There was a castle in Scotland known as Ormond Castle which had existed since at least the beginning of the 13th century. It sat upon Ormond hill in the Black Isle.

Why was it called Ormond Castle? What was the etymology of "Ormond" in reference to this castle?

There appears to be a place in Ireland called Ormond but that came from the Gaelic Urhmumhain meaning "East Munster" I believe.

2 Answers 2


Ormond Castle was named after the hill it stood on, Ormond Hill. It is now impossible to trace how the name came about, but the Scottish antiquarian John Pinkerton says it was apparently an ancient moot-hill. Incidentally these were known in Scottish Gaelic as tom a' mhòid, which may provide a clue as to Ormond's etymology.

[I]t appears that Ormond was a hill, (probably an ancient moot-hill or court of justice,) in Ardmanach on the east of Ross-shire.

Pinkerton, John. The History Of Scotland From The Accession Of The House Of Stuart To That Of Mary: With Appendixes Of Original Papers. In Two Volumes. Dilly, 1797.

The castle itself was actually known by several other names, such as "Castle of Avoch" after the nearby village, or "Douglas Castle" after its owners. Hence it was the name of the hill, not the castle, which provided the source of the Scottish peerage titles of Ormond.

In 1481, as we have seen, King James III. granted the lands of Avauch, with the moot-hill of Ormond, to the Marquis of Ormond, who about 1503 resigned the lands, but retained the moot-hill in order to preserve his title.

Stell, Geoffrey. "Architecture and Society in Easter Ross before 1707." JR Baldwin, Firthlands of Ross and Sutherland (1986): 98-132.

Apparently it later became known as "Ladyhill" because of a chapel to the Virgin Mary.

  • Great answer sir! One last thing, can you provide a source for the meaning of "tom a' mhòid" as "moot hill". I can't find anything
    – Charlie
    Jan 2, 2018 at 13:26
  • 2
    @Charlie A more literal translation of the phrase is probably "Court Hill". The Topography of Great Britain: Or, British Traveller's Directory mentions: "Boothill is a corruption of Moot-hill . . . and may signify the hill of meeting. The people in the Highlands, it is said, called the boot-hlll, at this day, Tom-a-mhoid, i.e. the hill where justice is administered."
    – Semaphore
    Jan 2, 2018 at 13:39

From Illustrated guide to Fortrose and vicinity By Angus John Beaton (1885)

enter image description here

Apparently it was also called 'Lady Hill". Another source discusses this:

This castle of which only the foundations can be traced stood on Ormond Hill now called Lady Hill probably from its chapel having been dedicated to the Virgin Mary The place is described by a writer of the seventeenth century as Castle town with the ruins of a castle called the Castle of Ormond which hath given styles to sundry Earls and last to the Princes of Scotland It was in a commanding position both as regards

Above from Mackenzie's guide to Inverness By Alexander Mackenzie

One more source seems to also associate the term Ormond with 'Ladyhill':

enter image description here

The above from The New Statistical Account of Scotland: Inverness, Ross and Cromarty, W. Blackwood and Sons, 1845

  • Hi JustCal, so are you saying it was originally called Ladyhill and renamed to Ormond Hill with the peerage? I would believe this if I had not already read that the title Earl of Ormond comes from the name of the castle on the hill and not the other way round.
    – Charlie
    Jan 2, 2018 at 10:49
  • No, I was just presenting what historical information I found, which associates the two phrases 'Ladyhill' and 'Ormond' to this site. I agree the peerage titles were later. The translation of the name 'Ormond', if that's what you are after, would be a language issue,(unless in some language it somehow relates to the terms Lady hill).
    – justCal
    Jan 2, 2018 at 12:30

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