Blantyre Place Names

Here’s an extract from Dr Wilson’s book of 1935, which describes briefly certain parts of Blantyre. This is a good section which explores the early naming of certain areas of Blantyre.

“PLACE-NAMES – The men who constructed the British fort probably gave the district its place-name ― thus, blaentir, W., a promontory (J.). This name is descriptive of the northern end of the parish, round which the Clyde circles. If such is its origin then Blantyre harmonises with Cambuslang, the crooked land, and Ruglen, the serrated land, all British, Welsh or Cymric words and all suggested by the most prominent physical feature in the landscape of each parish, the windings of the Clyde. The name Calder is probably also of British origin, thus, cal-dur, winding water; Rotten is rather, red, giving the red winding stream (T.). Was it so called because it had been reddened with blood? Of the language spoken by the Britons little else remains. There are some Gaelic place-names, but the majority in the parish are Anglo-Saxon. The terminal syllable of some is our word ‘field’ thus we have Priestfield and Bellfield. These two suggest ecclesiastical associations. Stonefield suggests the presence of stones, possibly standing stones. When the Gaelic speakers arrived they probably found a scanty population composed of Angles and Britons. At one place they found a mound or fort and they named it the field of the fort, or Auchenraith. At another they found a well and named it Auchentibber, the field of the well. Bardykes seems to be of Gaelic origin, meaning the height with the dykes or enclosure. Lochdub is another Gaelic word meaning the dark loch.

Auchenraith: achadh, G., a field; rath, G., a fortress.
Auchentibber: achadh, G., a field; tiobart, G., a well.
Bardykes: barr, G., a height; dig, G., a dike.
Barnhill: barr-an-choille, G., the little height with the wood (J.).
Calder (Rotten): coille, G., wood; dur, wood (J.), or, winding water (T.).
Clayhouse: As distinguished from Stonehouse.
Croftangram: croft, O.E., a field?
Druimlochirnach: druim, G., a ridge; ? Earnock.
Girnal Croft: meal-chest, field.
Holmburn: M.E., meadow burn.
Lochdub: loch, G., loch; dubh, G., dark.
Latlegeoch : geo, Scots, deep hollow.
Shott: shot, O.E., a division.
Sides: suidh, G., a seat.

A story of the ancient inhabitants is preserved to us by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his British History, a story of a battle having been fought between the Britons and foreign invaders, at ‘the wood Calaterium’. Calderwood, says Glennie, would appear to be the Calaterium Nemus of Geoffrey of Monmouth. The proximity of the British fort supports this claim. Ecclesiastical history does not emerge definitely till well on in the thirteenth century and then in a monastic form.”

Pictured from that book is a photo of Blantyre Priory from the 1930s. It is surprising to see just how much of the Priory was intact back then.

1930s Blantyre Priory Dr Wilsons Book2 wm

On social media:

Henry Hambley Fascinating history of the derivation of Blantyr. My own feeling is that it it derived fteom old Welsh which was apparently spoken south of the Forth-Clyde valleys. The second part of the name i.e. “Tyr” is certainly feels welsh, our house in Cardiff was called Ty Hyfred meaning beautiful view. I think that when Ty is second in a group it becomes Tyr but still retains is meaning of beautiful. If this is correct, we should pronounce the second syllable with a distinct “u” sound and not the commonly used ‘I” sound.

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