Township: Hough

Map Reference: Hough 300

Name Type: township

Meaning: Hough | Township name. The area contains three pre-historic stone circles and several Bronze Age burial mounds. The township of Hough (as it is written in English today) has by far the greatest number of Norse names on the island. Medieval settlement was to the west of the hill, but was abandoned soon after 1815 following a devastating sand blow. The land was then run as a farm tenanted by the island factor with one manager. When the township was re-settled in the 1920s new crofts were made on the east side of the hill. 'Hogh Hill [has the tabu name] A’ Bheinn Bheàrnach no Sgoilte (the Notched or Cloven Hill)' (Black 2008, 131).

This is a simplex Norse name in ON haugr (dative haugi, plural haugar) ‘burial mound or hill'. This word has a fricative final /g/, which was still in evidence in the nineteenth century (Hoch in Campbell 1895, 31); all that is now left among older islanders is the final aspiration [o:?] (see Glossary). The loss of a post-vocalic -g is also common in Orkney (Sandnes 2010a, 298).
The name here is most likely to refer to the hill itself, a significant landmark in a flat landscape: '[In Shetland] ON haugr denotes a height or hill, not so big as fjall but usually above the size of hóll.' (Jakobsen 1897, 75) It is possible, however, that the referents may be the three stone circles and the complex of prehistoric burial mounds to the east of the hill: 'In ON, haugr is often applied to a thrown-up monumental mound, a burial mound.' (Jakobsen 1897, 75)
There is a Hogh on Coll (1881 OS 6 inch first edition); How, Howe and Howar are common in Orkney and Hoga occurs four times in Shetland (SP); Hauge is a common place-name in Norway (NG) and is recorded thirty eight times as a farm name in OR; Haugur/Haugar occur three times as a farm name in Iceland (SAM).

Other Forms: How - Inhabitants of the Inner Isles 1716, Scottish Record Society 21, ed . Nicholas MacLean-Bristol, 1998.

Hough - Tiree Rental 1747.

Hough - The Turnbull Map of Tiree 1768 and accompanying survey text.

Tough - Island Mull with Islands Tiri and Coll, M MacKenzie, 1775.

Hough - List of Inhabitants of Tiree 1776

Hough - Typed List of Inhabitants of Tyree and their Age in September 1779.
Taken from an unknown publication, 1998.201.1

Related Places:

Information:Broken up into crofts 1914 - SSS Index file C.

It was one of the estate farms until it was broken into crofts in 1912...Quite a number of yeras ago, before Hough farm was divided into crofts, the famous Tiree seer John MacLean, who at the time was the farm overseer, told Hugh MacDiarmid the factor that the farm was destined to be broken up. One day when the factor was fault-finding concerning the managemant of his favourite farm, MacLean said to him, "Come with me and I will show you where the croft boundaries will be." Bailtean is Ath-Ghairmean, Townships and Echoes by Niall M Brownlie, Argyll Publishing, 1995, p50-52.

1. The famous seer John MacLean (Iain 'ic Eachainn Bhàin) was born in a house on the east side of Ùtraid Ruaig, just past Charlie Lamont's house, and he worked as a farm manager for Fear Hògh. He foresaw the building of Taigh an Fhearainn. He was their mother's grandfather - Flora and Mary MacArthur (Floraidh agus Mairi Alasdair), Sandaig, 5/1995 and 2/1997.

2. Iain mac Eachainn Bhàin told her father that there would be blood in the skies in the young man's time. He fortold to the factor that Heylipol and Hough farms would be broken up. He prophesied that he wouldn't die in bed but "in the wilderness." At the end of his life his son was sleeping with him but the old man got up and went outside and died. There are two prophesies that have not come true yet - there will be sheep grazing on the back of Ben Hough with noone to look after them, and a liner will sink off Tiree and passengers will come ashore in their dinner jackets. Joanne and Neil Brownlie, Barrapol 2/1997 and 5/1999.

3. He prophesied "Fasaidh daoine cho lag, gabhaidh triùir aca bualan a' tarrraing." [people will get so weak it will take three of them to pull out a ragwort plant.] Lachie MacLean, Kilmoluaig, 4/1995

Local Form:

Languages : Norse

Informants: OS