Main Works


compiled by Simon Taylor

Please contact the webmaster if you think there are any omissions to this list.


Nicolaisen, W.F.H. 1976 Scottish Place-Namesthis remains by far the best general introduction to the subject of Scottish place-names, and is the bench-mark for all subsequent work on the subject, although in need of revision on several fronts (slightly revised edition with new bibliography, Edinburgh, 2001).

Taylor, S. 1998 (ed.), The Uses of Place-Names (Edinburgh): looks at place-names as a tool for various disciplines, including language (Scottish Gaelic – R. Ó Maolalaigh), history (Scotland – G.W.S. Barrow), historical geography (England – M. Gelling), archaeology (Wales – T. James, and Shetland – S.S. Hansen & D. Waugh), literature (Gaelic ballads – D. Meek) & environmental politics (Wales – H. James); general introduction (Simon Taylor).

The History of the Celtic Place-Names of Scotland (Edinburgh and London; reprinted several times, most recently Edinburgh (Birlinn) 2004, with new Introduction, corrigenda, some addenda and a full W. J. Watson bibliography by Simon Taylor): the bible of Celtic place-name studies in Scotland, unsurpassed as a reference work, it also has important chapters on saints, church terms, river names, etc.

*Online here Introduction,  Full IndexGeneral Survey of Dumfries and GallowayGeneral Survey of LothianGeneral Survey of Scotland North of Forth and General Survey of Ayrshire and Strathclyde*

Helpful to use with it is:
Basden, E., 1997, Index of Celtic Elements in Professor W.J. Watson’s The History of the Celtic Place-Names of Scotland (1926) together with an Index of Subjects (compiled 1978, published by the Scottish Place-Name Society, Edinburgh). 

Watson W.J. 2002, Scottish Place-Name Papers (London and Edinburgh, Steve Savage). Ed. Nicolaisen.

Good general introductions are the sections on place-names in:

Atlas of Scottish History to 1707, edd. Peter McNeill and Hector MacQueen (1996) [though some of the distribution maps need reworking; also its predecessor, An Historical Atlas of Scotland, c.400-c.1600, edd. P. McNeill and R. Nicholson (1975)].

Celtic Culture: An Encyclopedia, ed. John T. Koch 5 vols (Santa Barbara, USA 2006) (S. Taylor).

The Companion to Gaelic Scotland, ed. D.S. Thomson (rev. ed. Glasgow 1994) under ‘place-names’: pp. 226-36.

The Companion to Gaelic Scotland, ed. D.S. Thomson (rev. ed. Glasgow 1994) under ‘place-names’: pp.226-36.

The Edinburgh Companion to the Gaelic Language, ed. Moray Watson and Michelle MacLeod (Edinburgh University Press 2010), pp. 46-62 (R. A. V. Cox).

The Edinburgh Companion to Scots, ed. John Corbett et al. (Edinburgh University Press), 17-30 (M. Scott).

Oxford Companion to Scottish History, gen. ed. Michael Lynch (Oxford 2001), pp. 479–84 (S. Taylor).