Park Place Names

Article Index

Loch VoilMost of the place names around the Loch Lomond and Trossachs area are of Celtic origin; others may be obscure Pictish survivals. Not all authorities agree on derivations, so that some Loch Lomond and Trossachs place names have more than one possible meaning.

Amongst the best-known place names, both Lomond and Trossachs are also obscure (even controversial!). Lomond may be from Gaelic, leamhan, elm, though the more popular explanation is that it is from another Gaelic word laom meaning blaze, hence Ben Lomond - beacon hill (though beacon loch is less satisfactory, unless the loch is named from the hill).

The meaning of The Trossachs has been a popular topic in generations of guidebooks. Dorothy Wordsworth speculated in ‘A Tour in Scotland 1803’: ‘I believe the word Trossachs signifies’ “many hills”: it is a name given to all the eminences at the foot of Loch Ketterine, and about half a mile beyond.’Sir Walter Scott often spelt the word as ‘Trosachs’ while in ‘Observations on a Tour through the Highlands of Scotland’ by Thomas Garnett, 1800 there is an ‘Account of the Drossacks’. The Rev Patrick Graham –a minister in Aberfoyle - in his ‘Sketches of Perthshire’ (1806) was the first to suggest that the ‘Trosachs’ meant ‘the rough or bristled territory’. Generations of guidebook writers have repeated this, though Graham gave no explanation or suggested a Gaelic word to support his belief.

Trossachs may also derive from an old Gaelic word trasdaichean or troiseachan, which, though used in the plural, may mean a transverse glen joining two others – though this hardly fits the topography of the narrow pass that leads west to Loch Katrine and is often taken to be the heart of the Trossachs. However, some authorities say the word simply means a crossing place (that is, between lochs Achray and Katrine).