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Place-names of Scotland

Nature volume 70, page 292 (28 July 1904) | Download Citation



THE author of this work aims to do for Scotland what Dr. Joyce in his “Irish Names and Places” has already done for Ireland. It is a laudable attempt and one that is full of interest. Not only do we get here an alphabetical list of a large number of the place-names of Scotland, with explanations of their origin, but introductory chapters dealing at some length with the different sources from which have sprung the characteristic names of North Britain. Thus Mr. Johnston gives an account of the Celtic, Norse, English, Roman, Norman, modern, and ecclesiastical names, aiming to make his treatment of the subject no mere dilettante trifling, but a work based on historic evidence. He has in many cases ransacked old books and documents to get the older forms of the words as a guide to their original meaning, and this is really the most valuable part of the task he has undertaken. Had he consistently followed out his own principles enunciated in the introduction, his work would have been of a much higher order and free from the defects which too obviously encumber it. As it is, many of his derivations are quite as fantastic as the “mouth-esk-burgh” for Musselburgh, which by the laws of phonetics he solemnly rejects.

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