Scottish Landscapes Originating From Gaelic

Ever been hiking in Scotland? Then you’ve probably noticed some of the Scottish Gaelic words used for the landscape, here’s a few and what they translate to in English!

At a point in history, Scottish Gaelic was Scotland’s primary language and this is the reason that many names of Scotland’s landscape have close ties to the language. Below is a list of Gaelic words used for the Scottish landscape and what they translate to in English (with the Gaelic spelling in brackets).

If you want to learn how to say of any of these words, check our videos at the bottom of the page!

Ard (Àrd)

You might have seen some places with the word ‘ard’ in the name. It’s spelled ‘àrd’ in Gaelic and means high or tall which is why it’s associated with areas that are above ground or elevated.

One well known example is Ardnamurchan which means Height of the Seals.

Ben (Beinn)

A very common one around Scotland. ‘Ben’ comes from ‘Beinn’ in Gaelic which translates to mountain, which is why so many hills or mountains have the word ‘ben’ in them!

One example is Ben More in Stirling which translates to Big Mountain.

Cairn (Càrn)

‘Cairn’ is another common one which you might associate with a heap of stones piled together, but it is also used to refer to some hills in Scotland!

One example is Cairngorm which translates to the Blue Hill.

Coire

‘Coire’ isn’t actually too different from the word it means in English which is Corrie or Cauldron. If you didn’t know, a corrie is a land form that’s a deep hollow found on the side of a mountain where a glacier first formed.

Coire na Ciste is an example which means Hollow of the Coffin.

Creag

‘Creag’ is another term associated with mountains and this is because it means rock in Gaelic.

Creag Dhubh next to Aberfoyle translates to Black Rock.

Dal (Dail)

‘Dal’ can sometimes be found at the start of some Scottish place names, such as Dalrigh in Stirling. ‘Dal’ comes from the Gaelic word ‘dail’ which translates to meadow or field.

Which means that Dalrigh actually translates to King’s Field.

Drum (Druim)

Much like ‘dal’, ‘drum’ can be found at the start of some place names in Scotland like Drumry. ‘Drum’ comes from the Gaelic word ‘druim’ which can mean ridge.

Which means that Drumry translates to King’s Ridge.

Eas

‘Eas’ is one you may not have come across, but is occasionally used to refer to a waterfall as that’s what it means in Gaelic!

There is an Eas Mòr in Kildonan which translates to Big Waterfall.

Sgurr (Sgùrr)

‘Sgurr’ is another word associated with mountains and hills meaning high pointed hill or the peak in Gaelic.

One example is Sgùrr a’ Choire Ghlais which means Peak of the Grey Corrie.

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