Township: Barrapol,Ceann a’ Bharra

Map Reference: Kenavara 34

Name Type: fort

Meaning: Fort of the foreigners

• ON skarð ‘crevice...frequent in local names Skarð, Skarð-strönd’ (CV, 539; Mowat 1931, 4), ‘gap in the hill ridge’ (see Cottascarth, Sandnes 2010a, 105). ‘Intervocalically, ON -ð- is replaced by hiatus, for example in ScG fadhail’ (Cox 2007b, 68). This is topographically very appropriate
• ON skarfr ‘cormorant’. Skarvbergvika is a common name in Norway (NG). ‘Scaraber, a frequent shore name in Orkney, indicating a spot where skarfs (cormorants or shags) are wont to sit: ON skarfa berg’ (Marwick 1947, 68). The Blaeu map of 1654 records Scarinish as Sckareness, having already lost the medial /f/. An important hill name, however, is more likely to be named after a spectacular and strategically important fortification, nowadays known as ScG Dùn nan Gall ‘fort of the foreigners’, rather than one of a number of bird-covered rocks at the shore
• The yorkshire town name Scarborough is Danish and is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga. It may derive from the male Old Norse personal name Skarði, a byname derived from skarð ‘gap in a hill ridge’ suggesting a hare lip
The generic is likely to be ON borg ‘fort’. The two forms Skarbarigh and Bin Sckarbarig do not agree on the nature of the terminal -g, which is fricative in the first and plosive in the second. The first supports ON berg ‘rock’ or ON borg ‘fort’; the second form suggests ON bryggja ‘landing place’. However, there is already a name in -bryggja nearby (See Borabrig in Gazetteer).
In 1329 the Scottish king made a grant of the ‘Castle of Scarburgh’, which has never been identified (MacLean-Bristol 1995, 13). The ruined Iron Age fort of Dùn nan Gall is in a suitably strategic location, but there is no evidence it was ever used as a feudal thirteenth-century castle.
There is a Scarrabus on Islay (Macniven 2015, 231); a Skardan in Lochalsh, and Scord is a common element in Shetland (SP); names in Skardberg are common in Norway; and Skarðaborg is a farm name in Iceland (SAM). The summit is today known simply as ScG Am Mullach Mòr ‘the big summit’.

Other Forms: Skarbarigh - The map MVLA INSVLA in the Atlas of Scotland, Atlas Novus, by Joan Blaeu, 1654. These maps were largely based on work by Timothy Pont who mapped Scotland between 1583 and 1596. NLS, 123.

Related Places: Donegal in Ireland comes from the same root and relates to a Viking fortification as named by a Gaelic speaking population. There is another Dun nan Gall at Loch Tuath, Mull at an Iron Age broch site - JH.


Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic

Informants: OS

Informant 2: multiple

Informant 3: Niall M Brownlie, Bailtean is Ath Ghairmean, Argyll Publishing, 1995, p154