Botis

Attested:  RC Botis

Where:  Holy Island, next to Arran, at NS051304

Name OriginBotis is usually identified with the Isle of Bute, whose name forms can be traced back only to about 1200.  Bute has possible parallels in Gaelic words for ‘fire’ and ‘penis’ and in a Celtic (or possibly Semitic) word for ‘hut’ (or possibly ‘church’) related to English booth and bothy.  The parallel that best suits the character of Bute is Greek βοτης ‘herdsman’, related to Latin butyrum ‘butter’.  Nevertheless, if the Cosmography’s list of names represents the viewpoint of a sailor in the outer Firth of Clyde, Botis was most likely Holy Island, which is the outer protector of the best anchorage and landing beach in a wide area.  The name Botis and/or Holy Island’s shape are in the same semantic zone as botulus ‘sausage’ or βοτρυς ‘bunch of grapes’, or English or Gaelic words for a maggot.  The way that Holy Island sits in Lamlash Bay does indeed make it look like a maggot beside the hole it just gnawed.

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Last Edited: 12 August 2016