Ordnance Survey, Place Names, 1873
by Tim Roberton

In 1873, the Ordnance Survey undertook a remapping of the Moidart district. As part of the exercise they interviewed many local people in order to obtain the correct names for various Lochs, Tors, Duns and Bens. Records were made as an adjunct to the map which was eventually published. These showed a Gaelic Translation of the name, the source of the information and, sometimes the ownership.

They also reveal where there were arguments and disagreements, most famously with Professor Blackburn, who entered into an impassioned correspondence concerning the correct Gaelic spelling of Roshven.

The information reproduced below is principally taken from Reel 67 in the Public Record Office archives in Inverness.

As an adjunct, there is a section at the end with further local information from various other sources.

"The marvelous fertility of the Gaelic language has over a dozen different words for an area of high ground, according to whether: the ground rises sharply and is very high ( bean); is rounded (meall or ord); is less high and pointed (ard) or ridged (druim); is a small hillock (cnoc); is a slope (leitir); is rocky and steep (aoineadh) or rocky and flat (carn). Others include tor, tom, creag, dun, brae" Crofts and Crofting by Katharine Stewart, page2

A CHROIT BHEINN Owned by JA MacDonald of Glenaladale and William Robertson

AGNESS'S CHAPEL Built about 30 years ago. Seats 200. RC Priest attached to St Mary's Shiel Bridge attends

ALISARY Small one storey house east of Loch Ailort, property of H Blackburn

AONACH A couple of very small one storey thatched houses.

ALT NA CRICHE The March Burn (see also March Burn)

ARDMOLICH small 1-storey thatched house and smithy. Robertson.

ARDMOLICH WOOD Wood. Robertson.

ARD MOLACH "Rough Height", large hill. Howard of Glossop.

ARDNISH The name applied to a small district nearly surrounded by Loch Ailort and Loch Nam Uamh, the property of the Trustees of the late FHP Astley

AREAN This name applies to a small 1-storey thatched house situated a short distance North of Port Arean. Proprietor Captain Swinburn R.N. Eilean Shona House.

ARIENSKILL Small one storey slated house in good repair. Trustees FHP Astley.

ASSARY dwelling houses and ruins one story high, thatched in indifferent repair. Robertson.

AULTIGIL this name applies to a croft situate about 30 chains SE of Egnaig on the property of I McLean Esq of Glenuig (also on 1869 & 1870 valuation roll. - Jean Lawson)

AUSTINSCROFT Small house, one storey, thatched, good repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

BAD AN DOBHRAIN "Otters' Clump" in a wooded hollow on Egnaig Hill, prop J McLean

BAILETONACH Six or seven one storey thatched houses.

BARRAMORTE Couple of small 1-storey thatched houses situated on the South side of Port a Bhana. Prop Captain Swinburn etc

BEALACH A BHAILLIDH "The bailiff's pass", Eilean Shona.

BEINN A MHINN "Kids' Height" at Dorlin, the property of Lord Howard of Glossop.

BLAIN Small house 15 chains south of Shiel Bridge in good repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

BRIDGE (Kinlochmoidart) Stone and lime bridge of one arch. In good repair. County.

BRIDGE (Brunery) Old stone and lime bridge. One arch. Not a county bridge.

BRUNERY Two storey slated house, formerly a farmhouse but now occupied by a shepherd. Middling repair. Robertson.

CEAN-AN-T-SAIDEAL Bay or shallows, small arm of Loch Moidart. Robertson.

CEANN LOCH UACHDRACH "Upper Kinloch hill". Lord Howard of Glossop.

CHAPEL (Polnish) This chapel is now in course of erection. It will be seated to accommodate 200 persons. It has 120 (?) dedicatory names as yet.

CLIFF Large farm steading 25 chains from Shiel Bridge. Slated and in good repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

COIR AN UTHA A corry, the joint property of Mrs Lucy Meoble and JA MacDonald of Glenaladale.

COIRE FEARNA this name implies Alder Corry, the hollow immediately north of Brunery Hill, Wm Robertson Esq proprietor, Kinlochmoidart by Fort William.

COUL A one storey house, thatched, good repair. Originally a farmhouse, now occupied by a keeper. Lord Howard of Glossop.

CREAGAN DUBH A small rock situated at the junction of the River Moidart with Loch Moidart. It was here
that Prince Charles landed in 1745 when going to Kinlochmoidart
to solicit the aid of the Robertsons (presumably the McDonalds)
and their powerful clan. Meaning: a small black crag. Prop WR - Jean Lawson

Rock of the sparrow hawk, 20 chains north of Roshven House, Hugh Blackburn.

CREAG SHOINEACH A pretty high rocky hill about three fourths of a mile from Kinlochmoidart. The hill was used in former times as a Ban or Bonfire station on Midsummer and Hallow Eve as it commands a very extensive view up and down the Glen and also of Argyllshire. Meaning: A Kind of Torch, or Hill of the Torch. - Jean Lawson

CREAGAN DUBH A small rock situated at the junction of the River Moidart with Loch Moidart. It was here that Prince Charles landed in 1745 when going to Kinlochmoidart to solicit the aid of the McDonalds and their powerful clan. Meaning: a small black crag. Prop WR - Jean Lawson

CRUACH BHUIDHE "Yellow Hill" on Eilean Shona owned by Captain T(homas) Swinburn RN

CUIL A CHAPUILL A small corner of rocky grazing land a short distance East of the Parsonage. Meaning: The mare's corner .

DALILEA Large stone edifice with outbuildings 55 chains east of Austincroft. Two storeys high. Slated and in good repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

DALNABRECK A number of small crofts 1 mile east of St Mary's RC chapel. They are thatched and in middling repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

DOIREANEIGHINN One storey cottage to south of Port Hairbeirt.

EGNAIG this name is applied to a number of small crofts, situate about 30 chains NW of Aultigil on the property of I McLean Esq of Glenuig. Sources I McGillivray, Eilean Shona and I McDonald, Kylesbeg. (Also on 1869 & 1870 valuation roll. - Jean Lawson)

EILEAN AN-T-SABHAIL "Barn Island", Swinburn

EILEAN COMPLACH (Also see Eilean Dubh) Adjoining islands in Loch Shiel near Gaskan. Eastern belongs to MacDonald of Glenaladale. Western belongs to Lord Howard of Glossop.

EILEAN DUBH (Also see Eilean Complach) Adjoining islands in Loch Shiel near Gaskan. Eastern belongs to MacDonald of Glenaladale. Western belongs to Lord Howard of Glossop.

EILEAN NAN GOBHAR Goat Island, on which is to be seen the remains of a vitrified fort.

EILEAN SHONA HOUSE Stone,2 stories, slated. Captain Swinburne RN proprietor.

DORLIN HOUSE large mansion, 25 chains SE from Castle Tirrim, 3 stories high, stone, slated and in its grounds. Lord Howard of Glossop.

FORSY The name of a piece of ground where some tenements stood which were razed to the ground after 1745 rebellion.

GLEN FORSLAN (1) Glen east of Glenmoidart, three miles long and a quarter of a mile wide. Robertson.

GLEN FORSLAN (2) A farmhouse at junction of Glen Forslan River and River Moidart. One storey slated, and in good repair. Robertson.

GLENMOIDART This Glen is about six miles long and a half a mile wide. It is cultivated for nearly three miles. Robertson.

GLENMOIDART HOUSE A large mansion house of 2 storeys in good repair. Property of Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Robertson Ross of Colchester. - Jean Lawson

INCHRORY dwelling house at head of Glen Moidart, one story high, thatched and in fair repair.

INVERAILORT Mansion House. Two storeys high, slated and in excellent repair. D(uncan) Cameron.

IRINE Property of Hugh Blackburn, applied to a farm.

KINLOCHAILORT INN Public House licensed to sell whisky, ale and porter and to accommodate man and horse. One storey high and slated. On road between Fort William and Arisaig. In good repair. Trustees of the late FHP Astley.

KINLOCHMOIDART BRIDGE Stone and lime bridge of one arch. In good repair. County. (See also Brunery Bridge)

KINLOCHMOIDART HOUSE A large 2-storey slated mansion house with back living and a small yard. There is a good fruit garden, croquet lawn and pleasure ground attached. In very good repair. Robertson.

KINLOCHMOIDART PIER About 1 ¾ miles from Kinlochmoidart House. Proprietor William Robertson - Jean Lawson

KYLESBEG A small croft. Prop. William Robertson (also in Valuation Roll) - Jean Lawson

KYLESMORE (1) several small crofts 45 chains from Eilean Shona (Wm Robertson.

KYLESMORE (2) A small croft 46 chains NW of Kylesbeg. Property of William Robertson, Kinlochmoidart. (Valuation Roll) - Jean Lawson

LANGALL Several small crofts 30 chains east of Dalnabreck. All thatched and in middling repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

LOCH MOIDART ….receives River Shiel at Dorlin and River Moidart at upper end. It is navigable for vessels of light draft only. There are three mansion houses at Dorlin House, at Eilean Shona House and Kinlochmoidart House. Sources, Wm Robertson of Kinlochmoidart, M McDonald of Arieskill and R McDonald of Coul.

LOCH NAM LOCHAN Small loch south of Glenmoidart House. Lieutenant PRR Colchester.

LOCH NAM UAMH Loch of the caves.

LOCH NAN PAITEAN The humpy loch. Prop. William Robertson - Jean Lawson

MARCH BURN A stream a mile NW of Glenmoidart House marking boundary with estates of Wm Robertson Esq and Lt Col Patrick Robertson Ross Colchester.

MILLHOUSE (Kinlochmoidart) 2 storey slated, near Pier, good repair. Robertson.

MINGARRY Some ruins 30 chains north of Mingarrypark. Lord Howard of Glossop.

MINGARRYPARK HOUSE, 5 chains south west St Mary's RC chapel. Two stories, slated in good repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

MOUNT MARGARET The favourite resort of Lady Margaret Robertson - Jean Lawson

MOSS Small district, some houses one storey. Good repair. Lord Howard of Glossop.

PARSONAGE (Kinlochmoidart) Two storey cottage occupied by Episcopalian Minister. Good repair. Property Right Reverend Wilson of Glasgow.

POST OFFICE (Kinlochmoidart) Small one storey slated house used as a sub-Post Office. District of Strontian. Departure of mails 10.10 Arrival of mails 12.30. Robertson.

PRINCES WALK Avenue, favourite resort of Prince Charles 1745.

RISKA ISLAND Island 15 chains north of Castle Tirrim the property of Captain MacDonald of Clanranald.

ROBAR SOINEACH A small well or spout on the property of Mr Robertson Esq (sic) and near his residence, at which in former times the Lads and Lasses of the district assembled on Halloween to Carouse and Light Torches on Bonefires (sic). Meaning: The Torch Well. - Jean Lawson

ROSHVEN (1) Large house built with stone, 2 storeys high. H Blackburn.

ROSHVEN (2) "Hill of showers" according to Robertson MacDonald to the Ordnance Survey, in support of correspondence in December 1880 from H Blackburn. Both wanted Gaelic spelling and after taking advice, OS ordered a change to what they had engraved originally on the plate to "Fros-bheinn"

SAINT FINNAN'S CHURCH Episcopal. Erected 1859. Public subscription. Seating 100. Property of Right Reverend Dr Wilson of Glasgow and other Trustees.

SAINT MARY'S CHAPEL (Mingarrypark) Erected 1862. Seating for 600. Built by Hope Scott.

SAMALAMAN Two storeyed slated house in good repair, the property of J McLean.

SCHOOL GLENUIG At the northern extremity of Glenuig and supported by Mrs H Blackburn of Roshven, SPCK No 26.

SCHOOL KINLOCHMOIDART Small one storey slated house used as a school. It is supported by Mrs Robertson and SPCK and scholars' fees. Average attendance 10.

SCHOOL MINGARRYPARK Held in the west wing of the building known as Mingarrypark. It is a subscription school. Average pupils 40. It is in connection with St Mary's RC chapel adjacent.

SCHOOL POLNISH Schoolhouse 44 chains from farmhouse of Kinlochnamuan. Created by Mrs Astley and supported by the Proprietor, by subscription and the SPCK. Average attendance 14.

SGOR A MHEADHOIN Rocky hill at end of Glenmoidart, Colonel Robertson Ross.

SGOR GORM Rocky Hill north of Glen Forslan, "Green Hill", Robertson

SHONA BEG Part of an island connected by an isthmus to Eilean Shona. Proprietor William Robertson (Valuation Roll) - Jean Lawson

SMEARISARY This name applies to a few small thatched houses. They are situated a short distance East of Port an Doill and are the property of J Maclean Esq, Glenuig.

THE THREE OLD MAIDS Three conspicuous rocks. Prop WR - Jean Lawson

TOM SOINEACH A small wooded hill a short distance from the head of Kinlochmoidart on which the young people of the district light torches on Halloween. Meaning: A kind of Torch, or Hill of the Torch.

TORR PORT A BHATA "The hillock of boat point" 25 chains SW of Rudha Port a Bhata, on the property of Lord Howard of Glossop, Glossop House, Derbyshire.

ULGARY a glen at the head of Glen Moidart extending about a mile along River Moidart (Robertson)


ASSARY contains airigh 'shieling', or to be more precise Old Norse erg, a shieling term probably borrowed from the Gaelic. The first part has various possibilities, including Os outlet stream flowing from a loch, or ask ash tree or perhaps a personal name

DUILAD means dark or black hill-slope, probably from dubh-leathad
Letter from Ian Fraser to Iain Thornber, School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, Glenmoidart Notes, Bonnalie/Impey Papers Ref 16

is straightforward enough being Innis Ruairidh Roderick's open space. Innis here has the sense of a field or open area, usually beside a river

was apparently a local name for Glen Forslan. Bill Bickle / John Dye.

is also Norse. Here the final element is gardr, enclosure. The first part is conjectural, perhaps ulfr wolf or the personal name Ulf

UACHDRACH simply means the upper place

MHADAIDH wild dog
CAILLICH old lady
ARDA PHUILL high muddy loch
NAM PAITEAN safe refuge (or, crab)
Loch names given by Blair Howkins to Tim Roberton

AHARACLE the ford of Torquil
AULTBEA the birch stream
ARIVIGAIG the shieling of the little stream
CAMUS NAN GEALL bay of the churches
CORRIEVULLIN corrie of the mill
EIGNEIG oak bay
FASCADALE field of the ship
GLENBORRODALE the field of the fort town
GLENDRIAN the glen of the bramble
GORTENFERN the corn field of the alder
INNIS the valley of the squirrels
KILCHOAN the church of St Congan
KILMORY the church of St Mary
KENTRA the head of the beach
LAGA a hollow
OCKLE high
PLOCAIG high lump bay
SALEN sea pond
SANNA sandy island
SWORDLE grassy field
LOCH MIUDEART muddy fjord
RUDHA point
Ardnamurchan Place-names, Angus Henderson, The Celtic Review page 149,Bonnalie/Impey Papers Ref 24