Gazetteer for Scotland Glossary

This glossary is intended to assist our readers with the terminology used.

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A-listed Building (Category A-listed Building) the highest category of preservation afforded to buildings or structures of national or international importance, through their architectural or historic interest or being a little-altered example of a particular period, style or building type. The listing is carried out by Historic Environment Scotland on behalf of the government.
Abhainn (Aibhne, Amhuinn, Aimhne) a river or large stream. [Gaelic]
Achadh (Achaidh, Ach, Auch) a field. [Gaelic]
Agricultural Parish a statistical unit in the United Kingdom used as the basis for collecting data on farms, livestock, crops and yields.
Ailean (Ailein, Ailean) a green spot, meadow or enclosure. [Gaelic]
Aird see Ard. [Gaelic]
Airigh (Airighean) see Shieling. [Gaelic]
Aisle a term often used to describe a burial place or an enclosed and covered burial place adjoining a church.
Ald (Alt, Ault, Auld) a burn or stream. [Gaelic]
Allotment a small plot of land rented for the purposes of growing vegetables or other plants by those who do not have a garden of their own. In many Scottish towns and cities areas of allotments are made available by local government at low annual rents.
Allt a stream, burn or small river. [Gaelic]
Aonach (Aonaich) a moor or market-place. [Gaelic]
Ard (Aird) a height, point or promontory. [Gaelic]
Ashlar a finely dressed stone block with a smooth surface and squared edges often used on the facade of buildings.
Auchtenpart an ancient measure of land often used in the Highlands to describe the eighth part of a davoch.
Auchter (Uachdar, Uachdair) top, upper part, as in Auchtermuchty. [Gaelic]
Ayre A name used for a gravel bank in Orkney and Shetland, usually in the form of a tombolo. [Scandinavian]
B-listed Building (Category B-listed Building) the intermediate category of preservation afforded to buildings or structures of regional or more than local importance, through their architectural or historic interest or being an example of a particular period, style or building type, which may have been altered. The listing is carried out by Historic Environment Scotland on behalf of the government.
Bac (Bhaic, Bacaichean) a Bank, peat bank. [Gaelic]
Bad (Bhaid) a tuft or a place. [Gaelic]
Bagh (Bhaig) a bay. [Gaelic]
Baile (Bhaile) a town, village, hamlet, township or homestead. [Gaelic]
Ban (Bhan, Bhain, Baine, Bana) fair, white. [Gaelic]
Bard (Baird) an enclosed meadow, though also means poet. [Gaelic]
Baron (Lord) a nobleman of the lowest rank, coming below a Viscount in the hierarchy and titled a Lord. A female holding the title in her own right is a Baroness; the wife of a Baron is a Lady. The office (or feudal land held) is a Barony.
Baronet a title of the gentry, rather than the nobility, a baronet is titled "Sir". These titles were an invention of King James VI in 1611 as a means of raising funds. A female is a Baronetess, and titled "Dame". The title is hereditary. Scottish Baronets were also created within the Baronetage of Nova Scotia (1625-1706), also established by James VI (in 1624) - a means of encouraging settlement of the new Scottish colony of Nova Scotia. A number of these remain. There are also a set of Jacobite Baronetcies granted between 1688 and 1784 but all are now extinct and none were recognised in British law.
Barony a large manor or estate created in the Middle Ages within which the baron held his own court.
Barp (Barpa) a term used in the Uists for a chambered cairn taking the form of a conical heap of stones. [Gaelic]
Barrow an earthen mound covering a burial.
Bartizan a parapet or battlement of a castle or fortress.
Basalt a fine-grained igneous rock derived from volcanic lava that can spread rapidly to form extensive sheets or sills. It can also crack when cooling into hexagonal columns as at Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa.
Beag (Bheag, Bhig, Bige, Beaga) little. [Gaelic]
Bealach (Bhealaich) a pass between hills. [Gaelic]
Beinn (Bheinn, Beinne) mountain or Ben. [Gaelic]
Beithe birch (tree). [Gaelic]
Bidean peak or pinnacle. [Gaelic]
Bigging a word of Norse origin that usually refers to a building or farmsteading. [Scandinavian]
Bing deriving from the Old Norse 'bingr', meaning a heap, the word is usually applied to a waste-heap lying beside a mine. Although often landscaped or removed, the Oil Shale Bings of West Lothian are particularly prominent landscape features some of which are protected as Scheduled Ancient Monuments. [Scandinavian]
Binnean (Binnin) small and peaked mountain. [Gaelic]
Black House (Tigh Dubh) a traditional thatched long house comprising a byre and dwellinghouse, typical of houses built in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The black houses have a peat fire which burns constantly in a hearth at the centre of the house which, having no chimney, is ventilated through the thatch. The black houses gained their name from their contrast with the lime-mortared modern designs which began to appear from the middle of the 19th Century.
Blar (Blair) cleared space, plain. [Gaelic]
Bleachfields a place for bleaching cloth, a process designed to whiten textile fabrics.
Bothy a cottage for farm workers.
Brae a slope or hillside. [Scots]
Braiding the process whereby a river is continually forced to divide into several channels with islands separating them. The banks of these water courses tend to be unstable, and consequently the channel is very wide in relation to its depth.
Breac (Bhreac, Bhric, Brice, Breaca) speckled. [Gaelic]
Broch a prehistoric building in the shape of a circular tower. Also a term used in the northeast of Scotland to describe a burgh or town.
Bronze Age a period of human settlement in the British Isles dating from around 2200BC to 800BC, preceding the Iron Age. Hillforts, hut circles, burial mounds, ritual monuments and ancient field patterns are landscape features from this period which was characterised by the use of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, to manufacture implements.
Bràigh a summit. [Gaelic]
Buachaille a herdsman. [Gaelic]
Buidhe (Bhuidhe) yellow or orange. [Gaelic]
Burgess Plot a strip of land in a mediaeval town owned by a merchant or burgess. The plot would include the site of a house as well as room for a market stall and a small amount of enclosed land for grazing a cow or growing vegetables.
Burgh (Pron. Bur-uh). An urban settlement in Scotland, the burgh, from medieval times, possessed a charter granting trading privileges and the right to regulate its own affairs. A Royal Burgh, which was either created by the crown or upgraded from another status such as a burgh of barony, had exclusive trading privileges and was represented in the Scottish Parliament. By 1707 there were 70 royal burghs, most of these being sea-ports. Burghs of barony were granted by the crown to secular landowners for the purpose of creating market centres. Over 300 burgh of barony were created between 1450 and 1707. A burgh of regality, enjoying wide powers in criminal and civil law, was granted to a leading Scottish noble with a large estate, the main function being to maintain law and order on behalf of the crown. In 1832-33 royal burghs and many burghs of barony were designated as parliamentary burghs with elected town councils. In the 19th and 20th centuries police burghs were created in towns which used local or national acts of parliament to adopt an elected town council. In 1930 burghs were divided into large and small burghs and counties of cities and in 1974 burghs were abolished and replaced by district councils which were later replaced by the current local government authorities in 1996.
Burn a stream. [Scots]
But and Ben a building that usually comprises two rooms that provide living quarters for people and livestock.
Butt an irregular parcel of land often abutting adjacent parcels at right angles. [Gaelic]
Byre a cow-shed or farm building for keeping cattle.
a cow. [Gaelic]
Böd a shed or bothy occupied seasonally by fishermen (the name is found predominantly in Shetland, where a network of böds now provide rustic tourist accommodation). [Scandinavian]
Bùirich bellowing or roaring. [Gaelic]
C-listed Building (Category C-listed Building) the lowest category of preservation afforded to buildings or structures of local importance, through their architectural or historic interest or being a lesser example of a particular period, style or building type, which may have been altered. C-listing may also be applied to a lesser building which forms part of a group with A- or B-listed structures. The listing is carried out by Historic Environment Scotland on behalf of the government.
Cailleach an old woman, a witch, mystical ancestral figure or goddess. [Gaelic]
Cairn (Carn) a heap of stones, forming a marker or memorial, or a rocky place. [Gaelic]
Caisteal a castle, often used for a mountain or crag with near-vertical walls. [Gaelic]
Cala (Caladh) harbour. [Gaelic]
Caledonian Forest the name given to the extent of native pinewood forest that developed in the Highlands of Scotland after the end of the last Ice Age. Only fragments of this forest remain, the largest remnants being found at Rannoch, Mar, Strathspey, Cannich and Feshie.
Caledonian Orogeny a period of mountain-building in NW Europe between c.430 and 360 million years ago.
Camas (Chamais) a channel, a bay or a bend. [Gaelic]
Cambrian the earliest period of the Palaeozoic era stretching from c.570 to 500 million years ago.
Caol (Caolas, Chaolais) a narrow, strait, firth or kyle. [Gaelic]
Carboniferous a period of the Palaeozoic era extending from c.345 to 280 million years ago. In addition to mountain building, sediments of sandstone, limestone and coal were formed at this time.
Carn a cairn (heap of stones), or hill or maintain with a rocky summit. [Gaelic]
Carraig a rock or crag. [Gaelic]
Carse flat fertile land adjacent to a river is often referred to as carse land, as in the Carse of Gowrie lying on the north shore of the River Tay.
Castleton a fermetoun settlement associated with a castle.
Cattle Tryst a meeting place for cattle drovers or a market place.
Ceann a promontory or head (in English, Ken or Kin). [Gaelic]
Ceapoch a tillage plot (in English, Keppoch). [Gaelic]
Chancel the space around the altar of a church for the clergy and sometimes the choir, often enclosed by a lattice or railing.
Choir the east arm of a cruciform church; that part of a church where services are sung.
Cill (Cille, Ceall) a Church or burying-place. [Gaelic]
Cirque see Corrie.
Civil Parish (Quoad Civilia Parish) between 1845 and 1860 civil (quoad civilia) parishes were established with elected parochial boards, these parishes continuing as units of local government until 1975. Civil parishes remain a statistical unit used for the recording of births, deaths and marriages.
Clach (Cloiche) stone. [Gaelic]
Clachan a Highland word used to describe a small settlement with a church.
Clearance Cairn a mound of stones constructed in ancient times from stones removed from an area of land to permit its use for agriculture. The stones were simply piled together, usually without structure.
Cleit (Chleit) rocky prominence. [Gaelic]
Close an open or covered passage or courtyard extending off a main thoroughfare which gives access to a number of residences or other buildings.
Cluain (Cluaine) a green plain or pasture. [Gaelic]
Cnap (Chnaip) a hillock. [Gaelic]
Cnoc see Knock. [Gaelic]
Cnoc (Chunie, Cnocan) a round hill. [Gaelic]
Coille a forest or woodland. [Gaelic]
Coinneach (Choinnich) moss. [Gaelic]
Coir (Coire, Choire) round hollow in mountainside, a corrie or cirque. [Gaelic]
Col a depression or pass in a mountainous area.
Collegiate Church a church of mediaeval times founded to support a community of priests, often to sing mass or pray for the soul of the founder. They may also have been founded in connection with the pre-Reformation Universities, for example at Aberdeen or St. Andrews.
Comhairle a governing council, as in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council). [Gaelic]
Commendator the individual (usually Bishop) who was entrusted with the property and money of an Abbey. After the Reformation, the Commendators were lay individuals or former abbots who inherited the wealth.
Commonty the name for common lands in Scotland owned by one or more proprietors with communal rights, e.g. peat cutting or grazing, shared with others. During the 18th and 19th centuries most commonties were divided by agreement or at the instance of any one party under the Division of Commonty Act 1695.
Conglomerate a rock composed of rounded fragments of stone in a cement of hardened clay or sand. Conglomerates were often formed at the mouths of rivers.
Conservation Areas areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance. In Scotland, these areas are designated by local authorities under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.
Consumption Dyke a drystone dyke enclosure erected where an excess of stones derived from glacial deposits covers the land. They are most commonly found in Aberdeenshire.
Coppice a type of deciduous woodland from the stools of which, when cut, fresh shoots regenerate. Coppice woodland was cut over either periodically or under a strict rotation to provide wood for fuel or industrial use as in the tanning and charcoal industries.
Corbett a mountain peak with a summit lying between 2,500 and 3,000 feet (762m and 914.4m) and with an ascent of at least 500 feet (152.4m) on all sides. The list of 220 peaks was compiled by John Rooke Corbett, a district valuer based in Bristol and keen member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club who completed the Munros and Tops in 1930.
Corrie also known as a cirque or cwm, a corrie takes the form of a semi-circular bowl-shaped hollow at the head of a valley that was, during the Ice Age, a collecting ground for ice.
Cottage Flats a style of public housing built from the 1920s which comprises four flats in a two-storey block which all have their own entrances, rather than opening from a shared stair or close. Cottage flats are common across Scotand, becoming a popular style for houses built in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s by Burgh and County Councils, and by the National Coal Board. The blocks often appear to be semi-detached houses because the entrance to the upper flats are on the sides of the block.
Cottown a settlement, often set apart from a township, occupied by cottars who were landless people allowed to settle on the common land and cultivate a small area of land in return for their labour.
Council Area the Local Authority divisions currently used in Scotland. In 1996, a unitary system of Council Areas replaced the two-tier Regions and Districts in accordance with the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994. There are 32 Council Areas, including the three island authorities of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.
County a local government sub-division which existed in various forms in Scotland until 1974. Over the years a large number of changes were made to the boundaries and organisation of the counties. Particularly major changes took place in 1889, when the 'old counties' were replaced by 33 new ones, involving some changes of name, together with significant boundary changes. Their geographical extent was not always logical, with the Western Isles being split between the mainland counties of Inverness-shire and Ross & Cromarty.
Court of the Lord Lyon (Lyon Court) the Court of the Lord Lyon, also known as the Lyon Court, is the oldest heraldic court in the world still operating. It regulates heraldry in Scotland and grants arms to those qualified to hold them. It is presided over by the Lord Lyon King of Arms and is a public body, fully integrated into the Scottish legal system. Remarkably, the misuse of arms in Scotland is a criminal matter, contrasting with England where it is a civil matter and consequently less-serious.
Covenanter a supporter of the National Covenant of 1638, which exerted the Presbyterian system for church governance over the Episcopalian system being promoted by King Charles I. Armed conflict broke out in 1639 and continued on-and-off until 1688.
Covert a thicket or wood.
Crag and Tail a glacial landform created when a glacier overrides hard rock (the crag) which protects softer rocks in its lee to form a gently sloping ridge (the tail).
Craig (Crag, Creag) a rock, crag or cliff. [Gaelic]
Crannog a prehistoric lake dwelling.
Creag see Craig. [Gaelic]
Croach (Crocaich) branched. [Gaelic]
Croft an agricultural smallholding held by a tenant or sub-tenant in a township. The crofter derives income from employment in addition to farming a few acres of land. The crofting community today is found mostly in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The Crofting Acts of 1886 and after established the rights of crofters in the crofting counties of Inverness, Argyll, Ross and Cromarty, Caithness, Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland. Post-1976, crofters have been able to own their own land.
Croich (Criche) a boundary. [Gaelic]
Crom arched, bent or crooked. [Gaelic]
Cross-slab a type of Pictish symbol stone which takes the form of a shaped stone slab which is carved in relief with a cross and sometimes other symbols. Cross-slabs largely date from c.800-1000 AD.
Crown Charter a charter of land or privileges granted by the monarch.
Crowstep also known as corbiestep, the crowstep is a form of building gable with rectangular, stepped stones that take the place of a sloping cope or skew. .
Cru (Cro) a small enclosure, usually in Shetland.
Cruach (Chruach, Chruaich) a heap or stack. [Gaelic]
Cruachan a haunch. [Gaelic]
Cuil a nook or recess. [Gaelic]
Cuith (Cuithe) a pit or narrow glen. [Gaelic]
Cul (Chiul, Chuile) back or hill-back. [Gaelic]
Culdee one of a brotherhood of monks living in small cells in Scotland from the 8th century. Their name is a latinised form of the Old Irish word for a servant or companion of God.
Cup and ring marked stones natural rocks on which small hollows have been pecked out in prehistoric times. In some cases these hollows are surrounded by single or multiple rings.
Càr a fen. [Gaelic]
Dail a meadow, field or plain. [Gaelic]
Dalradian the name given to metamorphosed rocks, mostly schists, lying to the north of the Highland Boundary Fault and named after the ancient Scots Kingdom of Dalriada. Precambrian and younger, the Dalradian schists overly the older Moine schists in the southern and eastern Highlands. Dalradian rocks provide evidence of some of the earliest life-forms in Scotland as well as glacial activity when Scotland was positioned close to the South Pole.
Damh (Daimh) an ox or stag. [Gaelic]
Darach an oak (tree). [Gaelic]
Davoch an ancient measure of land often used in the Highlands and Islands and reflecting an agricultural unit, often the arable area of a township. In the 18th century the davoch equalled 96 Scots acres. [Scots]
Dearg (Dheirg) red. [Gaelic]
Deas (Dheas) south (direction), as in Uibhist a Deas (South Uist) or Dail Bho Dheas (South Dell). [Gaelic]
Deer Forest a wild tract of land frequented by deer, but not necessarily woodland or forest.
Derry (Dhoire, Doire) a grove or hollow. [Gaelic]
Devonian a geological era between 360 and 410 million years ago when the mountains created by colliding continents were rapidly eroded. Layers of red sandstone were deposited. This period is often divided into Upper and Lower Old Red Sandstone.
Dip Slope a dip slope occurs where the slope of land mirrors the slope of underlying rock strata.
Disruption, The a period of conflict in the Church of Scotland over patronage, or the appointment of ministers by landowners, culminated in the Disruption of 1843 when 451 ministers out of a total of 1,200 left their manses and their livings to establish the Free Church under the leadership of Thomas Chalmers.
District a second-order local authority sub-division used in Scotland between 1974 and 1995. There were nine regional authorities, divided into 53 districts, plus three unitary island authorities.
Doire see Derry . [Gaelic]
Dolerite a type of coarse-grained basic igneous rock like basalt.
Donald a hill in the Scottish Lowlands with a height above 2,000 feet (609.6m). The highest of the 86 hills and 133 tops listed by Percy Donald is Merrick which rises to 843m (2,765 feet) in Glentrool Forest Park, Dumfries and Galloway.
Donjon see Keep.
Doocot (Doo'cot, Dovecot, Dovecote) a pigeon house or loft either in a separate building or incorporated into another building. It is usually associated with a castle or country house, to keep pigeons for their meat and eggs. Doocots often have a distinctive shape; usually bee-hive doocots (circular with a domed roof) or lectern doocots (rectangular with a roof sloping in one direction only). While sometimes built into the roof, gable or eaves of farm-steadings, square towers and octagonal doocots are rare in Scotland.
Doric a Greek architectural style characterised by its simplicity and massive strength.
Dormer Window a window which projects vertically from a roof and lights an attic room contained within the roof.
Drochaid a bridge. [Gaelic]
Drove Road a route used by cattle drovers driving cattle from the Highlands and Islands to the markets or trysts of southern Scotland and England.
Druim see Drum. [Gaelic]
Drum (Droma, Druim) a ridge, the back. [Gaelic]
Drumlin an elongated mound of boulder clay deposited in an area of low relief following glaciation. Drumlins can be up to a mile (1 - 2 km) in length and 60m (200 feet) in height. Its long axis lies parallel to the line of ice flow.
Dry Valley a valley without a river.
Drying Island an island which is accessible from the shore at low tide, usually by passage over sands banks.
Drystone Dyke a masonry wall built without mortar.
Duba (Dub) a pool of foul water. [Scots]
Dubh (Dhubh, Dhuibhe, Dubha) black. [Gaelic]
Duke a nobleman of the highest rank of peerage, below only the Monarch, but above a Marquis. Whether holding the title in her own right, or the wife of a Duke, a female is a Duchess. With the exception of Royal Dukedoms, the title is always hereditary. Dukes would historically have controlled a Dukedom or Duchy, but there are no cases in Scotland where the land remains vested in the title. The only Dukedoms still extant in Scotland are Hamilton (created 1643), Buccleuch (1663), Queensberry (1684, now joined with Buccleuch), Lennox (1675), Argyll (1701, recreated in the UK peerage in 1892), Atholl (1703), Montrose (1707), Roxburghe (1707), Sutherland (1833), Gordon (1876) and Fife (1900), together with the Royal Dukedoms of Rothesay (1398) and Edinburgh (1947). Other than the Royal variety, it is unlikely any new Dukedoms will be created.
Dun (Duin, Dhuin) a fortress, castle or a mound. [Gaelic]
Dyke a term used in Scotland to describe a stone wall. A drystane dyke is a wall without mortar.
Each (Eich) a horse. [Gaelic]
Eag a notch or indentation. [Gaelic]
Ear east (direction). [Gaelic]
Earl a nobleman ranking below a Marquis but above a Viscount. In Scotland, the early Earls evolved from an ancient title of Mormaer. The title is equivalent to that of a Count in continental Europe. Whether holding the title in her own right, or the wife of an Earl, a female is a Countess. The office is an Earldom. It is unlikely any new Earldoms will be created.
Eas (Easa, Easan) a waterfall or rough ravine. [Gaelic]
Ecclesiastical Parish (Quoad Sacra Parish) areas of land associated with a church, whose inhabitants were obliged to pay a proportion of their produce or income in support of that church. Ecclesiastical parishes continue into modern times associated with the various religious denominations.
Eilean (Eilein, Eileanan) an island or islands. [Gaelic]
Elrig a small valley or depression between hills, previously where wild deer were driven to be killed by bow-and-arrow.
Enlightenment, The a period during the late 18th century when a belief in reason and human progress prompted the arts and sciences to flourish in Scotland.
Enterprise Zone Status designed to encourage private enterprise, enterprise zones are areas designated for industrial or other economic development.
Episcopalian a system of governance in the Protestant church, prevalent in the Church of England, which is based on hierarchical management by archbishops and bishops, under the authority of the monarch. King Charles I unsuccessfully tried to impose this system on Scotland in the early 17th C. Contrasts with the Presbyterian system.
Escarpment a continuous line of steep slopes at the edge of a plateau. A steep slope is also known as a scarp slope.
Esker a sinuous ridge comprising material deposited by water that is derived from melted ice and flows in a channel either under or through an ice sheet.
Estuary a semi-enclosed body of water which has a free connection with the open sea and within which the seawater is measurably diluted by freshwater from the surrounding land.
Eun a notch or indentation. [Gaelic]
Fad (Fhad, Fhada, Fada) long, a long mountain. [Gaelic]
Fada long or tall. [Gaelic]
Faire watching. [Gaelic]
Faoghail (Faodhail) a ford in a sea channel. [Gaelic]
Fas growth or vegetation. [Gaelic]
Fauld (Fold) a small area of the medieval outfield periodically enclosed and cultivated.
Fault a geological fault arises from the fracturing of the Earth's surface. This causes rocks to be displaced vertically, horizontally or at some intermediate angle.
Faur cold. [Gaelic]
Feadan a small river, or underground stream. [Gaelic]
Fear (Fhir, Fir) a man. [Gaelic]
Fearn (Fhearna) an alder tree. [Gaelic]
Feith bog or marsh. [Gaelic]
Fell (Fjall, Fjell) a rough hill, as in Goatfell. [Scandinavian]
Fermetoun a fermetoun of farm town is the name given to a typical Scottish nucleated settlement whose function was originally associated with agriculture, usually with joint tenancies. Each family has a house, kail-yard (vegetable patch), barn or byre, communally managed arable land and hill pasture. Compare this type of settlement with the planned village of the 18th-19th centuries. [Scots]
Feu land held in perpetuity in payment of a yearly sum. The feuar is the one who takes land in feu. In the 16th-18th centuries many tenancies were converted to feu holdings. The concept of feudal tenure was abolished in Scotland in 2000.
Fionn white. [Gaelic]
First Minister the head of devolved government in Scotland (the Scottish Executive), effectively the Prime Minister, although with limitations to their powers relative to the British Prime Minister described in the Scotland Act (1997). The First Minister is nominated by the Scottish Parliament and appointed by HM the Queen.
Firth an estuary, that is a wide tidal channel at the mouth of a river, formed as a flooded river valley. For example, the Firth of Forth. [Scots]
Fitheach a raven. [Gaelic]
Fore-stair an outdoor staircase on the front of a building leading to an upper floor.
Forestry Commission A public body responsible for state forestry in the UK, the Forestry Commission came into being as a result of the Forestry Act 1919 to ensure the replacement of trees harvested during the First World War and provide a supply of timber. The first Chairman was Simon Fraser, 14th Lord Lovat and the agency was based in Edinburgh. Forestry Commission Scotland was created as responsibility for forests in Scotland was devolved to the Scottish Ministers in 2003. In 2019, this agency was split into Scottish Forestry (responsible for policy and regulation) and Forestry and Land Scotland, who took on operational issues.
Forestry and Land Scotland The public body responsible for managing and promoting Scotland's national forest estate on behalf of the Scottish Government. It was formed in 2019, taking over the operational responsibilities of Forestry Commission Scotland. A sister body, Scottish Forestry, deals with policy and regulation. The agency has its headquarters in Inverness.
Forfeited Estates estates of Jacobite landowners were sequestered by the Crown after the collapse of the Jacobite Rising in the spring of 1746. Most of the estates were later sold by public auction, but thirteen estates in or near the Highlands were annexed by the Crown and managed directly by Commissioners for the purpose of promoting improved agriculture, industry and the erection of planned villages.
Fortalice a small fortress or fortified building.
Fosse a ditch or moat.
Fraoch heather. [Gaelic]
Freestone a type of stone without pronounced laminations.
Fuaran (Fhuarain) a well or spring. [Gaelic]
Gabbro a dark granular igneous rock of crystalline texture. Good examples can be found on the island of Skye.
Gabhar a goat. [Gaelic]
Gait a main street, usually with a prefix describing its use, direction or destination, for example Marketgait. [Scots]
Garbh (Gharbh, Ghairbh, Garba) rough. [Gaelic]
Garth a small enclosure.
Geal (Gheal, Ghil, Gile, Geala) white. [Gaelic]
Geo an cleft or sharply-defined cove in a coastal cliff face created by wave erosion (the name is found only in NE Scotland, Orkney and Shetland). [Scandinavian]
Geodha a cove or inlet. [Gaelic]
Girnal a granary.
Giuthas (Giubhas) pine or fir (tree). [Gaelic]
Glac a gorge, narrow valley or defile. [Gaelic]
Glacial Erratic a rock which has been transported by a glacier or ice sheet and deposited in an area of different geology to that of its source. During the last Ice Age rocks from Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde were moved as far south as Lancashire in England.
Glais a stream. [Gaelic]
Glas (Ghlas, Ghlais, Glaise, Glasa) grey or green. [Gaelic]
Gleann (Ghlinne) see Glen. [Gaelic]
Glebe a small area of arable land attached or near to a parish minister's manse (house) formerly given to him as a supplement to his stipend.
Glen (Gleann, Ghlinne) a narrow valley. [Gaelic]
Gloup a sea-spout or ravine. [Scandinavian]
Gneiss a hard and ancient metamorphic rock found in many areas of the Highlands and Islands. The Lewisian gneiss of the Northwest Highlands and Western Isles are amongst the oldest rocks to be found in Scotland.
Gob a point. [Gaelic]
Gorm (Ghorm, Ghuirme, Guirme) blue. [Gaelic]
Gothic a style of architecture associated principally with the cathedrals of the 12th-16th centuries and characterised by a pointed arches, extensive vaulting, large windows with complex tracery and a sense of height. The style was revived in the 19th century as Neo-Gothic.
Graben (Rift Valley) a depression or valley, formed as the result of a descending block of the earth's crust between two geological faults (German).
Graham a mountain peak with a height between 2000 and 2499 feet (610m and 761m) with a drop of at least 150 metres (493 ft) on all sides.
Grange an ecclesiastical manor, created from wasteland and set at some distance from the parent monastery and typical of the farming system developed by the Cistercian Order in the 11th - 13th centuries.
Granite a hard igneous rock of crystalline texture. Although difficult to work until machinery became available from the mid-19th century, it is now often used as a building stone. Extensively used in Aberdeen, which is known as the 'Granite City'.
Greywacke a grey, gritty hard sandstone.
Grouse Butt A small stone, wood or turf construction that is used to give cover to the shooting party and ghillies during a grouse shoot. The birds are driven from the heather towards the grouse butts. [Gaelic]
Guala (Gualann, Gualainn) the shoulder of a hill or mountain. [Gaelic]
Haaf a Shetland term for the deep sea.
Hagi (Hoga) a Shetland term for hill pasture.
Hamar A steep hillside. [Scandinavian]
Harl also known as roughcast, harl is a protective facing applied to the outside of a stone wall. It comprises two or three applications of lime, or lime and cement, mixed with sand and small aggregate, the final coat being cast or thrown on.
Haugh Land low level land beside a stream or river that is flooded from time to time. [Scots]
Head Dyke a turf or stone wall separating the infield and outfield of a township or farm from the grazings on the open hill. .
Henge a neolithic earthwork monument comprising a ditch with an embankment sometimes enclosing circles of stone or timber uprights.
Highland Clearances the general term given to the removal of tenants and the destruction of townships in the Highlands and Islands by landowners and their agents during the 18th and 19th centuries to make room for sheep.
Historic Environment Scotland a government agency charged with the investigation, protection and promotion of Scotland's built heritage, in the form of buildings, landscapes and ancient monuments. Historic Environment Scotland came about through the merger of the former Historic Scotland with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in 2015.
Historic Scotland a former government agency charged with the protection of Scotland's built heritage, in the form of buildings and ancient monuments. Historic Scotland were also responsible for a programme of archaeology to protect ancient sites and landscapes. Historic Scotland work closely with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), who were charged with the recording and interpretation of heritage sites. Historic Scotland merged with RCAHMS in 2015 to become Historic Environment Scotland.
Hope A small bay, haven or natural harbour, a hollow among hills. [Scots]
Howe a hollow, valley or low-lying flat tract of land, as in the Howe of Fife.

. [Scots]

Howff (Hauff) a place of resort, an inn or tavern.
Hypocaust the underfloor heating system of Roman buildings, especially evident in their Bath Houses.
Iarach lower part (of a settlement), as in Pabail Iarach (Lower Bayble). [Gaelic]
Ice Age a period lasting 2.4 million years during which Scotland experienced a succession of cooler and warmer periods. Ice accumulated in the form of ice caps and glaciers whose movement, with that of the meltwaters associated with them, has significantly shaped the landscape. All of Scotland was covered in Ice at some stage, the last cold episode occurring 115,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Ice-House an underground store built to contain winter ice and/or snow which can be used to preserve food in the warm months of the summer.
Igneous rock a type of rock, such as granite, which originated as molten magma beneath the earth's surface. An igneous intrusion occurs when magma forces its way through pre-existing rocks and then solidifies below the surface of the ground. Extrusive igneous rocks are formed when magma erupts onto the earth's surface as lava.
Inbhir (Inbhire, Inver) a meeting of rivers or the place where a river meets the sea (in English, Inver). [Gaelic]
Inbye all of the pasture land of a township or farm within the head dyke, some of which has been improved.
Infield-Outfield System infield referred to the best arable or corn land surrounding a township in pre-enclosure days. The outfield referred to poorer quality land further away from the township that was less frequently cultivated.
Innis (Innse, Inis, Insch, Inch) an island, the meadow by a river or a resting place for cattle (in English, Inch). [Gaelic]
Iolair (Iolaire) eagle. [Gaelic]
Ionic a Greek architectural style characterised by pillars surmounted with scrolled features.
Iosal (Isle) low. [Gaelic]
Iron Age a period of human settlement in the British Isles, lying between approximately 800BC and 900AD, the Iron Age follows the Bronze Age and precedes the Norse Period.
Iubhar yew (tree) or juniper (iubhar-beinne). [Gaelic]
Jacobite a follower of the Stuart Dynasty after Roman Catholic King James VII (or James II of England) was deposed in 1689. Supporters of his son James Francis Edward Stuart brought about the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and supporters of his grandson Prince Charles Edward Stuart (or Bonnie Prince Charlie) rose in 1745.
Joint Tenure a form of land holding in which the members of a township or clachan held and worked their land in common.
Jurassic the middle period of the Mesozoic era from 135 to 205 million years ago, marked by rapid sea-level rise and the flooding of much of Scotland.
Kail-Yard a vegetable patch associated with a fermetoun holding. [Scots]
Kame a landform comprising a mound of stratified sands and gravels formed by meltwater from a decaying glacier or ice sheet. Kame terraces develop between the ice and a valley wall.
Keep the main tower of a castle.
Kettle a depression in the land created by the melting of a block of ice buried by overlying sediments. Kettle holes, initially filled with meltwater, often form small lochs.
Kingshouse the name given to a network of inns built on military roads throughout the Scottish Highlands by General Wade in the early 18th century.
Kirk a church (derived from kirkja, Scandinavian). [Scots]
Kirkton a fermetoun settlement associated with a church, as in Kirkton of Auchterhouse. [Scots]
Kirkyard a cemetery or graveyard, lying around a church. [Scots]
Knock (Cnoc) a hill, hillock or eminence. [Gaelic]
Knock-and-Lochan a type of landscape resulting from the erosion of a relatively low-lying area of hard rock by an ice sheet which scours the area and produces numerous depressions in areas of geological weakness. Following the retreat of the ice, the hollows (lochans) become filled with water or peat bogs. The lochans are separated from each other by low rounded landforms smoothed by the action of ice. This type of landscape is associated with the Northwest Highlands and the Western Isles, particularly the landscapes of Lewisian gneiss.
Knowe a small hill. [Scots]
Laccolith an intrusion of igneous rock which spreads along bedding planes below the surface of the ground forcing the overlying strata into a dome shape.
Lag (Luig, Lagan) a hollow, dell or valley. [Gaelic]
Laigh Land a low-lying moist meadow land.
Laird the owner of an estate. A title of the gentry, rather than the nobility, a Laird is associated with the land that he (or she) owns rather than being part of the established hierarchy (or Peerage). The title is peculiar to Scotland. In the past a Laird may have had feudal rights over those who lived on his land, and held court from their castle or mansion. A female Laird may be informally titled 'Lady'. The title transfers, or is inherited, with the land. [Scots]
Lairig (Lairige, Larig) a pass. [Gaelic]
Land Register a public register of the ownership or interests in land and property which is managed by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland. It gives a government-backed guaranteed title to the property. Its introduction is being phased across the country, but it will eventually replace the Register of Sasines.
Laogh a calf or young deer. [Gaelic]
Laomuinn a beacon (in English, Lomond). [Gaelic]
Law a hill, for example Dundee Law or Norman's law. [Scots]
Leac (Lice, Lic) flat stones. [Gaelic]
Leacach a stony slope. [Gaelic]
Learg (Leirge) a plain or hillside. [Gaelic]
Leathad (Leathaid) a slope. [Gaelic]
Leathann (Laethainn, Leathan, Leathain) broad. [Gaelic]
Liath (Leith, Leithe) grey or blue. [Gaelic]
Limestone a type of sedimentary rock with a carbonate of lime constituent and often with fossil content. .
Linn (Linne) either a waterfall or the pool at the base of the fall, as in Linn of Dee. [Scots]
Lios a garden. [Gaelic]
Loan most often referring to a narrow street or lane between corn fields along which cows are driven to and from the pasture, a loan can also describe a small paddock. .
Local Authority synonymous with local government.
Local Nature Reserve (LNR) a Local Nature Reserve is an area of special local natural interest, which is set up to protect nature and allow access for people to enjoy and appreciate the natural environment.
Loch (Locha, Lochan, Lochain) a lake or lakelet. An inland water body, or in the case of a sea-loch, one open to the sea. [Gaelic]
Loft a gallery in a church with special purpose. For example, an Organ Loft, where the organ is situated, or the Laird's Loft, a private space for the land-owner and his family.
Loggia a Italian term for a small sheltered space facing outwards from a building, in the form of a gallery or balcony, lying behind a row of columns.
Loinn (Loinne) an enclosure, land. [Gaelic]
Lon a meadow. [Gaelic]
Long (Luinge) a ship. [Gaelic]
Lord High Commissioner a personal representative of the Sovereign, Lords High Commissioner were appointed to the Scottish Parliament between the Union of the Crowns (1603) and the Act of Union (1707) and were the heads of government in Scotland. Although redundant in the political sense, the monarch appoints a Lord High Commissioner annually as a representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Loupin-on-stone a short stone stair used to assist a rider in mounting his horse.
Lub (Luib) a bend. [Gaelic]
Lynchet a man-made terrace on a hill-side, usually running parallel to the contours and associated with ancient agricultural practice from the Iron Age or earlier.
Machair (Machar) a sandy coastal plain. A Gaelic word referring to a distinctive type of coastal grassland found in the north and west of Scotland, which is associated with calcareous sand, blown inland by prevailing winds from beaches and mobile dunes. There is a transition between the calcareous sandy soil and peat which typically lies inland. The machair is associated with long established agricultural practices, which include fertilising with kelp and low intensity cultivation. It is recognised as a unique and diverse habitat for birds and plants. [Gaelic]
Madadh (Mhadaidh) a dog, wolf or fox. [Gaelic]
Magh (Mhaigh, Mhaga) a plain or a field. [Gaelic]
Mam (Mhaim) a gently rising hill. [Gaelic]
Manach ( Mhanach) a monk. [Gaelic]
Maol (Maoile) a bare-topped hill, but also see Mull . [Gaelic]
March a boundary. A march stone marks the boundary between one property and another and the 'Riding of the Marches' is an event that takes place annually in and around some Border towns. [Scots]
Marquis (Marquess) a nobleman ranking below a Duke but above an Earl. Whether holding the title in her own right, or the wife of a Marquis, a female is a Marchioness. The title is always hereditary. The office is a Marquisate. The only Marqessates still extant in Scotland are Huntly (created 1599), Queensberry (1682), Tweeddale (1694), Lothian (1701), Abercorn (1790; now a subsidiary title to the Irish Dukes of Abercorn), Bute (1796), Ailsa (1831), Zetland (1892), Linlithgow (1902) and Aberdeen and Temair (1916). It is unlikely any new Marquessates will be created.
Meadhon (Mheadhoin) middle. [Gaelic]
Meall (Mhill) a lump, applied to a round hill. [Gaelic]
Meander a sinuous bend in the channel of a slow flowing river.
Meltwater Channel a valley or gulley created by erosion resulting from running water derived from melting glacier ice.
Mercat Cross literally 'market cross', a stone monument erected at the centre of a Burgh as the focus of trading activity and ceremony.
Merkland a measure of land introduced in the 12th century, a merk or mark's worth of land was valued at thirteen shillings and fourpence per annum.
Mesolithic the name given to the middle period of the Stone Age which lasted in the British Isles from 7,500 to 3000BC. The first people to settle in Scotland after the Ice Age were from this period.
Mesozoic the middle era of the earth's history stretching from c.225 to 190 million years before the present.
Metamorphic a type of rock that has been changed from its original form by heat or by pressure beneath the surface of the earth.
Mheadhoin (Vane) middle (in English, vane). [Gaelic]
Mica schist a type of fine-grained metamorphic rock with broad wavy bands of the mineral mica.
Milton a fermetoun settlement associated with a mill, as in Milton of Balgonie.
Miodar a meadow or pasture. [Gaelic]
Moine (Mointeach, Monadh) a peat, mossy ground. [Gaelic]
Moine the name given to metamorphosed Precambrian rocks, mostly schists, of the northwest Highlands north of the Highland Boundary Fault. Overlain by younger Dalradian schists, the Moine schists have been thrust northwestwards over older rocks such as Lewisian gneiss and Torridonian sandstone (The Moine Thrust).
Mol (Mal) shingle beach. [Gaelic]
Monadh a hill or mountain. [Gaelic]
Mor (Mhor, Mhoir, Moire) large, great. [Gaelic]
Moraine a landform associated with various types of debris deposited at the edges of glaciers or ice sheets.
Mort Safe an iron frame placed over the coffin or grave in the 17th and 18th C. to discourage resurrectionists, who attempted to steal recently-buried bodies to sell to anatomists in the medical schools.
Mort-House a cemetery building built to house the hearse or hand cart used to carry coffins at funerals.
Moss a word used to desribe an area of peatland or poorly-drained land.
Motte an earth mound forming the site of a former castle or fort. It was sometimes surrounded by a bailey or outer wall.
Mudstone an unstratified, fine-grained, clay-like, compact sedimentary rock.
Muileann a mill. [Gaelic]
Muir grass or heather moorland. [Scots]
Muir (Mhara, Mara) sea. [Gaelic]
Mull (Muli, Mool, Maol) a promontory. [Scandinavian]
Mullach a peak or summit. [Gaelic]
Munro a mountain peaks over 3,000 feet (914.4m) in height, with 'sufficient separation' from associated summits of a similar height. Such associated summits are known as 'Munro Tops'. The list of Munros, which was first compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891, now comprises 279 separate mountains and 517 tops. Periodically revised by the Scottish Mountaineering Club, 'Munro's Tables' are essential reading for the ever growing number of 'Munro baggers'. The ascent of all the Munros was first achieved in 1901 by the Rev. A.E. Robertson and the first ascent of all the Munros in a single journey of 1,639 miles was undertaken by Hamish Brown in 1974.
Munro Top a subsidiary summit of a Munro, which while exceeding 3,000 feet (914m) is not sufficiently far from the main peak to qualify as a Munro.
Murdo a mountain peak over 3,000 feet (914.4m) in height with a drop of at least 30 metres (98 ft) on all sides. The list of 444 Murdos, which comprises all 277 Munros, 160 of the 517 Munro Tops and seven other summits, was compiled by hill-walker Murdo Munro and first published in 1995.
National Nature Reserve a landscape conservation designation, National Nature Reserves (NNRs) are those areas of land considered of national significance on the basis of their biological or geological interest. The main purpose of management is the conservation of the environments, habitats and species of national and international significance. The designation is made by the Scottish Ministers on the recommendation of Scottish Natural Heritage. There are 73 National Nature Reserves in Scotland. See also National Parks and National Scenic Areas. .
National Park legislation to create National Parks in Scotland was passed in August 2002 by the Scottish Parliament and parks have been established in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Cairngorms. In Scotland, National Parks have been established to deliver better management of some special areas of outstanding natural and cultural heritage.
National Scenic Area A landscape conservation designation, National Scenic Areas (NSAs) are those areas of land considered of national significance on the basis of their outstanding scenic interest or unsurpassed attractiveness. The designation is made by the Scottish Ministers on the recommendation of Scottish Natural Heritage. See also National Parks and National Nature Reserves.
National Trust for Scotland (NTS) founded in 1931, the National Trust for Scotland is an independent conservation charity that protects and promotes Scotland's natural and cultural heritage. Over 100 historic houses, castles, gardens, battlefields, monuments, mountains and coastal areas are in the Trust's care.
NatureScot (Scottish Natural Heritage, SNH) a government body charged with the protection of Scotland's natural environment. Scottish Natural Heritage was formed through merger of the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland with the Countryside Commission for Scotland in 1991. It was rebranded as NatureScot in 2020.
Neolithic a name given to the later or more culturally advanced Stone Age.
Ness (Nes, Nis) a headland, promontory or cape. [Scandinavian]
New Town one of five planned settlements created to alleviate the over-population of the Glasgow conurbation, an area suffering industrial decline, and attract people to new employment opportunities. These new towns were East Kilbride (1949), Glenrothes (1948), Cumbernauld (1956), Livingston (1962) and Irvine (1966). The futher New Town at Stonehouse was planned but never built. Each was run by a government-appointed New Town Development Corporation (rather than an elected local authority) until their special status ended in 1995. Also used to refer to the classical extension to Edinburgh in the 18th century.
New Town Development Corporations unelected bodies created under the New Towns Act of 1946, the New Town Development Corporations managed the development of the five Scottish New Towns. Six new towns in Scotland were designated between 1955 and 1973, although only five were built. Their focus was primarily urban planning, building and renting social housing, and marketing, with the local authorities providing and managing services. The New Town Development Corporations were disbanded in 1996, their powers having passed to the relevant local authorities.
Nis see Ness. [Gaelic]
Norse Period (Viking Period) a period of human settlement in the British Isles dating from around 900AD - 1300AD, coming after the Iron Age.
Nucleated settlement a type of settlement where buildings are formed into a group around a nucleus.
Nunatak a word of Inuit origin, referring to rocky peaks projecting above the surface of an ice sheet.
Ob (Oba, Oban) a bay. [Gaelic]
Odhar (Odhair, Uidhre, Idhir) dun-coloured. [Gaelic]
Ogam (Ogham) an ancient Celtic alphabet of straight lines meeting or crossing a central line for ease of cutting in stone. It was in use in Ireland by the second century AD.
Oitir (Oitire) sand bank. [Gaelic]
Ord (Uird) round hill. [Gaelic]
Ordnance Survey (Ordnance Survey of Great Britain) a UK government agency charged with the mapping of Scotland, England and Wales (but not Northern Ireland) since the 18th C. Today, they provide definitive paper and computerised mapping on a commercial basis.
Ordovician a period of the earth's history from 440 to 510 million years ago when thick layers of sediments were laid down on the ocean floor.
Os (Ois, Osa) a river mouth or outlet. [Gaelic]
Outfield an extension of arable cultivation beyond the infield or corn lands of medieval settlements, the outfield was manured by livestock then cropped for a restricted period. It formed part of an openfield system that lay within the head-dyke or outer enclosing wall.
Outset an enclosure in the hill pasture or commonty derived from the Old Norse 'Saeter' which referred to farm or homestead.
Pairc (Pairce) a park or field. [Gaelic]
Palaeozoic a period of the earth's history comprising the Cambrian and Permian eras.
Palladian a classical style of architecture introduced by Andrea Palladio (1518-80) modelled on Vitruvius, a Roman architect under the Emperor Augustus who reigned from 31 BC to AD 14.
Parish first created in medieval times to support the church, ecclesiastical (quoad sacra) parishes were areas of land whose inhabitants were obliged to pay a proportion of their produce or income to the Church. In the 17th century the crown divided Scotland into burghs, sheriffdoms and parishes for the purpose of taxation. Between 1845 and 1860 civil (quoad civilia) parishes were established with elected parochial boards, these parishes continuing as units of local government until 1975. The agricultural parish is a statistical unit in the United Kingdom used as the basis for collecting data on farms, livestock, crops and yields.
Parliamentary Church (Telford Church) one of several churches built in the North and West of Scotland by the government, the Telford or Parliamentary churches were new buildings erected in areas in need of a church to celebrate victory in the Napoleonic Wars. Parliamentary Commissioners were appointed in 1823 to build 'Additional Places of Worship in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland'. Constructed to a simple plan prepared by noted engineer Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834), the churches were plain T-shaped structures with cast-iron windows and each had its own manse. There were thirty-two of these churches built in the late 1820s at a total cost exceeding £50,000.
Pediment a term deriving from Classical architecture for a triangular structure above a door or window.
Peerage the Peerage is the system of titles of nobility in Scotland and the United Kingdom. The Peerage is organised as a hierarchy; the Monarch comes at the top, then Royal Dukes, Dukes, Marquises, Earls, Viscounts and Barons. Titles may have been created within the Scottish system (until 1707), a system for Great Britain (between 1707 and 1801) or the current system for the United Kingdom (after 1801). There are also a set of Jacobite Peerages granted between 1689 and 1784 which remain today, but are not recognised in British law. Before 1958, all peerages were hereditary; now they may be hereditary or for life. Those created for life are always Barons, although it is technically possible to create life-peers of higher rank.Hereditary peers no longer have the right to sit in the House of Lords.
Peridotite a coarse-grained igneous rock containing olivine and other ferro-magnesian minerals.
Periglacial An environment at the edge of a glacier or icesheet, often underlain by permafrost, which is subject to repeated seasonal thawing and refreezing. It gives rise to a particular set of geomorphological features and deposits. Tundra occupies a periglacial environment.
Perpendicular a late English style of Gothic architecture common in the 14th to mid-16th centuries.
Pet (pit) a farm or piece of land, sometimes a hollow. [Gaelic]
Picts one of the four peoples who eventually coalesced to make Scotland during the first millennium AD, the Picts were first mentioned in two different Latin sources in 297 AD. The term Picti (painted ones) for this grouping of Celtic tribes may well have been a Latin nick-name given by Roman soldiers but the Scots called them Cruithni. The Picts left in the landscape a large number of remarkable symbol stones.
Plantiecrui (Planticrub, Plantiecote, Plantiecruive) in Shetland, a small drystone enclosure within which young plants, usually kale, are planted in an environment protected from the winter and the wind.
Policy in Scotland a policy is the name given to the designed landscape surrounding a mansion house.
Poll (Phuill) a pool or pit. [Gaelic]
Porphyry a type of rock containing feldspar crystals embedded in a compact mass of dark red or purple.
Port a gateway or entrance to a mediaeval Scots town. [Scots]
Precambrian the oldest era in the earth's history dating from 550 to 3 billion years ago during which great thicknesses of sediments accumulated in Scotland. The oldest rocks in Scotland, the Lewisian gneisses, date from this period.
Presbyterian a democratic system of governance in the Protestant church based on the wishes of the elders of the congregation, along with individual ministers. Policy is formulated at an annual General Assembly, held in Edinburgh. Developed at the time of the Reformation in the mid-16th C., the Presbyterian system persists in the Church of Scotland to the present day. Contrasts with the Episcopalian system.
Presiding Officer the speaker in the Scottish Parliament, responsible for chairing the Parliamentary sessions, ensuring procedure is followed and maintaining order.
Raineach (Rainich) a fern. [Gaelic]
Raised Beach a coastal deposit of sand, shingle and broken shells lying above the highest level of the spring tides, the product of past wave action at a time when the sea level was higher. Raised beaches are the result of fluctuations in sea-level since the end of the last Ice Age.
Raised Bog (Raised Mire) an ancient environment, which began to be formed at the end of the last Ice Age from a shallow loch. Vegetation including reeds and sedges filled the loch, giving way to a carpet of spagnum moss. The accumulating organic remains beneath gradually raised the height of the structure relative to the surrounding land, but its base remained waterlogged. Raised bogs are recognised as an important habitat, as well as representing a signficant store of carbon worth preserving to prevent global warming.
Ramh (Raimh) an oar. [Gaelic]
Ramsar an area protected under the the Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar (Iran) in 1971 and which came into force in 1975. The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their internationally-important wetlands and to plan for the sustainable use of all of the wetlands in their territories. The UK has the largest number of designated sites (2010), and the Ramsar secretariat is based in Gland, Switzerland.
Rathad (Rathaid) a road or way. [Gaelic]
Reamhar (Reamhair, Reamhra) thick or fat. [Gaelic]
Reformation a 16th-century movement in Western Europe that aimed at reforming some doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church and resulted in the establishment of the Protestant churches.
Regality a mediaeval jurisdiction much wider than a barony that was abolished in 1747. The Lord of Regality formerly held court under licence from the Crown.
Region a first-order local authority sub-division used in Scotland between until 1995. There were nine regional authorities, each divided into districts, plus three unitary island authorities. This two-tier system of regions and districts replaced the counties in 1974.
Register of Sasines a record of the ownership and transfer of land in Scotland which dates back to 1599, although it is only systematic and complete from 1617. It is maintained by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland. Since 1979, the Register of Sasines is being progressively replaced by the Land Register.
Reidh (Reidhe) smooth, level or plain. [Gaelic]
Riabhach (Riabhaich) brindled or greyish. [Gaelic]
Ridge and Furrow (Rig and Furrow) a landscape feature formed as a result of ploughing, the soil from the furrow being thrown up by the plough to form a ridge that varied in height according to the type of soil and plough.
Rig a hill or ridge. [Old English]
Rigg a narrow division of land laid out in mediaeval times. Riggs are often preserved in today's settlement patterns, for example in Haddington and Linlithgow.
Righ (Righe) king. [Gaelic]
Roinn (Roinne) a point or promontory. [Gaelic]
Roman Period a period of human settlement in the British Isles dating from 43AD to around 450AD, the Roman Period occurs within what is otherwise called the Iron Age. The Romans were in Scotland between 79 AD and c. 200 AD.
Romanesque a style of architecture characterised by round arches and vaults marking the transition from Roman to Gothic architecture.
Room (Rouming) a term for a piece of cultivated arable land.
Roup an auction. [Scots]
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) a former government body concerned with the recording and interpretation of sites, monuments and buildings connected with Scotland's past. RCAHMS worked closely with Historic Scotland, who are charged with the maintenance and protection of heritage sites. The two organisations merged in 2015 to become Historic Environment Scotland.
Royal National Mòd A festival of Gaelic song, language, literature, dancing, sport and culture organised annually by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association). It was founded in Oban in 1891. .
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) a voluntary British conservation charity established in 1889, the RSPB aims to protect bird species, both indigenous and migratory, and their habitats. The RSPB began working in Scotland in 1904 and now owns or manages over 40 reserves and tracts of land in Scotland, including Abernethy Forest, Insh Marshes and Lochwinnoch.
Ruadh red or reddish. [Gaelic]
Rubha (Rudha) a spit, headland or promontory. [Gaelic]
Runrig a medieval system of cultivation associated with the infield and outfield system rather than a number of large arable field. Ridges or riggs in each field were allocated to each member of the township, thus the land was equally divided in value and extent. Runrig was widespread in Scotland until the reorganisation of land in the 18th and 19th centuries.
SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) a Site of Special Scientific Interest designated to protect the best wildlife, plant, rock or landform sites. There are 1,447 SSSI's in Scotland covering an area of 1,007,260 ha (2,489,000 acres). Sites are notified under the Wildlife and Conservation Act 1982.
Saeter (Setter, Setr) an Old Norse word referring to a farm or homestead, often an outset or secondary settlement associated with the summer hill pasture.
Sail (Saile) heel or salt water. [Gaelic]
Sandstone a sedimentary rock composed of fine grains of sand of a quartz variety laid down originally as marine or wind-blown sediments.
Scattald an area of common land found in Shetland. .
Schist a fissile metamorphic rock.
Scots Acre a former measurement of land area equivalent to 1.26 standard acres (0.51 ha), the Scots Acre was divided into 4 Roods and 40 Falls.
Scots Mile a linear measure, 80 chains or 1,976 yards in length. It represented 1.12 statute (or English) miles but was abolished by an Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1685 and again by the Treaty of Union in 1707. It continued in informal use during much of the 18th century but was obsolete by the time of its final abolition by the Weights and Measures Act 1824.
Scots Pine Pinus Sylvestris is the only native British pine, it was the main species of the Caledonian Pine Forest, which once covered much of Scotland, but only fragments remain.
Scottish Baronial a style of decorative architecture drawing on features of medieval fortified buildings in Scotland. Developed in the 17th century, the style reached its zenith in the 19th century, applied by architects like David Bryce in Scotland, it also appears around the world.
Scottish Canals Since 2012, Scottish Canals has been the trading name of British Waterways in Scotland, responsible to the Scottish Government.
Scottish Enlightenment a period, primarily during the second half of the 18th century, when literature, arts and sciences flourished in Scotland.
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) a government body charged with protecting and improving the environment principally through the regulation of water quality, effluent discharges and disposal of waste.
Scottish Executive the legal name for the government in Scotland following the Scotland Act of 1998, the Scottish Executive exercises significant (but not universal) powers devolved from the United Kingdom Parliament in London. The Executive is responsible to the Scottish Ministers, led by the First Minister.
Scottish Forestry The public body responsible for forestry regulation and policy in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. It was formed in 2019, working alongside Forestry and Land Scotland, to take over the regulatory responsibilities of Forestry Commission Scotland. The agency has its headquarters in Edinburgh.
Scottish Government the name adopted in 2007 for the government in Scotland, comprising the Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Executive.
Scottish Ministers the powers of government in Scotland are vested in the Scottish Ministers and executed on their behalf by the Scottish Executive. The Scottish Ministers have limits to their powers, with some responsibilities remaining with the United Kingdom government in London.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) see NatureScot.
Sea Loch a water body with one end open to the sea. A fjord.
Sedimentary a type of rock, such as sandstone, composed of sediments that have been derived from existing rocks which have been broken and eroded, then transported by water, wind or glacier ice. .
Sgeir (Sgeire) a sea rock. [Gaelic]
Sgor (Sgorr) rocky peak. [Gaelic]
Shieling a term used to described areas of summer grazing or the seasonally occupied buildings of shepherds. The shieling system is associated with the transhumance of livestock from the arable land of the fermetoun to the hill pastures.
Siar west (direction), as in Taobh Siar (West Tarbert). [Gaelic]
Sill an intrusion of igneous rock formed by flowing lava that spreads nearly horizontally between rock strata.
Silurian a period of the earth's history from 410 to 440 million years ago when which continents collided and Scotland united with England.
Sithean (Sithein) a hillock, fairy knoll. [Gaelic]
Skerry (Skeir, Sker) rocky outcrops at sea. [Scandinavian]
Skew a sloping cope at the gable end of a house. A skewputt is a form of rooftop ornamentation found on the skew.
Sleac (Slic) flat stones. [Gaelic]
Slochd (Sloc, Sluichd) deep or hollow. [Gaelic]
Sneachd (Sneachdha) snow. [Gaelic]
Socach (Socaich) snout or projecting place. [Gaelic]
Souming and Rouming a term used to describe grazing rights in the hill pasture (Souming) based on winter carrying capacity in the township arable land (Rouming).
Souterrain an early Iron Age semi-underground structure often paved and with stone walls. These structures possibly served as byres or stores.
Special Areas of Conservation a pan-European conservation designation, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated under the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora, complementing Special Protections Areas, which relate specifically to wild birds.
Special Protection Area a European Union conservation designation, Special Protection Areas (SPAs) relate to the protection of wild birds.
Srath (Sratha) a valley (in English, Strath). [Gaelic]
Sron (Sroine) a nose, often used to describe a shoulder or ridge extending from a summit or for point extending from the shore (in English, Stron). [Gaelic]
Sruth (Srutha, Sruthan, Sruthain) a current, a stream or a streamlet. [Gaelic]
Stac (Staca) a steep conical hill. [Gaelic]
Stell an enclosure for sheep.
Stewartry in Scotland, the jurisdiction of a steward; also, the lands under such jurisdiction.
Stob a point. [Gaelic]
Stuc a peak. [Gaelic]
Suidhe a resting place. [Gaelic]
Tack a lease, the tacksman being the holder of the lease. [Scots]
Taing A headland (in Shetland). [Scandinavian]
Tairbeart (Tairbeirt, Tarbert, Tarbet) a narrow isthmus. [Gaelic]
Taobh a place. [Gaelic]
Tarsuinn transverse, across. [Gaelic]
Tenement the name given to a small holding or a multi-story building erected on a small piece of ground. The mediaeval tenements of Edinburgh, built on burgess plots, were amongst the earliest high-rise buildings in Europe.
Tertiary a 60-million-year period of volcanic activity associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean that began 65 million years ago. During this period granites, gabbros, basalt and other igneous rocks were formed, mostly in the west of Scotland. Ailsa Craig, Goatfell on Arran, the island of Staffa, Ben More on Mull and the Cuillins of Skye are examples of prominent features created during the Tertiary period.
Thanage the land held by a thane (A feudal lord or baron in Scotland).
Tied Island an island which is connected to the shore by a tombolo and therefore, technically, represents a peninsula.
Tigh (Tighe, Tay, Ti) a house. [Gaelic]
Tobar (Tobair, Tober) a well. [Gaelic]
Toft (Toftin) a small holding.
Tolbooth the administrative centre of a Burgh, which usually included the Council Chamber, prison and tax office.
Toll a crevice, cavity or hollow. [Gaelic]
Tombolo an hourglass-shaped coastal feature, produced by the deposition of sand and shingle, which joins the mainland to an island.
Top a subsidiary hill or mountain with a drop of 100 feet (30.5m) on all sides or elevations of sufficient topographical interest with a drop of 100 feet (30.5m) and 50 feet (15.2m) on all sides. Munro Tops are those tops associated with Munros. The grouping of 'tops' into 'hills' is calculated on the basis that tops are no more than 17 units from the main top of the 'hill', a unit being one-twelfth of a mile measured either along the connecting ridge or one of 50 feet (15.2m) contour between the lower top and the connecting col.
Tor a prominent rock feature in granite landscapes formed since the last Ice Age as a result of weathering to create exposed rectangular tower-like structures. Examples in Scotland include the Barns of Bynack in the Cairngorms.
Torc (Tuirc) a boar. [Gaelic]
Torr (Torra) a heap, hill or castle. [Gaelic]
Tower House a compact fortified house, smaller than that which could be regarded as a castle.
Township a collection of houses surrounded by cultivated arable land at one time contained within a town dyke beyond which livestock were grazed on common pasture.
Trachyte a fine grained igneous rock.
Traigh a beach. [Gaelic]
Trunk Road a term used, especially in the United Kingdom, to describe a main road.
Trust Port a publicly-owned harbour run by an independent statutory body governed by its own local legislation and controlled by an independent board. Profits made by Trust Ports are re-invested into their development. Trust ports in Scotland include Aberdeen, Cromarty Firth, Fraserburgh, Inverness, Peterhead and Tarbert (Loch Fyne). Other harbours are owned by local authorities (for example, Orkney, Kinlochbervie, Kyle of Lochalsh, Lochinver, Portree, Shetland), or privately-owned (including Ayr, Clydeport, Forth Ports and Troon).
Tuath (Thuath) north (direction), as in Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist) or Dail Bho Thuath (North Dell). [Gaelic]
Tuff a sedimentary rock composed of angular fragments of lava in a finer matrix.
Tulach (Tulaich) a knoll or a hillock. [Gaelic]
Tumulus see Barrow .
Uachdar (Uachdair) top, upper part. [Gaelic]
Uaine green or blue. [Gaelic]
Uamh (Uamha, Uaigh, Uaighe) a cave. [Gaelic]
Uarach upper part (of a settlement), as in Pabail Uarach (Upper Bayble). [Gaelic]
Udal (Odel, Udel) the Old Norse system of land tenure in the Northern Isles. Udallers or little heritors conveyed their estates to their successors by a title called Udal Succession.
Uig a nook, hollow or bay. [Gaelic]
Uisg (Uisge) water. [Gaelic]
Unconformity first noted by the geologist James Hutton, an unconformity is a major break in the stratigraphical sequence of rocks.
Urban Regeneration Company a second generation organisations focusing on urban planning in Scotland, the Urban Regeneration Companies (URCs) operated as publicly-owned commercial companies. They implemented governent policy of renewal, rather than the New Town Development Corporations which existed from the 1960s to create overspill settlements. URCs were created from 2005 for Clydebank (Clydebank Rebuilt), Craigmillar (PARC Craigmillar), Raploch, Inverclyde (Riverside Inverclyde), Irvine Bay and the Clyde Gateway. PARC Craigmillar and its parent EDI Group were closed by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2017, Irvine Bay was wound up in the same year, followed by Riverside Inverclyde in 2019.
Uruisg a goblin or brownie. [Gaelic]
Vaulted Ceiling a ceiling of composed of arches in stone (in the strict sense), wood or plaster in Mediaeval architecture. The simplest is the tunnel or barrel vault, which is a continuous semi-circular arch. The more complex forms include Gothic Cross or Groin vaults.
Vennel an alley or narrow lane.
Viscount a nobleman ranking below a Marquis but above a Baron. Whether holding the title in her own right, or the wife of an Viscount, a female is a Viscountess. The office is a Viscountship, Viscounty or Viscountcy.
Voe an inlet, bay or estuary, most commonly in the Shetland or Orkney islands. [Scandinavian]
Wadset a mortgage, the holder of a wadset being a wadsetter. [Scots]
Ward a division of a city or town, especially an electoral district, for administrative and representative purposes.

Also a district of some Scottish counties corresponding roughly to the hundred or the wapentake. .

Ward a prominent hill once crowned with a warning beacon (the name is found predominantly in NE Scotland, Orkney and Shetland). [Scandinavian]
Watershed the line separating head-streams which flow into different drainage basins.
Wave-cut platform the worn stump of rock strata, often exposed at low water, left when cliff rock has been cut back by wave erosion.
Wheelhouse (Aisled Round House) a type of Iron-age house found in NW Scotland, Shetland and the Western Isles, a Wheelhouse (sometimes known as an aisled round house) comprises a circular drystone building, with the internal walls arranged like the spokes of a wheel.
Whinstone the name given to various types of dark-coloured hard stone that are difficult to work, for example basalt and dolerite. Used in Scotland and Northern England, the name derives from the association of the rock with the yellow-flowering shrub gorse (also known as whin).
Wick (Vik) a bay or creek. [Scandinavian]
Wynd a lane running from a main thoroughfare. [Scots]
Yett a hinged wrought metal gate protecting the entrance to a building (usually a tower or castle).

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