Altarstanes ANR C NT651997 1 364 0m
Altarstans 1710 Sibbald 1803, 99
Hotter Stones 1828 SGF
Altarstones 1855 OS 6 inch 1st edn [‘landing place’]
? Sc altar + Sc stane
‘Stones which look like altars?’. This is Eggeling’s interpretation: ‘Altarstanes [the name of] the landing on the west side of the island, also known as West Landing or The Stand. Named after the flat-topped rocks in the vicinity’ (1985, 244). However, the 1828 form would appear to contain Sc hotter, a verb which refers to various kinds of movement including ‘to move in an uneven jerky manner’, ‘to totter’, and (perhaps most usefully in the context of sea-girt rocks) ‘to seethe, bubble, boil steadily’ (CSD). It may be that *Hotterstanes was the older name which then became re-interpreted in the light of the well-known religious traditions of the Isle of May.
OS Name Book says of Altarstones, ‘This is the only and proper landing place on the west side of the island ... Origin of the name not known’ (1, 5).
This place-name appeared in printed volume 3