Place name of the week: John o’ Groats - Taigh Iain Ghròta

Land's End to John o' Groats is a popular endurance challenge, covering the length of the UK mainland. Picture: PA
Land's End to John o' Groats is a popular endurance challenge, covering the length of the UK mainland. Picture: PA
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Although much tradition has built up concerning the origin of this name, it is a fact that a 1496 charter exists mentioning a John Grot in relation to the lands of Duncansby where this place is situated.

While this John Grot is often said to be Dutch, it is more likely he was a native Scot.

John o’ Groats is of course known as the northernmost place of mainland Britain and is often referred to in sayings such as ‘between Land’s End and John o’ Groats’ to describe the length of Britain. It is also used in Gaelic in a similar way. For example, a poem from around 1801 mentions eadar a’ chrìoch Shasannach gu ruige Taigh Iain Ghròta ‘between the English border as far as John o’ Groats’. Another poem has eadar Taigh Iain Ghròt agus baile Lunnainn ‘between John o’ Groats and London town’.

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