Loch Urigill


Loch Urigill


This place name, excluding "loch" is of Norse origin. A lengthy discussion in March 2020 on Twitter and among the members of the loose Assynt Lives collective, generated much discussion, but Twitter respondent @markryansmith66 quoted John Stewart's "Shetland Place Names" as "Old Norse eyrr (sand or gravel beside water) and Gil as ON for ravine." This was later confirmed by Prof Donna Heddle whose take was "Gravelly Ravine". It is noteworthy that there does not appear to be a surviving place name of the actual ravine being named, but it is possible that Na Luirgean, the river draining Loch Urigill, and leading to the Ledbeg River, might suit.

We will obviously take Prof. Heddle's consideration as authoritative, but it's worth noting other suggestions arising from online discussions.

Another Twitter respondent, @spodzone, quoting "Scottish Gaelic Place Names" -Charles M Robertson - suggested 'An Iubhraigh" meaning "yew wood"' but the "-gil" suffix would suggest a greater likelihood of a Norse prefix.

Another correspondent, Roger Auger, Uist, wonders if Urigill stems from ON urða gil rather than ON eyrar gil or ON eyra gil. ON urð, says Roger, has in the plural a meaning 'fallen rock piled at the foot of a cliff' and that combined with the ravine giving 'ravine of the fallen rock piled at the foot of a cliff' would look good, he suggests, for the waterfall area just downstream from the loch. ON urða is the genitive plural - the requisite case here. Roger further notes there are nine Urðargill and two Eyrargil in Iceland.

This has been a good example of the types of discussion that place names generate.


Loch of the gravelly ravine
See Subject notes