What's In A Name?
Some people like to say Garn Goch is so-called because there's red bracken on the hillside in the autumn. If that were the case, would there not be hundreds of hills and hillforts in Wales that include goch (or some derivation of it) in their name? It's like expecting every village beside a beach to have the word sand in its name, or explaining that Warwick Castle got its name because someone once lit a candle there during a war. No, let's get serious about this.
Crib Goch is a red toned, ‘knife-edged’ ridge in Snowdonia, and, indeed, the name means ‘red ridge’ in Welsh. The village of Gilfach Goch is in the Ogwr Fach valley where the river bed contains iron ore, reddening the stream. South east of Aberystwyth is Bont Goch, ‘the red bridge’. And so on.
In Ancient Celtic (not the language of Neolithics), there are five words for red, and one of them, kokko/kokki, does indeed sound like goch.
But perhaps, again, the answer is staring us in the face - the most dominant feature is the massive stone built long cairn. Instead of trying to make the name Garn Goch fit the whole site, it makes good sense that the cairn in question is that long burial mound.
Goch's Cairn - the Cairn Of Goch - the pile of stones specifically venerating Goch - whoever he (perhaps she) was. Just as everybody knows the Angel Of The North, but nobody knows the name of the hill it sits on, so the name Garn Goch may have been identified by its most significant feature.
Goch must have been a great man (let's assume that's his gender) for such a large stone cairn to be built to celebrate and commemorate his life - and isn't that why we still build monuments today? Goch was probably one of three things: a god (at least a very holy man); a messiah/prophet (a leader in ideas); a leader (the 'ultimate ancestor' who looked after his people when alive, and continued to do so in death).
It seems most likely that Goch is a Neolithic name that has been passed down the millennia, and mangled over time, but let's agree that these are rather more likely and, above all, meaningful explanations than autumnal ferns.
Top Left: Angel of the North. Bottom Left: Red Fort, Agra, India. Middle Bottom: Bracken at Garn Goch. Right: Crib Goch, Snowdonia. See copyrights.