Although I was the last to post on this blog, I thought it would be a shame to let this journal slip into oblivion, so I'm picking up the baton. What's in a name in my neck of the woods. An exercise in etymology.
Here in the Scottish islands, names are not predominantly of English origin. It is a mish-mash of Norse, Gaelic and English. The name of the Isle of Lewis, where I currently reside, is a corruption of the Gaelic Leòdhas. This in turn is a corruption of the Norse male name Leod. Completing the circle, I think the closest name in English would be Ludovic. Bearing in mind that in Gaelic, the word for "son" is "Mac", it won't come as a huge surprise that the name MacLeod occurs in abundance round here.
Names of hills are usually of Norse derivation. The suffix "val" means "hill", so you get loads of mountains whose names end in -val. Three of the hills I have climbed, or tried to climb in some instances, were called Teileasbhal (699 m), Roineabhal (218 m), and Stulabhal (550 m). Oh, in Gaelic the "bh" is pronounced as a soft "v".
Beaches and bays also carry Norse names. The name of my hometown, Stornoway, has a Gaelic name of Steòrnabhagh. The suffix -bagh (or bhagh where lenited) means bay. In the case of Stornoway, it means anchorage.
The Vikings had farms, and the name of many a village in Lewis bears witness to that, with a suffix of -shader or -bost. The tiny hamlet of Grimshader lies 5 miles south of Stornoway, along a beautiful inlet. The village of Leurbost a few miles south of that again.
Norway occupied these parts until 1296, when it lost the battle of Largs. The Vikings have long gone, as has their culture. Only in their names do they live on.