Inchkeith

Inchkeith KGH CoO NT293828 1 395 59m

ad insulam Ked c.1200 Macquarrie 1993, 140 [Vita Sancti Servani]
Inchekeith c.1420 Chron. Wyntoun vol. 4, 78 [St Serf ‘aryvit in Inchekeith’]
Ynchkeyth c.1420 Chron. Wyntoun vol. 4, 79 [St Serf ‘arrywit in Ynchkeyth’]
Insulam de Keth 1440s Bower Scotichronicon Bk. 9, ch. 46 (vol. 5, p. 140)
Inchekethe 1440s Bower Scotichronicon Bk. 1, ch. 6 (vol. 1, p. 14) [twelve miles from the Isle of May, ‘another island called Inchekethe’ (alia insula ... que vocatur Inchekethe) in which Saint Adomnán (Odamnanus) ruled as abbot]
Inche de Inchekeith 1539 RMS iii no. 1888 [to Andrew Wood of Largo, the island called Inchekeith lying in the sea facing the burgh of Kinghorn (insulam vulgo Inche de Inchekeith nuncupatam, jacen. in mari contra burgum de Kingorne)]
Inch Keith 1642 Gordon MS Fife
Inche-Keith 1649 Lamont’s Diary 3 [‘My Lord Scotstaruet bought Inche-Keith from my Lord Glams and a mill of Kinggorne ...’]
Inche Keith 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Inchkeith 1775 Ainslie/Fife

Pictish * inis or G innis + Pictish * cēt or pn Coeddi (Céti)

Possibly ‘wooded island’. If the second element is indeed from p-Celtic *cēt ‘wood(land)’ then it can be assumed that the first element is also p-Celtic. The exposed position and rocky surface of this, the largest of the islands in the Forth, can never have supported much woodland, so it is justifiable to look for an alternative derivation.

According to Bower Adomnán (Odamnanus) was abbot on Inchkeith (Inchekethe), when he welcomed St Serf on the latter’s arrival in Scotland (Scotichronicon vol. 1, pp. 14–17). It is likely that this is simply an over-interpretation of the passage from the late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Life of St Serf (Vita Sancti Servani), which states that, when Serf arrived in Scotland from Rome, St Adomnán (Sanctus Edheunanus), who was an abbot in Scotland north of the Forth (abbas in Scocia) at that time, went to meet him on Inchkeith (ad insulam Ked) (Macquarrie 1993, 140). This early association of Inchkeith with Adomnán opens up the possibility that the specific may be Adomnán’s contemporary and associate, Coeddi or Coeti bishop of Iona, who died according to AU in 712.[170] He was also a signatory (as Céti) of Adomnán’s Law of Innocents (Lex Innocentium, 697).[171] The development in the name Inchkeith of the dental fricative from the final /d/ (which would have been the phonetic realisation of the intervocalic t in ‘Coeti’) may have resulted from the assimilation to the more common place-name element ‘keith’, as found in Dalkeith etc., which more certainly derives from British **cēt, ‘wood(land)’.

An unexplained name on the island is The Cawcans, described by OS Name Book 78, 10 as: ‘A rugged rocky precipice on the west side of InchKeith. How it got the name I could not learn’.

/ɪntʃ kiθ/ or /ˌ ɪntʃˈkiθ/

This place-name appeared in printed volume 1