Originally published in the Scotsman on 30 July 2016
The Battle of Killiecrankie took place on the 27th of July 1689. The name of this place appears to have two distinct forms: Coille Chnagaidh (from which the English form of the name appears to derive) and Coille Chreathnaich. The reason for this difference is not clear, and it is possible that there were two separate places in close proximity which have been confused in the English form. The initial element coille means ‘a wood’, although in general Kill- in place-names denotes cille ‘church’, from Latin cella ‘(monk’s) cell’. Cnagadh is of uncertain meaning, possibly ‘knocking’; creathnach means ‘aspen’.
It is perhaps hardly surprising then that in Gaelic the battle itself is generally referred to as Raon Ruairidh ‘Rory’s field’, denoting the location where the battle actually occurred. The names of battles between Highlanders and the English are often quite unrelated in Gaelic and English, due to separate historical traditions.
For further research please see our database: Killiecrankie