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This month, The Windscreen Company is here to share with you our guide to Gaelic road signs in Scotland including what they are, their history, where they’re used and some examples.
18th and 19th century – Gaelic place names were recorded and Anglicised by map makers.
20th century – Inverness County Council put up road signs throughout the Highlands as they had an aversion to the Gaelic language. The council demanded that the road signs were erected in English to match the spellings on the Ordnance Survey maps. This was an unfavourable opinion to the Gaelic language organisations and their proposal for bilingual signs was rejected by the council in 1970.
Three years later, in 1973, as a result of the Skye road sign controversy, the issue was inescapable and was pushed to the forefront of the public agenda.
At this time, the council was planning to install a new road south of Portree where it required a strip of land across Iain Noble’s land. Kindly, Noble offered the land as a donation to the council with the condition that the signs along the road were bilingual – in hope that this would be a start of registering Gaelic onto the linguistic landscape for road signs. The council resisted Noble’s terms but to the council’s dismay, Noble was backed by a petition signed by many Skye residents from Wales where bilingual signposts were already used. This proved agreeable and aroused further public interest. From there, the council offered a compromise to erect signposts as an experiment at Portree and Broadford. This then set a precedent, making Gaelic road signs in Scotland the norm.
Over £20 million was spent on Gaelic road signs leading up to 2010, and these signs can be found on the A87, A887, A830, A835, A828, A85, A82 and A83.
Enjoyed reading about our Guide to Gaelic road signs? Take a browse through the rest of our blog to find out more interesting facts and information on similar topics.
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