Place name of the week: Kirkcudbright - Cille Chuithbeirt

The name Kirkcudbright partly reflects Cuthbert, a Northumbrian saint.

The name Kirkcudbright partly reflects Cuthbert, a Northumbrian saint.

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Kirkcudbright (Kyrkecuthbert 1200-06) is a name of Gaelic origin, although the first part Kirk- appears to be borrowing into Gaelic from either Scots kirk or Norse kirkja both meaning ‘church’.

The second part, written confusingly as -cudbright, reflects (Saint) Cuthbert, a Northumbrian saint. The form Kirk- is thought to be Gaelic because of the word order; in Gaelic the generic element normally comes first. If this name were Scots in origin it might be something like Cuthbertskirk. (In fact this name is first on record as Cuthbrictis Khirche in 1164.)

A poem in Manx Gaelic from the sixteenth century refers to this place as Keel Choobragh; this is Manx spelling for Cille Chubragh. In this form of the name, the obscure Gaelic term represented as Kirk- has been replaced by the more common cill(e) ‘church’ seen often in Scottish names, for instance in Kilmartin or Cille Mhàrtainn.

For more information visit Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba

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