Quick Guide


There are various ways in which this database can be explored:

In the course of all these procedures you will be presented with maps and lists of the places shown, facilitating further navigation through the data.

Remember that the data is complex, and much of our evidence is insecure. There is frequently some doubt as to which saint is commemorated at a particular place, or even whether a saint is present at all. Sometimes there is doubt as to where exactly a place is. The varying degrees of certainty are represented on the maps by different coloured dots.

Quick search

If you simply wish to find out where a particular saint occurs in a Scottish place-name, or you are looking for information about a specific place-name, then a quick search is a good place to start. This can be found on the Home page.

Quick search by Place

Our data is structured so that the word or words which are used to describe a place are stored in a different table from the actual name of that place; there is often more than one name associated with a single place. For example. St Fillan's Church in Houston has been known both as Killellan and as St Fillan's Church. In addition there are various different spellings of the names – Killellan, Kilhelan, Kylhelan, for example. An examination of the different forms that a name has taken over time helps to determine the name's original meaning. For more on this see methodology: the structure of the database: places and names.

The quick search looks into a field in the place table; this consists of the name by which a place can most easily be identified, including (usually) the parish in which the place is located. From here you can navigate to the page telling you some of the names used for this place over time.

If you are unsure of the exact details of your target, insert just a few letters; this will produce a range of options. In the list of possible places, you will see symbols such as ~ . To understand the conventions we have used please see methodology: conventions for data entry: place.

Note that in many cases the same name, or the same name with an affix, has been used for various places. For example the name Kilmartin has been applied to a parish, a church and a settlement; Kilmartin Burn, Kilmartin Quarry and others also occur. The saint in the name Kilmartin is St Martin but he will not be linked in the database with all these places, only with the church. For more on this see methodology: the structure of the database: places, names and saints. The place to which a saint is attached in this database is indicated by an Has saint

If you have come across a place-name in a document (or gravestone, or wherever) and you have no idea to which place it belongs (it might be a garbled form – Kylhelan, for instance) you will not necessarily find it through a quick search on Place. You could try guessing at more standardised spellings, but if this does not produce any results you will have to do a free-text search on place-name; this will allow you to search in the name field of the place-name table. To do this click on the Search tab on the Home page, or click here.

A click on your chosen place will take you to Place and Name.

Quick search by Saint

We have followed certain conventions for choosing the main form of a saint's name: see methodology: conventions for data entry: saints. Other versions of a saint's name are also recorded in the database, and these will automatically be searched too.

Type in the name of the saint you seek. This will produce a list of all saints holding that name. The list will also include at least one entry consisting of a saint name or names followed by '(ns)'. This stands for 'non-specific' and is a means by which a search can be made not for a specific saint such as Brendan m. Findloga (the Navigator), but for a range of saints whose names are the same or similar or related in some way. Each entry in the list will consist of the main form of the saint's name and, underneath, other names by which the saint has been known.

A search for 'Brendan' will produce the following list:

The first one in the list – Bairrfind m. Muiredaig – is present because the word 'Brendan' appears in his title.

The non-specific saint (in this case Brénainn (ns)) is associated with every place-name which might contain the name of a saint called Brénainn (see methodology: the structure of the database: saints). If there is any evidence which allows us to be more specific, another saint might be associated with a place-name too. For example Suidhe Bhreanain, Kilninver, is associated with Brénainn (ns), as one would expect. But in addition it is associated with Brénainn m. Findloga of Cluain Ferta because there is external evidence to suggest that this is probably the saint commemorated here.

When the list of saints appears choose a particular saint, such as Brénainn m. Findloga of Cluain Ferta. Or, for the widest spread of possible commemorations, choose the non-specific saint, in this case Brénainn (ns).

This will open the Saint page.


You can browse places or saints. In the case of places, remember that the list does not include the various forms of name a place has had over time, only the current name, or the name of the place most commonly used, or – in the case of an obsolete name – the most transparent form of the name.

When browsing saints remember that the list includes both specific and non-specific saints. See methodology: the structure of the database: saints.

Advanced search

This enables you to set the criteria for searching in one or more categories. You might like to search for a particular saint in a particular parish or county, for example.

Place-names have been linked with saints, but they have not yet been fully analysed. Thus there are several parts of the advanced search which do not work.

Saint criteria

Choose the saint which you are interested in from the drop-down list. Remember that if you are seeking a non-specific saint (eg any saint called Ciarán, rather than only Ciarán m. Beodáin of Clonmacnoise) choose one of the saints with (ns) after the name: Ciarán (ns). If you want to find out to which non-specific category any particular saint has been assigned, click on the Reference table for specific and non-specific saints.

The search on category will enable you to seek saints of broad ethnic or national background – British, Gaelic or Anglo-Saxon saints for example. If the saint is Gaelic, further refinement will be possible, with searches available on groupings such as Laigin or Uí Néill. The data for this is not yet complete.

The following three sections - Personal name criteria, Element criteria and Language criterion – will be ready as soon as the place-name analysis is complete.

Location criteria

Searches by Diocese and County are straight-forward, but Parish searches need attention. All places in the database have been assigned to one of the parishes which existed in 1975. Assignation to non-extant parishes has not always been done, however, as precise boundaries of former parishes are not always clear. A search for all places in Kilmartin – a 1975 parish – will produce a full record of all the places within that territory. A search for places in the former parish of Baro, however, will not produce a full record.

Map search

The map you are first presented with will not show any commemorations. These will only show up as you zoom in. Clicking on a dot on the map will take you to Place and Name.