Place name of the week: Fort William - An Gearasdan

Fort William is a regular venue for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Picture: PA
Fort William is a regular venue for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Picture: PA
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This is a relatively modern name, coined in English after Prince William, a man unpopular in the Gaelic world for his part in putting down the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

In modern Gaelic, the name is An Gearasdan ‘the garrison’, also a reminder of the time when a military presence was here in the wake of the Battle of Culloden.

The spelling should in modern Gaelic be An Gearastan; the version with -d- reflects the old spelling, but this was so popular locally even new road signs contain the old version.

Various attempts have been made to rename the town; in the pages of this newspaper in 1935 is an article about an organisation known as the ‘Fort William Celtic Vigilance Society’ applying to have the name changed to Abernevis, as if it were a name of Pictish origin meaning ‘the confluence of the Nevis’.

Also considered were Invernevis, Balnevis, Inverlochy, Balalba and Nevis!

For more information on this name visit Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba