St. Andrews University research shows British street names “make residents feel less Scottish”

Posted By: December 26, 2017

“And this is why England tried to destroy Irish place names all over Ireland, replacing them with English names—cultural/memory genocide.”— Fr. Sean Mc Manus


The Herald. Scotland. November 15, 2017

The name of the street where you live indicates how Scottish you feel, a study has found.

People living in areas of Scotland with street names commemorating Britain, such as “Queen,” “Royal,” “Regent,” or “London” are less likely to define themselves as Scottish.

The finding is part of new research at the University of St Andrews focusing on what street names have to tell us about our culture and identity.

The study compared the street names of Scottish Westminster parliamentary constituencies with a recent population census asking people to identify their national identity.

In areas with a lower number of such union-themed street names, people were more likely to describe themselves as having a “Scottish identity only.”

Dr. Daniel Oto-Peralías, a researcher from the university, said: “Street names are cultural markers of a town and its history, and can be used as a rich source of information to create socio-cultural indicators at the regional and local level.

“With the help of data software with text analysis capabilities, it is feasible to analyze hundreds of thousands of street names to extract themes and trends capturing the culture and history of the population.”

The study, published in the Journal of Economic Geography, also shows that religion remains a salient topic with the word “church” featuring in the top four rankings of most frequent British street names.

People in areas with a high percentage of religious-related street names, such as “church” or “chapel,” were more likely to identify as Christian.

There is also a gender split, with streets more likely to be named after men than women.  

Dr. Oto-Peralías said this reflected the marginalization of women in the public sphere historically. In Spain, 83.1 percent of streets named after a person was credited to a man.

Dr. Oto-Peralías added: “This large bias naturally generates controversy and indeed there are some social movements fighting for more gender equality in street names.

“This is an important issue because street names have strong symbolic power and can contribute to the perpetuation of those social and cultural values contained in them.”