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quill pen, scroll, candleThis is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence. There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period. If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.

Today’s name is Kira:

I’ve been asked by a Gazette reader to talk about period names that sound like “Kira.” This set of sounds appears in several languages in period, although not necessarily in the ones that people expect.

The name Kira appears as a female name in Russian, dated to c. 1202.[1] It also appears as a surname in 14th century Japan.[2]

In very late period German, we find the female given name Kyrra, which *may* be pronounced like “Kira.”[3]

In Gaelic, Cera was the name of at least three Irish saints who lived prior to c. 1200 CE.[4] The post-1200 spelling of the same name is Ceara, which is also registerable as a saint’s name.[5] Note that this name is probably pronounced more like “Kara” or “Kera” than “Kira.” However, there are also the period Gaelic women’s names Ciar and Ciarnat, which are pronounced with a long ‘i’ sound.[6] The name Ciara appears to be a wholly modern form, based on current evidence.

For a person looking for an English name that sounds like “Kira,” we have to resort to the rule I’ve discussed before, where 16th century English surnames can be used as if they were English given names. Based on a quick bit of research, that gets us the spellings Kyrre[7] and Keyre[8], which are close to but not exactly like “Kira.”

All in all, for someone who wants the sound of “Kira,” there are a couple of options for time, place and culture.
[1] “Russian Names Database” by Paul Wickenden of Thanet (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/paul/ka.html)

[2] Nostrand, Barbara. Name Construction in Mediaeval Japan (1999) lists Kira as a historical surname dated to 1332.

[3] Kyrra Sranis; Female; Marriage; 02 Jan 1629; Evangelisch, Schotten, Oberhessen, Hesse-Darmstadt; Batch: M92548-1

[4] O Corrain, Donnchadh and Fidelma Maguire, Irish Names (Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1990), s.n. Cera

[5] Martyrology of Donegal (http://books.google.com/books?id=zn8NAAAAQAAJ), at p. 375.

[6] O Corrain & Maguire, s.n.n. Ciar, Ciarnat

[7] John Kyrre; Male; Burial; 24 Dec 1585; Cranbrook, Kent, England; Batch: B02880-3

[8] Mergery Keyre; Female; Marriage; 13 Aug 1576; Cranbrook, Kent, England; Batch: M01834-4