7 Scottish place names derived from foreign shores

There are thousands of place names of Caledonian origin to be found around the globe, each of them serving as a potent reminder of the countless Scots who have left these shores in search for a better life over the centuries.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 7:00 am
California village, Falkirk.
California village, Falkirk.

Peep through the opposite end of the looking glass, however, and we find that examples of foreign place names here in Scotland are thin on the ground.

But that’s not to say there are no examples to be found. In fact, there are more than half a dozen Scottish town and village names that boast an exotic cousin.

Setting off by car from California at 11am and arriving in Moscow by noon, we take a tour around 7 Scottish place names derived from foreign shores.

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Responsible for many a double take over the decades, the name of this little East Ayrshire hamlet is thought to have been amended from its original "Moss-hall" in 1812 to mark Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. In a further nod to its infinitely larger Russian brother, the burn that runs through the settlement has been dubbed the Volga.

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California knows how to party, though whether the famous lyric can be readily applied to this quiet village near Falkirk is up for debate. The true origins of the name are unclear, though some have suggested it dates from the 1840s when the region experienced a coal boom at the same time as the Californian gold rush in the US.
If Abba did sleepy Perthshire hamlets.. Waterloo was named in the wake of the famous battle fought south of Brussels in 1815, some say in tribute to the fallen local soldiers who never came home.
Nicknamed Porty by the locals, the exotic sounding beach district in Edinburgh, formerly an independent burgh, was named after a cottage owned by seaman George Hamilton. It's recorded that Hamilton served under Admiral Edward Vernon during the capture of Porto Bello, Panama, in 1739.
Next door to Costa del Porty is Joppa and this too can trace its origins across thousands of miles of land and sea. Being of biblical origin, the name Joppa is said to have been adapted from the port of Jaffa in Israel in the 18th century.
Today it's a densely-populated Glasgow suburb and the last train stop for football fans disembarking for Hampden, but Mount Florida can trace its name back to the early 19th century and a villa called Mount Florida House, which was owned by a family who came from Florida USA.
The Ayrshire village of Patna was founded in 1802 by estate owner William Fullarton, whose father had been employed by the British East India Company. Fullarton named the new village after the ancient city of Patna in Bihar province, India, where he was born.