You are here

Bridhde inghean Amhlaigh: name and device

Printer-friendly version

Bridhde would like to register both name and device for her 14th century Scottish persona.

Bridhde sent through the following information about her name:

"My name is a bit more of a conjecture.  There is little to no documentation of female names from the Norse-controlled Scottish isles for my time frame.  For that matter, there's ridiculously little documentation of females from anywhere in Scotland during that time period.  I can't seem to find the site where I found Brìdhde specifically, but as I recall I chose it because it was a very old Gaelic spelling of the Irish celtic goddess Brigid, and I saw somewhere that it had been used, at least in Irish society, as a given name.  

Around the time of my persona's birth (1283) it was only 17 years since the Norse turned over the western Hebridean isles to Scottish control, and there was still a ton of crossover between the Western Isles and Ireland, especially after so many years of joint Viking/Norse domination. The goddess Brigid was spun into St. Bridget and, from what I read, was quite popular in Norse Scotland so I figured it would be relatively safe to assume that an old female forename, given in honor of Brigid, would be about as common on the Isle of Lewis as in the north of Ireland/Isle of Man/etc.  So I ran with it.  
The Amhlaigh in my surname is the old Scottish Gaelic spelling of the male name Aulay (still common in the Hebrides after all these centuries), a derivative of the Norse Olaf.  Mac Amhlaigh is the original Gaelic spelling of my real surname, McColley (Macaulay).  :)  Because the Hebrides operated on a patrynomic surname setup, Amhlaigh is the given name of Bridhde's father, and because she's the daughter not the son, it's inghean instead of mac.  In modern times it would be ingean (or nic as it's more commonly abbreviated these days), but I dug around and the spelling didn't drop the h until a couple of centuries after my time period.  So, that left me with Brìdhde inghean Amhlaigh. 
Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic are quite similar but still have some differences, including how feminine names are altered when used in combo with patrynomic surnames.  So, I made sure double check the vowel/consonant order in my surname and thankfully they didn't prescribe any additional spelling changes to Bridhde to fit the surname.  Unfortunately, I don't have any bookmarked references on the feminine name conjugations either for you to use as evidence.  Alas."
Krossa's article (on the SCA College of Heralds website) constructing 12th century Scottish Gaelic names confirms the use of "ingen" as "daughter of" and allows for the "g" to be written as "gh", but doesn't mention an "ea" spelling. A second article by the same person supplies the spelling of "Inghean" as provided by Bridhde. However, this article points out that Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic names are two distinct groups.
I was able to find the use of "Amhlaidh" in another article by Krossa.
An article on Irish feminine names lists Brigit, but only in use in the 6th century, and only in the instance of the female saint. Brigida shows up in one instance as a 13th century English name. However, we're on the right track according to the "How to Document a Name" article on the College of St Gabriel website.
Given my lack of knowledge around Gaelic names, I consulted the Blazons mailing list for help, which was abundant.
Aryanhwy advised that the name was in principle registerable, but somewhat inauthentic, and supplied the following on the spelling:
"The name in principle is, but the spellings need tweaking.

<Bridhde> is a modern form of the name.  The Old and Middle Irish form is <Brigit>, and the Early Modern Irish form is <Brighid>. The name shows up in 6th C Irish annal records (, but there isn't any evidence that the name was used by Gaels in Ireland at any later date, or by Gaels in Scotland any time during our period.  Either <Brigit> or <Brighid> is, however, registerable, via the saint's name allowance.

<Amlaigh> looks to be a typo for <Amlaíb>, a Old and Middle Irish masculine name which was used from the 9th to 14th C in Ireland ( It is identical in the nominative and the genitive, and the Early Modern Irish form is <Amhlaoibh>.  This is the spelling you'd use with the spelling <inghean>; the earlier form of the word for 'daughter' is <ingen>.

So, either <Brigit ingen Amlaíb> or <Brighid inghean Amhlaoibh> would be registerable Gaelic names, but neither is particularly authentic."
Domhnall na Moicheirghe advised the following specifically on the use of saints' names by the Gaels:
"I try to encourage clients with Gaelic personas away from saint's names. As OCM states, plain Brigit was not used as a name in period Ireland; names like Máel Brigte or Gilla Brigte "devotee/servant of [Saint] Bridget" were used instead, and this pattern is followed predominantly for all the major saints.

Major saints were considered too holy to name your children after directly by the Gaels.

Brigit and other spellings are documentable in period English names, but the English speakers would not use a byname like <inghean Amhlaoibh>.

My own daughter is mundanely Bridget, but her Society name (until she's old enough to demand to change it) is Maol Bhrighde inghean Domhnaill."
I checked with my client, and she would be happy to go with the name Maol Bhrìghde inghean Amhlaoibh, so I will submit her name for registration as that.
There are two other people with the surname "inghean Amhlaoibh", but different first names. Caoilfhionn and Raghnailt Beag but these do not conflict because the first name is different. There are no names registered with either Maol Bhrighde or Bhrighde, so I'm pretty confident this is unique.

Device: Option one: Gules, a thistle and two wolves combatant between three crosses patonce within an orle argent.Option two: Gules, two wolves combatant between three thistles within an orle argent.

Conflict checking against Option One first since this is the preferred device. If there is a significant conflict then I will check Option Two.

Conflict checked against:

Flower - Thistle - One: No possible conflicts.

Beast - Dog - Two - Argent: There are two other devices featuring gules, two wolves combatant argent (here and here) but they do not conflict as there are multiple other points of difference.

Cross - As Charge - Secondary - Argent: Nothing to conflict.

Cross - As Charge - Tertiary: Still no conflicts.

Orle - 1 - Argent: There's only 14 registrations listed with Gules, an Orle Argent, and all are significantly different to this one. No conflict.