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(from SPNS Newsletter 7, Autumn 1999)
A lively and well-informed debate anent the origins of this important name has been going on in the pages of recent issues of the Annual Reports of The Society of Friends of Govan Old. It all started in the 1996 Report, when Dr Thomas Clancy made the suggestion that earlier proposals for the origin of the name, deriving it from Old Gaelic gobae smith', or from the diminutive of OG gop, gopán little beak, promontory', must be rejected. Instead he proposed a derivation from Cumbric *gwovan small crest, hill or promontory'. In the 1997 Report this was challenged by Dr Alan Macquarrie, who re-asserted the gopán derivation. In the 1998 (Eighth) Report Dr Clancy came back with a spirited and, to my mind, convincing defence of his original proposal. All three articles are well worth reading. (Simon Taylor)
Copies of the Reports can be obtained from The Society of Friends of Govan Old, Hon. Secretary Mrs Irene Hughson, Banklug Farm, by Shilford, Neilston G78 3AY.
or read the reports on-line!
(from SPNS Newsletter 6, Spring 1999)
WESTER KITTOCHSIDE: THE MICROTOPONYMY OF A LANARKSHIRE ESTATE
Summary of a paper given by Simon Taylor, University of St Andrews, at the SPNSociety AGM Conference, Bearsden, May 1998.
In January 1998 the Edinburgh firm of John Renshaw Architects won the tender to the National Trust of Scotland for a historic buildings and landscape survey of Wester Kittochside Farm in East Kilbride parish, Lanarkshire. The NTS, in partnership with the National Museums of Scotland, plans to develop the farm-house, steading and lands of Wester Kittochside for a new National Museum of Scottish Country Life, which at the moment is housed at Ingliston by Edinburgh. The aim of the architect's survey is to present the NTS with a detailed inventory of the estate, since the estate itself would be not only the framework of the museum, but the chief exhibit. With admirable enlightenment, the architects decided to include a toponymic survey of the estate as part of their tender, and with equal enlightenment the NTS accepted the tender. The speaker was seconded from the St Andrews Scottish Studies Institute for a few days to carry this out.
The talk began with a brief history of the lands of Kittochside. The estate now known as Wester Kittochside in fact forms only about a sixth of the original lands of Kittochside, these lands being divided into East and West Kittochside in the 14th century. Wester Kittochside was only part of the western half of Kittochside, most of which had been acquired by the Reid family by the 17th century. In the second half of the 18th century, one branch of the Reid family built the present house and steadings now known as Wester Kittochside, and it remained in their possession until 1992, when they gifted it to the National Trust.
The estate takes its name from the Kittoch Water, a tributary of the White Cart and, whatever the derivation of Kittoch' (no doubt Celtic), Kittochside' must be considered a Scots name, and cannot have been coined before around 1200, when Scots was first introduced into the area. In fact within the lands of Kittochside every name so far identified derives from Scots, as do many of the surrounding farms, such as Philpshill, Highflat and Rogerton, suggesting that settlement in this area during the centuries when Cumbric (till c.1000) and Gaelic (till c.1200) was spoken in Lanarkshire was extremely sparse.
A rough definition of the microtoponymy' of the title might be the place-nomenclature which never makes it on to the Ordnance Survey maps', thus field-names and other minor names known only in the immediate locality. In the case of Wester Kittochside, these were mainly derived from a 1858 estate plan, which contain such field-names as The Short Croft and the Long Croft (indicating old Infield); Queys Park (containing Scots quey heiffer'); Stockcraigs (Scots stock tree-stump' or trunk') and the unexplained Fauselands (?Scots fause false, deceitful).
Note: The new museum at Wester Kittochside is due to open in April 2000.
(from Newsletter 5, Autumn 1998)
Peter Drummond, Airdrie, spoke of the research he had done for his booklet of the same title, stressing the importance of linguistic context and early forms for each name, the assistance given by occurrences of similar names elsewhere, and the theoretical and practical help given by books like W.F.H. Nicolaisen's Scottish Place-Names (1976) and by professionals like Ian Fraser.
The Monklands is no more; the area researched in the 1980s was swallowed up into North Lanarkshire in the 1990s. It includes Airdrie, a Gaelic name (there are 3 other Airdries in Scotland) and means either ard ruighe 'height of (the) slope' or ard àirighe 'height of (the) sheiling', both of which would apply, especially the former, describing the slope down from the Slamannan plateau, a reminder of how important it is to fit a name into its landscape-context. Being Gaelic Airdrie represents c.25% of the area's names. Most of the others are Scots, with no Norse, Pictish or Anglian names, and only a tiny number of Cumbric ones, like Papperthill. Hence the suggestion is unlikely that 'Airdrie' is Cumbric, containing as its second element Cumbric tref 'farm-stead'.
Contextual clues also apply to the attempt to find the meaning of Coatbridge, first recorded in 1750. Research has shown that from the 13th century the land was owned by the Colt family, sometimes known as Coats, and the estate generated place-names such as Coatdyke, Coathill, Coatbank and Nether and Over Coats (!). So Coatbridge was simply the bridge on the Coats estate.
Other points touched on included the fact that Gaelic names here appear to be the southern limit of the Central Belt's Gaelic, since much of Lanarkshire southwards has very few; that Gart- ('farm, enclosure for arable') names (e.g. Gartsherrie) are very numerous; that Drum-names are regularly applied to low hills right across the Central Belt; and that the area's farm-names, extant and extinct, are a rich vein of Scots names (e.g. Auldshiels, Palacerigg, One's Mailling, Townhead and Laverock Knowe). He also gave example of myths about local names: Bargeddie, a village on the banks of the Monklands Canal, is not for example named after a bargee named Edward, but comes from earlier Balgaddeis (1587). Balgedy (1654), Gaelic baile 'farm' + gead 'strip of arable land', and coined long before there was a canal.
He concluded by looking at spoken, unmapped names, like the long-gone tram terminus in Airdrie still known as 'The Terminus'. Monklands, a former mining and industrial area, had many of these spoken names, such as pits called The Hard Egg, The Wee Jean, and the Hoor in the Park (respectively for the nature of the rock, the intemperate foreman's virago wife, and the improper name of the colliery officially known as 'Lady Anne', properly named after the wife of Sir John Wilson!)
FOOTNOTE: Monklands, a medieval parish now split into Old and New Monklands, has been the subject of more toponymic interest than many other parts of Scotland, since in the last 11 years there have been two books published on its place-names. Firstly there is Peter Drummond's own book Placenames of The Monklands (Monklands 1987). Secondly there is Stephen McCabe's An Etymological Guide to the Placenames of the Monklands (Nivelles, Belgium 1992). Anyone interested in both or either of these books, please write to the Newsletter Editor.
(from Newsletter 4, Spring 1998)
Society member Ruth Richens has written an excellent article entitled 'Ancient land divisions in the parish of Lesmahagow [Lanarkshire]', Scottish Geographical Magazine 108 (1992), 184-189. In it she uses the wealth of medieval boundary charters from the twelfth-century onwards, mainly from the Kelso Liber, to reconstruct the medieval administrative and physical landscape of the parish. Although not primarily about place-names, such a study is essential for a better understanding of the toponymy of the area. I know of few more exciting ways of engaging with the medieval, as well as the modern, landscape and the language of landscape than by following a medieval boundary charter, and we need more studies such as the Lesmahagow one, which combines in-depth knowledge of the relevant documentary evidence with an intimate acquaintance with the local countryside.
Moving on from Lesmahagow in particular to Lanarkshire in general, members with an interest in that county may be familiar with the work of J.P. Miller. He did a series in 1931-32 for the Hamilton Advertiser on the place-names of Lanarkshire. There is a type-script (about 100 pages) of this in the possession of the Scottish Place-Name Survey, School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, which is basically an alphabetical list of many Lanarkshire place-names with their early forms.
For a study on the place-names of the Strathaven area of Lanarkshire, see Lynne M. Prentice's 1991 dissertation in the archive of the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, "A Study of the Place-Names around Strathaven, Lanarkshire".