The History Behind the Nicknames of Scottish Cities

The History Behind the Nicknames of Scottish Cities

Nicknames are funny old things. If you find yourself lumbered with one, you may struggle to figure out where you picked it up or what it even means. But what about towns and cities? Where do their nicknames come from and what do they tell us about the history of a particular location?

Each of Scotland’s six cities has its own long and varied list of nicknames. Some were coined by residents; others by enemies in years gone by. Many of these names date back centuries – origins that were recently investigated in an article by the Scotsman.

While Inverness’s nickname, ‘the Capital of the Highlands’ is pretty self-explanatory, the nature of some other nicknames are significantly more ambiguous.


Edinburgh: Auld Reekie

Whether you’re born and bred in Edinburgh or have recently moved to the area, you’re certain to have come across the city’s curious but affectionate nickname. The nickname represents the fragrant nature of the capital’s past, long before the city became a hub for business, retail and, of course, the home of Quartermile.

As some people will know, Edinburgh was once home to Nor Loch, also known as the ‘Lost Loch’, a body of water that would have sat where the gardens at the foot of Edinburgh Castle are now. A stagnant pool of waste water, Nor Loch is said to have produced a less than pleasant aroma that could be smelled from miles away. It was this awful stench that gave Edinburgh the less than pleasant nickname Auld Reekie.

There are those, however, who believe that Auld Reekie refers to the stench that came from the smoke of the coal fires used by the residents of Edinburgh. But whichever source we attribute to the nickname, the one thing we can say for certain is that the city’s hygiene has come a long way since those days. Far from a bog or cesspit, it is now one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities and an attractive place to reside for those who love luxury urban living.


Dear Green Place

At first glance, you may think this nickname refers to a city with outstanding eco credentials. The name ‘Dear Green Place’, however, actually refers to the geographical features of Glasgow rather than it’s attention to air pollution. Despite being Scotland’s largest city it has more green space available to its population than any other city in Europe. Glasgow has more than 90 parks and gardens in total to explore, with the city’s most historic park, Glasgow Green, thought to be the birthplace of Scottish inventor James Watt’s steam engine idea – an invention that spurred the Industrial Revolution both here in the UK and throughout the rest of the world.


The Granite City

In Aberdeen, the ‘Granite City’ nickname is one used by residents and visitors alike. The city’s architecture is distinctive and well known, with Aberdeen’s most historic and iconic buildings made largely from the same igneous rock. This is in large part down to the abundance of granite at a time when Aberdeen was growing rapidly. In fact, the city has its very own Granite Mile, which boasts an array of different structures all made from the same type of rock. Union Bridge also holds the record for being the world’s largest single span granite bridge, standing at 40-metre high.


The City of the Three Js

During the Victorian era, Dundee was famous for its jute, jam and journalism making its nickname, ‘the City of the Three Js’, an obvious choice. The city was in fact home to some of the largest and most successful employers in these three areas, including D.C. Thomson. While you may not be familiar with D.C. Thomson himself, you will almost certainly be familiar with his newspapers and comics, which include The Beano, The Dandy, The Broons, The Sunday Post, The Evening Telegraph and The Dundee Courier. His publishing and television company D.C Thomson & Co is still headquartered in Dundee today.


The Fair City

Perth’s connection to Scottish novelist, playwright and poet Sir Walter Scott is what gave the area its nickname. Taken from his novel The Fair Maid of Perth, the nickname is widely used today and the Fair Maid at the centre of Scott’s novel can even be seen in the centre of Perth in statue form.


Are you ready to make central Edinburgh your new home? Want a luxury new-build apartment that puts you right in the heart of the capital’s action? Then why not enquire now about taking a tour of Quartermile?

blog comments powered by Disqus
Don't miss a thing