Blantyre Name Meaning

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, ScotlandGlasgow Road South

Meaning of the name Blantyre…

When I was young I was told the story of Mary Queen of Scots visit to Bothwell Castle and the day that she and the Earl of Bothwell went riding in the country, when Mary’s horse, Blanche, got tired, so they stopped for a rest. And so, the place where Blanche got tired became known as Blantyre…   Not true of course, but a nice romantic story for youngsters…

Blantyre NameIt is assumed that Blantyre was an ancient British settlement and was built around the Old Blantyre Kirk Yard, which may have been a druid religious circle. The Kirk Yard is a large man-made eight foot high mound of earth and, if it was a druid circle, it would have been the centre of the settlement’s religious activities. The old sixteenth century communion cups belonging to the Old Parish Church have no letter E in the spelling of BLANTYRE.

It would suggest that the old spelling Blantyr is a gaelic corruption of LLANTYR. Llantyr contains two Welsh words – LLAN meaning ‘consecrated’ and TYR meaning ‘ground/land’, the consecrated/church ground being the Old Kirk Yard at High Blantyre Cross.

In the 1791 Old Statistical Account of Scotland, the Rev. Henry Stevenson believed it had its origins in the Gaelic “Bla’-an-tir” meaning “a warm retreat”. Later in the New Statistical Account of Scotland of 1835 the Rev James Anderson agreed with him. However the Rev. Stewart Wright explained in “The Annals of Blantyre” that it had its origins in two Gaelic words meaning “the field of the holy men”.
Finally, an alternative explanation might be found in the 1952 Third Statistical Account of Scotland, wherein the Rev. A. Mackenzie put forward the idea that since Blantyre had its birth as a religious settlement, it would be more likely it had taken its name from an early Christian missionary to the area, St Blane. The Rev. Mckenzie believed it more likely that Blantyre had originated from “Blan-tyr” meaning “land of (St.) Blane”.

The Priory from Bothwell CastleThe earliest written record of the name Blantyre was in 1275 where the Priory was included in a list of Scottish ecclesiastical establishments which were taxed by Pope Clement IV to raise money to finance yet another crusade against the Saracens. This document was known as Bagimond’s Roll, named after the Pope’s emissary, Baiamund De Vicci, who was sent to collect the hated tax.

The Priory was almost certainly mentioned in a previous list issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1254 to finance an earlier crusade. Most of the early priors are recorded as having attended Scottish parliaments and being involved in many important incidents in Scottish history. Blantyre Priory stood on Blantyr Craig, the high cliff directly opposite Bothwell Castle, and was founded between 1238 and 1249.

The Priory was a cell of the Augustinian Canon of Jedburgh Abbey who also used it over the years as a retreat from the wars between England and Scotland. The last Roman Catholic Prior was William Chirnside who conformed to the new religion and became the first Protestant minister in Blantyre.

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Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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