previous element home next element

Brittonic Language in the Old North

cę̄d (m)


?Indo-European (North Western) *kait- > Early Celtic *caito- > British, Gaulish cę̄to- > Old Welsh coit > Middle-Modern Welsh coed, Old Cornish cuit > Middle Cornish coys > Cornish cos, Old Breton cot, coet > Middle Breton koed > Breton koad; cognate Germanic *χaiþiz > Old English hǣþ > ‘heath’, Old Norse heiðr.

The Indo-European origin is uncertain, this may be a non-Indo-European word adopted by both Celtic and Germanic. On the phonological developments in neoBrittonic, see LHEB §27(3), pp328-30. On Anglicised forms, see ibid. §27(2B) at p327, and on forms with –th in north-west England, see G P Cubbin in St Celt 16/17 (1972-3), pp175-82. Cubbin argues that such forms reflect a dialectal variant in Brittonic rather than a Middle English development. If so, the Scots form keith may represent a separate development, perhaps reflecting a Gaelicised final consonant; Nicolaisen’s discussion of the significance of th in mediaeval Scots orthography, SPN² pp13-17, is relevant. The possibility that apparently Gaelic place-names with  cha[i]dh disguise an earlier Brittonic form with -cę̄d should not be overlooked. On forms with coid, see under (c2) below.

In origin, probably ‘wild country, forest (in the mediaeval sense)’, but in the Brittonic languages, ‘woods’ (as a collective noun), i.e. a substantial tract of fairly dense woodland. ‘The element is not common in ancient toponymy’, say Rivet and Smith, PNRB p387, but this may reflect the strategic preoccupations of the Classical sources; for ancient Continental place-names with this element, see ACPN pp29-30 and 57-8.

As a cognate of the pan-Germanic ‘heath’ words, it appears to belong to an ancient phase of north-west European place-naming, and the number of close-compound forms (see (b1) and (c1) below) indicates productivity in the early Celtic or Roman-British periods.

Distributed widely in England (LPN pp223-4), in Cornwall (CPNE pp66-8), Wales ELl p49), and Scotland (SPN² pp220-1) including Pictland (CPNS pp381-2). Some concentrations of names with this element in the North are of interest as evidence of early-mediaeval woodland, for example in western East Lothian and in south Lancashire.

In early historical and literary sources:
HB56 in silva Celidonis .i. Cat Coit Celidon. Brooke in R Oram and G Stell eds. Galloway: Land and People (1991), pp110-12, argued for locating this in south-west Scotland, but Clark’s discussion in BBCS23 (1969), pp199-200, and Rivet and Smith’s in PNRB, pp289-91, remain authoritative. The myth of the 'Caledonian Wood' may have arisen from an early misinterpretation of Celtic *drumo- 'a ridge' (see drum) as Gk drūmós 'an oakwood'.
HB63, 65 in insula Metcaud (= Lindisfarne): in Lebor Bretnach this is Medgoet, which looks like meδ- + -cę̄d, but ‘mid-woodland’ is obviously inappropriate. See *meδgǭd.
BT60(VI) gweith argoet llwyfein: ar- + -cę̄d, ‘[a place] by woodland associated with llwyfein’. See PT p77 for other references to this battle in mediaeval Welsh literature, and for discssion of llwyfein see *lę̄β.
BT29(XI), CT61(VII) pen coet: pen[n]- + -cę̄d. Williams, PT p86, tentatively accepts the identification of this with cat Pencon AC sub anno 722 (variant Pentum), but even if the latter is *pen[n]-:d, it need not be the same one – note Gelling’s observations on the frequency of this compound, LPN p211 (quoted under Penketh, (b1) below).
BT29(XI) coet beit: identified by Williams, PT p125, and others with Beith Ayrs, see *baɣed.
BT56(II) etc. Reget, Rheged. The problem with any proposal invoking -cę̄d in this much-debated territorial name is that there is no sign of its developing to –coed. It is not impossible that a mediaeval Welsh poet ‘revived’ a long-lost name from an old manuscript, failing to recognise its etymology, but such a suggestion raises issues of bitter controversy concerning the origin and antiquity of the awdlau attributed to Taliesin. See, however, the place-names discussed under (a2) below, and rag-, *reg-, and rö-.

a1) Cheadle Che PNChe1 p246: included here as one of the group of probable Brittonic place-names around the Manchester embayment [?cę̄d- + Old English –lēah, but see DEPN(C) sub nomine; Old English ċēode ‘a bag, a bag-like hollow’, EPNE1 p89, is formally possible as the first element].

a1) Cheetham, with Cheetwood, Lanc PNLanc p33, JEPNS17 p32, JEPNS18 (1985), p15 [+ Old English –hām, -wudu]; cę̄d may have been taken by English speakers to be a district-name here.

a1) Chetwde YWR (lost field-name in Seacroft) PNYWR4 p122 [Old English –wudu].

a1) Keith, Barony of, with Upper and Lower Keith, Keith Marischal and Keith Hundeby (= Humbie), also Keith Water, ELo CPNS p382: see also Pencaitland under (b1) and Dalkeith under (c2) below.

a1) Keith, Forest or Ferret of, Ayrs (Largs) CPNS p382.

a2) Leaving aside the problematic Reget, formations with rag- or rö- might possibly (but doubtfully) be identified in:

a2) Dunragit Wig CPNS p156 + dīn-, which may be associated with Reget, see rag.

a2) Rochdale Lanc PNLanc p54, JEPNS17 p42 ? rag- or rö-, see both [+ OE –hām ‘an estate and its main settlement’, replaced by Middle English –dale].

a2) For R Roch, and Read Lanc, see under rag-.

a2) Worsley Lanc PNLanc p40, JEPNS17 p34 wor- + -cę̄d- [+ Old English lēah] or else -celli: see G P Cubbin in StCelt16/17 (1972-3), pp175-82 [but D Mills Place-Names of Lancashire (1976), p152, favours an OE personal name Weorc-].

b1) Bathgate WLo CPNSpp381-2, PNWLo pp80-1 *baɣeδ- + -cę̄d-; perhaps a compound appellative.

b1) Clesketts, with Cleskett Beck, Cmb (Farlam) PNCmb pp9 and 84 clas-, which see, or *clę̄ss-, glās- or *glẹs- + -cę̄d-.

b1) Culcheth Lanc PNLanc p97, JEPNS17 P55 cṻl- + -cę̄d, which see, and LHEB §15, pp302-3, §23.2, pp321-1, and §§136-7, pp554-7, and Cubbin op. cit.

b1) Culgaith Cmb PNCmb p184 cṻl- + -cę̄d; cf Culcheth.

b1) Glascaith Cmb (Askerton or Kingwater) Lan Cart 153 glās- + -cę̄d-; see J Todd in TCWAAS3.5 (2005), p93.

b1) Glaskeith Cmb (lost: not the same place as Glascaith above, see Todd loc. cit.) Lan Cart glās-. + -cę̄d

b1) Pencaitland, with lost Penkaet nearby, ELo CPNS p355 pen[n]- + -cę̄d- + -lann; note that coedlann is a compound appellative in Middle – Modern Welsh meaning ‘a copse’ or ‘an orchard’ (cf Ketland, (c1) below), and this might be involved in this place-name, perhaps (as Watson implies, CPNS loc. cit.) a monastic possession. However, Penkaet may well have been the primary name, and that too may have been a compound appellative. If so, the cę̄d was probably the tract of woodland implied by the Barony of Keith (see above), Penkaet indicating either that this was a ‘boundary wood’ (see Gelling, quoted under Penketh below) between (what later became) East and Mid-Lothian, or referring to a location at the ‘head’ (end of a projecting angle in the boundary) of that wood (see pen[n]); see also Dalkeith under (c2) below.

b1) Penketh Lanc PNLanc p106, JEPNS17 p59 pen[n]- + -cę̄d-: note Gelling’s observation, LPN p211, ‘pen-coed seems frequent enough to suggest a compound appellative in toponymy, perhaps a “boundary wood”’.

b1) Winckley Lanc (Mitton) PNLanc p141 (note that Ekwall spells it Winkley here, but Winckley elsewhere in the book) wïn- + -cę̄d [+ Old English –lēah]: see Cubbin op. cit., p181; or else -celli.

b1) Kincaid Stg pen[n]-, replaced by early Gaelic cenn- + -cę̄d: cf Penketh above: it is interesting that neighbouring landholdings are named Kinkell (Gaelic ceann na coille, cf CPNS p397) and Woodhead, essentially the ‘same’ name in three languages (P Kincaid pers. comm.).

b1) Quinquaythil Cmb (Walton, ? = Nickies Hill) Lan Cart 224 and 259-63: the first element is obscure, perhaps Middle Irish/early Gaelic cenn- replacing pen[n]- as in Kincaid above, or *cejn- (see *ceμ-), but a personal name Gwengad may be involved [+ Old English –hyll], see cum[b], and also Cumquethil under (c2) below.

b1) Towcett Wml (Newby) PNWml2 p146 *tṻβ- or tul- + -cę̄d, see both of these.

b1) Tulketh Lanc (Ashton by Preston) PNLanc p146, JEPNS17 pp83-4 *tul- + -cę̄d, which see, and see Cubbin op. cit.

b2) Cathcart Rnf CPNS pp366-7 cę̄d- + river-name Cart, see *carr; see also cajr (b2).

c1) If Pencaitland, discussed above under (b1), involves an appellative -*:d-lann, it belongs here with:

c1) Ketland Wml (Warcop) PNWml2 p85 ?cę̄d- + -lann, but the documentation is very late and inconsistent.

c2) Alkincotes Lanc (Colne) PNLanc p87 *al- or + alt- ? + -tan- + -ï[r]-, which see + -cę̄d- [+ Old English cot[e] ‘a cottage’ replacing -cę̄d- + later plural -s]; see Breeze, CVEP pp218-19. If correct, Old English -cot[e] implies that the Brittonic form had developed a rounded vowel, coid, so not before the early 8th century (see LHEB §27(3), pp328-30, and James in O Padel and D Parsons eds A Commodity of Good names (2008) at p199); or else alt- + -īn.

c2) Carrycoats Ntb (Throckington) PNNtb p40 ?cajr- + -ï[r]- + -cę̄d- [+ Old English cot[e] ‘a cottage’ + later plural -s], but see also *carr; again, if Old English  cot[e] has replaced -cę̄d, this is a post-7th century development.

c2) Coitquoit Pbl (unlocated) ? perhaps *cnuc[h]- + -cę̄d, cf Knockcoid below.

c2) Cumquethil Cmb (unlocated) Lan Cart 260 cumb- + -cę̄d- [+ OE –hyll]: this might be the same as Quinquaythil under (b1) above.

c2) Dalkeith MLo CPNS p382 *dǭl- + -cę̄d-; absence of lenition here is probably due to the influence of the neighbouring Barony of Keith (see above, (a1), and Pencaitland under (b1)); this tract of woodland may well have extended as far west as the R South Esk.

c2) Dankeith Ayrs (Symington) Taylor 2011 p87 + *dǭl- + -cę̄d: identical in origin to Dalkeith.

c2) Dinckley Lanc PNLanc p70, JEPNS17 p45 dīn- + -cę̄d- [+OE –lēah], see Cubbin op. cit. at p178, also celli.

c2) Inchkeith Bwk (Lauder) CPNS p382 ïnïs- + -cę̄d.

c2) Knockcoid Wig (Kirkcolm) CPNS p381 (mislocated in Kcb), PNRGLV p93 *cnuc[h]- + -cę̄d-; again,  coid implies a rounded vowel when it was adopted by Gaelic speakers, which is unsurprising here; see above under Alkincotes.

c2) Knockycoid Ayrs (West Linton) *cnuc[h]- + -ï[r]- + -cę̄d; cf Knockcoid above.

c2) Lanrequeitheil Cmb (Burtholme) PNCmb p72, Lan Cart 149: ?lanerc- + -cę̄d, or else + personal (saint’s?) name Jǖδhael, see jǖδ.

previous element home next element