AN 3800-acre estate recently bought by Woodland Trust Scotland has received a new Gaelic name.

The organisation, which has combined Ben Shieldaig and Couldoran Estates in the West Highlands, has christened the land as Gleann Shildeag. The area covers the villages of Kishorn and Shieldaig.

It was decided that a Gaelic name would be used, rather than English, following consultation with local communities.

“The community were clear that the Gaelic form should be used,” said estate manager Malcolm Turner.

“Gaelic has been, and remains, a crucial part of the culture of the north-west Highlands with its words embedded throughout the landscape,” he went on.

The National:

“And the language is experiencing a renaissance as more children are learning it in school than ever before.”

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Roddy Maclean, a Gaelic-speaking environmental consultant whose roots are in nearby Applecross said there is much to be learned about Scotland’s natural landscape from the language.

“Some [names] are descriptive,” he said. “The type of land or what grows on it – while others focus on how the land was used, whether for digging peats or as a shieling site etc.

“A placename that has a tree in it (feàrna/alder, beithe/birch, caorann/rowan, darach/oak, etc) may not have those trees growing there now but it tells you that they once grew there, that the conditions may be favourable. Handy if you’re planning to create or restore native woodland.

“Gaelic is the underlying language of the land because nature has always been a big part of Gaelic culture. We have a rich vocabulary coming from nature because the language is attuned to the environment in which it came to maturity. Gaelic has more than 110 words for mountain, hill or elevated places.”

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Over the next three decades, Woodland Trust Scotland hopes to restore and expand woods throughout the area, and improve public access.

The trust purchased Ben Shieldaig in 2019 for £1.6 million, with help from its supporters and People’s Postcode Lottery players. Two years later, the neighbouring Couldoran Estate was bought for £3.5m through similar means.