From Dull to Rum: 17 weird Scottish place names and their origins

Scotland is home to many unusual sounding places, but what are their origins?

Picture: Wikimedia

From Brokenwind to Hell, Dull and Hothole, these place names were often derived through humour, legend and hardship. Here we look at a selection of Scotland’s oddest place names - and how they came about.

Brokenwind was a farm settlement near Kinmudy in 19th Century Aberdeenshire. Its name evolved over several decades having earlier been listed as Brokenwine and Brocken Weind.

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Coup-My-Horn is derived from tipping a horn to have drink. According to the Fife Place Name data site, the name was perhaps applied humorously to a settlement where the occupants were especially partial to taking a drink.
The rather foreboding names of Hell and Purgatory were given to farms in Sanday, Orkney with farmers routinely giving such names to hard-to-work land.
Kirkcudbright 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 reflects Cuthbert, a Northumbrian saint.
Muttonhall near Kirkcaldy appeared on maps until the 1960s and is a good example of locals having a poke at pretention by twinning an ordinary word such as mutton with hall, which typically meant a high-status residence.
Hells Kitchen near Dunfermline, Fife was described in the 1700s as small row of colliers houses in bad repair. It is believed both Hells Kitchen and Hothole refer to the coal mines in the area which would often catch fire.
The name of this Inner Hebridean island is derived from the Gaelic for isle of the ridge but there have also been suggestions it is Old Norse for wide island.
Adjacent to Holyrood, Croft-an-Right would seem to simply be a slightly anglicised version of Gaelic Croit an Rgh the Kings croft.
This Perthshire village became famous after it was twinned with Boring in Oregon. The name Dull was coined over 1,000 years ago, probably in Pictish. The modern Gaelic work is dail, meaning water meadow or low land by a river.
This name, whilst seemingly of English origin, is a reinterpretation of an earlier Aporcrossan. This is a Pictish name, meaning confluence of the Crosan river.
Ecclefechan lay in the early Middle Ages within the British kingdom of Rheged, and the name is derived from the Brythonic for "small church".
The name is believed to mean 'Goat Mountain' (from the Norse geita).
The name derives from a Norse word meaning small parcel of land.
Though Buckie is thought to derive its name from its proximity to the sea, more recent research suggests that it comes from the Gaelic word boc, meaning male deer, but no conclusive evidence has thus far surfaced.
This small commuter village in South Lanarkshire and originated in the early 19th century around the old Blackwood Estate.
We don't know who Johnshaven was named for, but it was an active fishing port and in 1722 was said to be amongst the most important fishing towns in Scotland.
Meaning: Enclosure of St Machutus. The saint was born in Wales and may originally have been known as "Mahagw" prior to emigrating to Brittany where he became known by the Latinised form of the name and also as "St Malo".