Fascinating Talk Explores Annan’s Place-Names

A fascinating talk exploring the origins of Annan’s place-names, will be presented by Dr Colin Mackenzie next Tuesday evening, at Annan Old Parish Church Hall.

Dr Mackenzie, who is a primary teacher and passionate place-names researcher, currently shares the intriguing meanings of local place-names and the stories behind them on Twitter (@dgplacenames), and through his meticulously researched blog (https://dgplacenames.wordpress.com/). Behind the scenes, Dr Mackenzie has been busy working on a project to study and catalogue the field-names around Annan.

Kathleen Cronie, who is organising these events on behalf of Annan the History Town, tells us more:

“We’re delighted to be welcoming Dr Colin Mackenzie to Annan, as part of Annan the History Town’s winter talks programme; he is an incredibly engaging speaker, whose enthusiasm for the subject of local place-names positively shines. Having had the pleasure of working with Colin during the Festival of Folklore and listening to his presentations first-hand, I know our guests are in for a real treat! We invite them to bring along any information that could enhance Colin’s extensive database.”


Dr Mackenzie will talk about the languages that were used to name Annan’s landscape and what place-names can tell us about the history of the area. He will also introduce the Field Names of Annan project and how you can get involved. He will explore how place-names record the various peoples who lived in our area and the unique linguistic character of the Solway Basin; what the oldest name in the area is; how understanding place-names let you read the landscape; why new names are just as important as old names; and how to record and preserve local names

  • Event Details – Tuesday 21st February at 7:30pm at Annan Old Parish Church Hall
  • Free Event – Suggested Donation £3


Giving us an insight into Annan’s place-names, Dr Mackenzie said:

“Every place-name records a story. Annan shares its name with a Celtic goddess; the kirk in Barnkirk has nothing to do with churches; Solway tells us how the Vikings navigated. Taken together these stories allow us to piece together history which would otherwise be lost. We can learn who lived here before us, what languages they spoke, and what was important to them by understanding the names they gave to the landscape around us.”
With reference to the River Annan, Dr Mackenzie’s research has uncovered a “long, meandering history that flows in and out of languages”. He tells us that:
“1300 years ago, in northern Italy, an anonymous cleric compiled a list of 5000 places from Ireland through to India. This sprawling collection of names is known as the Ravenna Cosmography, after the city it was written in. In the British section of the text, among a list of rivers, we find the name ANAVA. This is almost certainly an early form of Annan. “

Summing up, Kathleen said:

“We extend our warmest thanks to Colin for supporting our series of talks, and look forward to welcoming him and our guests along to Annan next week. We are proud to be hosting such an exceptional speaker and feel sure the event will be both insightful and inspiring, encouraging others to discover more about their local area, and the people and places that influenced it.”

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