Place name of the week: Largs - An Leargaidh Ghallta

The shore at the town of Largs in Ayrshire. Picture: Getty
The shore at the town of Largs in Ayrshire. Picture: Getty
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On 2 October 1263 the Battle of Largs - Blàr na Leargaidh - took place in North Ayrshire between the forces of Norway and Scotland.

Due to its proximity to the Inner Hebrides, the Gaelic name for Largs (Larghes in 1165) has been preserved as An Leargaidh Ghallta. The Gaelic element leargaidh (which appears in the anglicised form) means a ‘sloping place’. The second term gallta can mean ‘foreign’ or ‘strange’ but here has the sense of the ‘(Scottish) Lowlands’ thus meaning ‘the Lowland Largs’. This element was most likely used to differentiate it from Largie in Kintyre which in Gaelic uses the same element but was referred to as An Leargaidh Chinntireach meaning ‘the Kintyre Largie’. The -s ending in the English form of the name is no doubt a Scots plural ending, perhaps because the settlement was divided into two at some point.

For more information on this name visit www.ainmean-aite.org