Thursday, 26 May 2011

What’s in a name?

Borve Castle, Benbecula / Caisteal Bhuirgh, Beinn na Faoghla
Sometimes Alexander Carmichael’s entries are so full of information that they generally have to be unpacked and carefully read before they reveal anything. This example is not untypical for at the mere mention of a name – Àird nan Ceann, Benbecula, in this instance, where a battle is said to have been fought – a series of related items is given beginning with a prediction attributed to the so-called Brahan Seer, or Coinneach Odhar Fiosaiche. The exact location of the place is then given with some fascinating detail about a rock called Creaga Loisgte which was, according to this tradition, one of the first places to be utilised by an Irishman for the purposes of teaching the proper method of kelp-burning. And finally it is related that it was, and perhaps still is, a very fertile place used for planting potatoes and other crops as well as being a very good place for harvesting lobsters, crabs and sand-eels:

Aird-nan-ceann S[outh] E[ast] of the Caisteal
where a battle is to be fo[ugh]t & where a great army
has been seen under arms in a vision
Aird nan Ceann sin s Aird nan C[eann]
S mail liom nach mi bheir cam ann
Aig ceann a chlachain a deas
Sann a bheirear an cath teth teann
osa Cainneach O[dh]ar. Aird nan ceann
is bet[ween] the castle & Braobh fha[th]oil
Creaga Lois[g]te got its name fr[om] the first
kelp having been burnt there by Rua[i]ri[dh]
na Luath – an Irishman who came to
teach kelp making. This was the best plac[e]
for giomaich & crubagun. This is now
pota[to] ground bere &c. Each[ann]’s wife’s gr[ea]t g[r]and
mother Catri[o]na ni[gh]ean mhic a
Ghobh-an – used to bring basketfull[s] of siol
agaun from round the castle. Siolagun
can only be got from a clean strand at
low wat[er] spring tide.

Reference:
CW 116, f. 58v.
Image:
Borve Castle, Benbecula / Caisteal Bhuirgh, Beinn na Faoghla.

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [© carstenflieger.com]