25 Beautiful Traditional Scottish Names

Choosing a name for a new little bundle of joy can sometimes be a bit challenging.  Parents may find that they are given lots of 'advice' or 'suggestions' from people, even if they have never even asked them for an opinion!  Maybe they have a good traditional family name they want to keep up, but what if they're looking for something a little more unique?

Parents could turn to Scotland for inspiration. Names with a Gaelic or Celtic influence are both unusual and beautiful and many date back to medieval times.  Some of the oldest Scottish names date back to the 3rd century Pictish Nations and Celts, both warlike tribes who went on to endure a number of invasions from Scandinavia, England, Italy and France.  Surnames did not become common in Scotland until the 16th century, and with a relatively small pool of names to choose from, people were often known by a nickname - perhaps a personal description (black-haired Andrew), or an indication of their location or occupation (Andrew the Baker).

Nowadays with such an overwhelming choice of names from around the globe, parents probably won't need to add a nickname - 'cute cheek Sarah' - but it is much more difficult to choose that one special moniker that will stay with their child for life.  So hopefully one of these beautiful Scottish names will be the one to stop everyone's suggestions!

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25 Elspeth

Pronounced: EHLZPeh-TH

Meaning: God is my oath or God is satisfaction.

Another lovely girl’s name, Elspeth is the Scottish variant of the Hebrew name ‘Elizabeth’ and is relatively modern, not becoming popular until the 19th century.

There are a few variations on its meaning; in Scottish it is ‘God is my oath’, in Greek and Hebrew it comes from Elisheba, meaning ‘God is satisfaction’, whilst the English translation is ‘God of plenty’. Either way, this is a name with a deeply religious meaning.

Elspeths are thought to be quite independent and great leaders. Organised and disciplined, they may be slightly short-tempered, especially with those who do not hold the same values as them. Truth and justice are important to them and although some might think them overly cautious, their careful manner will see them succeed in the material world.

Variations of the name include Elsbet, Elsbeth and Elsa, whilst there are global versions of Elspeth ranging from the Armenian Zabel to the Swedish Lilly.

The name is very uncommon, with famous Elspeths being few and far between! Australians may remember Elspeth Denning, the field hockey star. No sign of Elspeth, but Elizabeth made it into the top 100 at number 40 last year.

24 Lachlan

Pronunciation: LOCK-lan

Meaning: from the lakes

This boy’s name originates from the Irish Gaelic language but has been popular as a first name in Scotland since the 13th century. An echo of Scotland’s turbulent past, Lochlann was the Scottish name for Norway.

‘Loch’ means lake, whilst ‘lann’ is an enclosure or land.

The Scottish used this as a nickname for Viking settlers and eventually, the nickname became the middle ages surnames Lachlan and MacLachlan, first recorded in the 11th century. Lochlann literally means ‘of the lake’ or ‘from the land of lakes’, whilst the Irish Gaelic translates as ‘lake habitation’.

Lachlans are said to be great teachers or counsellors as they are nurturing, loving and caring. Their magnetic personalities naturally attract both human relationships but also lovely material objects. Champions of the underdog, people with this name are said to be motivated by the success of others rather than selfish desires and are community-minded humanitarians.

Variations of the name include Lauchlan, Lachie and Lockie, whilst a girl’s version - Lachina - is also available.

Famous Lachlans include Lachlan Buchanan, the Australian actor. Lachlan is a very common name in Australia and New Zealand but did not make the top 100 American list last year at all. In 2008, Lachlan was ranked as the third most popular masculine baby name in New South Wales, with 581 registered that year.

23 Isla

Pronounced: EYE-la

Meaning: Island

This pretty girls’ name is slightly more common than some in our list, coming in at number 95 in America’s top 100 baby girls’ names in 2017. However, in Scotland, it is proud to sit in the top 10 and is popular around the world in English speaking countries. Although suffering a slump in the 18th and 19th centuries, famous Islas brought the name back into style and it is enjoying a global comeback. Actresses such as Isla Fisher and Isla Blair linked the name with beauty and style and helped its popularity to return.

But where is the name from?

Whilst ‘isla’ is Spanish for ‘island, the original Gaelic “aileach” means ‘rocky place’ and the Scottish word ‘islay’ also means island. So we’re pretty sure the name is something to do with a rocky island.

This could also link to the legend of the Danish princess Iula, who left Denmark with an apron full of stones, dropped them and created Ireland and the islands between Ireland and Scotland.

Your Isla may turn out to be easygoing yet adventurous and adaptable. If you live on an island, you could continue the Scottish tradition of naming your child after their location with the beautiful ‘Isla’.

22 Muir

Pronunciation: m-y-uu-r

Meaning: from the moor

Another name that was originally a surname, Muir is another strong masculine name that is both the Scottish word for ‘moorland’ and the Gaelic for ‘sea’. It was likely first given to someone who lived on a moor.

However, there are many derivations with slightly different topographical links.

For a slightly longer name that may well cause your child spelling trauma for the rest of their life, try Muircheartaigh. Meaning ‘expert seaman’ this might be a good one if you have a strong family tradition of fishing. Similarly, Muirfinn means ‘dwells near the beautiful sea’, so would be great if you live near the coast. Or if you are aiming a little higher than expert, go for Muireadhach, translated as ‘Lord of the sea’.

For something completely different you could try ‘Muireann’, translating as ‘long-haired’

Although a boy’s name, you could easily turn this into Muira, a traditional girl’s version of the same name. Be careful with the spellings, as adding an ‘e’ instead of the ‘a’ means that you suddenly have a bitter Muire on your hands.

So Muir is a really flexible name, allowing you to focus on your location, but be careful with the spellings and do stop to consider that your child will have to spell out this name to everyone for the rest of his life.

21 Alana

Pronounced: ah-LAH-nah

Meaning: beautiful

With that meaning, this name is a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate the beauty (inner and outer) of their daughter? To make this even better, the name is thought to have come from a Gaelic term of endearment “a leanbh” (pronounced alanna) which means ‘O child.’ This is a warm loving nickname, like honey or darling.

As well as its Scottish roots, Alana is a Hawaiian name, from the Polynesian meaning ‘a new beginning’ or ‘beautiful offering’.

Alana might turn out to be compassionate and considerate, with a loving and patient nature. She will appreciate beauty and nature and have a calm and easygoing personality. The name ‘Alana’ signifies a peacemaker.

There are many variations on ‘Alana’, including Alanna, Alayna, Alanis, Alannah, and even just the Russian ‘Lana’. It is the feminine form of Alan, of which there are also numerous versions including Alen, Allan, Alun and Alayn.

In Slovakia ‘alana’ even has its own special name day on March 8th, so if you are due around then, this could well be a name worth considering. But at any time of year, this is a beautiful gift of a name for your new baby.

20 Fenella

Pronunciation: FeyNiyLaa

Meaning: white shoulders or fair shoulders

I do like a name with a good story, and this certainly has one. Although a traditional Scottish name, Fenella is of Celtic origin and as such comes from Irish mythology.

In the myth, the Children of Lir, Fionnuala was the daughter of Lir. Jealous of Fionnuala’s love for her father, the wicked stepmother Aoife, plotted to get rid of Fionnuala and her brothers. Lacking the courage to get rid of them, she turned the children into swans and they spent 900 years wandering. Lir was so angry when he discovered what had happened, that he turned Aoife into an air spirit for all eternity. There are numerous endings, but in each one, the swans received a blessing from a monk or priest but were so old that they passed away.

Whilst not a cheerful story, it does explain the meaning of ‘white shoulders’ and is an amazing backstory for any young child!

There are many variations of Fenella, including Fionnghuala, Fen, Fenel, Fenell, Fenelle, Fennall, Fennella, Fennelle, Finel, and Finelia. Fenella itself is a variation of ‘Fiona’.

Notable Fenellas include Fenella Fielding; an English stage, film and television actress, popular in the 1950s and 1960s and known for her seductive image and distinctively husky voice.

19 Irvine

Pronounced: ER-vin

Meaning: Various

This rare boy’s name has many meanings and an interesting history. Popular as an English surname, it comes from the Scottish surname Irving, meaning ‘green water’ and from the Anglo-Saxon Eoforwine, meaning ‘friend of the boar’.

The Celtic and American meanings translate as ‘white’, whilst the Scottish meaning is ‘beautiful’. The English meaning harks back to the Anglo-Saxon, with its definition as ‘friend’.

Versions of the name such as Irving, Irwin and Irvin were used by American Jews during periods of discrimination to replace their traditional Hebrew names like Israel, Isaiah and Isaac.

If you chose Irvine as the name for your little one you may find he turns out to be creative, artistic or even multi-talented. You may find yourself with romantic and passionate child, affectionate, yet idealistic and at times quick-tempered.

There are not many variations in spellings of the name; you could choose Irvin or Irving. There are also not many famous Irvines! You may know the ice hockey star Irvine Bailey or the film director Irvin Kershner.

During the 19th century Irvine was a very popular name, but sadly nowadays it is almost extinct. So, if like an Irvine, you are courageous and fearless, then go against fashion and do your bit to revive this lovely name.

18 Lyall

Pronounced: LY-all

Meaning: shield wolf

With a name like ‘Shield Wolf’, no one is going to pick on this child. This unisex name comes from the old Norse language and is most commonly used as a surname. Like a wolf to his pack, Lyall also means ‘loyal’, which is a result of years of changing the pronunciation.

The original Norse word Liulfr (ulfr meaning wolf), was changed after the Vikings settled in Scotland. The pronunciation became softer over time, from 'lee-oolv-ur' to 'lee-ooler' and then on to 'loo-il' and finally ‘Lyall’.

The Lyall Clan is a Highland Scottish clan of Norman origin from the Highlands and includes descendants from Norse Vikings who held lands in the north of Scotland, the Orkney Islands, and the Lothians. As a surname, Lyall has spread to the USA, UK and Canada. However, I think it’s a great first name with a stand out meaning!

Variations of the name include Lyle and some famous Lyalls include Bill Lyall, the Canadian politician.

With such a rich history of interesting meanings and so many cultures, this name is perfect for any boy, especially for families with strong roots to Scotland or elsewhere.

17 Innis

Pronounced: IN-nis

Meaning: island

This is a gorgeous unisex name, from the Gaelic ‘inis’, meaning ‘island’, or ‘from the river island’.

Another ancient name, there is the Ancient Egyptian equivalent of Iahmesu, the Roman Mythological name Ianus and the Arabic Inas. Variations of Innis include Innes, Inis and Inys and as with many Scottish names, this one is also a common surname, dating back to the early 13th century. As a surname it may be locational, coming from the Barony of Innes, in the former county of Moray, and has been recorded throughout history in church registers, for various marriages and christenings. The first recorded spelling is said to be Walter de Ineys in 1226 when he witnessed a charter during the reign of King Alexander.

People with this name love to share! Whether it’s money, knowledge, time, experience or creative ability, the desire to help others is strong. However, they are also rather idealistic and can become dreamers or misuse power if they fail to reach their potential.

Whilst Innis as a first name is extremely rare, as a surname it is a little more common. Statistics from Namespedia last year found Innis as a first name was found 281 times in 10 different countries whereas as a surname Innis is used at least 2112 times in at least 12 countries.

16 Alpin

Pronounced: AL-pin

Meaning: white or blond

Blond haired baby? This might well be the name for you. This ancient name is the anglicized form of the Gaelic Ailpein. This, in turn, may have come from the Pictish word meaning ‘white’.

The Picts were a tribe of people who lived in the east and north of Scotland during the Iron Age and Early Medieval periods. Interestingly, two of their kings in the 8th and 9th centuries had this name, so it has an ancient and royal history. King Alpín mac Eochaid (c.733) was included in a lineage chart created in the 10th century to connect the kings of Alba (Scotland) to the legendary Dál Riata - a huge and legendary over-kingdom, encompassing Argyll and County Antrim in Ireland. King Alpín mac Feredaig, son of Uuroid, was king of the Picts from 775 until 778.

Boys named Alpin, therefore, are not surprisingly good leaders, who like to focus on large, important issues. They are excellent at learning and analyzing and enjoy personal independence. Although their quiet and introverted personality may cause others to think they are aloof, they are actually very thoughtful people. Moms should consider this name for sweet and thoughtful babies who march to the beat of their own drum.

15 Diarmid

Pronounced: Dear-mid

Meaning: without envy or free man

This old Gaelic boy’s name is popular in Scotland and Ireland.The origins of the name are unclear. In Gaelic ‘di’ means without, whilst ‘arimait’ means envy, therefore your Diarmid may be a child who is selfless and free.

Variations of the name include Diarmuid, Diarmit, Diarmuit and Diarmaid. Modern anglicised versions include Dermot, Dermody and Dermod, so there are plenty of spellings to choose from with this name. In Italian, the name translates as Durante. Another English version of the name is Jeremiah, which came in at number 73 in the top 100 last year.

With some very ancient Diarmids, this name has a long history. For example, Diarmait mac Cerbaill (died c. 565) was King of Tara or High King of Ireland. According to traditions, he was the last High King to follow the pagan rituals of marriage to the land goddess. Darmait mac Máel na mBó (died 7 February 1072) was one of the most important and significant kings in Ireland in the pre-Norman era. His influence extended beyond the island of Ireland into the Hebrides, the Isle of Man, Wales, and even into England. So if you go for this name your child will be in good company with these important and influential leaders.

14 Blair

Pronunciation: Bl-er

Meaning: Battlefield

This masculine name, first recorded as the surname ‘de Blair’ during the 12th century, might bring out the warrior in your little one. If you are looking for a strong masculine name then this is surely the one for you. Derived from a traditional Gaelic surname, alternative meanings are ‘field’ or ‘plain’ and could relate to the location or occupation of a family. There are villages in Perthshire and Dunfermline with the name ‘Blair’, as well as a castle in Blair Atholl, all named after various battles that have taken place.

Variations on the name include Blare and Blayr, and in some places, it is given to girls too, although it is worth noting that in Scotland it is only given to boys. Only mildly popular in America, Blair is still in the top 100 boys’ names in Scotland.

Whilst there are some notable people with the surname of Blair, for instance, Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister, there are also some famous first name Blairs. Take, for example, Blair Underwood, the American TV actor, or Blair Thomas, the American football player.

Your little Blair may turn out to be a conscientious and community-minded person who loves his family and is happy to show affection and compassion to his fellow humans.

13 Greer

Pronounced: GRih-R

Meaning: watchful or vigilant

Personally, I like the idea of having a watchful child. Someone who will keep an eye out for friends and family, and be aware of what is going on around them. Although now a unisex name, it only really became popular for girls in the 20th century, when Greer Garson was named after her mother’s maiden name.

Another name that is derived from a Scottish surname, Greer is Latin in origin and came about in the Middle Ages from the surname Gregor, from the Latin Gregorius, meaning watchful or vigilant. Now a fairly rare name, you can almost guarantee that your Greer will be the only one in the class.

There are a few spellings for you to choose from for this one, including Grear, Grier and Gryer. Derivations from around the world include the Scandinavian ‘Gregors’, the English ‘Gregory’ and the Italian ‘Gregorio’.

There are a few famous Greers around. Most famously, as mentioned, Greer Garson, the Oscar award-winning actress but also Germaine Greer, the Australian writer. Actor Kelsey GraIf you’re a comic fan then this name might be right for you, as Greer is the Greer Nelson is the real name of Tigra, from the Marvel comics.

12 Sorcha

Pronounced: sor-aka or surk-ha

Meaning: bright or radiant.

Common in both Irish and Scottish Gaelic languages, the name is of Hebrew and Celtic origin. In Ireland, the name is often anglicised as Sarah, or Sally, due to the sound of the name and the fact that the harsh ‘k’ sound is sometimes pronounced with a softer ‘sh’. Sarah is a biblical name, meaning ‘Princess’ in Hebrew. Sarah, whose name was originally Sarai, meaning ‘quarrelsome’, was the mother of Isaac and wife of Abraham. God commanded her to change her name before Isaac was born. After all, who wants a quarrelsome mother? Children with the name Sarah are said to be quiet, cooperative and considerate, with a yearning for love and companionship. They strive to achieve peace and harmony.

In Scotland, the anglicized form retains its meaning rather than its sound. It translates as Clara, from the Latin ‘clarus’ meaning ‘bright’. Whilst people with this name are also known to desire love, companionship, peace and harmony, they are often more practical and can obtain great power and wealth, with an ability to achieve material success. This success may come at a cost to their private lives.

Popular since the middle ages, the anglicized version of Sorcha is known as both Clare and Clara.

Not to be confused with Dorcha, meaning ‘dark’, Sorcha is a lovely name for your radiant child. Maybe if you have twins you could have Sorcha and Dorcha?

11 Adair

Pronunciation: U-dehr

Meaning: ford of the oaks or happy spear

Another unisex name, although commonly used for boys. Sometimes the more feminine ‘Adaira’ is the girl’s version. This name has two origins and quite an interesting story attached to it. So it comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Eadgar’, which in olde English is the name ‘Edgar’, meaning ‘fortunate and powerful’, or Edgard, meaning ‘Lucky spearman’.

If you prefer the Scottish origins, its meaning is also close to Egard, meaning ‘wealthy spear owner’

There is another story that goes "In about 1380, Robert Fitzgerald owned lands around Adare in Ireland. There he fought a family duel with Gerald, the white knight, a distant cousin. Although Robert Fitzgerald's father was the Earl of Desmond, the Fitzgeralds did not see Robert as a nobleman. It was unacceptable for him to kill a knight. A powerful group was against Robert. Robert became a fugitive, relocating to Wigtownshire in southwestern Scotland. To cover his tracks, Robert took as his surname 'Adare' after the town near his lands back in Ireland. Upon arriving in Scotland, Robert learned that the King of Scotland had placed a bounty on the head of a man named 'Currie', who was outlawed as a thief and pirate. The King promised Currie's castle, deemed nearly impregnable, to whoever would bring him the head of Currie. Robert Adare watched over Dunskey castle for several days until Currie came out one evening. Robert followed Currie, and engaged the pirate in mortal combat, slewing him at the head of Colfin Glen."

10 Andrew

Pronunciation: AN - droo

Meaning: ‘a brave man’

This is a must for this list, as St Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland, so any boy blessed with this man will be manly and brave.

Andrew is the English form of the Greek ‘Andreas’, from the ancient Greek ‘anthropos’, meaning ‘man’. Famously one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, a fisherman by trade, is often referred to as ‘First Called’, as he, along with his brother, was one of the first disciples. After the resurrection, he went on to preach in Asia and Greece and became one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages.

Andrew’s feast day is November 30th, so if you are due around the end of November and are looking for a manly name, then this might be the one for you. As well as being the patron saint of Scotland, he is also the patron of Russia, Greece and Romania.

There are so many famous and noble Andrews that it would be impossible to mention them all. Suffice to say there have been three kings of Hungary, a British royal prince, an American president and of course, English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew is popular around the Christian world and came in at number 62 on the top 100 last year. Shortened versions such as Andy and Drew keep the name up to date and in fashion, whilst female versions such as Andrea, Andi and Malandra are also popular.

9 Campbell

Pronunciation: KAM-bəl

Meaning: Crooked Mouth

Well now, this does not sound like a flattering name for your gorgeous new bundle of joy, does it? Popular for girls in America but more usually assigned to boys in Australia and New Zealand, would anyone really want to give their child such a name?

Well if you look at the history of this name, it is certainly not all bad. Originating from the Scottish surname Campbell, which in turn comes from the Gaelic nickname “cam beul” which means “crooked mouth”, the Campbell family most likely had a member who had a slightly sloping mouth. Whether or not it was an endearing term or someone being a little bit mean, we must remember that this family was among the most prominent and powerful in the Scottish Highlands during the Middle Ages.

Fighting for Scottish independence and being rewarded with royal marriages, Clan Campbell is known for their loyalty and bravery and even have a town named after them.

Campbells are active people, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They tend to have brilliant ideas, but get bored quickly and move on, leaving someone else to implement and manage them.

So, is this a name you could envisage in your family? Could crooked mouth just mean ‘lovely smile’? I like to think maybe it does. And what nicer name for your child than to celebrate their smile?

8 Morag

Pronounced: MOR-ak or MAOR-aeG

Meaning: various

This name is another one with various meanings and can also be used for boys. So what does it actually mean?

In Gaelic, it means ‘great’ or 'sun’ whilst the Latin meaning of Morag is ‘moor’. Another meaning is ‘star of the sea’.

Interestingly, Morag is a Scottish version of Sarah but also a form of the English Mary. Check back to Sorcha to remind yourself of the Hebrew princess. Mary is also a biblical name; she was the sister of Moses, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, a cursed woman cured by Jesus. Several translations of the name tell us that Mary means ‘bitter’ or ‘rebellious’, however, the ancient Egyptian meaning derives from ‘beloved’, which is probably preferable when naming your baby!

If your Morag is typical, she may be passionate, romantic, broadminded and generous. She will be happy to work in a humanitarian field, whilst trying to understand and analyse the world around her.

There are quite a few interesting Morags, including a lake monster reported to inhabit Loch Morar in Scotland, the first cloned sheep and a Klingon commander in Star Trek!

Whilst popular in Scotland, Morag is not often used as a baby girl name elsewhere. Neither Morag nor Mary made it into the top 100 last year, although Maria was at 74.

7 Cairstine

Meaning: Follower of Christ

This beautiful girl’s name is very unusual. Out of over 5.8 million USA entries, the first name Cairstine was not found. In both Latin and Gaelic this name means ‘believer or follower of Christ’. There are variants of this from around the world, including Carsten in Danish, Christabel in English and Christiaan in Dutch. It can be shortened to Christie.

People named Cairstine love to be around family and to work with others. Although quiet and introspective, people with this name like to be appreciated.

Although there is a lack of famous Cairstines, there is a famous Christabel. Coleridge’s long two-part narrative poem goes by this very name! Who wouldn’t want to be named after an epic poem?

The story tells us about Christabel’s encounter with a stranger called Geraldine, who claims to have been abducted from her home by a band of rough men.

Christabel goes into the woods to pray, where she hears a strange noise. Upon looking behind the tree, she finds Geraldine who says that she had been abducted from her home by men on horseback. Christabel pities her and takes her home with her; supernatural signs (a dog barking, a mysterious flame on a dead fire, Geraldine being unable to cross water) suggest to the reader that something is not quite right. Christabel's father, Sir Leoline, becomes enchanted with Geraldine, and orders a grand procession to announce her rescue. The unfinished poem ends here. Although Coleridge planned to finish it, he never did.

So, two contrasting reasons to choose a rather charming name.

6 Annis

Pronounced: AE-N-ihZ

Meaning: various

This name is simply the Scottish Gaelic form of the popular Dutch, English, German and Scandinavian name Agnes. It is also a form of the Portuguese and Spanish name Inez.

The name has different meanings in different languages: in Anglo-Saxon, it means ‘Unity’, whereas in Greek it comes from ‘Hagne’, which means poor, pure or chaste. You may have commonly heard this name in the Latin phrase ‘Agnus Dei’, meaning Lamb of God.

A much more popular diminutive form of Annis is Nancy, but neither Annis, Nancy nor Agnes can be found in last year’s top 100, so if you are looking for something a little more unusual, this could be the one.

St. Agnes was a 3rd-century Christian martyr, who was the patron saint of virgins. She died in Rome and now has her feast day on January 21st

John Keats’ poem 'The Eve of St Agnes' is based on a Scottish folk belief, where a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rites on the eve of St. Agnes. She would go to bed without any supper, undress and lie on her bed with her hands under the pillow and look up to the heavens. Then the proposed husband would appear in her dream, kiss her, and feast with her.

A Scottish version of the ritual would involve young women meeting together on St. Agnes's Eve at midnight, they would go one by one, into a remote field and throw in some grain, after which they repeated the following rhyme in a prayer to St. Agnes:

“Agnes sweet, and Agnes fair, Hither, hither, now repair; Bonny Agnes, let me see The lad who is to marry me.”

5 Fingal

Meaning: ‘white stranger’

A simplified version of the Gaelic Fionnghall, literally translating as Fionn - white or fair - and Gall - a stranger.

The Irish translation differs slightly, meaning ‘foreign tribe’ and refers to the medieval territory of Scandinavian settlers and the nickname given to these Vikings.

Different spellings of the name include Fingall, Fionnghall and in Sweden, the name is honoured on June 27th.

Not a popular name, Fingal got a boost in 1762 when he became the hero of an epic poem, also called Fingal, by James Macpherson. This is reputed to be based on early Gaelic legends about Fionn mac Cumhail, a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology, occurring also in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man. The stories of Fionn and his followers the Fianna are recounted in the piece; a long tale of Fionn’s life featuring warriors, fighting women, leprechauns, holy trees and druids.

For me, the name Fingal brings to mind the blissfully beautiful ‘Fingal’s Cave’ by Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn, who visited in 1829 and wrote an overture, The Hebrides, inspired by the weird echoes in the cave. The cave, named after the same Fingal as in Macpherson’s poem, is on an uninhabited island in the Hebrides and Mendelssohn's overture popularized the cave as a tourist destination. Other famous 19th-century visitors included author Jules Verne, who mentions it in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.

4 Cinead

Pronounced: KIN-naY

Meaning: born of fire

What a great name to give your child! ‘Born of fire’ suggests a dramatic and exciting start to life, borne from passion and excitement, and raring to go!

This Gaelic boy’s name is probably derived from Ciniod or Cinadon, or from the Gaelic surname MacCoinneach (Mac-KON-yokh) - which later became MacKenzie - meaning son of Kenneth. It is also related to the Irish name Cainnech (Kenny). The anglicized version of this name is Kenneth.

An alternative definition of the name Cinead is 'wise ruler.' In the 9th-10th centuries, a whopping 3 Kings of Scotland had this name. The first, Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth MacAlpine), is known as the founder of Scotland and is lovingly referred to as King Kenneth. The name is most likely Pictish in origin.

The good news for anyone expecting a girl is that there are also 2 rather charming girls’ versions in Kenina and Kenna. The name is established around the world, for instance in Denmark we have Kennet, whilst the unisex Cande can be found in Spain. There is no sign of Cinead or Kenneth in the top 100, but that does not stop it from being a lovely name with a great meaning. Start your future leader off well with this traditional Scottish name.

3 Arabella

Pronounced: ar-a-BELL-ah

Meaning: prayerful or lovable

Here is a name with a long history, coming from medieval Scotland, and most probably a variant of Annabel or Annabella. Some say it comes from the medieval ‘Amabel’, from the Latin ’Amabilis’, meaning ‘lovable’. However, it has also been associated with the Latin orabilis meaning ‘susceptible to prayer’.

People with the name Arabella are said to be mystical and eccentric, so think carefully before placing this one on your baby! The upside is that although they are said to be solitary people, they are great philosophers and very imaginative.

Perhaps the best, if not the saddest, example of this name comes from Lady Arabella Stuart (1575-1615), 4th in line to the Scottish throne. When a plot was hatched to have her steal away James’ throne, she was not happy and reported it to him. Despite her clearly excellent conscience, she was in and out of James’ favour and when she secretly married Lord Beauchamp - 6th in line to the throne- and attempted to escape and sail away to France, she was put in the Tower of London by James. She passed away without ever seeing her true love again.

There are a few famous Arabellas. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may recognise the name of Harry’s neighbour - Arabella Figg. Whilst ‘ella’ names are popular at the moment, with Isabella, Ella, Bella, Stella and Daniella all ranking high, this lovely medieval name may answer your naming prayers.

2 Alban


Meaning: white

 If you love Scotland, then you could literally name your child after it. This masculine name is extremely rare, coming in at number 9201 last year!

Alban comes from ‘Alba’, the ancient Gaelic name for Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. There are also links with the Roman ‘Albanus’, meaning ‘from Alba’ and even the Latin ‘albus’ meaning ‘white’. The Romans gave various cities around their empire this name, whilst the modern day road signs on the A7 still tell you ‘Failte gu Alba’ - Welcome to Scotland.

Saint Alban is the first ever recorded British martyr, dying in 305 AD after sheltering a fugitive priest in his house. His story goes that when his house was searched, Alban disguised himself as the priest and was consequently arrested and beheaded in his place. Now the patron saint of refugees and torture victims, Albans clearly have a big heart and are remembered on their feast day on 22nd June.

Unlike other names, there are few variations on or equivalents to Alban, but for a feminine version, you might like to look at Aelfwine, Albani, Alvena or Albinia.

1 Shona

Pronounced: SHOW-na

Meaning: in the Grace of God

As well as being a tribe in Zimbabwe, Shona is the female anglicized version of Seonaid. This, in turn, is the Scottish Gaelic form of Jane or Janet. It is of Hebrew and Sanskrit origin, and in Sanskrit means ‘red’.

There are various spellings, with Seona, Sheona and Seonag all being found in Scotland. Interestingly, if you were to pop an A in there and have Shoana, you have a Yiddish name. So, spelling is really important with this one! Other versions include Shine, Sho, Shonaz or the Irish Sheena. If you really like this name but have a boy you may be interested to know that the male version is Shon, a variation of Sean, originally coming from John.

People named Shona, or the English Janet, are excited by change and adventure. Whilst they love to have a family or community around them they do not like to be constrained by rules and conventions. Whilst they are very restless and even rebellious, they are optimistic, energetic and intelligent.

Notable Shonas include Shona McGarty, English actress, and Shona Thorburn, a British-born Canadian basketball player, who now plays for the WNBA.

References: ohbabynames.com, scottish-at-heart.com, behindthename.com, sheknows.com, ancestry.co.uk, babynamespedia.com, wikipedia.org

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