Origins of Blantyre

  1. The Rev Stevenson (1790) suggested it was a combination of Gaelic words meaning ‘A warm retreat’.
  2. The Rev Wright (1885) also claimed it was Gaelic, but that it meant ‘Field of the Holymen’.
  3. A sixth Century Missionary Monk named Blaan / Blane has also been suggested as a source. A Blaan / Blane – Tir meaning “Land of Blane”.
  4. Another theory suggests that it is of Welsh origin, meaning protruding, prominent or cleared land.
  5. A more recent theory, put forward by the late, local historian Neil Gordon, is that the town was named by the Welsh Bretons who lived in the High Blantyre and Calderside districts during and after Roman occupation. This Welsh language was still being spoken in ‘sheltered ares’ of Strathclyde at the time of the Reformation in the 16th Century. He suggests that the name contains two Welsh words – LLan meaning consecrated and TYR meaning Ground/Land. There was no ‘E’ in the old spelling of Blantyre, as can be seen on the old 16th Century Communion cups belonging to High Blantyre Old Parish Church.

Whatever the source, we do know that the town has existed under its name for the past 800 years, at least as it is mentioned in documents from the reign of Alexander II (1224-1249).

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