Township: Baugh

Map Reference: Baugh 300

Name Type: township

Meaning: This is a simplex Norse name in ON vágr (dative vági, plural vágar) ‘creek, bay ... in place-names Vágr, Vágar’ (CV, 684). Vágr was widely loaned into Gaelic as bàgh; there are three examples of bàgh being used as a generic on Tiree: for example, ScG Bàgh a’ Mhuilinn 'the inlet of the mill' in Milton, and Ceann a' Bhàigh (see below).
By 1541, there had been three changes to the name. Firstly, as it was loaned into Gaelic the initial V- was changed to B- by the process of back-formation (see section Secondly, there was a shift to the vowel, as in the 1541 form Baw: 'In all Scandinavian languages, ON á has been rounded, and is now pronounced /?/, as in English saw. The spelling is å. The shift probably started around 1200.' (Sandnes 2010a, 65) Lastly, the terminal -g changed from a plosive /g/ > fricative /gh/. Today, however, common local usage sounds like the English 'bag', much closer to the original Vágr.
The Norse name Vágr presumably referred to the stream forming the eastern boundary of The Reef. Vágr is likely to have been an important primary Norse settlement: it had a simplex name; one of the better anchorages on the island; three surviving landing place-names (Eibrig, Ìbrig and Dusbrig); and a share of 1,034 acres of machair grazing on The Reef to the west (Cregeen 1964, 8). The Blaeu map of 1654 shows this waterway to be much wider, and therefore more navigable, than it is today. The width of this waterway was a significant barrier to travel between the two ends of the island, confining it at high tides and after heavy rain to a narrow strip along the north coast at Balephetrish (see Got in Gazetteer):
There are small channels in [The Reef], through which the tide of flood comes in, and it sometimes overflows the whole. (Martin 1994 (1695), 294)
When swelled with rain and a high spring tide, being without a bridge, it greatly obstructs travellers. Here there is some danger of the island being cut in half. (Old Statistical Account Parish of Tiry 1794, 399)
The township lost influence as sand deposition westwards along the beach gradually blocked the entrance. The stream, much diminished, is now known as ScG An Fhadhail ‘the ford’ (see below).
This is a relatively uncommon element as a simplex in Scotland. There is an Am Bagh in Harris (SP); Voe and Walls (derived from vágr) are settlements in Shetland; Våg is a common place-name in Norway (NG); while Vága and Vágar are both place-names in the Faroe Islands (KO). ScG bàgh < ON vágr became a very common loan word, as in Càrn a' Bhàigh in Carloway (Cox 2002, 199).

Other Forms: Bayech, 1509 ER xiii, 216
Baw, 1541 ER xvii, 648
Baigh, 1654 Blaeu (Pont)
Baw, 1674 Retours ARG i no. 82
Baw, 1716 MacLean-Bristol, 1998
Baugh, 1768 Turnbull
Baugh, 1794 Tiree Rental, Cregeen 1964, 38
Baugh, 1878 OS 6inch 1st edition
Tràigh Bhàigh, 1878 OS 6inch 1st edition
Am Bàgh, modern Tiree Gaelic usage, with the definite article

Related Places:

Information:Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, (Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005) p94:

The tenants of this farm once got the benefit of seven years’ superintendence of their cattle from a glaistig. There is a place on the farm, still called ‘the Glaistig’s bed’, where she died by falling in the gap of a dyke. She was seldom seen, but was often heard. When driving the horses to pasture she called out, “Get along, get along, thou son of a mare! Betake thee to yonder white bank!” And when the herd-boy was at his dinner she was heard shouting to the cattle, “Horo va ho whish! Did ever any one hear of cattle without a herdsman but these?”

She prepared food for herself by dragging a bunch of eels (of which there is an overabundance in the small lochs on the farm) through the fireplace of a kiln used for preparing corn for the hand-mill. One night, when engaged at this work along with Gocan (i.e ‘a Perky Little Fellow’, her son as is supposed), some one came behind and gave her a rap on the head with a stick. She and her son fled, and as they were going away, Gocan was overheard saying to his mother, “Your old grey pate has been rapped, but see that you have the bunch of eels.”

In appearance this glaistig is said to have been a thin sallow-looking little object, with ringletted yellow hair that reached down to her heels. She had short legs, and in person was not unlike a dwarf.

Local Form:

Languages : Norse