Originally published in the Scotsman on 3 September 2016
The settlement now known as Peterhead was earlier known as ‘Inverugie of Peter’ (written in a latinised form as Inuerugy Petri in 1274). Inverugie or Gaelic Inbhir Ùigidh means ‘the inlet of the river Ugie’. In Braemar Gaelic until the early twentieth century Peterhead was still known as Inbhir Ùigidh. Through a separate linguistic tradition it came in Scots to be called Peterheid (later Peterhead) ‘the headland of Peter’. The identity of Peter is, alas, unknown.
The renowned Gaelic poet Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir, or Duncan Ban MacIntyre, served in a regiment that was posted for a time in Peterhead and mentions the settlement in his poetry as Ceann Phàdraig. This was a name almost certainly of his own creation and taken from the Scots name Peterhead. Ceann means ‘head’ in Gaelic, but is not used in the sense of ‘headland’ as it is here.
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