Place name of the week: Arbroath - Obar Bhrothaig

The town of Arbroath is famous for its smokies.
The town of Arbroath is famous for its smokies.
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Made famous by the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, the older form of this name was the longer Aberbrothock (Aberbrudoc in c. 1194), shortened in recent times to its current form.

The name is Pictish in origin, meaning ‘the confluence of the river Brothock’. The watercourse name itself likely meant ‘boiling or eruptive one’.

The name in modern Gaelic is established as Obair Bhrothaig; this form however is in evidence only from 20th century academic writing. Earlier and alternative forms suggest Àird Bhrothainn or Àird Bhroth ‘the height of Brothainn’ or ‘Broth’ as a Gaelic form. This second element possibly still relates to the water course. It is possible there were originally two separate places, one with the name beginning with Obair and another with Àird, which merged into the single modern settlement over time; alternatively, the forms with Àird came by analogy from the modern English form.

For more information visit Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba