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Title: A question for Gaelic speakers
Posted by: Rob Livingston
Date: 13 May 2005

"Sitdh" is probably a corruption of "suide", pronounced, "see".  In other words, the "tdh" is silent.  "Suide" is a Gaelic word meaning "seat" or "fairy mound".  MacLea (1743) incorrectly translates "leaven" as Gaelic "leigenn" meaning "reader" (of the gospels).  But it much more likely derived from "lemann", meaning "elm tree" or "linden tree".  So "Leavensitdh" could possibly translate as "Elm Tree Fairy Mound" - a fairy mound with Elm trees growing on it. Fairy Mounds and Fairy Circles were magical places believed to be portals to an "other-world" inhabited by fairies.

This might be a purely localized place name, or it could be part of a collection of place names associated with an ancient region known to the Greeks in the second century as "Sinus Lemannonius" (Lemannonius Bay).  Ptolemy described the bay as being situated between the River Clyde and the peninsula of Kintyre. Vestiges of this old name appear to survive on the Isle of Arran (Levencorrach, Acheleffan, and Torryleven), on the peninsula of Kintyre (Lephinmore, Lephincorrach, Lephincorrach Burn), and on Loch Fyne (Lephinmore, Lephinbeg, Lephinchapel, Lephinkill, and Leavinsaig).

Why take an interest in these place names?  Ignoring the often-cited etymology of the surname "Livingston" as being derived from an 11th Century Anglo-Saxon named "Leofing", it is important to seriously consider the possibility that this man and his name were Scottish in origin, not Anglo-Saxon.  There was after all, a 7th Century nobleman from Scotland known by the name "Livinus", said to have married an Irish princess.  Ordained by St. Augustine of Canterbury, he evangelized and was martyred in Belgium in 650 AD. 

Another facet to the place name element "leven" is that its origin may not be Gaelic, but rather ancient "Britonic" - something similar to modern Welsh or Cornish.  The reason I suggest this is because "lin" and "lynn" are frequently substituted for "leven".  For example, in Cowal there is Lindsaig (modern) vs. Leavensaig (1743), Lephinmore (modern) vs. Lynsaymore (1309), Lephinbeg (modern) vs. Lynsaybeg (1325); in Northumbria there is the Lynn River (modern) vs. Levin Fluvius (1654), Levington (modern) vs. Lentune (1086).  Less convincing is Loch Leven vs. Loch Lyon found in both Argyllshire and Perthshire.

The Welsh word for 'elm-tree' is "lwyf", pronounced 'loo-EEV'.  But it has a secondary definition, that being 'an English Lime-tree', known to most of us as a Linden Tree.  The Norse word for Linden Tree is "lind".  The modern Gaelic word for Linden Tree is "crann teile", but that is borrowed from the Latin botanical name "Tilia".  There was no ancient Irish name because there were no Linden trees native to Ireland.  However, there is a 15th Century Irish reference to "crand leimh" (= elm), which corresponds to the Tilia or Linden tree.

Given that Leven/Levin/Lephin/Lin/Lind/Lynn may all be ancient Britonic references to where Linden trees grew, it's worth taking a second look at the Village of Livingston in West Lothian, where the surname Livingston is supposed to have originated. Adjacent to Livingston is "Linn Water" (aka Line Water), "Linhouse", and "Linn Manor".  This is eerily similar to "West Linton" which lies on the "Lyne River" of Northumbria (aka Line River), which in olden times was called the "Leven River".  It really calls into question the stories of an Anglo-Saxon named "Leofing" giving his name to the town.  Isn't it possible that this man took his name from his lands instead?

** This Thread has ended - Please do NOT attempt to resurrect it! **

Replies

Title:Date:Posted By:
A question for Gaelic speakers12 May 2005Andrew Lancaster
   A question for Gaelic speakers13 May 2005Rob Livingston
      A question for Gaelic speakers13 May 2005Andrew Lancaster
         A question for Gaelic speakers17 May 2005Rob Livingston
            A question for Gaelic speakers18 May 2005Andrew Lancaster
               A question for Gaelic speakers08 June 2005Andrew Lancaster
                  A question for Gaelic speakers09 June 2005Rob Livingston
                     A question for Gaelic speakers10 June 2005Andrew Lancaster
   A question for Gaelic speakers10 June 2005Donald Livingstone Clink
      A question for Gaelic speakers10 June 2005Andrew Lancaster
         A question for Gaelic speakers10 June 2005Donald Livingstone Clink
            A question for Gaelic speakers11 June 2005Andrew Lancaster
   A question for Gaelic speakers12 June 2005Donald Livingstone Clink
      A question for Gaelic speakers12 June 2005Andrew Lancaster
         A question for Gaelic speakers13 June 2005Donald Livingstone Clink
            A question for Gaelic speakers13 June 2005Andrew Lancaster
               A question for Gaelic speakers13 June 2005Donald Livingstone Clink
                  Domhull Mollach 16 June 2005Young Bachuil
                     Domhull Mollach 09 December 2007Kyle MacLea
                     Domhull Mollach 14 March 2007Laura Livingston
                        Domhull Mollach 14 March 2007Young Bachuil

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