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Place name of the week - gaets, gotts and veiens

Published: 12 May 2020

gaets, gotts and veiens

When you are out for your regular walk which paths will you walk on? Will it be along a gaet or a veien?

The Shetland word gaet comes from Old Norse gata meant a path, way or road and the word survives in Icelandic gata, Faroese gøta, Norwegian gate, Swedish gata and Danish gade. Gat/gate place-names in Scotland and Northern England include Canongate and Harrogate and gate street names in York. Shetland forms are gott/goat, goda/guda and the most commonly used gaet or gett.

Stakkagota was the track once used to transport peats from the peatstacks down to houses in Brindister, Aithsting whilst Fifteen Men’s Gaet at Aith, Cunningsburgh was the route taken by the haaf fishermen going home to Greenmow, Bremmer, and other parts of Cunningsburgh. The Aith women counted the men to check they were all home safely. Also at Aith, Da Saeber Gaet is more generally known as Da Muckle Midveien (pronounced midden). This name stems from another Old Norse word for a way or road – vegr – and was used in the 1970s to name the housing scheme at Sound - Sandveien. Other modern street names in Lerwick use gaet - Millgaet, Gremmasgaet, Stocketgaet and Norgaet.

A listing in The Scottish National Dictionary for Black Gate, as recorded in some parts of Scotland, describes it as “the road to ruin, the broad road”. Some folk might like to apply this meaning to the road linking Gulberwick to the Scalloway - Brig o Fitch road! We have heard tales of ghostly experiences along Da Black Gaet and the road crosses the Trowie Burn, so please share your stories about travelling along the road, and information or photos of other gaet gott or veien place-names.

Eileen Brooke-Freeman, Shetland Place Names expert, May 2020

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