First published in the Scotsman on 24 September 2016
In Edinburgh, there is a small area adjacent to Holyrood Palace referred to on street signs as Croft-an-Righ. On the face of it, this would seem to simply be a slightly anglicised version of Gaelic Croit an Rìgh ‘the King’s croft’. This would seem appropriate given the royal location, indeed, it is referred to as such in a nineteenth-century Gaelic book.
The name as it appears now however is misleading; in 1781 it is on record as Croft Angry. Several other places with such a name exist in Scotland, including two in Fife. These are Scots names containing croft with an element angry; this is of uncertain meaning as it seems only to have survived in place-names; it is related to German anger ‘(small) meadow’. Possibly it means a ‘fenced grazing in the croft or arable infield’ or perhaps more simply ‘grassland’.
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