Grave Place-Names

Last year, I posted about The Packman’s Grave, a place-name that didn’t make it onto the map, but whose story was recorded elsewhere. There are, however, several other D&G Grave place-names marked on the OS with their stories recorded in the Name Books. I thought it would be useful to collect them here. [I’ve regularised the punctuation and spelling and completed words lost in the margin for ease of reading.]

I have included at the end the entry for Willie Wilkin’s Cairn and a note by James Hogg which expands on the story in the Name Book. The site of the Cairn may well have been named Willie Wilkin’s Grave had not two flying bulls intervened.

Content note: Some of the entries below mention suicide.

Auld Wife’s Grave, Inch WIG NX 135 650

“A rock about 15 feet long, 10 feet wide and 3½ feet high with an opening of natural formation resembling a stone trough with the exception of its being open at each end.” OS1/35/18/3

“This is a rock which rises about 3½ feet above the surface of the ground and is in length about 15 feet. Its width is about 10 feet. It lies in the direction of NE and SW or nearly E and between its extreme points is an opening of natural formation resembling a stone trough or an open grave, save its being open at both ends. Against the NE end a large loose flag of stone is raised up to close the opening in the rock and around it is a few scattered land [hand?] stones , giving it the appearance of the site of an ancient cairn. – But there is no tradition in the country to say that any person was buried in it. – It merely gets the name from its close resemblance to an open grave.” OS1/35/18/49

Clugston’s Grave, Kirkcowan WIG NX 325 590

“A grave situated in a moss in the farm of Low Mindork. About 80 years ago a man named Mathew Clugston committed suicide by hanging himself & was buried here.” OS1/35/44/27

“A grave situated in a moss on the farm of Low Mindork. About eighty years ago a man named Mathew Clugston who committed suicide by hanging himself has been interred in this spot. Hence the name.” OS1/35/44/73

Not marked on 2nd ed.

Dumbie’s Grave, Girthon KCB NX 559 663

“This name applies to the grave of a dumbie man, who had been found dead here & buried. Hence the name. On the farm of Meikle Cullendoch.” OS1/20/102/9

Dummy’s Grave is given in each of the entries in the Other odes of Spelling the same Name column. DUMMIE is Scots ‘a dumb person’. The description is unusual for using the word adjectivally.

Giant’s Grave (supposed Tumulus), Moffat DMF NT 187 145

“A bank of slight elevation said to be the sepulchre of a giant. No tradition of the name is known in the district.” OS1/10/38/32

Giant’s Grave, Kirkcolm WIG NX 003 729

Recorded on the 2nd ed. but not on the 1st.

Glaucus’ Grave, Borgue KCB NX 634 504

Record on the 2nd ed. but not on the 1st. It is, as this article reports, “The resting place of a courageous horse which took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade”.

Grave Slunk, Leswalt WIG NW 965 612

“A small flat space among rocks south of Salt Pants Bay, at which some dead human bodies had formerly been found thrown in by the tide. Hence the name.” OS1/35/33/8

“An inlet or flat place among the rocks into which some dead bodies have been cast by the sea and is said was buried on the land adjoining. – (I could find any appearance of graves.)” OS1/35/33/48

Hislop’s Grave (1685), Eskdalemuir DMF NY 248 986

“A large oblong gravestone about 3 feet above the surface and on which is the following inscription: ‘Here lyes And. Hislop Martyr shot dead upon this spot by Sir James James Johnston of Wehall and John Graham of Claverhouse for adhering to the word of God Christs Kingly government in his house and ye covenanted work of reformation against tyranny, perjury and prelacy May 12 – 1685 Re[velation] 12 While passengers one word with thee or two why I lye here wouldst thou truly know by wicked hands cruel and unjust without all law my life from me they thrust being dead they left me on this spot & for burial this same place I got thruths friends in Eskdale now triumph then let viz. the faithful my seal – that got. 1702″ (is the year when the above inscription was inserted.) ‘Repaired by subscription in April 1825′” OS1/10/17/73

The inscription can also be read at the grave’s CANMORE entry.

King Schaw’s Grave, Westerkirk DMF NY 259 931

“This name applies to a tumulus situated on the north side of ‘”‘Bankhead Hill'”‘ on the farm of Billholm. It was opened in 1827 for the purpose of using the stones to build a march dyke. About 80 cartload were taken out of it when a stone coffin or urn measuring 4 feet by 2 feet was discovered containing human bones. By the position of them the body has been doubled up. Tradition says they were the remains of a Pictish King by name ‘Schaw’ who was drowned in a pool (now called ‘King’s Pool‘) near the junction of the white Esk and Black Esk. The urn is still preserved and placed on the spot where found.” OS1/10/53/12

Kinmont Willie’s Grave, Canonbie DMF NY 333 750

“This is the grave of Kinmont Willie of border notoriety.” OS1/10/4/214

Latimer’s Grave, Troqueer KCB NX 982 681

“This name applies to a small spot of ground in and near the NE corner of Kirkconnel demesne where the corpse of a man named David Latimer was interred about 80 years ago. Tradition says that he had become a convert to the R.C. Church and had been previously buried in New Abbey churchyard, but the inhabitants it is said became so infuriated at the above circumstances, would not allow his remains any consecrated retirement. They therefore raised his corpse and exposed it at the door of Kirkconnel house. Thence it was taken to its present resting place by a W. Maxwell who was then proprietor of Kirkconnel Estate.” OS1/20/96/9

Lottimer’s Grave on 2nd ed.

Mary’s Grave, Hutton & Corrie DMF NY 187 971

“A grave near the N.E. side of the farm of Waterhead, in which were deposited the remains of a woman of that name, who was killed by her husband at Sandyford in the Parish of Eskdalemuir, and conveyed from thence to this place.” OS1/10/27/40

Nelson’s Grave, Colven & Southwick KCB NX 852 525

Recorded on the 1st ed. as Nelson’s Tombstone.

“A tombstone erected to the memory of Joseph Nelson who was a corn merchant and a native of Whitehaven. He was drowned here about 50 years ago on a voyage from Palnakie to Whitehaven. 5 or 6 days after the wreck of the vessel his body was got on the sea coast convenient to this spot where he is interred. Round the grave stone is a small fall 7 feet in width by 11 in length.” OS1/20/156/6

Souter’s Grave, Kirkmahoe DMF NX 949 902

“Here was interred the remains a shoemaker who committed suicide. The exact site is not known but the place still bears the name. It is said that he gave information of a preaching of the Covenanters, who were surprised here by some soldiers.” OS1/10/31/4

St. Connel’s Grave (Site of), Kirkconnel DMF NS 705 158

“Three large whin stones mark the spot where it is supposed St Connel was buried. A little to the south there is a small triangular stone hollowed out in the centre like a cup, which is supposed to have been used as a sacrificial stone. Probably it might have had some connection with the grave.” OS1/10/30/59

Thurot’s Grave, Glasserton WIG NX 365 399

“The grave o a celebrated French Commodore Thurot. During the war which broke out between England & France in 1756 M. Thurot visited Carrickfergus in a hostile manner on the 21st of February 1760. This expedition consisted of 3 frigates. After plundering the town they put to sea & was met by the English Captain Elliot with 3 English ships of war. They came to an engagement near the coast of Galloway on 28th February 1760 in which Thurot was killed & the French ships captured. The body of the French commander was afterwards washed ashore & was buried in the churchyard of Kirkmaiden. A man resident in this locality has pointed out the grave which is without monument or grave stone, he having learned the identical [?] spot from his father who died a few years ago aged 90 years.” OS1/35/83/12

Wikipedia has an article on François Thurot. Trotter includes a chapter on The Thurots and the poem Thurot’s Defeat in Galloway Gossip.

Willie Wilkin’s Craig, Kirkpatrick Juxta DMF NY 061 987

“This Willie Wilkin is said to have resided at Auchencastle and having met with some evil spirits about Dumgree churchyard a quarrel ensued, whereby Willie was all but killed. Although his latter days was so near hand he managed to direct that his coffin should be placed on this craig, and while his last injunction was being fulfilled two brandled [brindled?] came over the hill, and each put his horn in the handles of the coffin and ran and flew through the air till they reached Lochettrick Loch. And them and him [added in new ink: and you] went all over the head. Willie is often heard on Loch Ettrick Loch, playing with the channel stones to the day (Tradition).” OS1/10/34/183 and scored out at OS1/10/34/215

Willie Wilkin is the subject and title of a poem by James Hogg, published in The Mountain Bard (1807). The preface to the poem reads:

“The real name of this famous warlock was Johnston; how he came to acquire that of Wilkin I can get no information, though his name and his pranks are well known in Annandale and Nithsdale. He seems to have been an abridgement of Mr Michael Scott; but, though his powers were exhibited on a much more narrow scale, they were productive of actions yet more malevolent.”

“To Auchincastle Wilkin hied,
On Evan braes so green;
And liv’d and died like other men,
For aught that could be see.”

Hogg’s notes (pp. 114-116) on this verse give a much fuller account of his burial than the Name Book:

“If he lived and died like other men, it appears that he was nota t all buried like other men. When on his deathbed, he charged his sons, as they valued their peace and prosperity, to sing no requiem, nor say any burial-service over his body; but to put a strong withie to each end of his coffin, by which they were to carry him away to Dumgree, and see that all the attendants were well mounted. On the top of a certain eminence they were to set down the corpse and rest a few minutes, and if nothing interfered they might proceed. If they fulfilled these, he promised them the greatest happiness and prosperity for four generations; but, if they neglected them in one point, the utmost misery and wretchedness. The lads performed every thing according to their father’s directions; and they had scarcely wells et down the corpse on the place he mentioned, when they were alarmed by the most horrible bellowing of bulls; and instantly two dreadful brindered ones appeared, roaring, and snuffing, and tossing up the earth with their [115] horns and hoofs; on which the whole company turned and fled. When the bulls reached the coffin, they put each of them one of their horns into their respective withies, and ran of with the corpse, stretching their course straight to the westward. The relatives, and such as were well mounted, pursued them, and kept nigh them for several miles; but when they came to the small water of Brann, in Nithsdale, the bulls went straight through the air from the one hill head to the other, without descending to the bottom of the glen. The unexpected manœuvre threw the pursuers quite behind, though they need not have expected any thing else, having before observed, that their feet left no traces on the ground, though ever so soft. However, by dint of whip and spur, they again got sight of them; but when they came to Loch Ettrick, on the heights of Closeburn, they had all lost sight of them but two, who were far behind: but the bulls there meeting with another company, plunged into the lake with the corpse, and were never more seen at that time. Ever since, his spirit has haunted that loch, and continues to do so to this day.
He was, when alive, very fond of the game of curling on the ice, at which no mortal man could beat him; nor has his passion for it ceased with death; for he and his hellish confederates continue to amuse themselves with this game during the long winter nights, to the great terror and annoyance of the neighbourhood, not much regarding whether the loch be frozen or not. I have heard sundry of the neighbouring inhabitants declare, with the most serious countenances, that they have heard them talking, and the sound of the stones running alongst the ice and hitting each other, as distinctly as ever they did when present at a real and substantial curling. Some have heard him laughing, others lamenting; and other have seen the two bulls plashing and swimming about in the loch at the close of the evening. In short, every one allows it [116] to be a dangerous place, and a place where very many have been affrighted; though there is little doubt that, by making allowances for the magnifying qualities of fear, all the above might be accounted for in a natural way. — Wilkin’s descendants are still known; and the poorer sort of them have often their great predecessor mentioned to them as a term of reproach, whom they themselves allow to have been an awesome body.”


BIRREN is a Scots word meaning ‘a camp’, i.e. a fortified earthwork. The best known example is the Roman fort of Blatobulgium at Birrens, Middlebie.

[Update 10/09/2022: Alan James has left a very interesting and useful comment on the etymology of BIRREN and some suggestions for the ‘borron’/’burran’ names mentioned at the end of this post. I’ve copied his comment below, as it’s too easy to miss the comments section on these pages.
Update 11/09/2022: I have included the references to ‘burians’ from the Statistical Accounts where the word is used as a lexical, rather than onomastic, item in section at the bottom of the post. I’ve also added an antedating of ‘birren’ as a lexical item.
Update 12/09/2022: Some more names added to the list; alternative forms for Borron, Kirkbean; a note on spellings; and a section on birrens in David Christison’s (1891) article.
Update 25/09/2022: Another burrence added to the list from E. Vernon’s 1742 Plan of Morton Muir.]

Plan of part of the lands in the parish of Middlebie belonging to His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, 1821
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Scottish National Dictionary’s only citation for the word comes from Tundergarth’s entry in the New Statistical Account, which notes in its Antiquities section that, “There are still to be seen in many places small entrenched camps or Birrens, as they are called. They are all on elevated situations; generally of a round form, very prominent, and in good preservations; and they consist of a strong vallum and fosse, without any outworks. The area seldom exceeds an acre, and is often less.” (There is a separate entry for BURIAN – ‘A mound, a tumulus; or, a kind of fortification’ – which cites the Old Statistical Account entry for Westerkirk. There are a handful more references to BURIANS in The Statistical Accounts here. I think they are likely the same word spelled differently.)

BIRREN looks like a word restricted to Dumfriesshire, appearing on the OS in the following places:

  • Birren, Westerkirk NY 334 888
  • Birren, Westerkirk NY 336 889
  • Birren Rig, Ewes NY 386 916
  • Birren Sike, Ewes NY 387 913
  • [The] Birrens (Roman Station), Middlebie NY 217 751
  • Birrens Cottage & Birrens Lodge, Middlebie NY 219 753
    • The estate map above includes Burran Holm, which didn’t make it to the OS
  • Birrens Hill, Middlebie NY 244 807
  • Birrens Moss, Middlebie NY 241 807
  • *Burian, Langholm NY 338 836 [This is marked as ‘Fort’ on the OS. However, two of the three entries in the Various modes of Spelling the same Names column in the Name Book entry give it as Burian.
  • Burian Hill, Langholm NY 364 818
  • Burrain Skelton, Applegarth NY 135 876 [This is marked as ‘Camp’ on the 1st edition map.]
  • Burrance, Kirkmichael NY 044 903
  • Burrancebridge, Kirkmichael NY 042 901
  • Burrancehill Cottages, Kirkmichael NY 042 912
  • Burrance, Lochmaben NY 090 858
  • Burrance Knowe, Lochmaben NY 090 857
  • Burranrig, Kirkmichael NY 051 907 [The form Burrangrig is given in the Name Book entry, but Burrancraig appears on the map. Burrenrig appears on the 2nd edition map.]
    • The Name Book entry for Burranrig is instructive, especially as no earthwork is marked on the map: “A farm house with offices garden and farm of land attached. There was a small camp in the garden, from which this house got the name, at present there is no vestige. Burran is the local name for Camps, but Burrance is the mode adopted, in this Parish, for spelling the names derived from them.” OS1/10/32/83
  • Burrence, Morton. Recorded on E. Vernon’s 1742 Plan of Morton Muir.
  • Burronhill, Mousewald NY 057 730 and Burronhill Well NY 056 731. Between these two names ‘Camp (Remains of)’ is marked. Burronhill becomes Burnhill on the 2nd edition and the well is no longer named or marked; the camp becomes ‘fort’.
  • Haw Birren, Eskdalemuir NY 226 928
  • Hizzie Birren, Westerkirk NY 315 899
  • Lower Birren Knowe & Upper Birren Knowe, Eskdalemuir NY 235 937 [On the 1st edition map these are Lower & Upper Burying Knowe]
  • Rye Birren is mentioned in Dr Moffat’s 1863 ‘On the Finding and Position of the Relics Discovered at Corrie LochTDGNHAS p. 53. Rye-Birn is mentioned in the OS Name Book entry for Turfy Knowe, Eskdalemuir (OS1/10/15/38) but the name doesn’t appear on the map, where it is marekd as ‘Fort’ at NY 219 930.
  • White Birren, Westerkirk NY 273 914
  • The OS Name Books include a scored-out entry for Birrens Castle, Kirkpatrick-Juxta: “A small hill of cultivated land. There is no tradition or his[torical] acc[oun]t concenring it.” In red ink beneath the name is “Only applied as a field name.” There is a circular fort marked at NY 089 991, which may be the referent of the name.
  • Burnswark Hill, Middlebie NY 186 787 is given as Birrenswark Hill on the 1st edition OS. Birren here is likely a reanalysis of Burn as the name is recorded in 1541 as Burniswerkhill.
  • Johnson-Ferguson’s The Place-Names of Dumfriesshire records Birronlees (site unknown) in Kirkpatrick-Fleming.
  • Thrumcaps Yard (Fort), Westerkirk NY 325 890 is described as a ‘burian’ in its Name Book entry: “This name applies to a Burian or circular fortified place.”

However, earlier in the week, The Dumfries Archival Mapping Project posted a link to 46 Kirkcudbrightshire estate maps from the Yale Centre for British Art. On two of these, there are circular earthworks labelled Birran and Old Birron. These maps are notable for showing that BIRREN had currency outwith eastern Dumfriesshire.

Old Birron is marked on the 1st edition OS as Little Spyland Moat (NX 730 539).

unknown artist, nineteenth century, A Collection of Surveys of Scottish Estates of the Earl of Selkirk: Little Sypeland, undated, Graphite, watercolor, gray wash, pen and black ink on slightly textured, moderately thick, cream wove paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1975.2.82

The Birran marked on the plan of Back Gatas appears to be the Fort at NX 709 479 on the OS. (Gatas becomes Galtway by the time of the 1st edition of the OS.)

unknown artist, (James Tait), A Collection of Surveys of Scottish Estates of Earl of Selkirk: Plan of the Back Gatas Lying in the Parish of Kirkcudbright, 1764, Pen and brown ink, watercolor on slightly textured, moderately thick, beige wove paper backed with cloth, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1975.2.89

These westerly BIRRENS might prompt us to look for other examples in Kirkcudbrightshire and further afield. Maxwell’s The Place Names of Galloway includes an entry for Borrom in Kirkcudbright, but doesn’t give a source or more precise location. It’s not a particularly strong BIRREN candidate, but I think there is a possibility that it could be a (slightly garbled) instance of this word.

Borrance, Kirkbean appears in the 1819 Land tax roll. This is perhaps another western BIRREN, using the Burrance form described in the entry for Burranrig, above. This appears to be the Borron (NX 994 579) that’s marked on the 1st edition OS. Notably, it sits next to McCulloch’s Castle: “A fortress situated on the sea coast of the lands of Arbigland. It is surrounded on the land side by a fosse or ditch and on the sea side by a steep precipice about 100 feet in height.” (OS1/20/142/10) Maxwell in The Place Names of Galloway takes the name to be Gaelic boirreann ‘a large rock, a stony district’. Update 12/09/2022: I knew I’d seen Borran spelt differently but I couldn’t remember where. It finally came back to me: Walter Newall’s Untitled [Plan or River Nith from Dumfries to Southerness] records Burron and Burron P[oin]t; Ferguson and Gellatly’s 1835 Plan of the Estate of Arbigland lying in the parish of Kirkbean and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright belonging to D. Hamilton Craik Esq. records Burran. Burron Point is also mentioned in the Name book entry for Channel of the River Nith (OS1/10/5/63).

There is place called Burian Hole (NO 863 756) in Kincardineshire which is perhaps an example of an even further flung BIRREN/BURIAN. The name refers to an inlet that sits beneath Adam’s Castle: “A bold precipitous promontory, said to be the site of an ancient Castle, but of which not a vestige remains.” (OS1/19/13/46).

A note on spellings

J. M. Sloan’s (1904) The Carlyle Country notes that Burrance was “the old orthography” for Birrens (p. 19), as seen on the inscription “Here lyes John Carlyle who died in Burrance March the 11th, 1727, aged 40 years” (p. 158). This <-ce> for <-s> spelling is probably seen at Borrance and Borron in Kirkbean. [What the -s is doing is another matter: plural; locational genitive (e.g. at the dentist’s, Tesco’s etc); Scots speakers adding -s to place-names seemingly at random?]

The <u> and <i> forms seen in birren and burron/burrance could be the result of different etymological pathways out of Old Northumbrian (Alan James, pers. comm.). However, it might be the case that these forms arose much later as different realisations of the same word. /ɪ/ and /ʌ/ are fairly close in Scots and there is some variation and overlap in the pronunciation of words such as BIRN (‘the scorched stem of heather which remains after the smaller twigs are burnt’) for which the SND records [bɪ̢̈rn, bʌrn, bɛrn]. The ebb and flow of /ɪ/ and /ʌ/ in Birrens/Burrance and Burnswark/Birrenswark suggest that in the pronunciation of BIRREN wasn’t stable (and/or that there was some uncertainty in how to transcribe it). We see a similar mix of <u> and <o> forms at Borron/Burran, Kirkbean. This doesn’t, of course, rule out different roots for the <u> and <i> forms, but I don’t think the different forms necessarily require it as an explanation.

The change from Burronhill to Burnhill in Mousewald draws attention to the fact that burron is very close (and for some speakers identical to) the pronunciation of BURN ‘stream’ as [bʌrən]. There may well be unrecorded burrons (and birrens) to be found, which have been reanalysed as burns. And as David Christison (see below) notes, there are other forms such as Baron- which might be birrens in disguise.

Burian as a lexical item in The Statistical Accounts of Scotland

Both BIRREN and BURIAN have just one citation in the Scottish National Dictionary. Each is from The Statistical Accounts of Scotland. These documents include four other mentions of burians from the 1790s to the 1840s, suggesting that the word was still in general use in Dumfriesshire until relatively recently. I’ve included those not referred to in the SND, below. And as not too many generations separate us from the time of the New Statistical Account, it would be interesting to see if anyone in the area still uses or recognises the word.

  • “They [burians] are supposed by some to be remains of Pictish encampments; others think that they were places of strength, into which the inhabitants collected their cattle, when alarmed with a visitation from the English Borderers; and many are of opinion that they were formed for the purpose of protecting the cattle, during the night, from the ravages of wild beasts, when this country was mostly covered with wood. The last of these suppositions seems to receive some countenance from the following circumstances, that there is a burian on almost every farm, end that its situation, in general, is on the first piece dry or rising ground that is to be met with in the neighbourhood of the farm-stead, especially when such a situation is rendered the more inaccessible, by the bank of the river, or some other adjoining precipice.” Westerkirk, County of Dumfries, OSA, Vol XI, 1794, pp. 528-529
  • Burians are to be seen in different places; but whether they were British towns, or asylums or cattle, or Castra exploratoria, or for what other purposes they were formed and appropriated , shall be left for antiquaries to determine.” Langholm, County of Dumfries, OSA, Vol. XIII, 1794 p. 599
  • “There are a great number of cairns or burians; also many circular inclosures on hills and eminences, formed by a great quantity of stones, which have now no appearance of having been built. They measure in diameter from 100 to 200 feet. They are commonly supposed to have been used for securing the cattle from enemies and thieves, in a country much infested with both.” Kirkpatrick-Juxta, County of Dumfries, OSA, Vol. IV, 1792, p. 522
  • “A great number of burians are in this parish, of a circular form, and measuring from 36 to 50 yards in diameter. These are supposed by some antiquaries to be remains of Pictish encampments; while others are of opinion that they were merely place of strength into which the people collected their cattle at night for security from the English borderers. There is also a third conjecture, that they were for the purpose of protecting the cattle during the night from the ravages of the wild beasts, when the country was covered with wood.” Westerkirk, County of Dumfries, NSA, Vol. IV, 1845, p. 432-433

An antedating of birren as a lexical item

While in some ways it would be more interesting to bring the recorded usage of birren as a lexical item forward than back, an antedating is always welcome. The Scottish National Dictionary‘s only citation for BIRREN is from 1834. We can push that back six years to 1828 with Mrs Blackford’s The Eskdale Herd Boy, A Scottish Tale, for the Instruction and Amusement of Young Persons:

  • “Soon after her little song was finished, Helen’s attention was caught by a green plat of ground, about fifty or sixty feet in breadth, surrounded by circular earthen walls; and pointing to it, she asked her father what that was. He told her it was called a birren in that country, where there were several of them, and that they were supposed to have been intended for places of safety for the cattle at the time of the border wars.” pp. 26-27

Birrens in ‘A General View of the Forts, Camps, and Motes of Dumfriesshire, with a detailed description of those in Upper Annandale, and an introduction to the study of Scottish Motes’ (1891)

David Christison’s article in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland includes a section on ‘Birren, &c‘ at pp. 205-207. This mentions that in addition to the “‘the numerous forms of the word already give, it is possible that it appears again in a Barronfield (with a fort) in Annandale and a Baronhill in Nithsdale.” [p. 206] I’ve not located these yet but am on the lookout.

In his section on the derivation of birren he notes that “mention must be made of the statement in M’Taggart’s Galloway Dictionary [i.e. The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia] that Birren signifies the the female organs of generation in Galloway [s.v. BYRRAN ‘The female nymphae’], a statement which has been confirmed by local information as being true not only of Galloway, but of Dumfries. No better example of the difficulty of ascertaining the root in an important place-name could ben given than in the case of Birren.” This (surely) has no bearing on birren, but it is nonetheless of lexicographical interest. BYRRAN is not, as far as I am aware, recorded in the Scottish National Dictionary. Christison’s remark is useful for extending the recorded range of this obscure word.

Comment by Alan James 09 09 2022

I’m very grateful to Alan for this note on the etymology of birren. As is often the case with these things, this is work in progress and some details may be changed or refined:

“‘Birren’ is commonly referred to OE byrġen, which occurs in place-names, especially in charter boundaries in the English south and midlands. It’s from Germanic *burg-, with the general sense of ‘protection’, and specifically from the verbal root *burg-ijan ‘to shelter’, becoming via OE burian, ‘to bury’. The suffix is West Germanic *-inno- with the sense of ‘place’, so *burgij-inna- > byrġen is ‘a burial-place’. However, these English place-names are good way away, and the ‘birrens’ of Dmf and Kcb are forts and earthworks, not burials. I suggest that ‘birrens’ might represent a Northumbrian Old English word derived from the same *burg- root, but with a slightly different origin – a nominal rather than a verbal stem, West Germanic *burgaz ‘a shelter’ (becoming OE burh ‘a stronghold’, Scots burgh ‘a walled town’); *burg- with the same suffix –inna would yield a homophone of the southern byrġen, but the meaning would be not ‘a burial-place’ but ‘a fortified place’.

I’m not quite sure that ‘borron’, ‘burron’ are from quite the same origin as ‘birren’; we need to take into account, at least as possible influences, a few other words. Firstly, in north-west England we find a different, though closely related, OE word for ‘a burial’, *burgæsn, becoming burgæns, thence Middle English *burghan and so modern dialectal borran, ‘a burial-place, a cairn’. Secondly, as Maxwell mentioned, Irish Gaelic boir(r)ean ‘a large rock, a stony district, a rocky hill’, a term which occurs in quite a few place-names in Ireland, most famously The Burren in Co. Clare (so note that, while Borron Hill has McCulloch’s Castle, and also a ring-fort revealed by crop-marks, close by is Stony Park in the grounds of Arbigland House, where a remarkable scatter of stones turned out to be a Mesolithic flint-working site). Third, while there’s no Scottish Gaelic word corresponding to boirean in Dwelly’s Dictionary, there are borran and boirinn, both ‘haunch, buttock’: hill-profiles might have suggested that in some cases. And, finally, it’s just possible that Old Norse borginn ‘the fort’ might have been adapted by Gaelic speakers to something like boirinn.”

Lost Names from Bishopton, KCB

The Dumfries Archival Mapping Project (DAMP) just posted a link to 46 Kirkcudbrightshire estate maps from the Yale Centre for British Art. The first I looked at, a map of Bishopton, has 14 place-names that didn’t make it onto the Ordnance Survey. I’ll write up some notes on these later, but for now here is a list of the names and their (approximate) grid references.

Update 21/02/2022: Added some very brief notes.

unknown artist, A Collection of Surveys of Scottish Estates of the Earl of Selkirk: Bishopton, undated, Graphite, watercolor, pen and black ink on slightly textured, moderately thick, cream wove paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1975.2.71

Barend moss, NX 664 507

Cormorar how, NX 664 508

A HOWE is ‘a hollow’ in Scots. Cormorar appears to be an otherwise unrecorded Gaelic name.

Deadwifes Well, NX 671 511

Dead Wife’s Moss (NX 671 511) is marked on the OS. Its Name Book entries record the tradition that a dead woman was found (drowned) there:

“A small portion of land which was formerly a moss but is now reclaimed. It is on the farm of Bishopton, and is traditionally hand[ed] down that a woman had been found dead on it, hence the name.” OS1/20/151/11

“A small hollow situated on the farm of Bishopton, which John Nicol of Newton says was a moss at one time but is now reclaimed, and that it is traditionally handed down of an old woman having been drowned in it, hence the name.” OS1/20/151/146D

Deadwifes Well and Deadwifes Strand below are notable for giving us additional records of this ‘Dead Wife’ name. It is interesting that the map doesn’t include Dead Wife’s Moss, the name which made it onto the OS.

Deadwifes strand, NX 672 508 [Chainge Burn]

See above. STRAND is Scots for ‘small burn/little stream’. It’s a common element in Galloway.

Ghaist how, NX 658 502

A Scots name meaning ‘ghost hollow’. There may be some connection with Knockbogle (see below) to the north.

Greatcross Yair, NX 673 503

A YAIR is a v-shaped fish trap. In D&G, this element only appears in places on the River Dee. The OS records Castle Sod Yair, Bishopton Yair, Gibbhill Yair, Fish House Yair, Tarf Yair and Dee Yair. This name adds another to our list, named after Great Cross – the “place is traditionally handed down as being the spot where the outer gate or entrance to St Mary’s priory stood” (OS1/20/151/53) – which is a little to the east of it.

Town Yair, below, is an alternative name for Gibhill Yair.

Knockbogle, NX 661 508

There a few options for this name. It could be a Scots name formed of KNOCK ‘hill’ + BOGLE ‘a ghost, spectre, phantom’ in inverted position, modelled after Gaelic element order. These names are not common but do occur. A parallel might be Knockmowdie ‘mole hill’ in Kells.

The 2nd option is that this is a Gaelic name formed from cnoc ‘hill’ + an element that has been reanalysed by Scots speakers as bogle.

A third option is that this is a Gaelic name which has used the Scots word bogle. Names like this are a rare but important set. Examples include Ballyett, Stranraer and Culgrange, Inch.

Knockwhae, NX 661 511

A Gaelic name: cnoc ‘hill’ + ?

Langmyoch Moss, NX 661 503 [Reed Loch]

This name looks like it contains the otherwise unrecorded name *Myoch, unless -myoch represents a Scots word I haven’t been able to identify. A MOSS is a ‘(peat)’ bog’.

Lochenennie, NX 665 515

A Gaelic name: loch + an + ?

Lochen shalloch, NX 660 507

A Gaelic name: loch + an + seileach ‘willow’

Lochentammock, NX 662 515

A Gaelic name: loch + an + ? (perhaps Scots TAMMOCK ‘hillock’, or a form of Gaelic tom from which the Scots word was borrowed).

Sunday Well, NX 666 503

There is a Sunday Well in Dunscore (NX 807 848): “A good spring, the water of which is deepened by a stone dam round it, seemingly very old. There is a tradition, that, at some remote time, there were great numbers of people baptised here. The farm takes the name from the well.” OS1/10/13/22

This name is, I believe, only the second one recorded in Scotland.

Town Ya[ir], NX 672 506 [Gibhill Yair]

See Greatcross Yair, above.

Transferred Place-Names in Dumfries and Galloway

Names which refer to other, usually far-off, places are dotted across the landscape. These place-names are different to places which coincidentally share the same name, such as the many Eatons in England and Burnsides in Scotland. Transferred place-names make a direct link between one place and another. They can refer to some characteristic of the source name (often just its remoteness), a personal association with the place, or a commemoration of a famous event. There are at least 25 separate locations on the globe which have been transferred to places in Dumfries and Galloway. The most distant being Kamay – Botany Bay; the closest the Isle of Man.

Transferred place-names can be incorporated into other names, such as California Plantation (Whithorn) which is named after the farm house California rather than the California in America. I’ve not made any distinction between these names in the list below. The name California Plantation will spark an association with America not the Machars for most people. Such associations will vary from person to person. When I saw Portobello (Kirkcolm) on the map, I thought of Edinburgh and not Panama (let alone the 1739 Battle of Porto Bello after which both places were named).

Places from fiction or supernatural places probably belong to another category. I’ve included Lothlórien but left Paradise, Purgatory and Hell for another post. I have not included house-names given from around the middle of the 20th century, which saw an explosion of transferred names.


The name Barbados is from either Portuguese or Spanish, meaning ‘the bearded ones’. Who or what that referred to is unclear. The Pre-Columbian name was Ichirouganaim, or similar.

Barbadoes Villa, Wigtown WIG NX 432 549

The history of this house is the subject of Donna Brewster’s book The House That Sugar Built. There is a summary of the house an its occupants in the Wigtown Women’s Walk leaflet at no. 18. This leaflet mentions “a Mochrum saddler who having established a business in Barbadoes, returned to Wigtown to build this Caribbean-Georgian style house”. I’ve not yet read The House That Sugar Built, but I presume the business he established exploited enslaved people. A John McGuffie is listed as one of awardees of compensation for an estate in Barbados with 128 enslaved people, in Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery database (Barbados 3570A-D). I’m not sure if this John McGuffie is associated with Barbadoes Villa.

  • “A neat house built of s[tone] 2 stories high, built by Mr [x] McGuffie, who occupies [sa…] on the property of the Ea[rl] of Galloway.” OS1/35/52/50

Botany Bay

On 29 April 1770 James Cook landed at Kamay, Australia. Before being named Botany Bay after the “great quantity of plants Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found in this place”, the area was known by Cook and others as Stingrays Harbour. [Wikipedia; national museum australia] Botany Bay was the site of a British penal settlement, which was moved very shortly to Sydney Cove (Warrane). Despite the move, Botany Bay remained in use as shorthand for any penal settlements in Australia.

The implications of Botany Bay as a transferred name are hard labour, threat of transportation (for e.g. poaching) and remoteness. One of the Name Book entries for Botany Hill, Leswalt records a saying that “it was preferable to serve in Botany Bay than to work on it or at it.”

Botany Bay, Penpont DMF NS 758 045

  • “A tongue of land lying between March and Welltrees Burn.” OS1/10/42/19

Botany Bay, Wigtown WIG NX 431 553

This street is unnamed on the 2nd ed. six-inch map; however, it is Botany Street on the 25 inch 2nd ed.

  • “A back lane of Wigtown on its S. side is a brewery the remr. of the same side are cottages, built of stone.” OS1/35/52/6
  • “A back lane on the N side of Wigtown on its S. side is a Brewery.2 OS1/35/52/21

Botany Hill, Leswalt WIG NX 001 589

  • Knocknamoak: “A small hill on the lands of K[nock] and Maize the soil of which is pa[rt] arable and part heathy pasture. The name Botany Hill is but recent[ly] applied to this hill but little known exce[pt] in the immediate vicinity.” OS1/35/34/4
  • Botany Hill: “A small hill the soil of which is very indifferent. & is partly arable & partly heathy pasture. It is on the lands of Knock and Maize and derived its name from time it was first tilled, from a saying that it was preferable to serve in Botany Bay than to work on it or at it. It is the property of the Earl of Stair”. OS1/35/34/44
  • Knock-na-Moak: “Botany Hill is a name recently given to this hill and only a local one. Knock na Moak I think should be entered on plan” OS1/35/34/44


On 9 September 1850 California became the 31st state admitted to the United States of America, an event which post-dates the names below. The etymology of the name California itself has a Wikipedia article of its own.

Remoteness is the typical association for fields named California. A New Dictionary of English Field-Names notes that a references The California Gold Rush might be a possibility in some names. This gold rush started in 1848, which is too late for any of the names below.

California, Kirkmichael DMF NY 043 863

This was a woodland called North Planting in 1835 (H. Stitt, Plan of Dalfibble RHP37625).

  • Dalfibble (Queensberry Estate Plans, Volume 1), D. McCallum & John Francis Dundas, 1854 RHP38143/18

California, Kirkmabreck KCB NX 512 560

  • “The ruins of a farm house with out houses in good repa[ir] and a farm of land attach[ed] in the occupation of m. M[c]Quhir of Bagbie. The proper[ty] of Miss Hannay of Kirkdal[e]” OS1/20/124/46

California, Whithorn WIG NX 420 411

The Authorities for spelling column in the Name Book entry below lists a Royal Engineers map from 1819.

  • “A small farm house & offices in middling repair on the estate of S.H. Stewart Esq of Physgill & Glasserton.” OS1/35/84/19 [Similar entry at OS1/35/84/95]

California Plantation, Whithorn WIG


A New Dictionary of English Field-Names notes that the “names of towns in Ireland were sometimes given to small settlements of migrant workers from the places concerned.”

Little Dublin Street, Stranraer WIG NX 0607 6064

This street becomes Mill Hill Street by the 2nd ed. six-inch, with Little Ireland (and Mill Street) renamed as Hanover Square. There is a clear view of both Little Dublin street and Little Ireland on the OS Town Plan of Stranraer (Scale 1: 1056): Stranraer – Sheet Sheet 4. Surveyed: 1847, Published: 1849. The earliest of record of Little Dublin and Little Ireland on the map is, I believe, John Wood’s Plan of Stranraer from 1843.

  • “A short narrow street branch[ing] westward off Lewis Street to Little Ireland, the houses are from one [to] two storeys high Slated and in g[ood] repair chiefly occupied by m[e]chanics and labourers. This street i[s] drained and macadamised” OS1/35/35/52
  • “A narrow street, branching off Lewis St. and terminating at a place called Little Ireland. The house are from one to two stories high slated and in good repair. Occupied by tradesmen and labourers, it is macadamised, drained and having causeways on both sides” OS1/35/35/173

Drury Lane

Drury Lane is a street in London. The name is often used as shorthand for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Drury Lane, Glasserton WIG NX 434 379

Maxwell’s entry for Drury Lane – which he places in Whithorn – in The Place Names of Galloway (1903, p. 128) is as follows: “A modern and quasi-humorous adaptation of dobharach [douragh], dúrach, meaning wet land, with L. Sc. lane, a slow-running stream, added. This exactly describes that place.” The reference, whether original or through reanalysis, is presumably to the theatre rather than the street itself.

  • “A small farm house & offices in good repair on the estate of S. H. Stewart Esq of Physgill & Glasserton” OS1/35/84/13
  • “A small farm house and outhouses with a farm of land attached the soil of which is arable” OS1/35/84/139


Places tend to be called Egypt either because of their remoteness or because of associations with gypsies or other travellers.

Egypt, Kirkpatrick-Juxta DMF NT 067 043

This is one of three cottages (along with Rosetta and Valenciennes) Kirkpatrick-Juxta with transferred names. The Name Book entry below tells us that rather than referring to some characteristic of the land, these names commemorate places where a local general visited during his career.

  • “A neat cottage with garden attached, there was at former times a piece of land round this place that was called Egypt; and the house is sometimes called by that name. [In new ink] Note. The late General Johnstone who distinguished himself in several engagements in Flanders and Egypt in 1801, gave to several houses then being built distinctive names of countries and towns where he sojourned during these campaigns hence Egypt in this particular instance.” OS1/10/34/54

Little Egypt, Kirkmabreck KCB

  • “There is also a field on a farm not far from Barholm Castle knows as “Little Egypt,” but when asked why it was so called, the farmer said, “Because it is a dry barren place.” […] and surely it is not without significance that we should have “The Gypsy Weil,” “The Gypsy Burn” at Carsluith, and “Little Egypt” near Mossyard,” Andrew McCormick (1907) The Tinkler-Gypsies, pp. 112-113


The only other Germany name in Scotland in the OS Name Books is Muir of Germany (with Wood of Muir of Germany, which becomes Wood of Germany on the 2nd ed. six-inch) in Glenbervie, Kincardineshire. The name Germany may be a reference to remoteness or signify a personal association with the country.

Germany, Buittle KCB

  • The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright [south east section], John Ainslie, 1797 EMS.s.680

Germany Isle, Girthon KCB NX 582 611

Alan James, in Place-names in and around the Fleet Valley: G, notes that “Names of foreign lands when given to fields are quite often just a joking indication that they are some way away from the farm, a bit difficult to get to, and that could be the case here. But it might be that an owner or tenant once had some connection with Germany, perhaps in military service.”

  • “A small island in the Little Water of Fleet, near to the ruin[s] of “Drumshangan.”” OS1/20/105/16
  • “A small island in the Little Water of Fleet near the ruins of Drumshangan & on the estate of H.S. Murrey Esq of Broughton. OS1/20/105/58

High Germany, Dunscore DMF NX 870 849

The name High Germany implies a lost name such as *Germany or *Low Germany. The Name Book entry below tells us that the name was given to two farms on the hill, which has now been transferred to the hill itself. The entry also tells us that it was named by an old soldier, presumably one who served in Germany. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that place-names often give rise to the stories associated with them and the association with the soldier might be a post hoc rationalisation of the name.

  • “It is presumed Germany is [xx] meant. This name was formerl[y] given by an old soldier to two fa[rms] situate on the height of this hill. The name is now applied to the hill o[nly].” OS1/10/13/40


Little Ireland [Street], Stranraer WIG

Like Little Dublin above, this name is likely to refer to Irish labourers who lived here. See Little Dublin Street, above, for map references.

  • “A short irregular street the continuation of Little Dublin Street the houses are irregularly built and scattered some of them slated & some thatched occupied chiefly by labourers. The street is macadamised and drained” OS1/35/35/53 [Little Ireland]
  • “This is an irregular built place. The houses are small some of them slated and some of them thatched and scattered. It takes its name from Irish people inhabiting it. [I]t is macademised and drained” OS1/35/35/172 [Little Ireland Street]

Isle of Man

In English field-names, Isle of Man can allude to “some insular position or to shape, some being in the form of a three-pointed star, resembling the bade of the Isle of Man.”

Isle of Man, Dryfesdale DMF

  • Plan of the farm of Croftheads; Plan of the farm of Broomhouse (Dryfesdale), William Crawford, 1821, RHP37544

Isle of Man, Dumfries DMF NY 007 752

This area is marked as ‘Lands of Trench &c &c belonging to different Proprietors’ on William 7 David Crawford’s c. 1820 Plan of the Barony of Craigs and part of the Barony of Tinwald in the county of Dumfries.

Isle of Wight

In English field-names, Isle of Wight can refer to an ‘isolated piece of land, sometimes betwen two streams’ or ‘a filed shaped like the Isle of Wight’.

Isle of Wight, Glencairn DMF NX 852 860

Isle of Wight is not written in the List of Names as written on the Plan column in the Name Books. The entries below have been scored out. Nonetheless, it appears on the 1st and 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps as a diamond shaped island, which bears a passing resemblance to the Isle of Wight. The current OS doesn’t mark the name or the island, and no island can be seen on satellite imagery. Notably, both entries in the name book describe it as a pool not an island.

  • “A deep pool in the Cairn Water, well known to old residents in the immediate locality, but not elsewhere. inapplicable.” OS1/10/21/233
  • “A large pool in Cairn Water, Not generally known beyond the immediate locality. Inapplicable.” OS1/10/21/245


This name survives in Jericho Loch, which the Jericho Fly Fishers webpage tells us was opened in 1980. It has a long history and has been the source of several now vanished names and is still generating new names – on 6 June 2022 The Standard reported that one of the new roads in the housing development on the site of the old Currie European depot will be Jericho Court. The earliest record in from 1797 where it refers to a farm-stead or other property. Names like this often begin as field-names, but the property may have been named independently.

A New Dictionary of English Field-Names notes that Jericho is a ‘remoteness’ name that also refers to ‘fields on which sick cattle were pastured’. It notes too the following sense, which is taken here from the OED: “Used in slang or colloquial phrases for a place of retirement or concealment, or a place far distant and out of the way.” A final possibility it suggests is a reference to crumbling walls, alluding to the walls of Jericho which “fell down flat” according to Joshua 6.

Jericho, Dumfries DMF NX 993 808

  • William McNeil Jericho 10 Nov 1797 E326/10/2/225 & E326/10/8/283 [Farm horse tax rolls]
  • Miniatures of the Three Maps of the River Lochar between the Bridge at Jericho and the Locharwoods Pow, as referred to in the Report [engraving], Walter Newall nd [c.1845?] GGD131/F5/03
  • “The Lochar commences near a small village upon the Edinburgh road, called Jericho […]” Tinwald and Trailflat, County of Dumfries, New Statistical Account, vol. IV, 1845 p. 40
  • “A small village on the road from Dumfries to Edinburg[h] 3½ miles frim the former, it is principally inhabited by labouring people. OS1/10/11/6
  • “A small village on the Edinburgh Road, 3 miles from Dumfries, consisting of cottage houses & one farm, the property of Miss Douglas. OS1/10/11/13

Jericho Farm

  • Miniatures of the Three Maps of the River Lochar between the Bridge at Jericho and the Locharwoods Pow, as referred to in the Report [engraving], Walter Newall nd [c.1845?] GGD131/F5/03

Jericho Meadow, NX 995 811

Jericho West Division, NX 991 811

Jericho South Division, NX 995 805

This covers the area of the current Jericho Loch.

Lochar bridge Hill or Jericho Plantation, NX 990 808


In English field-names Jerusalem can refer to remoteness or to land owned by Knights Hospitaller (The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem).

Jerusalem Park/Fey, Old Luce WIG NX 211 550

This is marked on the OS, but the name is not recorded – as far as I can tell – in the Name Books. Although Jerusalem Park appears on the OS, it is more commonly referred to elsewhere as Jerusalem Fey, FEY being a (predominantly Galloway) word for ‘the in-field or cultivated land nearest the farm-buildings in the old system of tillage’.

The following records are, directly or indirectly, all from George Wilson:

Wilson, George (1899) ‘List of the Antiquities of Glenluce, Wigtownshire, with Descriptive Notes’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland33, pp. 170-185 <>:

  • Kilfillan Chapel. — The men of the 6-inch Ordnance Survey were sent back to search in the Jerusalem Fey of Kilfillan till they found the site of the chapel. There had been a village there, and on digging up remains of a slate roof the surveyors fixed on that spot as the chapel site. It is marked by solitary white thorn tree on the right side of Barnsallie Burn. On both the old and the new O.S/ maps it is called “Kirkchrist Chapel.” But I shall show that there are two Holy Wells, a fact which seems to indicated that there were two chapels also, one on Kilfillan and another at Kirkchrist. A former tenant of Filfillan farm told me that in clearing away the ruins of the ancient village in teh Jerusalem Fey the workmen refused to uproot the white thorn trees, and it was with much difficulty he got a man to undertake such an unlucky task.” p. 172
  • St Fillan’s Well is in a marsh opposite the Jerusalem fey of Filfillan. It is marked in the O.S. 6-inch map as “Chapel Well” in black-letter. The marsh is between the Barnsallie and Milton burns. It is called simply “the Holy Well,” but is said to have been connected with Kifillan Chapel.” p.173

Wilson, George (1873) ‘Notice of Sculptured Stones at Laggangarn, Mull of Sunnoness, Airrelich and Cassendeoch, Wigtownshire’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 10, pp. 55-61 <>:

  • “Cassendoch is about a quarter of a mile north of the site of Kirkchrist Chapel, in the Jerusalem Fey, on Filfillan farm, so that the stone may have belonged to it.” p. 61

Conway, Daniel (1882) ‘Holy Wells in Wigtonshire’, in Archæological and Historical Collections Relating to the Counties of Ayr and Wigton, vol. III, pp. 85-98 <link>:

  • “Here a white thorn tree, in the Jerusalem Fey, is supposed to mark the site of the old chapel. There had been a village there, and the Ordnance surveymen, in digging, found a place where teh roof had been covered with slates, and marked that spot as the site of the chapel. A little way off, in a marshy place on the opposite side of the brook, the South Milton farm, is a well, said to have been the Holy Well of the chapel, but I have not heard the name of any saint connected with it.” p. 95 [Note 2: Rev. George Wilson’s letter, 29th July 1880.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes in North America. Wikipedia has a list of other referents of the name.

Lake Superior, Inch WIG NX 086 794

This is recent, artificial lake. It doesn’t appear on the 1st or 2nd ed. six-inch maps. The earliest record of the lake and the name I have found is from 1957: NX07SE – A Surveyed / Revised: Pre-1930 to 1956, Published: 1957.


A New Dictionary of English Field-Names notes that London is associated with “remote fields, or for land beside a main road, or for land on which rough dwellings had been erected.” It notes too that Little London is “associated with drovers’ camps”.

Little London, Lochrutton KCB NX 888 721

This name only appears on an estate map from 1815. There are no Little Londons elsewhere in Scotland recorded on the 1st or 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps.

  • A Plan of the Loch Rutton Estate comprending the property in Loch Rutton and Urr parishes in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright belonging to Marmaduke Constable Maxwell…1815, William Mounsey Acc 7932/06

London Moss, Caerlaverock DMF

The earliest record of this name is Landon Moss, on Crawford’s 1804 map of Dumfries-shire. It is London Moss elsewhere. I have included the earliest map from each of the cartographers below. Additional maps can be seen here: County maps of Dumfriesshire

  • Landon Moss, Map of Dumfries-shire from an actual survey, 1804, William Crawford [Signet.s.021]
  • London Moss, The environs of Edinburgh, Haddington, Dunse, Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick, Selkirk, Peebles, Langholm and Annan, making a complete map of the South East district of Scotland, 1812, John Ainslie [EMS.s.741]
  • London Moss, Dumfriesshire [bottom left section], 1828, John Thomson [EMS.s.712(6)]
  • London Moss, [Dumfriesshire] / surveyed by Crawford & Son, for the Atlas of Scotland, 1828, William Crawford [EMS.b.5.10(06)]
  • London Moss, Map of the county of Dumfries with the railways, ?1850, W. & A.K. Johnston [EMS.b.1.99]


Lothlórien is the woodland realm of elves in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth.

Lothlorian, Balmaclellan KCB 754 784

Lothlorien is “a therapeutic community for people with mental health problems” founded in 1974.

Mount Pisgah

(Mount) Pisgah is a biblical name, mentioned in Deuteronomy 34 and Numbers 23. It is found across Scotland; the GB1900 Gazetteer records 14 Pisga(h) names. There is a a Pishag Hill in Kirkconnel DMF marked on the 1856 Queensberry Estate plan of Carcarse and Kelloside. There is a chance this could be a an error for *Pisgah Hill. It’s worth noting that the surveyors of these maps weren’t prone to errors though.

Pisgah Hill, Tundergarth DMF NY 162 807

As the Name Book entry below notes, this was also known as Mount Pisgah which is how it is marked on Nicholson’s 1851 Map of Scroggs and Moss Head estates in the parish of Tundergarth…belonging to William Frederick Powell.

  • “A hill feature on the farm of Scroggs. Sometimes named Mount Pisgah, & Pisgah Hill. Pisgah is the name recommended it is said to be a Scriptural name.” OS1/10/48/79

Mount Pisga, Anwoth KCB NX 578 601

  • “A small hill on the farm of Ornockenough, its surface consists of rocky heathy pasture formerly there had been a farm of this name here, but long since united with that or Ornockenough.” OS1/20/126/3

New England

New England, Glasserton WIG NX 437 395

This name survives as New England Plantation on the current OS.

  • “Two cottages, one in each side of the road & about 1/4 of a mile S. W. of the Burgh of Whithorn on the road to Port William and on the estate of S. H. Stewart Esqr. of Physgill & Glasserton. So name by the late Admiral Stewart.” OS1/35/84/5
  • “Two cottages in good repair on the estate of S. H. Stewart Esq of Glasserton. So named by the late Admiral Stewart.” OS1/35/84/127

New England, Kirkmaiden WIG NX 11 42

The Name book entry for New England Bay, below, wonders that name was ‘given by vessels trading from England’. However, as both Roy and Ainslie map New England as a farm/building, it’s clear that new New England Bay in fact incorporates this pres-existing name.

New England Bay, Kirkmaiden WIG NX 122 420

  • “A creek or inlet on the sea shore of the farm of East Myroch well sheltered from the western winds by the land side it is little used as a landing place e[x]-cept for small fishing boats at on[e] time there was vessels landed with timber brought in hence probably f[or] the use of Logan house & estate. The beach of this bay is sandy. It i[s] situate about 3 miles north of Drumore Village. It might hav[e] got the name given by vessels tradi[ng] from England.” OS1/35/81/22


I’m unclear what the significance of Norway is here. In the entry for Norway Craig in The Place Names of Galloway, Maxwell directs the reader to Carrickfundle in Kirkcolm. That entry reads says, “Seems a corruption of Carraic Fingall, the Norseman’s rock. The Norsemen were known among our people as Finngall, fair-haired strangers, and the Danes as Dubhgall or dark strangers.”

Norway Craig, Kirkmaiden WIG NX 088 345

  • “A rock used by fishermen when angling.” OS1/35/86/32
  • “A fishing seat, used by fishermen whilst angling and which bounds the Norway Hole, on the west” OS1/35/86/105

Norway Hole, Kirkmaiden WIG NX 088 345

  • “An inlet of the sea shore where sea weed is driven in by the tide.” OS1/35/86/33
  • “An inlet of the sea, a place where sea weed is driven in by the tide, and at the ebb of the tide none of it remains.” OS1/35/86/105


Portobelo is a port on the northern part of the Isthmus of Panama. The name is Portugeuse or Spanish, meaning ‘beautiful port’. I don’t know what the Pre-Columbian name was. The name was was transferred to several places in the United Kingdom commemorating the 1739 Battle of Porto Bello (part of the War of Jenkins’ Ear).

Portobello, Kirkmahoe DMF NX 973 809

  • “A cottage the property of Col Johnston, occupied by W. Ramsay – this place is also known as Violets Corner.” OS1/10/31/142

Portobello, Kirkcolm WIG NW 962 664

  • “A small farm house with off[ice] buildings attached and a farm of [?] 21 acres of land chiefly arable [it] derives its name from a small [x] on the coast. It is the property of [x] Ferguson Esqr.” OS1/35/15/28

Portobello, Kirkcolm WIG NW 960 663

  • “A small port or narrow inl[et] used sometimes as a boat harbour [x] large boats or vessels of heavy to[nnage] cannot land here with safety A [x] agricultural produce is sometim[es] shipped from this place the larg[er] vessels being lying at anchor whi[le] smaller boats are used to take th[e] loading from shore” OS1/35/15/28
  • “A small narrow inlet or port. The shore here is shingle & sand it is well sheltered by high land & rocks. But from the heavy ground swell trading vessels does approach close here but sometimes there are turnips oats &c sent out in small boats from this place to the vessel laying off. Got this name by the proprietor” OS1/35/15/84


Rosetta or Rashid (Arabic Rašīd) is an Egyptian port city on the western side of the Nile Delta. The name is best known through the Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta, Kirkpatrick-Juxta DMF NT 056 043

This name appears to have been given by General Johnstone who served in Egypt in 1801 (see Egypt above). The Capitulation of Alexandria which ended Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt took place in August 1801. The terms of the French surrender included the transfer of Egyptian antiquities (including the Rosetta Stone) collected for the French Republic to be transferred into British possession. It may be that the name Rosetta commemorates this event.

  • “A shepherd’s cottage w[ith] outhouse and garden attached occupied by Adam Todd” OS1/10/34/52

Rosetta Wood, Kirkpatrick-Juxta DMF NT 057 045

Saint Helena

Saint Helena is a remote volcanic island in the South Atlantic. It is was the site of Napoleon’s second exile in 1815. He died there on 5 May 1821.

St. Helena Island, Old Luce WIG NX 192 558

There are several entries for St. Helena Island in the Name Books. I’ve only included those below which mention how it came to be named. The others are here: OS1/35/42/17 & OS1/35/42/63.

  • “An island formed on one side by the old course of the rive Luv[e] & on the other by the new course wh[ich] had been cut some years ago in or[der] to improve the fishery of this pl[ace.] Since the latter circumstance to[ok] place it has become and islan[d] from which time the fishe[r]-men being at a loss for a name for it called it St. Hele[na]” OS1/35/58/8
  • “A large island with one house in bad repair it is let at 5£ per year it is chiefly sand and barren soil this name was given it by the fisher men of Glenluce it is not generally known in the country by that name it is part of the farm of Balcarey at the end of the River Luce the property of Sir James Hay Dunragit” OS1/35/58/16
  • “An island formed on one side by the old course of the river Luce and on the other by the new course which has been cut some years ago in order to improve the fishery of this place since the latter circumstance took place it has become an island. From this time the fishermen of the Bay being at a loss of a name for it called it St. Helena. On the Nth side of the island is a Trig. station erroneously named Helens Id. b the Trig party” OS1/35/59/3


According to Wikipedia, “Samaria is the ancient, historic, biblical name used for the central region of the Land of Israel, bordered by Judea to the south and Galilee to the north.” I’m not sure what the significance of the name is here. Perhaps (as ever when in doubt) the name referred to remoteness or to desert-like barrenness. Some particular Biblical association may also have been behind the name. There are no other Samarias in Scotland (on the 1st and 2nd ed six-inch OS maps) but the name appears in Wales in Nevern, Pembrokeshire, Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Carmarthenshire, and Llandwrog, Caernarvonshire.

Samaria, Mochrum WIG NX 292 520

  • “This name applies to a long strip[e] of water in the S. W. end of Mochrum Loch which runs a considerable d[istance] into the lang through a narrow neck, called the Neck of Samar[ia.] It is grown up with reeds and [hxx] the appearance of a marsh at a [distance]” OS1/35/61/28

Neck of Samaria, Mochrum WIG NX 293 521

  • “This name applies to the narrowest portion of the S. W. end of Mochrum Loch & more towards the end of this stripe it gets a little wider and is know[n] by Samaria” OS1/35/61/28

Spion Kop

Spion Kop (Afrikaans Spioenkop ‘spy/look-out hill’) is a mountain in South Africa. Its summit was the site of the Battle of Spion Kop (23-24 January 1900), fought between the Britain and the Boer Republics. The name has been transferred to numerous places, often with reference to a site’s steepness. Wikipedia has a list of places named Spion Kop.

Spion Kop, Durisdeer NS 863 029

This name is marked on the current OS. The most recent OS map hosted by the NLS from 1957 (NS80SE – A) doesn’t show the name. The name appears to refer to a conical hill which shows up on LiDAR.


Valenciennes is a city and region in north-west France, near the border with Belgium.

Valenciennes, Kirkpatrick-Juxta DMF NT 068 037

This name appears to have been given by General Johnstone who served in Flanders (see Egypt above). The name might be a reference to the 1793 Siege of Valenciennes, part of the Flanders Campaign of th War of the First Coalition between France and the collation of Great Britain, Austria and Hanover.

  • “A farm house with steading garden and farm of land attached the property of Butler Johnstone Esqr and farmed by him” OS1/10/34/57


Waterloo, in the centre of Belgium, appears in place-names commemorating the 1815 Battle of Waterloo which marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Waterloo, Mouswald DMF NY 067 721

The name and cottage are not marked on the 2nd edition OS six-inch map.

  • “A small cottage and garden situated at the 7 mile stone from Dumfries, on the Road to Annan.” OS1/10/41/55

Waterloo Hill, New Abbey KCB NX 952 656

This hill was also known as Carse-gowan craig, Carsegowan Hill, Glen Hill and Monument Hill. There are further details in my entry for the name here: Waterloo Hill. The Name Book entries for the Waterloo Monument, after which the hill was named are here: OS1/20/96/28 & OS1/20/95/22. The include a record of the inscription at the base of the monument.

  • “A small hill on the farm of Carsegowan, its surface consists of rocky heathy pasture. Its name originated in consequence of a monument being built on its summit, in commemoration of the victory gained by the British and Allied armies, over the French at Waterloo. This hill is part of an irregular hill range.” OS1/20/95/21
  • “A tolerably sized hill on the farm of West Glen its surface consists of rocky heathy pasture. On it is built a large granite column to commemorate the victory gained by the British at Waterloo. It is called Waterloo Monument. This hill is part of a range.”

Waterloo Place, Dumfries DMF NX 972 757

These buildings aren’t marked on the six-inch maps but appear on the OS large scale town plan of Dumfries (1894) [Dumfries – Sheet LV.3.7]. John Wood’s 1819 Plan of the Towns of Dumfries and Maxwelltown from actual survey marks this stretch along the Nith as Waterloo Street (see below).

Waterloo Plantation, Glasserton WIG NX 363 427

“A large plantation on the farm of Blairbuy the woof of which consists of ash oak beech elm & fir the property of Sir William Maxwell.” OS1/35/75/57

Waterloo Street, Dumfries DMF

Zuider Zee

The Zuiderzee (Dutch ‘southern sea’) “was a shallow bay of the North Sea in the northwest of the Netherlands”.

Zuider Zee, Holywood DMF NX 949 812

This lake doesn’t appear on the 1st or 2nd six-inch OS maps. It is marked but unnamed on sheets NX98SW – A & NX98SE – A, published in 1957.

Gathering Mosses

In his blog post Gatherings about Moss, Thomas Clancy follows up John MacQueen’s (1956, p. 141) suggestion that Old English mos or Old Norse mosi – cognate with Scots MOSS ‘(peat) bog’ – were borrowed into Gaelic. There are names in the Place-Names of the Galloway Glens database which appear to use this borrowed element *mos: Moss Roddock Loch & Moss Raploch. Names of the type elsewhere in Galloway include Moss Nae, Mossmaul and Mossfeather.

I’ve found three Moss- names which weren’t recorded on the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey six-inch to the mile maps and which have therefore flown under the radar: Mossbowie, Kirkmaiden WIG; Moss Glairn, Lochrutton, KCB; and Mossband, Kirkgunzeon KCB.

Mossbowie, Kirkmaiden WIG

Mossbowie is recorded on John Ainslie’s (1782) A Map of the County of Wigton. This is the most securely Gaelic of the three Moss-names gathered here. It is hard to analyse it as anything other than Gaelic mos + buidhe ‘yellow’.

John Ainslie (1782) ‘A Map of the County of Wigton’
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Moss Glairn, Lochrutton KCB

I think Moss Glairn, only recorded on William Mounsey’s (1815) A Plan of the Lochrutton Estate, is fairly likely to be another Gaelic Moss- name too. Here is what I wrote about it in my Estate Map Gleanings 3 post:

“The second element of Moss Glairn looks like it could be Gaelic gleadhran ‘wood sorrel; yellow rattle; cockscomb’. (Alan James has suggested that cockscomb here could be Pedicularis palustris.) If not named from a flower, Thomas Clancy suggests a possible derivation from gleadhar ‘noise, rattle’.

Another possibility is that Moss Glairn is a Scots name in inverted element order (see Drumcushat Park below). Moss is fine, but what would Glairn be? Bobby Clark suggests a derivation from GLAUR ‘soft, sticky mud; ooze, slime’. Alan James suggests glairn could be ‘an analogical adjectival form’ of GLAUR. ‘Slimy bog’ would be something of a tautology, but tautologous names are not uncommon. However, I think the balance is probably in favour of this being a Gaelic name.”

William Mounsey (1815) ‘A Plan of the Loch Rutton Estate comprending the property in Loch Rutton and Urr parishes in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright belonging to Marmaduke Constable Maxwell’
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Mossband, Kirkgunzeon KCB

Mossband appears on the map as Mossband Cottages in 1957 on OS sheet NX86NE. This site subsequently became Mossband Caravan Park and is now Mossband Residential Park. I imagine Mossband Cottages took their name from the field on which they were built, which sits beside a moss. Mossband could represent Gaelic mos + bàn ‘white’. Band would be an unremarkable reanalysis of bàn. A parallel can be found at Castle Ban (Gaelic caiseal bàn) in Kirkcolm, WIG which was recorded in the OS Name Books as Castle Band OS1/35/15/8.

Another option is that Mossband is Scots moss + band. There are hundreds of Scots/Scottish Standard English names where moss appears in first position, followed (in order of frequency) by elements such as side, end, head, plantation, wood, house, bank etc. Mossband feels like a natural Scots/Scottish Standard English name. However, it’s not clear what the element band would be doing here. In northern England, band is used in relatively young names in the sense ‘the ridge of a small hill’. [See this tweet for the reference; thanks to Paul Carbuncle for providing it.] This seems to be the meaning in The Band, Closeburn: “A name given to a rocky Brow [on] the farm of Townhead & South slope of Auchenleck Hill” OS1/10/6/50 (also described at OS1/10/6/53).

However, beyond The Band in Closeburn, band only appears as the final element in Mossband/Moss Band. In addition to the Kirkgunzeon Mossband, there are a handful of other names of this type across Scotland and northern England:

  • Mossband, Dumfries, DMF NX 996 752
  • Mossband, Kirkandrews Nether CMB NY 350 654
    • The Survey of English Place-Names records the following forms: Mosband, 1590; the Mosbande, 1602; Mosse Band near Carlisle 1677; two names (Mossband and Mosband) are marked on the south-west and south sides of Solway Flow, now Rosetrees Moss, on Roy’s Military Map (1752-55).
  • Mossband, Bothwell LAN NS 795 606.
    • Moss Band on Roy’s Military Map (1752-55).
  • Moss Bands, Mossband, Mid Moss Band, Airth STL are marked on Roy’s Military Map (1752-55) on the east side of what is now Leatham Moss. They aren’t recorded on the OS.

Paul Carbuncle notes that the 1602 form of the Mosbande (Kirkandrews Nether), which includes the definite article might pose a hurdle to a Gaelic etymology here. If *mosbàn had been reanalysed as Mossband by this time, I don’t think this is to much of an issue. It may be that a name interpreted as English would ‘invite’ the definite article (though I think this probably depends on the type of name as well as the grammatical context of the record.) However, it’s worth bearing in mind that not all these names need be Gaelic; they might represent a mix of Gaelic, Scots and (Scottish Standard) English names.

If (some of) these names are Scots/(Scottish Standard) English, the fact that band appears only to collocate with Moss- implies that they weren’t being coined as moss + band but that *mossband was a ready-made compound. What would that be? Band ‘the ridge of a small hill’ is unlikely to be relevant, as Mossbands appear to be located at low-lying, moss-side sites. Perhaps band here referred to a ‘strip of land’ or ‘land bounding/bordering something’.

It’s not easy to settle the matter, but I think the weight of probability lies with a Gaelic etymology: ‘white moss’ would be a perfectly ordinary name, and one with a parallel in Mossbowie ‘yellow moss’. A Scots/(Scottish Standard) English etymology would require either a formation with band in an otherwise unrecorded toponymic sense or the use of an equally unrecorded pre-existing compound *mossband. Not impossible, but the path of least resistance appears to be Gaelic.

NX86NE – A Surveyed / Revised: Pre-1930 to 1956, Published: 1957
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland


  • MacQueen, John, 1956, ‘Kirk- and Kil- in Galloway Place-Names’, Archivum Linguisticum 8, pp. 135-149

Two Angelic Place-Names in Kirkpatrick Irongray

I recently got hold of a copy of EMH M’Kerlie’s (1916) Pilgrim Spots in Galloway. In the chapter on ‘Kirkpatrick Durham and Kirkpatrick-Irongray’ it mentions Angel Well (NX 8733 7770) and Angel Chapel (NX 8739 7764). Neither of these names are recorded on the 1st edition or subsequent Ordnance Survey maps (though they do get a mention in the Name Books). Both the well and chapel have CANMORE entries but as the the original sources aren’t that easy to access, I’ve copied them below.

‘Angel’ place-names are, unsurprisingly, not particularly common. The Saints in Scottish Place-Names database records eight: Cnoc nan Aingeal (North Uist); Angels’ Hill (Lochalsh); Tom Aingil (Kilmonivaig); Cnoc Aingil (Lismore); ?Tom nan Ainil (Balquhidder); Cnoc an Aingil (Glassary); Cnoc Aingil (Kildalton & Oa); Angel Hill (Kirkcudbright). In addition to these, the Ordnance Survey Name Books include Angels Burn (Aboyne & Glentanar: OS1/1/4/62, OS1/1/9/89).

All but two of these names are Gaelic and only one (Angels Burn) isn’t a hill name. In this context, Angel Well and Angel Chapel are notable not just for adding to the corpus of Scottish angel place-names but for being Scots/English names and for referring to features that aren’t hills.


E. Marianne H. M’Kerlie (1916) Pilgrim Spots in Galloway, London: Sands & Co., pp. 211-213

In the absence of all other tradition, who so [212] fitly as St Patrick may be connected with what was once the Angel Chapel and the Angel Well at Barnsoul? — he who lived in such familiar converse with his angel guardian.
Now hardly known, unmarked on any map, the spot is chiefly regarded as an ancient fort; an, were it not for the sweet-sounding title of the Angle Chapel, the interest would be chiefly for the archæologist or the lover of beautiful scenery. Bu the title is a magnet; and the road, at least from Dumfries, most beautiful all the way to the romantic “Routin Brig,” under which the old Water of Cluden tumbles over the rocks, in miniature cascades, to join the Cluden water; then the wild hills, of which one is Skeoch, as seen from Barnsoul, lying a little to the south.
On arriving here, the usual inquiries were necessary. The farmer’s wife knew nothing of the Angel Chapel and Well, but a bright little girl did, and her father knew more. He was the fetched, and conducted me tot he site. This is in a big, rich, sloping field, and on the June day of my visit it was a veritable carpet of buttercups and daisies. Six or eight Ayrshire calved tried hard to follow us into it; and the man, remarking on its richness, said that he had heard that it was blessed by the monks long ago. Then he pointed to a mound, with some old thorns on either side, and on going up into the grassy enclosure, it presented the form [213] of a horse-shoe, and this is the site of the Angel Chapel. A little below is a circle of rounded stones, — the basin of a spring. This was the Angel Well, whose waters have been diverted for the purpose of draining the land, and which now find their outlet in an adjoining burn.

F. Coles (1893) ‘The Motes, Forts, and Doons in the East and West Divisions of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 27, pp. 92-182 [at p.112, n.1]<>

Half a mile N.E., and much lower down, on Barnsoul, there is marked on the O.M. the site of a chapel. From Mr Welsh, proprietor of Macnaughton, I learned that there were records extant in his family bearing on this point. So far as may be judged by actual survey of the remains as they now are, the notion of an ecclesiastical or of any other rectangular walled building, indeed, would be the very last to be suggested. The site is a horseshoe-shaped flattish space, within what certainly seems to be nothing more or less than a rather unusually broad rampart of earth and stone — in parts quite 20 feet wide — and having interior diameters of 75 x 75 feet. wing, however, to ravages made by ploughing and sundry unequal parts which incline to the angular, and help to render this curious site incompletely curvilinear, I do not feel justified in assigning it a place in my survey. Mr Welsh avers that it was known as The Angel Chapel, and a spring of water in the hollow to the N. goes by the name of The Angel Well to this day.

Ordnance Survey Name Book: Chapel (site of) OS1/20/64/12 (1848)

The site of a chapel on the f[arm] of Drumcloyor house of Barnsoul, no remains of the […] can now be traced out, althoug[h] the spot is surrounded by an [em]bankment of earth and stones […] covered with grass and thorn but W. Alex. Welsh & his brother Jam[es] Weslh of Macnaughton whose ancestors have been residents in the locality for more than a c[en]tuary past, say that they have heard it as a tradition from their father & from others; that a chapel existed here at some remote peri[od.] The name Chapel Rig which applies to the eminence would in a deg[ree] confirm this tradition also sometime ago, a well near this place which [is] now closed up was called Angel Well. & which is evident had some connection with the chapel.

Scots Place-Names on the Map

The trend for Scots place-names on maps is towards anglicisation. This process accelerated and was largely fixed by the Ordnance Survey’s first edition six-inch to the mile maps. Comparing earlier and contemporary maps – and the Various Modes of Spelling entries in OS Name Books – to the names on the 1st edition shows a concerted shift from Scots to English forms: stone > stane; laigh > low; brig > bridge; co > cave; lang > long; water > river, etc.

The standardisation of Scots names in English spelling on maps and road signs hasn’t just visually altered the linguistic landscape, it’s changing the way Scots names are spoken. Unless you’re used to hearing Auld Brig o Urr, you’re going to follow Google, the OS and the road signs and call the place Old Bridge of Urr. There’s no way to read Colvend as Co’en unless you seen or heard the latter. And being local only gets you so far. I know the Scots pronunciations of the Kirkcudbrightshire names I grew up around but I gang agley with Wigtownshire names – mostly (I assume) without even knowing it – as I have to follow the spelling on the map or road signs. The process is self-sustaining, the more a name gets ‘airtime’ in English form, the less familiar the Scots form becomes. The path from unofficial, to unused, to lost is short.

If you think that Scots matters, it’s hard not to despair at this. You can’t change the OS and while digitally editing road signs is a diverting hobby, it’s not likely to effect any real change. Fortunately, OpenStreetMap offers a way to get Scots place-names back on the map.

River Bladnoch road sign, edited to show Water o Blaidnoch, using GIMP and and Transport Heavy font which “Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0”.

OpenStreetMap, a free, open source, editable map of the world – think Wikipedia for maps – has the facility for storing multilingual names for every place in its database. Scots names can be added to the map using the tag name:sco, just as you can add names in any other language. What this means in practice is that if you search for Auld Brig o Urr in OpenStreetMap it takes you to Old Bridge of Urr, unlike Google Maps which will take you to a Wetherspoons in Irvine. (You can also change your language preferences to display the user interface in Scots giving you Sairch instead of Search, Eedit instead of Edit, etc.)

OpenStreetMap showing Old Bridge of Urr when Auld Brig o Urr is searched for. Google Maps doesn’t do this.

This is a fantastic start, but although Scots names can be stored in OpenStreetMap so that they can be searched for, the names on the map appear in English by default [1]. What we need is a way of displaying the Scots names first, with the map falling back on English names where no Scots form is recorded. The good news is that this is completely achievable.

All that is needed is someone to host a tile-server which will display name:sco names first in the hierarchy.[2] Anyone with the hardware and know-how could do this (I don’t but Chris Fleming has kindly offered to help). In terms of hardware, the Scots Language Centre seems like the perfect place to host a Scots OpenStreetMap. They’ve already produced a map and a gazetteer of Scots place-names. A Scots OpenStreetMap would take this excellent work up several notches, with thousands of names – from major settlements to minor names – displayed in Scots, with the added bonus of all the interactive functionality OpenStreetMap has to offer.

I’m hopeful that this will get off the ground soon. In the meantime, there’s plenty of work to do adding Scots names to OpenStreetMap. The first thing to do if you’re interested is sign up for an account, after which it’s just a case of searching for a place > clicking ‘Edit’ > clicking the ‘+’ under ‘Name’ to enter a multilingual name, and you’re away. The Scots Language Centre’s gazetteer is a great first point of call for finding Scots names. For Galloway, Trotter’s Galloway Gossip and S.R. Crockett’s books (available as free pdfs at the S.R. Crockett Archive) are great sources. However, local pronunciations are probably going to get you the most coverage.[3]

I’ve put links to some names I’ve recently updated below as examples:


[1] A way round this is to change the name tag to the Scots form. This is probably the best solution with minor names: there is no reason why Sliddery Stane should be entered as it is on the OS as Sliddery Stone, when the second word is pronounced locally as stane. However, settlements should probably match their official form on the OS and road signs. Even if you were to enter the Scots form as the ‘name’ of a place with the English form listed under name:en, OpenStreetMap will default to name:en over name, as is the case with Sliddery Stane (which gets displayed as Sliddery Stone).

[2] A workaround is to use, which will display the Scots names recorded on OpenStreetMap. While this sounds like what we’d want, the map is let down by the limited features it displays (the names of burns, lochs and various other major and minor features aren’t shown) and the length of time it takes to update (often weeks if not months).

[3] Local pronunciations will vary and as Scots doesn’t have a fully standardised spelling system, choosing which form and spelling of a name could cause some systems an issue. As it happens, OpenStreetMap allows you to store alternative names, using the alt_name:sco tag. Cackerbush or Calkerbush? Enter them both. Doing this will improve the search functionality. Nonetheless, one form will have to be selected for the name:sco tag, which is the form that will be displayed on the map.

Eel Place-Names

Eels were an important part of the medieval and early modern economy, so it’s surprising that we don’t see more of them in place-names. There are only two Dumfries and Galloway eel place-names recorded on the first edition Ordnance Survey six-inch to the mile maps: Blue Eel Pool, Dryfesdale/Tundergarth DMF and Eel Spring Strand, Balmaclellan KCB.

The Ordnance Survey is a fantastic record of place-names, but it isn’t the only one. There are plenty of place-names which didn’t make onto this map, including those that mention eels. So far I’ve found three in D&G. There are probably more out there to be found.

Eelburn, Troqueer KCB NX 963 694

Eelburn is marked as two buildings – no doubt named from the burn – on Ainslie’s 1797 map of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Neither the buildings nor the name make it to the OS. The burn itself isn’t given a name either.

Stewartry of Kirkcudbright [south east section], John Ainslie 1797
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Eeel Hole, Kirkmahoe DMF NX 957 897

Eeel Hole is now buried under forestry. It’s not on a watercourse but the 1779 estate map – the only record of the name – shows that it was located at the south west end of a moss [a (peat) bog]. It holds the record for most consecutive <e>s in a Scottish place-name. (If we’re ignoring spaces, Little Eela Water, Wee Eldrick, Blue Eel Pool, and Bee Edge would tie it.)

The Farm of Auchengieth [Kirkmahoe], the Property of Robt Brown Esq, 1779
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Eelholes, Tongland KCB NX 714 589

This name is recorded in the OS Name Books as Eelhole, but for whatever reason doesn’t appear on the map. The Name Book description is as follows: “A small cottage in indiffer[ent] repair on the farm of H[igh] Barncrosh & the prope[rty] of Jas. Carrickmoore of Corswall Wigtown Shir[e]” OS1/20/130/28.

Stewartry of Kirkcudbright [South east section], John Ainslie 1797
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Miscellaneous Map Finds

A list of notable names that don’t (yet) have a place elsewhere on this site.

Sleu na Man, KCB NX 54 54

This name, which is fairly certain to be Gaelic sliabh na mBan ‘hill/moor of the women’ is only found on this map (thanks to Michael Klevenhaus and Alan James for suggesting the etymology). It is notable for adding another slaibh-name to the list collected by Simon Taylor in Sliabh in Scottish Place-names: its meaning and chronology (JNSN 1, 2007, pp. 99-136).

Gallovidiae pars media quae Deam et Cream fluvios interjacet, [vulgo], The Middle part of Galloway, which lyeth betweene the rivers Dee and Cree / auct. Timoth. Pont., 1654
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Cuddle Cosy, Crossmichael KCB NX 766 644

This is only the second Cuddle Cosy I am aware of. The other is a field in Borgue. Just down the road is Doddle Denty (NX 765 641).

Kirkcudbrightshire Sheet XLIII.NW Date revised: 1894, Date Published: 1895
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Keekafar, Leswalt WIG NW 997 595

This name is marked on the current OS, around the site of Glaik on the OS 1st ed. By the 2nd ed., Glaik had moved to its current position. Although the name here is not marked on the 1st or 2nd ed., there are two Keekafars in Ayrshire recorded on the 1st ed. in Maybole (NS 287 146) and Kirkoswald (NS 256 062). The Name Book entries are as follows:

  • Maybole: “A small cothouse one storey high slated and in good repair. John Rankin Esqr. Proprietor. Probably so called from the extensive view which this place commands.” OS1/3/46/54
  • Kirkoswald: “A small heathy-pasture hill, [it] takes its name from the distant [view] which may be had of the surrounding country from its [summit] [property of] the Marquis of Ailsa” OS1/3/40/50

Like the two Ayrshire examples, this place looks to have commanding views – in this case west down to the sea. I can’t find a record earlier than the OS app on my phone, so it’s hard to know when the name was coined. It’s also difficult to say whether this was an independent coinage or a name transferred (appropriately) from Ayrshire. Someone in the area might know the answer.

Viewy Knowe, Canonbie DMF NY 322 799

Viewy Knowe is another place with an impressive viewshed. Although described by the Name Book (see below) as a ‘small’ hill, it stands at 652 feet and commands a 360 degree view. Although completely transparent, VIEWY isn’t record as a toponymic or lexical element as far as I’m aware. The OED entry for VIEWY only has the following senses:

  • 1a) Of a person: inclined to adopt speculative or unsubstantiated views; having a tendency to be impractical, polemical, or opinionated.
  • 1b) Of a theory, piece of writing, etc.: characterized by speculative or unsubstantiated views; polemical or opinionated.
  • 2) Originally slang. Pleasant or attractive in appearance; showy.

Name Book entry: “Is a small round hill on the farm of Kerr the Surface of which is covered with heathy pasture, & on its Summit, stands a Trigl. [Trigonometrical] Station.” OS1/10/4/61

Dumfriesshire, Sheet LIII Survey date: 1857,  Publication date: 1862
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Looky Knowe, Penpont NS 794 002

Like VIEWY, this use of LOOKY is transparent but idiosyncratic. The OED records LOOKY as a verb “Chiefly in imperative. Used to draw or direct attention; ‘see’, ‘observe’, ‘take note’.”

Name Book entry: “A small rocky knoll on the southern should of Woodend Hill from which an extensive view of the surrounding country is obtained”. OS1/10/42/129

Dumfriesshire, Sheet XXI Survey date: 1856,  Publication date: 1861
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Gowk Nest Wood, Inch WIG NX 166 652

GOWK is Scots ‘cuckoo’. It occurs fairly frequently in place-names. However, cuckoos don’t build their own nests and the to build a gowk’s nest is “to make something wonderful but absurd, to produce a ‘mare’s nest'”.

There is no wood here on the OS 1st ed. Perhaps the name was some comment on the suitability of this site for a plantation. Whatever the case, the wood is going strong today.

Wigtownshire Sheet XII.NE Date revised: 1893, Date Published: 1896
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Jubilee Wood and Abdication Wood, Tynron DMF NX 760 962

These adjacent woods are marked on the 1st and 2nd ed. OS six-inch maps but are unnamed on both (the grid reference is for the mid point between the woods). Abdication Wood is surely a reference to the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936. I’d hazard a guess that Jubilee Wood was named for the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935, though Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 (both of which occurred after the publication of the OS 2nd ed.) are also options. The 1977 Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II strikes me as too late for a pairing with Abdication Wood.

Dumfriesshire, Sheet XXI Survey date: 1856,  Publication date: 1861 [Jubille Wood is on the left; Abdication Wood is on the right.]
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Beebinklees, Lochmaben DMF NY 093 852

This is listed as Beebinks on the OS six-inch 1st ed. However, three of the four entries in the Various modes of Spelling the same Names column are Beebinklees, which is the name given on the six-inch 2nd ed. Scots BEE-BINK is ‘a bee-hive’. BINK was a new word to me; I was more familiar with BYKE, well known from Tam o’ Shanter:

As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke

Name Book entry: “A dwelling house offices and farm, property of Sir Wm Jardine. In the district around this is in a short way named Beebinks. Beebinks’ Leas seems to be the correct mode.” OS1/10/36/40

Dumfriesshire, Sheet XLII Survey date: 1857,  Publication date: 1861
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Deil’s Den, New Abbey NX 951 671

Scots DEN is “a narrow valley or ravine, usually wooded, a dingle”. Places associated with the Deil or deils in Scottish place-names tend to be large an/or treacherous. The Deil’s Den can’t be seen on the OS, but it shows up clearly on LiDAR. The OS Name Book entry describes it as follows: “A tolerably sized hollow in Shambelly Wood and situated about 30 chains West of West Shambelly farm house.” OS1/20/96/21

OS Six Inch, 1888-1913 & LiDAR DTM 50cm-1m (2019-2012) Side by Side
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Estate Map Gleanings 3

Another trip down the estate map mines. You can read the earlier posts here: Estate Map Gleanings & Estate Map Gleanings 2.

‘Unhained’, Morton DMF

UNHAINED is Scots ‘unenclosed’. The DSL’s only citation is from a poem by Forbes MacGreggor, published in 1991:

“He sees the unhained Hieland glen
He brookt or he was glaikt by men.”

Older Scots HAIN is ‘to fence in, enclose; to protect in this way’. The definition from 1700- is more specific: ‘to enclose or protect a field or wood by a hedge or fence ; to preserve grassland from cattle for hay or winter pasture. Gen. found as ppl.adj. hain(e)d, of a grass crop: kept for hay, allowed to lie without being pastured; of a plantation: preserved from cutting’.

Unhained usefully fills a lexical gap and I’m surprised it isn’t used more often. It appears four times on this map. In each case it’s written in pencil so it is hard to know if it’s a later addition or from an early draft which has not been inked onto the plan, as is often the case on the Queensbury Estate Plans. Whatever the case, this map provides us with a record of unhained that’s much earlier than 1991 and used in a different context.

The Farm of Drum with the Lands taken from it & Drumshinnoch and added to Holestane, 1851
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Fairy Knowes, Durisdeer DMF

One of the attractions of studying estate plans is finding names that aren’t recorded on the OS. It’s fairly common to see traces of pencil sketches and notes that have subsequently been inked in on these plans. For whatever reason, some of the names that are pencilled in weren’t upgraded to ‘official status’. This example, at NS 864 109, is significant for adding another Fairy Knowe to the list of such sites in D&G; there are just six recorded in the region on the OS 2nd ed. six-inch maps.

These faint pencil entries are easy to miss when looking at estate plans. I’ve found a fair few but plenty will have slipped through the net. I’m sure there will be others too faint to have been picked up when the plans were scanned.

Holestane & Waulk-Mill, 1848
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

North & South Teux Holm, Dryfesdale DMF; Tukestone Braes, Kirkconnel DMF

Scots TOUK is ‘an embankment or jetty built to prevent erosion of soil on the bank of a river, side of a ditch, etc.’ The only occurrence of this word in D&G on the OS 2nd ed. six-inch maps is The Tooks in Kirkmahoe (NX 953 828), which the Name Book describes as ‘a deep pool in the River Nith.’

North Teux Holm and South Teux Holm, which sit by the old and new courses of the Annan, are well-sited for touks. Tukestone Braes sits by the Nith.

Shillahill, 1854
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Upper Cairn and McCrierick’s Cairn, 1856
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Makins Burn, Kirkconnel DMF

Scots MAUKIN ‘hare’ is surpringingly rare in place-names. There are only two occurrences of this element in D&G on the OS 2nd ed. six-inch maps: Maukinhowe (with Maukinhowe Burn) in Balmaclellan and Maukins Mire in Half Morton. This map adds a third.

Crockroy and Rigg, 1856
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Poldivan Lake, Closeburn DMF

LAKE is notable for being used as a stream-name in southern Scotland. As these are relatively minor watercourses (though some run for several miles) many aren’t recorded earlier than the 1st ed. six-inch OS maps. The estate maps digitized by DAMP have been a great resource for finding both early records and otherwise unrecorded LAKE names. This record of Poldivan Lake from 1764 is the earliest I’ve found so far.

I talked about this use of LAKE at the SNSBI Spring Conference. My slides are here: Lake as a stream-name in southern Scotland.

Plan of lands belonging to the Duke of Queensberry and Dover in the parish of Closeburn, 1764
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland  

Eeel Hole, Kirkmahoe DMF

Eel place-names are infrequent. This is only the third in D&G. It joins Eel Spring Strand, Balmaclellan and Blue Eel Pool, Tundergarth. It’s the only one spelled with three <e>s.

The Farm of Auchengieth [Kirkmahoe], the Property of Robt Brown Esq, 1779
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland 

Old Wife’s Syke, Eskdalemuir DMF

This name joins the three D&G Auld Wife’s X place-names on the 1st and 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps: Auld Wife’s Kirn, Kirkpatrick-Juxta; Auld Wife’s Stank, Minnigaff; and Auld Wife’s Grave, Inch. The only other name of this type is Auld Wife’s Lift in Baldernock, STR. Neither of the burns recorded here – Old Wife’s Skye and Blanches Well – are marked on the 1st or 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps.

Plan of Craighaugh Estate in the parish of Eskdalemuir, Dumfries Shire, the property of Robert Laidlaw, 1850
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Lairds Cave, Eskdalemuir DMF

The Lairds Cave (NY 242 996) is marked on the map above too. The OS doesn’t mention a cave at all. The closest name is Johnston Linns, which the Name Book describes as ‘A number of small waterfalls’. It would be worth a visit.

Plan of Johnston & Burncleuch in the Parish of Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire. The property of Robert Laidlaw, 1850
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Roading Folds

RODDIN(G) is Scots ‘a narrow track or path, specif. one trodden out by sheep; any private unmetalled track or rough road’. There are no place-names which use this element in D&G on the 1st and 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps. There are only 12 names featuring RODDIN(G) on the 2nd ed., almost all of which are in Ayrshire.

Plan of Ecclefechan & Mein Water, 1759
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Two Cow Gangs (Kirkconnel & Durisdeer, DMF) and a Lambgang (Penpont, DMF)

GANG is Scots ‘a pasture; the right of pasturing. Specif.: the pasture on a farm allotted to cows; a certain stretch of ground on a hill-side over which a flock of sheep grazes’. None of these names is recorded on the OS.

The first Cow Gang covers either side of Needle Street in Kirkconnel. The second, like Fairy Knowes above, is a pencil entry. The OS 1st ed. six-inch map shows a field here (NS 840 000).

Lambang (which sits next to Lamb Park) is a field on the farm of Auchenbainzie, Penpont. The name made it onto the 1st ed. six-inch OS as Lambgang Plantation (NX 835 968).

Index Plan of the Lands belonging to His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry in the Parishes of Sanquhar & Kirkconnel in the County of Dumfries and in the Parish of Crawford-John in the County of Lanark, 1856
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Drumlanrig, 1848
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Plan of farms pertaining to the Drumlanrig estate, 1821-1822
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Fortalice Meadow

A fortalice is a ‘fort or fortress’. The Fortalice of Greenlaw is referred to in Fortalice embankment, Fortalice tunnel, and Fortalice meadow on this plan. The Tower and Fortalice of Greenlaw (remains of) is the only occurrence of fortalice on the 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps of Scotland, Wales, and England.

Untitled [Plan of the Estate of Greenlaw in the Parish of Crossmichael], c.1829
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Paddock pipes Tunnel, Crossmichael

The same map also records Paddock pipes Tunnel, which has been scored out and replaced with Barony Tunnel. Paddock, more familiar as PUDDOCK, is Scots ‘frog’. Puddock pipes is ‘the marsh horse-tail, a grass of the genus Equisetum‘ or, according to the entry in Mactaggart’s Gallovidian Encylopedia, ‘a moss herb’.

Untitled [Plan of the Estate of Greenlaw in the Parish of Crossmichael], c.1829
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Soft Sleechy Sands, Kirkcudbright KCB

SLEECHY is ‘slimy, muddy’. The DSL includes this and other forms under the headwork SLEEK but acknowledges the various forms and meanings ‘may have diverse origins’. OED lists SLEECHY under SLEECH, itself ‘apparently a later form of SLITCH’. The OED’s earliest record for SLEECHY is 1792; the earliest record in DSL is 1795. Both citations are from the Old Statistical Accounts of Scotland. This map provides another early record for the word.

Boreland belonging to the burgh of Kirkcudbright, April 1795
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Gold Well, Terregles KCB

This wee burn is unnamed on the 1st and 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps, though the spring is marked on the current OS. It joins Gold Wells, Dalry and Gold Cleugh, Glencairn as the third gold place-name in D&G. (Goldielea, Troqueer, Goldie Park, Dumfries, and Goldthorpe Knowe, Kells are derived from personal names.)

This is a photo from the 1810 Atlas and Admeasurement of an Estate, Situated in the Parish of Terregles in the Stewartry of Kikcudbright, the Property of Marmaduke Constable Maxwell which I got to see in person as it’s not online. I will eventually get round to posting a list of the names on its maps.

Little London, Lochrutton KCB

A New Dictionary of English Field-Names notes that Little London is a not uncommon name, often referring to ‘land on which rough dwellings had been erected’. It can also refer to ‘land beside a main road’ or to distant fields, neither of which is applicable here. It notes too that the name is ‘also associated with drovers’ camps’. There are no Little Londons recorded on the 1st or 2nd ed. six-inch OS maps.

A Plan of the Loch Rutton Estate comprending the property in Loch Rutton and Urr parishes in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright belonging to Marmaduke Constable Maxwell…1815
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Moss Glairn, Lochrutton KCB

This otherwise unrecorded name appears to be Gaelic name of the type discussed by Thomas Clancy in Gatherings about Moss. MOSS is a Scots word meaning ‘marsh bog; a bog from which peats are dug, a moorland on an estate which is allocated to the tenants for cutting fuel’. However, there are several place-names in southern Scotland – Moss Raploch, Moss Nae, Moss Feather etc. – where Moss represents a Gaelic borrowing of either Old English mos or Old Norse mosi.

The second element of Moss Glairn looks like it could be Gaelic gleadhran ‘wood sorrel; yellow rattle; cockscomb’. (Alan James has suggested that cockscomb here could be Pedicularis palustris.) If not named from a flower, Thomas Clancy suggests a possible derivation from gleadhar ‘noise, rattle’.

Another possibility is that Moss Glairn is a Scots name in inverted element order (see Drumcushat Park below). Moss is fine, but what would Glairn be? Bobby Clark suggests a derivation from GLAUR ‘soft, sticky mud; ooze, slime’. Alan James suggests glairn could be ‘an analogical adjectival form’ of GLAUR. ‘Slimy bog’ would be something of a tautology, but tautologous names are not uncommon. However, I think the balance is probably in favour of this being a Gaelic name.

The moss is unnamed on the 1st ed. six-inch OS map but by the 2nd ed. the area has been planted with trees and called Moss Wood. This plan also provides a name for the burn which has its source in the moss and which is unnamed on both the 1st and 2nd ed. OS six-inch maps: Lawston’s Burn (named from the farm of Lawston which it passes).

A Plan of the Loch Rutton Estate comprending the property in Loch Rutton and Urr parishes in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright belonging to Marmaduke Constable Maxwell…1815
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Watercraw Thorn, Durisdeer DMF

Scots WATER-CRAW is the dipper, Cinclus aquaticus. This plan is the only place this tree is named and, as far as I’m aware, the only use of water-craw in a (Scottish) place-name.

Plan of Townhead of Durisdeer, 1830
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Hangman Tree, Durisdeer DMF

Another named tree. There are only 9 Scottish place-names which feature the element hangman on the OS 2nd ed. six-inch maps, including Hangman Hill in Kirkbean. References to gallows and hangings are fairly common in tree-names. There are plenty of examples here: Trees with Names in Dumfries and Galloway.

Drumlanrig, 1848
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Surfaceman’s Cottage, Kirkconnel DMF

A surfaceman, according to the OED, is either a miner who works at the surface or, as is almost certainly the case here: “Originally and chiefly Scottish. A worker responsible for keeping the railway in good repair”. The railway passes the cottage. This is the only surfaceman place-name I am aware of, though others might be preserved in house-names.

Glenwharrie, 1856
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Valleyfield & Lochhill Onsteads, Tongland KCB

ONSTEAD is Scots ‘the houses and buildings forming a farm-stead; a cluster of farm-workers’ houses or the like’. For whatever reason it almost never appears in place-names. The only occurrence on the OS 1st ed. six-inch maps (there are none on the 2nd) is Hill Onstead in Crailing, Roxburghshire.

Plan of the estate of Valleyfield in the parish of Tongland and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Comprising the farms of Lochhill, Valleyfield & Sandybrae, Mansion House &c., 1873
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Plan of the estate of Valleyfield in the parish of Tongland and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Comprising the farms of Lochhill, Valleyfield & Sandybrae, Mansion House &c., 1873
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Upper & Nether Laverocks, Keir DMF; Lirickstone Fold, Middle DMF

LAVEROCK is Scots ‘skylark’. Laverock is not uncommon in place-names, but it is unusual to see it as a generic element. It may be that Upper and Nether Laverocks began as one field called *Laverock Park which were subsequently split. This needn’t be the case, though. A name like *Laverocks, with field, park etc implied wouldn’t be an aberrant formation. the field are also marked on Porterstown and Beuchan, 1845 and Plan of the farms of Porterstown, Penmurtie and Beuchan in the Parish of Keir, 1825 where the lower field is Under Laverocks.

Lirick is a reduced form of LAVEROCK. The DSL entry notes that a laverrock cairn is “a heap of stones frequented by larks; hence any insignificant place”, though I don’t think that’s necessarily significant here. Incidentally, the DSL entry includes the forms “lairi(c)k, -ock, laerock, ler(r)i(c)k, -uck; larrik, lari(c)k; laerag, lairag, layrag” but not lirick.

Sketch of the farm of Porterstown in the Parish of Keir, c.1820
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Broadlee, 1857
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Drumchushat Park, Kirkconnel DMF

Another Scots bird place-name. CUSHAT is ‘ring-dove or woodpigeon’. Drum is borrowed into Scots from Gaelic druim ‘ridge; back’. Drumcushat is interesting for being in Gaelic element order rather than the order expected in Scots: *Cushatdrum. There are three possibilities behind this. 1 Drumcushat is a Gaelic name where the second element has been reanalysed as Scots cushat. 2 This is a Gaelic name using a word borrowed from Scots. Names of this type are found in Wigtownshire – Balyett is an example (Gaelic baile ‘farm’ + Scots yett ‘gate’). 3 Drumcushat is an ‘inverted’ Scots name. Names with inverted element order are not infrequent where the generic element is a borrowing from Gaelic. A potential analogy is Knockmowdie in Kells, though this might also be a case where a Gaelic element has been reanalysed as Scots. Whatever the case, we only know about Drumcushat because it is preserved in this field name.

Glenmuckloch Hall, 1856
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland