Dog, fox or wolf?

Gaelic, Norse, Brittonic? A look into the history and origins of place-names around our area

AdobeStock © ewanc

In Gaelic means ‘dog’ while the word madadh may mean either ‘dog’, ‘fox’ or ‘wolf’. Meall nam Madadh, ‘Hill of the dog’ (or perhaps ‘wolf’) is a 627.9m hill by Càrn Bàn In the Freevater Forest. Loch Bealach a’ Mhadaidh with its distinctive island just north of Benmore Assynt means the ‘Loch of the pass of the dogs’. Bealach is ‘a narrow mountain pass’. Càrn a’ Choin Deirg is the ‘Cairn of the red dog’, a hill of many summits rising between Alladale and Strath Cuileannach. Sìthean a’ Choin Bhain,‘Fairy hill of the white dog’ is a 687.2m hill north of Beinn Tharsuinn. The Gaelic word sìth or sìdh in Scottish placenames is usually translated as a ‘fairy hill’. Lastly, Càrn Bhren was recorded in 1904 to be also known as Càrn Bhreathainn. There is a legend connecting it with Fingal’s dog Bran. He entered a cairn there, and was never seen again. (Càrn Bhren means ‘raven’s cairn’)


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