See the Home Page for details of what this site is all about.
The spelling of Gaelic place names throughout history has varied, making difficult to derive place names purely from spelling. Throughout Assynt there is an influence of Norse words which can make deriving and spelling place names even more difficult. A good example of this is in the name Suilven, which has complex mixed origins from the Norse word “sula” meaning pillar and the Gaelic word “beinn” meaning mountain.
The name Assynt also doesn’t have such a straight forward derivation. The earliest recorded written form is Asseynkt from 1343. The Statistical Account of 1791 has the local minister claiming that the name derives from “As agus int” from Gaelic meaning “in and out”, saying this is in keeping with surface of the land with its hills and lochs. Another possible derivation is from the Viking word, “assynt” meaning “seen from afar”, as the very distinctive mountain of Assynt would be from the sea. Another theory is that a follower of St Columba called Assain could have left his name here with the Celts before the Vikings came to this area. So which one do you think is most likely?
And finally, some folklore from the Island of Lewis, recorded by Tobair an Dualchais in 1972 (record 68812), claims that:
The second son of Macleod of Lewis was given the land now called Assynt. His younger brother wanted it and came ashore at Lochinver with army. He met his brother's army at Blàr na Fir Mhòir. The elder brother was killed, and the younger won the estate and called it "Às aont" [without consent].