Some Cumbric Place Names

Below is a non-exhaustive list of place names which have possible or probable Cumbric origins.  The list doesn't contain river names, which are dealt with elsewhere.  Most names are given with a standardised Cumbric orthography developed for use on this website. 

A few common elements occur:

  • *blain 'summit, end' from a possible Br. *blacno- (W. blaen 'point, end, top').
  • *cair '(Roman) fort', perhaps 'village, estate' from Br. *cassrik- (W. caer 'castle, city', C. ker 'fort, city', B. kêr 'village, town' previously 'city, fort')
  • *cêd 'wood' from Br. Br. cɛ̄to- 'wood' (W. coed, C. koos, B. koad)
  • *egluis 'church' from L. ecclēsia via  LBr. *eclēsjā 'church' (W. eglwys, C. eglos, B. iliz)
  • *lannerχ 'clearing' from Br. *landercā (W. llanerch, C. lannergh).
  • *mêl 'bald' from Br. *mailo- (W. moel 'bald; (bare) mountain, (treeless) hill, hilltop, summit', C. mool, B. maol : G. maol).
  • *penn 'head; chief' from Br. *penno- (W. pen 'head, , summit, promontory; chief, principal', C. penn 'head, end; main, premier').
  • *prenn 'tree, timber' from Br. *prenno- (W. pren 'tree; timber, wood', C. prenn 'timber, log').
  • *ros 'promontory, headland; moor' from Br. *rosto- (W. rhos 'upland, heath, moor; marshland, plain', C. ros 'hill-spur, promontory; moor', B. roz 'upland, side of a valley').
  • *treβ 'village, settlement' from Br. *trebo- (W. tre(f), C. trev).
Ancrum 'Bend in Ale Water' from Cu. *Alün + *crumm (Br. *crumbo- 'curved' > W. crwm, C. kromm). The name perfectly suits the local topography.
Balornock An early form Budlornac 12C suggests possibly 'Llywernog's dwelling' from Cu. *bod Lowernǫg (Br. *butā 'dwelling' > W. bod, C. bos + W. Llywernog).
Barlanark 'Summit clearing' from Cu. *barr lannerχ (Br. *barro- 'end; summit' > W. bar, CB. barr).
Barnbougle Possibly Cu. *prenn bügeil 'herdsman's tree' (Br. *prenno- 'tree' > W. pren, C. prenn + Br. *boukoljo- 'herdsman' > W. bugail 'shepherd', C. bugel).
Bannockburn Probably Cu. *bannǫg from Br. *bannāco- a derivative of *banno- 'peak' (W. ban), either meaning 'little peak' or 'place with peaks'. Old English brunna 'stream' was added later.
Bathgate Cu. *baið gêd 'boar wood' (W. baedd 'boar').
Blantyre 'End (of the) land' from Cu. *blain tir (Br. *tīro- 'land' > WC. tir).
Blencarn 'Summit cairn' from Cu. *blain carn (Br. *carno- 'heap of stones' > W. carn, C. karnedh)
Blencathra Possibly 'chair-shaped summit' from Cu. *blain cadeir (L. cathedra > Br. *cateirā 'chair' > W. cadair, C. kador). The fell is known today as Saddleback for its distinctive shape.
Blencogo 'Summit of cuckoos' from Cu. *blain cogow (W. cogau 'cuckoos').
Blennerhasset The first syllable is probably Cu. *blain and the last part is from ON haysætr 'hay farm'. The middle element is obscure; it may be Cu. *treβ.
Blindcrake 'End of the rock' from Cu. blain creig (Br. *cracjo- 'rock' > W. craig).
Cardew 'Black fort' from Cu. *cair düβ (Br. *dubo- 'dark, black' > WCB. du)
Cardurnock Cu. *cair dǝrnǫg (Br. *durnāco-, a derivative of *durno- 'fist' > W. dwrn, B. dorn) which may mean 'pebble' (cf. G. dòirneag 'pebble'), but may also be a personal name (cf. Gaul. Durnacos, B. dorneg 'having strong hands').
Carfrae Cu. *cair βre (Br. *brigā 'hill' > WC. bre).
Cargo Probably Cu. carreg 'stone' (Br. *carreci- 'stone' > W. carreg, C. karrek) + ON. haugr 'hill'.
Carlanrig 'Fort or village in a clearing' from Cu. *cair lannerχ.
Carlisle One of the few names about which we can be almost certain.  It is recorded in the Roman period as luguvalium 'place of a man called Luguvalos' (a name which means 'power of the God Lugus').  The British would have been *Luguwaljō, which gives the Welsh Caerlliwelydd regularly, with the later addition of caer 'fort, city' (Cu. *cair Luweil)
Carriden May be the Kair Eden mentioned in Gildas, which is described as "a very ancient city about two miles from the monastery of Abercurnig, which is now called Abercorn" (see *cair). There was a Roman fort at Carriden which was once part of the Antonine Wall defences so the identification seems resonable enough. For the meaning of Eidyn see Edinburgh.
Castle Carrock Carrock is a derivative of Cu. *cair meaning 'fortified' (W. caerog 'fortified, walled') and Castle may be either Br. *castellon 'castle' < L. castellum (W. castell, C. kastel) or ME. castel 'castle'.
Cathcart An early form Kerkert (1158) suggests 'fort on Cart Water' from Cu. *cair.
Catterick From L. cataracta 'waterfall' (W. Catraeth). The site of the battle made famous by Y Gododdin.
Cramond 'Fort on the River Almond' from Cu. *cair.
Culgaith 'Narrow wood' from Cu. *cül gêd (Br. coilo- 'narrow' > W. cul, C. kul). Suggestion that it means 'back wood' or 'retreat wood' from the equivalent of W. cil 'back' (G. cùl) cannot be maintained since PC. became Br. well before this name would have been borrowed into English.
Cumrew 'Valley by a slope' from Cu. *cumm riw (Br. *cumbo- 'valley' > W. cwm + Br. *rīw- 'slope' > W. rhiw, C. riw).
Cumwhinton 'Quentin's valley' from Cu. *cumm (Br. *cumbo- 'valley' > W. cwm) + a Norman personal name. This name is of particular interest in showing that the Cumbric element *cumm remained in use after the Norman Conquest.
Cumwhitton 'Valley of Whittington' from Cu. *cumm (Br. *cumbo- 'valley' > W. cwm) + an English place name.
Dalkeith Probably 'wood in a river valley' from Cu. *dol cêd (Br. *dolā 'river valley, dale' > W. dôl 'meadow', B. dol 'lowland' : G. dail 'dale, meadow'). The first element has been influenced by the Gaelic cognate, which may be borrowed from Br. or Pictish.
Dornock See Cardurnock. The name may be G. dòirneag 'pebbly'.
Drumlanrig 'Clearing on a ridge' from Cu. *drümm lannerχ (Br. drüsman- 'ridge' > W. trum, C. drumm : G. druim).
Drumpellier An early form Dunpeleder (1203) suggests G. dùn 'fort' + the plural of Cu. *paladǝr 'spear (shaft)' (Br. *palatro- > W. paladr 'ray, beam; staff; stem', pl. pelydr). It's probable that the first element was translated from Cu. *din 'fort' (Br. dīnon > WC. din). The intrusive r first occurs in the 17th century.
Dunbar Watson (1926) argues that this name was taken into Gaelic from Cu. *din barr 'summit fort' (Br. dīnon > WC. din + Br. *barro- 'point, top' > W. bar 'top, summit, crest', CB. barr 'point'). Whilst this may well be the case given the similarity in elements (G. dùn, barr), there is no positive evidence to show that a British original ever existed, so it is merely speculation. In any case, the name can tell us nothing about the Cumbric language.
Dundraw The form Drumdrahrigg shows that the first element of this name is from PC. *drosman- 'ridge' (W. trum, G. druim) with ON draga 'drag, draw' + hryggr 'ridge'. The connection with Norse would usually suggest a Gaelic origin, since the Norsemen of Cumbria arrived from Ireland, Scotland and Mann, but the fact that the name is tautological points to an existing Cumbric name to which a Norse one was later added.
Eaglesfield The first element may be Cu. *egluis with OE. feld 'field'.
Ecclefechan Either 'small church' from Cu. *egluis βeχan (Br. bikkagno- 'small' > W. bychan, C. byhan, bian) or 'church of St Féichín', a 7th century Irish saint. The W. equivalent of the former would be eglwys fechan, which correlates well with the early form Eglesfeghan (1303).
Eccles Simply 'church' from Cu. *egluis.
Ecclesmachan Perhaps 'St Machan's church' from Cu. *egluis Maχan, the name of a 12th century Scottish saint. If the derivation is correct, it shows that the Cumbric word for church was probably still in use as late as the end of the 12th century. However, the earliest recorded form Egglesmanekin (1207) may point to another derivation. The first element may be G. eaglais 'church'.
Edinburgh The English name is a calque of an earlier one meaning 'fort of Eidyn'. The British form is recorded in the Llyfr Aneirin and Llyfr Taliesin as Dineidyn with Br. *dīnon 'fort' (W. din) whilst the Gaelic equivalent Dunedene (G. Dùn Èideann) also occurs. The name Eidyn is recorded various as MW. Eidin, Eitin, Eidyn but the last of these has been shown to be the correct form. The meaning is unknown; it may have been the name of a region along the southern Forth.
Falkirk As with Edinburgh, this name appears to have had Cumbric, Gaelic and English forms with the same meaning. The earliest record has Egglesbreth from Cu. *egluis βreiθ with the feminine form of Cu. briθ (Br. *brixto- 'speckled' > W. brith, fem. braith, C. brith 'striped, streaked'). Another record Eaglesuret appears to show lenition of the initial b-, as would be expected following a feminine noun (cf. W. elgwys fraith).
The G. equivalent An Eaglais Bhreac is evidenced in forms such as Eiglesbrec, Egelbrech, Eglesbrich though some of these forms may in fact be Cu. *breχ (W. brych, fem. brech 'mottled'). The modern English name is from OE. fāg cirice with identical meaning and there are Latin (varia capella) and French (la Vaire Chapele) forms also recorded.
Glasgow Probably 'green hollow' from Cu. *glas gow (Br. *glasso- > WCB. glas + Br. *cawo- W. cau, C. kow: L. cavus).  The idea that the name means 'dear green place' from the equivalent of W. cu 'dear' is probably folk etymology based on the early form Glasgu (12C), which gives modern Gaelic Glaschu.
In his Life of St Kentigern, Jocelyn says that Glasgow was known as Cathures in the time of the saint (late 6th-early 7th century).  This must surely be a Cumbric name but its etymology is obscure - perhaps there is a connection with W. cadair 'chair' < L. cathedra?  If so, we could explain Jocelyn's -th- as either an attempt to connect it with the Latin, or a copy of a Gaelic (Old Irish) spelling with the equivalent of G. cathair 'chair; city'. 
Glencoyne The first element is clearly PC.*glennos (W. glyn, C. glynn, G. gleann). It isn't clear if the Cumbric form of this word retained original /e/ or whether the word was later influenced by G. gleann. The second element has been compared to W. cain 'fine, elegant', which comes from Br. *kanjo-. The earliest record Glencaine appears to support this theory but later ones Glenekone, Glenkun do not.
Glendue 'Dark valley' from Cu. *glenn (*glınn) düβ (Br. *glennos 'valley' > W. glyn, C. glynn + Br. *dubo- 'dark, black' > WCB. du).
Helvellyn This fell name has the look of a Brythonic word, but its exact origins are uncertain. 'Yellow moor' has been suggested with Cu. *hal µelın (Br. ?*salā 'moor' > W. hâl 'moor, down, moorland', C. hal 'moor, (salt-)marsh' + Br. *melino- 'yellow' > WC. melyn). The earliest record Helvillon (1577) offers little help.
Kinneil Recorded by Nennius as Penguaul, the W. equivalent of G. ceann fàil 'head of the vallum' (i.e. the Antonine Wall) from Br. *penno- 'head' (W. pen, CB. penn) + Br. *wālo- 'wall, vallum, rampart' (W. gwawl 'wall, rampart'). The Pictish equivalent was recorded by Bede as Peanfahel.
Kirkintilloch An early form Caerpentaloch (10th C) shows this name to be from Cu. *cair + *penn + perhaps Cu. *talǫg (Br. *talāco- < *talo- 'brow; end' : W. tâl 'end, extremity, top; front; forehead, brow, head', talog 'projecting; pediment'). The G. equivalent has ceann 'head' + tulach 'hillock' (pl. tulaich).
Lamplugh Perhaps 'church of the parish' from Cu. *lann pluiβ (Br. *landā 'enclosure' > W. llan 'church', C. lann 'yard' + L. plēbēs 'people; parish' > W. plwyf, C. pluw). If this derivation is correct it suggests that the original /β/ was vocalised to /w/.
Lanark 'Clearing' from Cu. lannerχ.
Lanercost The first element is Cu. lannerχ. The second may be Cu. *Ǫust the equivalent of the W. personal name Awst 'Augustus'.
Leece Perhaps Cu. *lıs 'court, hall' (Br. *listo- 'hall, court' > W. llys, C. lys) but uncertain.
Linlithgow Perhaps Cu. *lınn leiθ gow 'lake in a damp hollow' (Br. lindu- 'lake' > W. llyn, C. lynn + Br. lekto-. > W. llaith 'damp, moist' + Br. *cawo- W. cau, C. kow: L. cavus).
Longniddry The second part of this name is Cu. *newıð dreβ 'new settlement' (see Niddrie). The first element is probably English 'long' added later.
Lothian From Br. *Lugudīnjānā (MW. Lleuddiniawn) 'country of Lugudīnon'. The latter, meaning 'fort of Lugus', may have been an early name for Edinburgh or another important centre such as Traprain Law, or it could have been a personal name (cf. Ceredigion in Wales with the same suffix).
Mallerstang The first part of the name is from Cu. *mêl βre 'bald hill' (see Mellor) with ON. stǫng 'staff, pole' added later.
Maughanby Contains the Cu. personal name *Merχjǫn (Br. Marcjānos > W. Meirchion) with ON. býr 'village'. Not technically a Cumbric place name, but at least shows that Cumbrian personal names remained in use following the arrival of Old Norse.
Mellor Cu. *mêl βre 'bald hill' (Br. *brigā 'hill' > WC. bre; cf. W. moelfre).
Melrose 'Bald promontory' from Cu. *mêl ros (Br. *rosto- 'promontory' > W. rhos 'moor, heath, marshland, plain', C. ros 'hill-spur, promontory, moor' : G. ros 'promontory').
Menstrie Perhaps Cu. maës treβ 'village in a field' (Br. magesso- 'field' > W. maes, C. mesyow 'open country').
Merchiston Contains the Cu. name *Merχjǫn (see Maughanby) + OE. tūn.
Mindrum 'Mountain ridge' from Cu. *mǝnıð drümm (Br. *monijo- 'mountain' > W. mynydd, C. menydh + Br. drüsman- 'ridge' > W. trum, C. drumm : G. druim). The earliest record of this name Minethrum seems to show that Cumbric followed Welsh in reducing the quality of LBr. u in non-final position.
Minto Perhaps Cu. *mǝnıð (Br. *monijo- 'mountain' > W. mynydd, C. menydh) + OE. hōh 'promontory', named after the Minto Hills.
Niddrie Cu. *newıð dreβ 'new settlement' (Br. nowijo- 'new' > W. newydd, C. nowyth, B. nevez). The first element seems to have been influenced by cognate G. nuadh.
Niddry Identical with above.
Ochiltree Cu. *üχel dreβ 'high settlement' (Br. ouxselo- 'high' > W. uchel, C. uhel).
Peebles Supposedly Cu. *pebıll 'tent' (L. papiliō 'tent' > W. pabell, pl. pebyll [¹], C. pabel 'pavillion') with an English plural ending. If this is the case, the Cu. word must have been taken into English as a common noun; it is presumed that the meaning was similar to OE. *scēla > Scots shiel(ing) 'temporary hut, shed, shelter' (cognate with ON. skáli which gives several place names in northern England).
Pencaitland The first elements are Cu. *penn cêd either meaning 'chief wood', 'summit wood' or 'headland wood' . The final element is probably OE. land 'land' but may be Cu. *lann 'enclosure; church' (Br. *landā 'enclosure' > W. llan 'church', C. lann 'yard').
Penicuik Means 'summit/headland of the cuckoo' from Cu. *penn ı gog (Br. *cucā 'cuckoo' > W. cog, C. kog).
Penmanshiel Perhaps Cu. *penn main 'chief stone' or 'stone summit' (W. maen 'stone', C. men) with Scots shiel 'temporary shelter' added later. 
Pennygant Hill May be identical to Pen-y-Ghent, below.
Penpont 'Chief bridge' from Cu. *penn bont (L. pontis 'bridge' > W. pont).
Penrith Either Cu. *penn rıd 'chief ford' (Br. *rito- 'ford' > W. rhyd, C. rys) or Cu. *penn rüð 'red hill' (Br. *roudo- 'red' > W. rhudd, C. rudh, B. ruz). The latter explanation has been proposed on the basis that early recorded forms more regularly end in ‹th› than ‹t› or ‹d› and because the modern town of Penrith does not actually stand directly on a river. However, the argument fails to account for the fact that the reflex of Br. in Cumbric names is almost always represented by a rounded vowel (e.g. Culgaith, Barnbougle, Ochiltree), whereas the early forms of Penrith all have ‹e› or ‹i›. There are also numerous examples of Br. *t appearing in place names as ‹th› (e.g. Culgaith, Dalkeith), so there is no reason to assume that the fricative it etymologically correct. Whilst it is true that the town today is dominated by Beacon Hill to the north east, it does not necessarily follow that that is the most likely source of the name, nor should we assume that the Norman market town developed in the same location as the original place called Penrith.
Penruddock Most likely a Cumbric name, but of uncertain meaning. The first element is clearly Cu. *penn 'head; chief', perhaps in the sense 'source of a river or stream' since the village stands near the source of the River Petteril. The other element may therefore represent an epithet of the river. Cu. *rüðǫg, a derivative of *rüð 'red' (Br. *roudo- 'red' > W. rhudd, C. rudh, B. ruz) has been suggested (cf. W. rhuddog 'red, reddish-brown, bloody'). The earliest forms Pendredoch (1276) and Penreddock (1285) have ‹e› where we ought to expect a rounded vowel, though Penruddoc occurs in 1292. Alternative possibilities include derivatives of Cu. *rıd 'ford' (cf. W. rhydog 'fordable, full of fords'), Cu. *rud 'rust' (cf. W rhydog 'rusty, rusty-coloured, russet') or Cu. *red 'run, course' (cf. W. rhed 'a running, course', rhedeg 'to run', rhedegog 'running, moving quickly, flowing', rhedol 'running, moving').
Pen-y-Ghent Probably Cu. *penn ı(r) 'hill/head of the...' with an uncertain final element. It may be Cu. *ceint, the same word as the county name Kent presumed to mean 'border country', from Br. *cantjō a derivative of Br. *canto- (W. cant 'border, rim'). The W. caint 'plain, open country; battlefield' is apparently late. There is also a W. cant 'troop, throng' which could be connected.
Pirn Cu. *prenn 'tree'.
Plenmeller Probably Cu. *blain mêl βre 'end of the bare hill'. The initial P- may be due to influence be OF. plain 'plain'.
Pollok Cu. *pǝllǫg, a diminutive of *pull 'pool' (W. pwll, C. poll). Pollokshaws and Pollokshields are English derivatives of the original name.
Primrose Cu. *prenn 'tree' + ros 'promontory, moor'.
Renfrew Most authorities insist that the name means 'headland of the current' from the equivalent of W. rhyn 'promontory' and ffrwd 'swift stream, torrent, current', though there is no trace of final -d in any early records. There is a W. ffrau 'stream, flow, flux' which would fit better with the phonetics but is still not ideal.
Roose Cu. *ros 'promontory, moor'.
Roslin An early form Rosekelyn (1240) suggests Cu. *ros 'moor, promontory' + *celınn 'holly' (W. celynnen, C. kelynnen 'holly tree').
Tallentire Perhaps Cu. *tal ın tir 'end of the land' with an early form of the definite article in -n (W. tâl 'end, extremity, top, side; forehead, brow', tir 'land, ground; estate; region').
Terregles 'Village with a church' from Cu. *treβ ır egluis.
Tinnis Occurs in several place names such as Tinnis Castle, Tinnis Burn, Tinnis Hill and Tinnis Farm. Probably Cu. *dinas 'fort' (W. dinas 'city, town; fortress, fort; refuge').
Trabrown Cu. *treβ ır brınn 'village of the hill' (W. bryn 'hill').
Tranent Cu. *treβ ır neint 'village of the streams/valleys' (W. nant 'stream; valley', pl. naint, C. nans 'vale')
Traprain Cu. *treβ prenn 'village by a tree'. Traprain Law appears to have been called Dunpelder or Dunpendyrlaw previously. If the former is correct, it may have the same meaning as Drumpellier. The latter could contain Cu. *penn and *treβ, either meaning 'chief village' (W. pentref 'village; chief town, capital') or 'hill of the village' with G. dùn 'fort' and OE. hlǣw 'hill, mound' added later.
Traquair 'Village on Quair Water' from Cu. *treβ ır + the river name. If this is correct, it shows an interesting use of the definite article, which does not appear before river names in Welsh.
Triermain Cu. *treβ ır main 'village of the stone' (W. maen 'stone', C. men, meyn).
Troon Perhaps Cu. *truin 'nose' in reference to the headland (W. trwyn, C. tron).

1. MW. pebyll, the regular result of L. papiliō, was originally singular and had a plural pebylleu; the former was reinterpreted as a plural based on words such as castell, pl. cestyll and a new singular pabell was formed. Cu. *pebıll would therefore have meant 'tent' not 'tents'. The C. pabel seems to be borrowed from W.