Township: Greenhill

Map Reference: Greenhill 36

Name Type: shore

Meaning: This may be a Gaelic name in ScG sgeir ‘skerry’. For a discussion of a very speculative Gaelic saint’s name Mo-Liba, see Black 2008, 460. This is more likely, however, to be a Norse name:
• The emphasis on the second part of the element Molì suggests the less common generic initial order, which may indicate it is a relatively younger Norse name (Cox 2002b, 67; 2007, 17). The specific, in this case, is likely to be OI melr (plural melar) ‘a kind of wild oats, especially bent- grass Arundo arenaria [= bent or marram grass Ammophila spp.] growing in sandy soil...a sand-hill grown with bent-grass (such hills are called dunes) then, generally, a sand-bank, whether overgrown or bare... frequently in Icelandic local names, Melar, Mela-hverfi’ (CV, 423). Names in Mel- are extremely common in the Norse expansion zone, as in Melness, Tongue, and Melbost, Uig (SP); Meland, Melaaen and Melien among Norwegian farm names (OR); and Melhóll in Iceland (SAM). The second part may be ON hlíð ‘slope’ (Marwick 1947, 61; Jakobsen 1936, 78). ‘The common name element lee reflects ON hlíð ‘slope’ in most cases’ (Sandnes 2010a, 78). There is an Aiths Lee in Fetlar and a Hesta Lee in yell, Shetland (SP), and the ending ‘-li in place-names is common’ (Jakobsen 1936, 78)
• The reverse stress pattern, however, also supports reconstruction as a less common prepositional name. A preposition is a word like under, towards or after that gives detail to a following noun. Prepositional place-names occur in Orkney, as Atween the Dykes, and the Faroe Islands as Tangi á Barmi ‘the point at Barm’. Sgeir Molí could, therefore, be ON sker melli hlíðar ‘skerry between slopes’. In Orkney Howenalidna may be haugrinn á hlíðinni ‘the mound on the slope’, Quinamillyoar < kvína milli á ‘the enclosures between the stream’, and Milahamer milli Hamra ‘between hammer [shaped rocks]’ (see Sandnes 2010a, 336). In Lewis Loch Mille Thòla comes from ON milli hóla ‘between the hills’ (Cox 2009, 18)

Other Forms: Ma Lì - AS

Related Places:


Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic

Informants: Alasdair Sinclair, Greenhill, 10/1993