Skeith Stone KRY A NO571046 1 374 30m
the Skeith’s quarter 1606 Watson 1986, 13 [‘the quarter toune and lands of Killrynnie callit the Skeith’s quarter’]
the Skeith Quarter 1607 APS iv, 389 [to John Strang, ‘all and haill the quarter towne and landis of Kilrenny callit the Skeith Quarter thairof’]
the Skeiths quarter 1644 APS vi part i, 264 [to George Strang, ‘the quarter toune and lands of Killernnie callit the Skeiths quarter]
Skeyth quarter 1644 APS vi part i, 264 [same act as preceding]
Skeith Stone 1855 OS 6 inch 1st edn
the Scaith Stone 1871 Skinner 1871, 56
? + Sc stane or SSE stone
The first element of this name cannot be explained with any certainty. One possibility might be Sc skaith ‘damage, hurt, injury; damage done by trespass of animals; harm or injury attributed to witchcraft or the evil eye’. If the name derives from this word, it is unclear what its exact significance was. Such stones were often used as boundary markers, so it may have had something to do with trespass of animals. Or perhaps it signified a stone marking sanctuary, beyond which no skaith may be done to fugitives seeking refuge.
Alternatively it may be a Sc word, not recorded in the lexicon, which derives from or is cognate with Old Norse (Old West Scandinavian) skeið (n.) ‘race, race-course’. According to Smith 1956 ii, 124, it can also mean a ‘boundary road’, then simply ‘boundary’, in view of its use in Norwegian place-names of ‘a track between fields’, and Old Danish (Old East Scandinavian) skede ‘boundary’. English place-names containing Old Norse skeið include Scaitcliffe, Lancs, Skygates, Yorkshire (North Riding) and Brunstock (Brunscaith), Cumberland. The meaning ‘boundary stone’ would certainly make good sense as the derivation of the Kilrenny name, corroborating Trench-Jellicoe’s interpretation of the monument as a wayside boundary marker at the point of entry into monastic space (Trench-Jellicoe 1998). Also, given the conservative nature of territorial units and their boundaries, its original purpose as a boundary marker may be confirmed by its use in the 1850s as ‘one of the marks for defining the Parliamentary Boundary’ (OS Name Book 85, 17).
A third possibility is that Skeith is a personal name. The generic element of all the forms recorded before the nineteenth century is quarter, not stone, and two of these forms could be interpreted as the quarter belonging to an individual or family called Skeith, ‘the Skeiths quarter’. Though Black (1946) does not have a reference to a Scottish surname Skeith, members of a family called Skeith in the USA preserve the tradition that they are descended from a Skeith who left Scotland with his three brothers in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Black does record the surname Skaid (also Skad) recorded in Braemar and Cromar ABD in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as the surname Sked, which appears in ELO in the seventeenth century, and which he considers is related to Skaid (1946, 729, 730).
There are at least two other Scottish place-names with a comparable element, in both of which the personal name theory can be ruled out. In Larbert STL there is Skaithmuir (NS88 83), which first appears as Scathmure in 1466; and near Coldstream BWK there is a farm called Skaithmuir (NT84 43), which according to Johnston appears as early as c.1166 as Scaithemor, and c.1200 as Sca<th>mor (written Scaymor), and which he would derive from OE sceatha ‘harm’ (1940, 47), whence Sc skaith.
For a full discussion of the Skeith Stone, its cultural and artistic links, and its place in the early ecclesiastical landscape, see Trench-Jellicoe 1998 and 2005.
/ˈskiθsten/ locally, or /ˈskiθston/.
This place-name appeared in printed volume 3