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Scotland / Scottish
Genealogy & History

BOOK - The History of Celtic Place-Names of Scotland
By William J. Watson
Originally published by William Blackwood and Sons, Scotland, 1926
This edition published by Global Heritage Press, Milton, 2008 (CD 2010)

Hardcover... 77.95 (C$)
Book on CD... 19.95 (C$)
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First published in 1926, this remains the best and most comprehensive reference guide to the Celtic place-names of Scotland. This classic work is an essential resource for everyone interested in Scottish history and the derivations of place names throughout Scotland. A classic and durable edition that will serve as a valuable reference tool for generations.

Many place-names date before the arrival of the Celts (the name 'Tay', for example, is almost certainly thousands of years old), and each successive group of invaders and settlers - Britons, Dalriadic Scots, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Picts and many others - constantly adding and enriching, leaving their own unique story in the landscape.

The book is divided into sections dealing with early names, territorial divisions, general surveys of areas; it also looks at saints, church terms and river names. For the scholar, and indeed anyone interested in the subject, this book is a prime reference point which has never been surpassed.

The History of Celtic Place-Names of Scotland is more than a gazetteer. A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory, an important reference for information about places and place-names -- ideal for learning about places as they were known at the time that the gazetteer was published. Especially useful when used in conjuction with maps and atlases from the same period. Family historians treasure gazetters because they assist them in satisfying the genealogical standard of recording a place name as it was known at the time of an event, such as at the date of birth/death of an ancestor. The History of Celtic Place-Names of Scotland goes far beyond the scope of a gazetteer because it covers a much wider time period, discussing a Scottish places as they were known over hundreds, even thousands of years.

Contents include:
  • Early Names [of places]
  • Names in Adamnan's 'life of Columba'
  • Territorial Divisions
  • General Survey of Lothian
  • General Survey of Dunfries and Galloway
  • General Survey of Ayrshire and Strathclyde
  • General Survey of Scotland North of Forth
  • Early Church Terms
  • Saints of West and east
  • Saints of West
  • Saints of East
  • British Names [of places]
  • British-Gaelic Names [of places]
  • River Names
  • Some General Terms
  • Additional Notes
  • Index of Places and Tribes
  • Index of Personal Names
About the author:
    Professor William J. Watson, 1865-1948, was a toponymist, one of the greatest Scottish scholars of the 20th century, and was the first scholar to place the study of Scottish place names on a firm linguistic basis. Watson was a native Gaelic-speaker, born in Milton of New Tarbet, Easter Ross. He was the son of Hugh Watson, a blacksmith. He received his initial education from his uncle, James Watson. William became well grounded in Gaelic studies and in the Classics. William went to the University of Aberdeen and the University of Oxford. First a school teacher in Glasgow, Inverness and then Edinburgh, it was while teaching in Inverness that be began to contribute to the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness and the Celtic Review. He married Ella Carmichael daughter of Alexander Carmichael. He took the chair of Celtic at the University of Edinburgh in 1914, despite holding no prior university position. He remained in this prestigious position until making way for his son James Carmichael Watson in 1938. William died aged 83 on March 9, 1948

    He is best known for his The Celtic Place-names of Scotland (1926), based on 30 years of work. Watson's work, eight decades later, is still the primary scholarly reference guide on the subject. The book is based on extensive notes taken by Watson, which are unpublished and held by Edinburgh University. (source:
558 Pages
8" X 10.5"
Index of Places and Tribes
Index of Personal Names
Originally published by William Blackwood and Sons, Scotland, 1926
This new edition by Global Heritage Press, Canada, 2008 (CD 2010)
ISBN 978-1-897446-36-2 (Hardcover)

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