Pronouncing Buittle

Buittle is from Old English bōtl ‘a dwelling, dwelling-place, house’. Bootle in Cumbria and Lancashire share the same root. But unlike its English cousins, Buittle rhymes with little. The unrounding of the vowel represented by <ui> to /ɪ/ is fairly recent, with the round vowel pronunciation persisting into the early 20th century.

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March Burns

A march is, as the OED puts it, ‘the boundary of an estate; a boundary dividing one property from another; a tract of land between two properties’ (s.v. march, n. 3; 4 Chiefly Scottish). The word is familiar, particularly in Dumfriesshire, from the Riding of the Marches and unsurprisingly, march crops up frequently in Scottish place-names. The most common specifying element is burn (42 examples on the OS 2nd ed. six-inch maps), followed by sike (35 examples); field follows in third with just 5 examples. But as well as being a common place-name, march-burn can be used as an appellative (i.e. as a ‘common-noun’).

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Knocking Stanes

I’m sure I must have noticed place-names like Knocking Stone and Knocking Stone Hill in Kirkmaiden before and assumed that they were something like the numerous Rocking Stones that are scattered over the map. The situation recorded in OS Name Book entry for Knocking Stone Hill, Ballantrae AYR seems a reasonable explanation for the name: “A rocky knoll from which it is said the sounds of two stones meeting in regular and constant collision was frequently heard.” (OS1/3/6/1/127) However, when looking in the dictionary for an explanation of Knocking Trough, Ewes DMF I found out that knocking-stane has a specific, agricultural meaning. Here’s the entry from the SND (s.v. Knock v.1, n.1):

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The Deil’s Jingle

When browsing OS maps of Dumfries and Galloway it doesn’t take long to bump into the Deil’s Dike, the name given to two large, artificial bank-and-ditch features. One runs through Kells, Minnigaff, Penninghame, Kirkcowan, then disappears and apparently reappears near the shore of Loch Ryan in Inch. Another, also labelled Celtic Dike, runs up the Nith valley through Closeburn, Morton, Durisdeer, Sanquhar and Kirkconnel. There is a third Deil’s Dike (also called Murthat Dike) in Lochmaben and Tinwald. Unlike the others, this a natural feature formed of kames (a type of glacial deposit).

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30 Day Map Challenge 2022

Year three of this challenge. (Links my 2020 and 2021 entries.) This year I had a go at making a plan of my entries beforehand but ended up not using it. There’s something special about planning and making a map every day for a month.

The title of each day links to where I posted the map on Twitter. The tweets have more information about the maps. I’ve added a few notes here which I’ll expand on later, once I’ve had a wee break from thinking about maps.

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Some Stoneykirk Place-Names

I’ve just typed up Arthur Donaldson’s article on ‘The Caves of the Western Sea-Board of Stoneykirk‘ from The Gallovidian (Summer, 1909). It has some names that aren’t recorded on the OS and different versions of those that are. It’s a good example of how the OS maps and Name Books – while a fantastic resource – preserve names and stories at one point in time and from one perspective.

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[‘Seeing Word’ + y] Place-Names in Dumfriesshire

There are three place-names in Dumfriesshire where the specific element ostensibly has the form [‘seeing word’ + y]: Looky Knowe, Penpont; Viewy Knowe, Canonbie; and Watchy Hass, Hutton & Corrie. The most obvious interpretation of these names is that the first element refers to the view from these sites, as is the case in names like Watch Hill, Sight Knowe, View Field etc. However, neither looky, viewy or watchy is recorded as having this sense:

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Bosom Place-Names

Bodypart metaphors are common in place-names and words for breasts appear frequently appear in hill-names. Some (potential) examples from Dumfries and Galloway include Scots pap in Maiden Pap, Kirkgunzeon; Gaelic *cìoch in Keoch Rig and Keoch Lane, Carsphairn; and Brittonic bronn in Broughna, Mochrum. [We might also note Blackbreast, Rerrick which appears on the 2nd ed. six-inch map (NX 760 52). On the 1st ed. and in the Name Book (OS1/20/153/4) this is Blackbeast, desribed as “A ridge of rocks on the farm of Barcloy one of which has the appearance of a black animal when seen from a distance hence the name.”]

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