Township: Hynish

Map Reference: Hynish 30

Name Type: shore

Meaning: There is some variability between informants, and between the modern oral tradition and the fieldwork by the OS. This makes a reconstruction less secure. The elevation topped by the Iron Age fort is likely to have been a simplex, Norse coinage from ON Klettr (dative kletti, plural klettar) ‘rock, cliff’ (CV, 342), while the smaller, seaward elevation was known as ON Mjó-klettr ‘the pointed rock’ (see Mòr Chleit below). There are no simplex names in Cleit or Klett in Scotland, but there are five examples of Kletten in Norway (NG) and there are a Klet, Kletta and Klette on OR. Klettur occurs twice as a farm name in Iceland (SAM).
ScG cleit < ON klettr became a common loan word on Tiree, occurring twelve times and usually applied to domed offshore rocks, as in Cleit Ruaig. Cleit is also a common generic along the west coast of Scotland, as in Cleit Buidhe on Islay (SP). Its gender is variable, being most commonly feminine, as in Cleit Dhubh in Kintyre, but sometimes masculine, as in Cleit Buidhe, Islay (SP). ‘Gender anomaly suggests a date from the tenth century, after the loss of the neuter gender’ (Cox 2002b, 115).
It appears that the whole row of elevations was later called Cleit, and the associated valley Lag na’ Cleite. The two principal summits have later been given the contrasting Gaelic modifiers ‘large’ and ‘small’ (and ‘middle’ by one informant).

Other Forms: Chléit Bheag - OS

Cleite Beag - AHMcD

Related Places:

The sea side of the three cleitean - WL.

One of three hills forming the seaward side of Happy Valley, there is some confusion over their naming. The OS (OSNB, 244) places Cleit Mhòr furthest away from the sea; Cleit Bheag in the middle; and Mòr Chleit at the shore. OSNB p244-5 gives the same, with the fort on Cleit Bheag.

Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic

Informants: Willie Lamont, Mannal, 9/1995

Informant 2: OS

Informant 3: Alec Hector MacDonald, Hynish, 11/2015