Scandinavian Influence

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Scandinavian Influence on Gaelic Language and Surnames in Scotland The eighth to twelfth century in medieval Scotland saw much pillage and plunder by the invading Norsemen. These invasions, while bloody and terrible, set forth the course of history that would lead to the integration of Scandinavian influence within the Gaelic community. This integration of culture was prominent in many Gaelic speaking areas, including Ireland, England, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. This essay will specifically discuss the cultural influence that the Norse had on Scotland, particularly in the Western Isles that formed the Kingdom of Man and the west coast. Scandinavian influence was particularly interesting and affluent in the areas of the Hebrides and more…show more content…
In the Isle of Lewis and Harris, “the names of rivers, sea-lochs, capes, lake, banks and ridges, dales, homestead, forts, beaches, waterfalls, landing places, shieling, creeks and islets were proven to be re-cast by Norse names” (Henderson 18-19). These two islands were heavily integrated with Norse men at the time, so Scandinavian influence on place names would be common. This integration would later be integrated through marriage between the Norse and the Gaelic speaking people of Scotland, leading to mixtures of both languages and perhaps even bilingualism. The Norse influence of course did not happen overnight, or even within the next few decade. Henderson attributes this to the fact that the Gaelic influence “was so mighty that had the Gaelic language not been one of the most vigorous forms of speech it must have died out: but the Gaelic people at the time were martial and powerful to an extent that afterwards made the perfervid genius of the scots proverbial in Europe.” (Henderson 2). An interesting area that this Gaelic influence is seen is in the area of the Hebrides, where the Norse language was superseded by the Gaelic Language. It is also interesting to note that while this area, the Hebrides, was known as Innse Gall in Gaelic, or island of the foreigners. This area, while considered full of foreign people to some, was probably one of the most prominently spoken Gaelic areas at the time, as well as now. Stewart also notes that while the Hebrides were occupied by the Norse at the time, the area chose to remain Scottish Gaelic speaking, leading to a time of bilingualism that may have lasted for decades (Stewart 396). There is not clear evidence to how or why this area retained its Scottish Gaelic language, but the island of the Hebrides is not the only location to do so. The other locations that superseded the Norse

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