Happy new year! No problem at all.

At least one of them near Stirling is 9th/10th century.

Will’s on Twitter and very nice if you struggle to find the reference it may have been it’s phd!

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Hi Fiona, another excellent article, bravo. A few comments: in Scotland souterrains tend to be Iron Age or Roman Iron age rather than EM. The terms have slightly different uses between Scotland and Ireland. In terms of mottes, its worth checking the first use of it for your site. Round Stirling the 1960s RCAHMS' volume uses it rather too broadly. Some 'mottes' are lightly defended natural hillocks, they might be med, EM or Iron Age (Will Wyeth has done a section on this somewhere). I suspect in some locations the term is as useful as dun, basically a catch all for things that don't quite fit.

best wishes


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Hi Fiona, here's part of a comment by a placename expert - he says he is "doubtful though about whether the Gaelic form could refer to a toísech. eDIL https://dil.ie/41302 doesn’t make very clear how the noun was declined in its early forms, but I would guess that the genitive singular about 1000 years ago was usually spelt toísig, in which the final consonant would have been very weak, leading to disappearance in modern Irish, though in Scottish Gaelic the final consonant of toísech was reconstructed from the nominative, so it is now tòisich. Where an anglicised name contains -int- it can be very difficult to work out how it got there. It can be genitive masculine definite article an + a word beginning t-; genitive masculine article an t- + noun with lenited (cancelled) initial s-; genitive feminine article na + noun beginning t-; and that will not be exhaustive. And I don’t see what sense could be made of cinn ‘at the head of’ a/the tóisech. If such a name did exist, I would have expected more likely *Kintoshie. 

 I have to agree with him here, that 'head of the toísech' makes no apparent sense, unless you're cutting his head off and sticking it on a stone! Anyway, here's the next bit:

'Wiki says little about Kintessack, but does say that it was also formerly spelt Kintessock or Kintessoch. This -ch / -ck variation is not uncommon. Given its low and nearly flat location, we can doubtless rule out an easach burn, i.e. one with cascades or waterfalls. Curiously, there is an Earnhill Farm 1km NE of Kintessack, and for what it is worth (probably nothing) there are a Kincorth House and Wood close to the north of them which must record a standing stone or stones (coirthe). https://www.streetmap.co.uk/map?x=299579&y=860730&z=120&sv=kintessack&st=3&tl=Map+of+Kintessack,+Moray+[Town]&searchp=ids&mapp=map

If you look at the topography, including the obviously artificial drainage channel, Belmack Burn, NNE of Kintessack, which cuts through the 10m contour, you may agree with me that the flat strip of land between Kintessack and Wellhill looks likely to have been a shallow loch. Typically Cinn names refer to the ‘heads’ of lochs. Of https://dil.ie/36988 https://dil.ie/37276 and https://dil.ie/37286 I think the first and third are the more likely to have possible descriptive relevance here. But very very tentative and all very uncertain.'

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Dec 19, 2022Liked by Fiona Campbell-Howes

Great stuff, Fiona. The dewar of St Ternan's Bell ('ronnecht') in Banchory was assigned 'the deraycroft' which I think was next to the glebe - sorry don't have the sources to hand. It was found buried in the 19th century during the building of the railway at a place which is now called 'Bellfield park' in commemoration. I've presumed it was buried at the Reformation for safe-keeping.

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Dec 18, 2022Liked by Fiona Campbell-Howes

Hi Fiona. Another great and thought provoking piece. Well on your way to your doctorate! 😀

Couple of comments/thoughts:

Half Davoch, the settlement on the Altyre Estate, is pronounced dach locally rather than doch

It is intriguing that a Kin place name ends up as a Pen as they are (or can be) synonyms for “the head of” in Gaelic and Brythonic (and Pictish) respectively. I’m no linguist/toponymist but a shift from Gaelic to Brythonic/Pictish at a late date would be unusual so I would guess that that is not the cause of the Pen…. Most places that retain a Pen prefix are in areas that went straight from Brythonic to Inglis (or with only a short Gaelic phase) e.g. Lothian, Lanarkshire. Another option is that it was originally a Pen place and reverted, but would need full toponymy research to get to the bottom of things

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Nice one, Fiona! a couple of comments if I may. A few of these gaily-called Norman mottes have now been dated in Ireland, and they are turning out to be Neolithic, it's like a sacred place stays that way through the centuries no matter what brand of ideology is on top.

The other thing is that Columba's feast day is 9 June not the 21st. Dates, because of calendar realignments, can be a little out, no doubt, but that big a gap is not usual. The 21st is of course the summer solstice, the biggest pagan festival of them all, so I'd be careful about assigning it to the saint. Of course things like this can be confused and conflated at any time in the past, so it's possible the festival is both, but I've learnt the hard way to be super wary not to fall for the trap of ignoring the pagan past, mottes or festivals.

(PS. your tweet about the passive was hilarious, and telling. I've often thought it would be fun to write a book of 'passive' incidents, but I fear only the weirdest of linguists would get the joke...)

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