The Ruins of the House of Boisterous Angus


In The Crofter and the Laird (1970), his account of returning to Colonsay, the tiny Hebridean island of his ancestors, John McPhee writes that on this island ‘almost every rise of ground, every beach, field, cliff, gully, cave, and skerry has a name. There are a hundred and thirty-eight people on Colonsay, and nearly sixteen hundred place names … The names commemorate events, revive special interests and proprietary claims of lives long gone, and sketch the land in language.’

McPhee goes on to provide some examples:

Gleann Raon a’ Bhuilg (The Glen of the Baglike Plain)

Sguid nam Ban Truagh (The Shelter of the Miserable Women)

Carraig Chaluim Bhain (Fair Malcolm’s Fishing Rock)

Carraig Nighean Mhaol Choinnich (Bald Kenneth’s Daughter’s Fishing Rock)

Pairc Aonghais Ruaidh (Red Angus’s Field)

Poll Eadar da Pholl (The Pool Between Two Pools)

Laosnaig Tonbhan (The White-Rumped Extremity)

Tobhtachan Aonghais an Dobhaidh (The Ruins of the House of Boisterous Angus)

One thought on “The Ruins of the House of Boisterous Angus

  1. My wife’s uncle, who was vicar in the hamlet of Mortehoe on the north Devon coast, used to refer in his directions around the locality to ‘long blade o’grass corner’.


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