Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,31  Σκητις (or Οκητις);  Scetis at position 288 in the Ravenna Cosmography
  Scia insula in the Life of St. Columba by Adomnan, written about AD 700 describing events in about AD 500.

WhereColonsay-plus-Oronsay, two islands at high tide, just one at low tide.  Not Skye!

Name Origin:  PIE *skei- ‘to cut’ had descendants in many languages including Greek σχίζω, Latin scindo ‘to split’, Irish sciacute;athshield, wing’, and Germanic words such as English sheath, shed, ski, etc or Old Frisian sketha ‘to separate’.  Conceivably the final -is might mean ‘island’.

Notes:  It has long been assumed that Skye preserves a memory of both name and location from Roman times.  However: (a) there are linguistic difficulties with this thinking; (b) in general, Gaelic names for western islands do not preserve Roman names except reinterpreted as if later inhabitants knew nothing about the Roman period in Scotland; and (c) Skye is too far north for the names listed in that part of the Cosmography or for Columba's zone of operations around Iona.  Skye's ancient name was possibly Magantia.

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Last edited 14 April 2020     To main Menu