Township: Moss

Map Reference: Moss 1

Name Type: sliabh

Meaning: Gammeltoft suggests ON birki ‘birch’ (in compounds birki-viðr ‘birch wood’ – CV, 63), with either ON ból ‘farm’ or ON pollr ‘pool’ (Gammeltoft 2001, 302). The latter is more likely as this was very wet ground before drainage in the nineteenth century and probably refers to one of two nearby lochs – Loch Staineal (see Staineal below) or ScG Loch a’ Chlàir ‘the loch of the board’.
It is just possible that there were still some remnant stands of trees on Tiree at the time of Viking settlement. There was certainly birch pollen found in samples taken during the excavation of Dùn Mòr Bhalla, an Iron Age broch inhabited until around ad 160, seven hundred years before the arrival of the Norse. ‘The fact that the Dun Mor Vaul samples contain considerably more birch than pine perhaps suggests that the former may represent plants growing on Tiree at the time of deposition’ (MacKie 1974, 206). Since trees were such a valuable resource and usually over-exploited, this could have been an early Norse name.
This may, however, be a transfer name from heavily wooded Norway. Birka- occurs four times as an element in Shetland (SP). Names in Birke- are quite common in Norway (NG and OR); names in Birki- are also common in Iceland, including seven examples of Birkihlið and a Birkiból (SAM).

Other Forms: Cnoc Bhirceapol - ONB, p91, with Cnoc Bhirk-a-poll crossed out.

Cnoc Bhirceapol, common local useage

Related Places:


Local Form:

Languages : Norse, Gaelic

Informants: OS