Killymingan, Kirkgunzeon

My thanks to Lynne Crichton for passing on these names. Lynne’s grandfather took over the tenancy of Killymingan in 1897. Lynne also included the names from a map surveyed by J. Paterson in 1850. This gives us a fascinating insight into what has changed and what has stayed the same. For example, we now know not only the name of Flat Field (20) but that it was once called Dalwattie, an otherwise unrecorded Gaelic place-name.

Note: Alleyfield should read Alleyford.


The Hill (1): Back of Hill (a), Top of Hill (b), Pump Park (c) in 1850

Although one field on the OS 2nd edition, the 1st edition has three fields here. Thanks to Paterson’s 1850 list we know their names. Back of Hill (A) is the field furthest from the farmstead of Killymingan and sits behind the hill from this perspective. Top of Hill (B) contains the summit of the hill and the OS trig point. The OS 1st edition marks a ‘Tank’ in the south-east corner of Pump Park (C); the pump referred to may have been associated with this tank. The ‘hill’ itself is Bar Hill on the first edition; by the 2nd edition this has changed to Killymingan Hill. Bar Hill is referred to in Bar Croft, the name for Field Below Hill (3) in 1850.

11 Acre Field (2): Alleyford Field in 1850

The modern name of this field is based on its size. By my measurements I make it 12 acres. The field sits on the border of Alleyford farm, which is the source of the 1850 name. It is common for fields that border other farms to be named after the farm over the boundary. The same pattern is seen in Branit Rig Field (12).

Field Below Hill (3): Bar Croft in 1850

The hill in question is Killymingan Hill, Bar Hill on the OS 1st edition. ‘Below’ here is orientated with respect to the farmstead, which is north-northeast of the Killymingan Hill. Bar Croft, the field’s name in 1850, refers to the older name for the hill. Croft is used in the sense ‘a piece of enclosed land, or small field, used for tillage or pasture’ rather than the more familiar contemporary sense of ‘smallholding’. It is a common name in the Borgue field-names database ( Crofts often had an adjoining dwelling, but none is marked on the first edition six-inch OS.

Slateknowes (4): Slateknowes in 1850

A KNOWE is a ‘knoll, hillock, mound’. Slateknowes sits on the north side of a rocky outcrop. The OS 1st edition shows a quarry at the south side of this field, as well as one each in the adjoining Field Above Cottage (5) and Jail Field (8). The name Slateknowes was presumably coined in reference to the stone quarried here. There is a very large scar in Slateknowes visible on satellite imagery and particularly noticeable on LIDAR. This appears to be the most productive quarry of the three mapped on the OS 1st edition and no doubt why this field rather than the other two with quarries in them took this name.

Field Above Cottage (5): Shankfoot Croft in 1850

Field Above Cottage is west of the building marked Shankfoot on the OS 1st ed. ‘Above’ here is orientated in reference to the steading of Killymingan. The adjacent field is Field Below Cottage (14), where ‘below’ means closer to the steading of Killymingan. In the 1850 name, Shankfoot Croft, croft means ‘a piece of enclosed land, or small field, used for tillage or pasture’ rather than the more familiar contemporary sense of ‘smallholding’. In Shankfoot itself, SHANK refers to ‘a downward spur or projection of a hill, a descending ridge which joins a hill summit to the plain’. Appropriately for its name, Shankfoot sits at the base of the eastern spur of Killymingan Hill.

Faraway Field / Far Causey (6): Far Field in 1850

This field is the furthest north from the steading of Killymingan. The OS 1st ed marks Causey (site of) in this field, which may be the source of the alternative name Far Causey and Mid Causeway, the 1850 name of Byrecroft Roadend (7). Scots CAUSEY is ‘a paved area, a roadway, street, pavement; the paved or hard-beaten area in front of or around a farmhouse’; it is also the Scots word for ’causeway’. It may be that Causey (site of), Far Causey, and Mid Causeway (7, 1850) were named in reference to the section of road that passes them. The OS 1st ed appears to show marshy ground at either side of the road here.

Byrecroft Roadend (7): Mid Causeway in 1850

This field sits at the foot of the road that leads to Byre Croft farm. See above Faraway Field / Far Causey (6) for notes on the 1850 name.

Jail Field (8): Well Park in 1850

A New Dictionary of English Field-Names notes that Jail field-names refer to ‘land adjoining a prison’ which does not seem appropriate here. Lynne tells us: “My father (born 1912) always referred to it by this name – certainly as long as I can remember – and the reason is that the field is enclosed on all sides by Killymingan land.” This is an entirely suitable name for the field and, as far as I am aware, an otherwise unrecorded use of this term. The 1850 name Well Park is well named. The OS 1st edition shows a well not far from the building at Shankfoot.

Bonnyknowes (9): Bonnyknowes in 1850

A KNOWE is a ‘knoll, hillock, mound’, though these can often be fairly large hills. The name is appropriate as there is an oval knowe at the western end of the field. Bonny Knowes, Kirkcolm (WIG) is the only name of this type on the OS 2nd edition six-inch maps of Scotland.

Fishburn (11): Fishburn in 1850

This is a very unusual name and not just because it doesn’t sit by a burn – the field is roughly equidistant from Kirkgunzeon Lane (three fields away) and Culmain Burn (four fields away). Despite looking like a perfectly natural name, there isn’t a single Fishburn or Fish Burn recorded on the 1st or 2nd edition 6-inch maps of Scotland. The closest equivalent is Fishbeck in Applegarth (DMF). Beck is from a Scandinavian word for a burn or stream and often place-names with this element are very old. There are only two Fishburns in the north of England: Fishburn in County Durham and Fishburn Park & Road in North Yorkshire. In the south there is Fishbourne Bridge in Kent and Old & New Fishbourne in Sussex. Remarkably, this field is one of only a handful of places in Scotland, England and Wales to be called Fishburn. I suspect this is an old name. Alan James has suggested that it may be a reference to an artificial fish-pond associated with the Grange of Kirkgunzeon (part of Holmcultram’s monastic property). Another option that shouldn’t be rule out is the surname Fishburn/Fishbourne, though this seems less likely.

‘This field was sold’ (12): Branit Rigg Field in 1850

This field sits on the march of Brannetrigg Farm. Like Alleyford Field (the name for 11 Acre Field (2) in 1850), this is named for the farm over the boundary. It is notable that this was a ‘field’ in 1850; ‘park’ is more common at that time. By the time of the OS 2nd edition, the field was split in two.

Dam Field (13): Dam Park in 1850

This was two fields on the OS 1st edition but by the 2nd edition those fields were combined into its current form. The field takes its name from the body of water used to power the ‘thrashing machine’ marked on the OS 1st edition – DAM being the word for the body of water held back by the dam, rather than the barrier itself. The shift from Park to Field is typical.

Field Below Cottage (14): Killymingan Croft in 1850

Field Above Cottage is east of the building marked Shankfoot on the OS 1st ed. ‘Below’ here is orientated in reference to the steading of Killymingan. The adjacent field is Field Above Cottage (14), where ‘above’ means further from the steading. In the 1850 name, Killymingan Croft, croft means ‘a piece of enclosed land, or small field, used for tillage or pasture’ rather than the more familiar contemporary sense of ‘smallholding’. The field sits adjacent to the steading of Killymingan.

Old Killymingan (15): Old Killymingan in 1850

This field sits north of the buildings marked as Old Killimingan on the OS 1st ed. The site of these buildings now forms the north part of the steading of Killymingan.

Wee Coo Field (16): Calf Park in 1850

This small field was Calf Park in 1850. Its small size and situation adjacent to the steading of Killymingan is well suited for keeping calves. Its modern name Wee Coo Field no doubt refers to its size: Wee Coo-Field rather than Wee-Coo Field. However, given its older name it would be nice to think of it as a field for wee coos.

Garage Field (17): Peat House Field in 1850

This field sits adjacent to the buildings on the west side of the steading of Killymingan, one of which is (or was) evidently used as a garage. In 1850 the field was also named for the building it sat next to. A PEAT-HOUSE is ‘an outhouse used for storing the winter’s supply of peat’.

3-cornered Field (18): Muir Park in 1850

Although 3-cornered Field has four corners, it has the general shape of an isosceles triangle whose south-west point has be interrupted by Kirkgunzeon Lane. ‘Triangle’, ‘angle’ or ‘3-corner’ are common elements in fields of this shape. MUIR in the 1850 name Muir Park can refer to either boggy upland areas or marshy lowland ones. The field’s location by Kirkgunzeon Lane, particularly the low-lying eastern section, is no doubt the origin of the name.

Flat Field (20): Dalwattie in 1850

Dalwattie, the 1850 name, is significant for adding an otherwise unrecorded Gaelic name to our records for Kirkgunzeon. The first element is dàil ‘haugh, water meadow’ which describes the field perfectly. Formally, there are at least three possibilities for the second element. It could be mhadaidh ‘hound’, with the whole name being Dàil a’ Mhadaidh ‘haugh of the hound’ (thanks to Eilidh Scammell for this suggestion). Another option is that -wattie represents a form of the name Walter; in Gaelic MacBhàididh is ‘son of Wattie’ (thanks to Norval Smith for this suggestion). Dalwattie could therefore be Dàil Bhàididh ‘Wattie’s haugh’. However, while this name is found in the Highlands I’m not sure how common it was in our area. I think the most likely interpretation of the name is Dail Bhàite ‘drowned (i.e. liable to flooding) haugh’ (thanks to Michael Ansell for this suggestion). This suits the topography of the field very well and Kirkgunzeon Lane is notorious for bursting its banks. Incidentally, this is also the most likely derivation of Dalbeattie (‘Birch Vale’ isn’t a very good fit for the name).