Brittonic Language in the Old North
?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.
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.
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.
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.
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
but ‘mid-woodland’ is obviously inappropriate. See
-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
BT29(XI), CT61(VII) pen coet:
-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]-cę: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
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
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].
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.
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
might possibly (but doubtfully) be identified in:
a2) Dunragit Wig
CPNS p156 +
dīn-, which may be associated with Reget,
a2) Rochdale Lanc
PNLanc p54, JEPNS17 p42 ?
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
a2) Worsley Lanc
PNLanc p40, JEPNS17 p34
-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
-cę̄d-; perhaps a compound
b1) Clesketts, with Cleskett Beck, Cmb (Farlam) PNCmb pp9 and 84
which see, or
b1) Culcheth Lanc PNLanc p97, JEPNS17 P55
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
-cę̄d; cf Culcheth.
b1) Glascaith Cmb (Askerton or Kingwater) Lan Cart 153
see J Todd in TCWAAS3.5 (2005), p93.
Glaskeith Cmb (lost: not the same place as Glascaith
above, see Todd loc. cit.) Lan Cart
b1) Pencaitland, with lost Penkaet nearby, ELo CPNS p355
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
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
pen[n]); see also Dalkeith under (c2) below.
b1) Penketh Lanc PNLanc p106, JEPNS17 p59
Gelling’s observation, LPN p211, ‘pen-coed seems frequent
enough to suggest a compound appellative in toponymy, perhaps a
b1) Winckley Lanc (Mitton) PNLanc p141 (note that Ekwall spells
it Winkley here, but Winckley elsewhere in the book)
[+ Old English –lēah]: see Cubbin op. cit., p181; or else
b1) Kincaid Stg
pen[n]-, replaced by early Gaelic cenn-
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
also Cumquethil under (c2) below.
Towcett Wml (Newby) PNWml2 p146
see both of these.
b1) Tulketh Lanc (Ashton by Preston) PNLanc p146, JEPNS17 pp83-4
which see, and see Cubbin op. cit.
b2) Cathcart Rnf CPNS pp366-7
+ river-name Cart, see
*carr; see also
c1) If Pencaitland, discussed above under (b1), involves an appellative
-*cę:d-lann, it belongs here with:
c1) Ketland Wml (Warcop) PNWml2 p85
-lann, but the documentation is very
late and inconsistent.
c2) Alkincotes Lanc (Colne) PNLanc p87
alt- ? +
-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
c2) Carrycoats Ntb (Throckington) PNNtb p40
Old English cot[e] ‘a cottage’ + later plural -s],
but see also
*carr; again, if Old English cot[e]
-cę̄d, this is a post-7th century development.
c2) Coitquoit Pbl (unlocated) ? perhaps
c2) Cumquethil Cmb (unlocated) Lan Cart 260
-cę̄d- [+ OE
–hyll]: this might be the same as Quinquaythil
under (b1) above.
c2) Dalkeith MLo CPNS p382
-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 +
-cę̄d: identical in origin to Dalkeith.
c2) Dinckley Lanc PNLanc p70, JEPNS17 p45
–lēah], see Cubbin op. cit. at p178, also
c2) Inchkeith Bwk (Lauder) CPNS p382
c2) Knockcoid Wig (Kirkcolm) CPNS p381 (mislocated in Kcb), PNRGLV p93
-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)
cf Knockcoid above.
c2) Lanrequeitheil Cmb (Burtholme) PNCmb p72, Lan Cart 149:
or else + personal (saint’s?) name Jǖδhael, see