Scottish Place Names Around the World
Is Your Home Town Named After Somewhere in Scotland?
As Scots emigrated around the world they often reminded themselves of home by giving Scottish place names to the locations in which they settled. Here are some examples, mainly from the USA but also from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Africa and many other countries. And along the way, there are brief notes about the Scottish locations from which these places derived their names. Follow the links at the end of the page to go to the pages covering Fife to Oban and Orkney - Stirling.
For Scottish-related names found as suburbs in a number of locations around the world, see the Index Page.
Scotland's third largest city, it lies between the rivers Dee and Don. Due to the large numbers of buildings made from locally quarried granite, it is often referred to as the "Granite City". The development of North Sea oil over the last 30 years has transformed the city and created a new prosperity.
There is also an Aberdeen in Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania), Canada (Saskatchewan), Hong Kong, Jamaica, Guyana, Antigua, South Africa (Eastern Province), USA (Arkansas, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington).
This North Lanarkshire town lies to the east of Glasgow. The name is said to derive from the Gaelic "Ard Ruith" meaning "High Pasture" but in the last few hundred years the town has been more industrial than pastoral.
There is an Airdrie in Alberta, Canada, (named by a railway engineer, William McKenzie, who was born in the Lanarkshire town) and an Airdrie Hill on Kentucky, USA.
Robert Burns wrote:
"Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonnie lasses"
Overlooking the Firth (Estuary) of Clyde, Ayr is the administrative centre for that part of Scotland and Alloway, Burns' birthplace, is now part of the town. There is an Ayr in Australia (Queensland), Canada (Ontario) and USA (Michigan, Nebraska and North Dakota). Iowa has a Mt.Ayr, and also an Ayrshire, named by Scottish immigrants.
Scene of Robert the Bruce's victory over King Edward's army in 1314, Bannockburn was no doubt remembered by migrants from Scotland. The Scots word "burn" means "stream" and "bannock" (in this context) is from an old Gaelic word meaning "horn". There is a Bannockburn in Canada (Ontario) and New Zealand (Central Otago, South Island) and USA (Georgia, Illinois, Maryland and South Carolina) and a suburb of Brisbane (Queensland, Australia).
A Roman general Tacitus described the area north of the rivers Forth and Clyde as "Caledonia" and a tribe of that name may well have been dominant there at that time. In addition to Caledonia in Canada (Ontario and Nova Scotia) there are a surprisingly large number of places in the USA with that name (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin). In South Carolina, a well-known plantation named Caledonia has now been turned into a golfing and living community. There is also a little village called Caledonian just north of Barberton in Mpumalanga province (formerly Eastern Transvaal), South Africa and Caledonian Estate is a suburb of Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia.
Named after the powerful Clan Campbell, Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula in Argyll was previously known as Kinlochkerran. There are places with that name in Australia (usually spelt Campbelltown), Canada (New Brunswick and Newfoundland) and USA (Indiana, Pennsylvania (2) and West Virginia).
Scene of the defeat of the Jacobite army in 1746, it might be thought that settlers from Scotland would want to forget this name. But there are Cullodens in Canada (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) and USA (Georgia and West Virginia).
We all know about Dallas, Texas but there is also a small village in the centre of Moray, beside the River Lossie with that name. There is also a Dallas in Canada (Manitoba), a suburb of Melbourne, Australia and in many other parts of the USA (Alabama (2), Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin).
Douglas was one of the most powerful families in Scotland and their name is not only applied to Douglas in Lanarkshire but also to:
Douglas Brazil (Honduras), Douglas in Canada (Ontario), Douglas in the Isle of Man, South Africa (Mpumalanga (formerly the Eastern Transvaal) and Northern Cape on the Orange river), a suburb of Townsville in Queensland, Australia and USA (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming) plus Cape Douglas (Alaska) and Fort Douglas (Utah) and Douglas County (Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin). Perhaps because Douglas is also a common first name as well as a surname, there are also lots of places with "Douglas" as an element in them eg Douglas River (Tasmania), Douglas Glen (suburb of Calgary, Alberta) and Douglas Point in Namibia.
Dumbarton's name is derived from "Dun Breatann" meaning the fortress of the Britons no doubt because was a fortification on the rock which towers over the town. It was the capital of a kingdom which stretched across the south west of Scotland. In 870 a Viking force besieged the fortress on the rock for four months and needed 200 longships to take all the booty away. In more modern times, Dumbarton gave its name to the county in which it is located - except the county was confusingly named Dunbartonshire (with an "n").
There are Dunbarton/Dumbartons in Australia (Northern Territory), New Zealand (South Island), Canada (Charlotte County, New Brunswick) and USA (Maryland, New York, Virginia, Louisiana, New Jersey, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, South Carolina). Dumbarton Bridge connects the San Francisco Peninsula with the rest of California (at the south end) in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA.
On the invasion route from England, not much remains of Dunbar castle which was fought over so often in the 13th and 14th century. Now a seaside holiday town, it claims to be one of the driest spots in Scotland. There is a Dunbar in Australia (Queensland), a suburb of Vancouver, Canada and a long list in USA (Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma (3), Pennsylvania, South Carolina (2), Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin).
The "City of Discovery" lives up to its marketing image with Dundee in Australia (New South Wales), Canada (New Brunswick), South Africa (Natal), and USA (Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin). There is even a Dundee Island in Antartica. And from the ice-caps to the tropics, there's a Dundee Beach in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Scotland's capital city, the "burgh" part of the name (pronounced "burrah" not "burg") is found in many Scottish town names and comes from an Old English word meaning a collection of houses. It was called "Duneidin" in earlier times (hence the Dunedin in New Zealand and also in Florida, USA). The origin of the "Edin" part of the name may have been "eiddyn" meaning a "hill slope fort" but it was not because of Edwin of Northumbria - he came on the scene long after it had its name.
There are Edinburghs in Australia (Queensland) and a suburb of Elizabeth (Greater Adelaide), South Australia. The capital of the remote island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic is named Edinburgh. In USA there are Edinburghs in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia. It is perhaps not surprising to find Americans pronouncing the name as "Edinburg" as there are towns in the USA with that spelling in Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri (2), New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. There is also a New Edinburgh in Canada (Ottawa)
There is also a place name in Minnesota, USA called Edina (pronounced ee-DYE-nah) which is derived from Edinburgh, having been named by a group of Scotsmen. Likewise, there is an Edina in Missouri.
The 12th century royal burgh of Elgin in Morayshire was protected by a moss to the north and the winding River Lossie on the other sides. It used to boast a castle but that was demolished in the 16th century. The cathedral in the town was burnt in 1390 by Alexander Stewart, the "Wolf of Badenoch" but the ruins of the so-called "lantern of the north" are still impressive.
There is an Elgin in a suburb of Vancouver and an Elgin in the Western Cape, South Africa (south-east of Cape Town, near Caledon), known for its apples.
There is an Elgin USA (in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina (2), Tennessee, Texas, Utah) and a Port Elgin in Canada (Ontario). There is also a suburb of Washington by the name of Elgin Corner (Fairfax county, Virginia).
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