THE English Place-Name Society has introduced to a wider public the intense interest and value of a scientific study of place-names, especially in areas of racial contact. The locality with which Sir Herbert Maxwell deals is particularly instructive from this point of view. The great majority of the place-names were originally in the Erse or Gaelic dialect. No doubt they were perfectly intelligible until the introduction of Old Northern or Middle English. Although they then remained unchanged, the ideas which had suggested them were forgotten. Hence many of them can now be interpreted only through analogy with districts where Gaelic, Manx, or Welsh are still living languages. Some, however, must, in the nature of the case, remain unintelligible, perhaps for ever. Among the Galloway place-names are names of rivers which, it has been suggested, may belong to the language of the aboriginal long-headed, dark-haired population, and have affinities with Basque —an interesting suggestion, which unfortunately remains nothing more at present. The author has some interesting and pertinent observations to make on the difficulties in the way of adopting the latest views on the ethnological problem of Celtic settlement. The place-names of Galloway belong to the q Celts, while the neighbouring area of Dumfries is Brythonic.
The Place Names of Galloway: their Origin and Meaning Considered.
Right Hon. Sir
. Pp. xlvi + 278. (Glasgow: Jackson, Wylie and Co., 1930.) 21s. net.