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Vane Law - early forms or etymology?
February 13, 2013
6:11 pm
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
February 13, 2013
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Dear Forum Members:

Do you have early forms (spellings) for the Vane Law hill at Drumelzier in Scottish Borders? I've been trying to work on an etymology for Vane. The fact that the 12th century Life of St. Kentigern puts the 'Green' Chapel here has me wondering if Vane could be for Gaelic uaine, 'green'. Finglen (white glen) is immediately west of Vane Law. However, I suppose Gaelic fan, 'slope', is possible, and there may be other candidates I'm unfamiliar with. Lacking early forms, I can do little else at the moment.

Thank you and best wishes,

Daniel Hunt

February 14, 2013
11:25 am
Forum Posts: 11
Member Since:
October 2, 2012
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Dear Daniel,

Sorry I've drawn a blank as regards early forms. I'll keep my eyes peeled, although I suspect there may not be any: May Williamson's 1942 PhD thesis "The Non-Celtic Place-Names of the Scottish Border Counties" (available at lists about 50 Law names with early spellings, and then mentions (p. 129) that there were over 120 others for which she couldn't find any early forms. I wonder if Vane Law was one of those.

Peter Drummond's book "Scottish Hill Names" (Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 2007), p. 158, refers to several occurrences of Ben Vane elsewhere in Scotland, from Gaelic mheadhoin 'middle' or 'central'. Perhaps that might be a further possibility? I expect you know that Gaelic uaine 'bright green' is less common in Scottish hill names than Gaelic glas 'grey green': neither of course corresponds exactly to English green. I'd love Vane Law to be the Green Chapel, though! Definitely a theory worth pursuing.

By the way, Drummond also mentions an alternative suggestion that Benvane is from Gaelic bhan 'white'!

Best wishes,


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