Township: Balephetrish

Map Reference: Balephetrish 22

Name Type: sliabh

Meaning: Applies to a piece of rough pasture ground where formerly stood some houses, OSNB (1874, 58)
There are two Norse promontory names close to each other: Circnis and Crisnis. These may refer to the features called today ScG Rubha Saltaig ‘the promontory of Saltaig’ and ScG Rubh’ an Fhaing ‘the promontory of the cattle enclosure’.
The ecclesiastical names Cladh Chircnis (+ ScG cladh ‘graveyard’), and Cill Fhinnein (see Gazetteer) are nearby, and this may, or may not, be a pre-Norse Christian site. It is often assumed that headland names were early navigation tools for the Norse and the name Kirkjunes may imply a pre-Norse church here. See Crisnis

All promontory names in Ard 'promontory' were collected by the Ordnance Survey in the masculine form Àrd, rather than the feminine Àirde: Ard Mòr (OS/1/2/34/84/39); Ard Beag (OS/1/2/34/84/45); An t-Ard (OS/1/2/34/84/96); Cist an Àird Mhòir (OS/1/2/34/84/205). This may be because of the bias of the main informant, Rev John Gregorson Campbell. This was also common in Argyll generally - e.g. Rudh' an Aird Fhada on Mull (OS/1/2/21/13) - although feminine forms are also common - Rudha na h-Airde Moire on Islay (OS/1/2/34/84). Names collected more recently on Tiree do sometimes have a feminine form. See Markús 2012, 519 and 522

Other Forms: Ardkirknish, Reeves 1854, 233-244, quoting Langland’s map
Ard Chircnis, 1878 OS 6inch 1st edition

Related Places: See Cladh Aird Chircnis and Cnoc nan Torraidhean.

Information:“East of Balephetrish hill is a gentle slope called Circnis and Ardcircnis...monastery founded by Findchan at Artchain which Adamnan mentions...in 565 AD.” Handbook to the Islands of Coll and Tiree, Hector MacDougall and Rev. Hector Cameron, Archibald Sinclair, p84.

There used to be a cemetery at Àird Chircnis. There was a murder there once. A man was coming home late after visiting a smithy. He had a coulter [a blade that cut into the soli ahead of the plough] and plough shoe in a sack over his shoulder. Another man thought he would play a trick on him and hide behind the cemetery wall to frighten him. When he jumped out on him the first man was so frightened that he pulled out the coulter and split his skull. The rocks there have been stained red ever since. Àird Chircnis was ploughed in the First World War for the war effort. Angus MacLean, Scarinish, 5/2009


The higher, green area of ground NE of the bend in the Balphetrish road. The site of an old burial ground - AMcL.

Local Form:

Languages : Norse, Gaelic

Informants: OS

Informant 2: Angus MacLean, Scarinish, 1/1994

Informant 3: W. Reeves, Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 2, 1854, p233-244, quoting Langlands' map.