the ancient name of the parish is
FALKLAND : possibly 'land for falconry' ; falca
(Old English) falcon.
FERRY-PORT-ON-CRAIG: (ferry-port-on-craig) A Ferry Port by the Craig (a Rock),Ferries
used to run to Dundee.Now called Tayport. Thanks to David Beattie (b Montrose
FIFE : Possibly 'Path' (fiamh)
FLISK: (flisk) Shore
FREUCHIE : Heathery (fraochach)
GLENCRAIG : Glen (gleann) of the crag (creige)
GLENROTHES : 'fort of the glen' ; gleann (Gaelic) glen,
(Gaelic) fort. This is a new town with no glen.
GLENROTHES : A made up name 'Glen of the raths'Although
there are raths (circular stone forts) in the area, there is no glen to speak
of. In fact, even the raths are a red herring, for the reference is actually
to the Earls of Rothes, who were local landowners, and thus also to the short
lived Rothes Colliery in the vicinity.
GUARDBRIDGE : 'yard bridge'
GUARDBRIDGE : Enclosure (the same word as yard)
Bridge (Eng), the first bridge over the River Eden dates from around 1420.
INCHCOLM, ISLE OF : 'Columba's isle' ; innis
INVERKEITHING : 'mouth of the Keithing Burn' ; inbhir
(Gaelic) river-mouth, confluence.
KELTY : Hard (caled, Brythonic Gaelic)
The name is said sometimes to refer to water, although there are no major expanses
of water anywhere near.
KEMBACK: (kem-bak) Head of the Bend.
KENNOWAY: (ken-oh-way) Head of the plain.
KENNOWAY : Head (perhaps chief) (ceann) field (achadh) an earlier form
of Kennoway was 'Kennachy'.
KENNOWAY : possibly 'main field' ; ceann
(Gaelic) head, chief, main; achadh (Gaelic) field.
KETTLE: ( kett-il) Cital is a diminutive of the Irish personal name Cet.
KILCONQUHAR: (kin-nuck-ir) Wood of Cunuchar or Cunchar.This was the name of
a thane of Angus.
KILCONQUHAR : 'Conchobar's church' ; eall
(Gaelic) cell, church.
KILMANY: (kil-many) Wood of Maine.
KILRENNY: (kil-rennay) Ferny wood
KINCAPLE : Presumably 'Head(ceann) of the horse (capuill)'
KINCARDINE : Head (ceann) of the thicket
KINGHORN: ( king-horn) Head of the corner.
KINGHORN : 'at the head of the marsh' ; cinn
(Gaelic) at the head; gronn (Gaelic) mud, marsh. The
name has been erroneously connected with King Alexander III, who died here after
a fall in 1286.
KINGHORN : Head (ceann) of the boggy ground
KINGLASSIE: ( king-lassay) Head of the stream.
KINGLASSIE : ' at the head of the stream' ; cinn
(Gaelic) at the head; glas (Brittonic) water. The town was once known as Goatmilk.
KINGLASSIE : Head (ceann) of the stream
KINGSBARNS: (kings-barrens) The Barns that King John had built ,close to his
Castle.(thanks to KeithClark,South Australia)
KIRKCALDY: ( kir-kawdi) The fort of Calaten.The sons of Calaten were famous
KIRKCALDY : 'castle on the hard hill' ; caer
(Brittonic) fort, castle; caled (Brittonic) hard;
din (Brittonic) hill, fort.
KIRKCALDY : Apparently Fort (caer, Brythonic Gaelic)
(of the ) hard (caled, Brythonic Gaelic) stronghold (din, Brythonic Gaelic)
LARGO: ( lar-go) Sunny,seaward slope.
LARGO, UPPER and LOWER : 'field' ; learg
(Gaelic) field, plain. Alexander Selkirk, upon
whose experiences Daniel Defoe based his story of Robinson Crusoe, was born
in Lower Largo in 1676.
LARGO : Hillside (learg): the village is
on a hillside of Largo Law and is split into Upper and Lower Largo.
LESLIE: (leslie) Garden of the Pool.
LESLIE : 'garden of the pool' ; lios (Gaelic) garden;
LESLIE : Court (leas) pool (linn)
LEUCHARS: ( look-ers) The great rushy place.
LEUCHARS : probably 'place of rushes' ; luachair
LEUCHARS : Probably '(Of) Rushes (luachair): the place
is not far from the estuary of the River Eden.
LEVEN : The town takes its name from the river Leven.
LOCHGELLY : The town is named after the loch near which
it stands: the name may mean 'White (geal)'
LOCHORE : The town is named after the loch near which
it stands: the name may mean 'Gold (or).
LOGIE: (low-gay) Hollow.
LOGIE : Hollow (lagaidh)
LOMOND : Beacon from an old Brythonic Gaelic source
MARKINCH: (marr-kinsh) A corruption of the name MARCHING.
MARKINCH : 'horse meadow' ; marc (Gaelic) horse;
MARKINCH : Horse (marc) water meadow (innis)
METHIL : 'boundary wood' ; maid (Brittonic) boundary;
METHIL : Apparently Boundary (maid, Brythonic
Gaelic) wood (choille) but Old Scandinavian methal, 'middle',
and note that the town is directly between the other, partly older, urban areas
of Buckhaven and Leven.
MONIMAIL: (monn-i-mail) Shrubbery of honey.
MONIMAIL : Peat Bed (moine) of the rounded
MOONZIE: (moon-zay) Long,sedgy grass.
NEWBURGH : 'new village' ; neowe (old English) new;
burh (Old English)
NEWBURGH : New (neowe) stronghold (burh)
NEWBURN: (new-burn) Allied to the tribe Niduari.
PITTENWEEM : 'cave land' ; pett (Brittonic) place,
part, share (of land); uamh (Gaelic) cave.
St Fillan's cave shrine is near Pittenweem harbour.
QUEENSFERRY, NORTH and SOUTH
The queen referred to is the 11th century Queen
Margaret, King Malcolm Canmore's wife.Ferries no longer cross here, and the
traffic goes by the Forth Road Bridge.Part of the action of Robert Louis Stevenson's
Kidnapped takes place here.
ROSYTH : 'cape of arrows' ; ros
(Gaelic) cape, promontory; saighead (Gaelic) arrow.
ROSYTH : Headland (ros) of arrows (saighead)
ST.ANDREWS & ST.LEONARDS: (saint-andrews & saint leonards)
ST.ANDREWS: (saint andrews)
ST ANDREWS : The town was first called Muckross (boar-wood),
then Kilrymont (church on the royal mount), then Kilrule (church of St Regulus)
and finally St Andrews after the church of St Andrew. It is now most famous
as the 'home' of golf.
ST.LEONARDS: (saint leonards)
ST.MONANS & ABERCROMBIE: (saint-moan-anz) (aber-crom-bay)Locals call it
saint minins) After the saint. ST MONANS : The town is
probably named after Moinenn, the sixth century bishop of Clonfert.
SALINE: (sa-lin) A barn.
SCOONIE: (scoonay) Sconin
STRATHKINNESS : Wide valley (strath) (of the) Kinness
Burn flows from minor uplands in the centre of Fife to the sea at St Andrews.The
stream name means at the head of the cape.
STRATHMIGLO: (strath-mig-low)The strath of the Miglo stream.
STRATHMIGLO : 'valley of the boggy loch' ; srath
(Gaelic) valley; mig
(Gaelic) bog; and loch.
STRATHMIGLO : Said to be Wide Valley (strath)
(of the) marsh (mig), loch, although this presupposes the existence of a
loch, where none is at present. A thought to ponder
is that the Irish (michlu)
means(of) evil repute.
TORRYBURN: (taw-ray-burn) Torr means tower like hill.
WEMYSS: (weems) Cave.
WEMYSS, WEST and EAST : 'cave, hiding-place' ; uamh
(Gaelic) cave. There
are many caves or weems on the coastline here. Near
East Wemyss stands the ruin of MacDuff's castle.
WORMIT : 'the serpent' ; worm (Norse) serpent,
snake; and -et, which is the article. This is said
to be the first village in Scotland with electricity.
WORMIT : Snake ([w]orm,), the (-et,)
E Mail me with your thoughts