If you take a walk through any landscape in Scotland, there’s a story to be revealed; of human lives and the impact we have had on the land around us.
If you have ever used a map to go for a walk you may have come across intriguing or unusual place names. But did you know that nearly all fields have a name, and that these names might tell you about the history of the field and its use over the centuries?
Old field names act as a memorial, telling the story of a place and can connect you with the history of your area.
Put yourself in the shoes of the farmer who originally named them; the names originated in a very practical way to identify them for farm labourers who had to go out to work on them. It was clearly important that they did not go out and plough or build a dyke in the wrong field. The names were often descriptive ( its size or location, the lie of the land, its soil, crops, livestock, wild animals and plants, buildings, land ownership amongst many other things).
Many of these names were never written down, so that the names used today are the result of a largely oral tradition where the original name may have evolved over many years and can be hard to decipher.
The Borgue Field Name Project (part of the PLACE project, a community focused project in partnership with the Biosphere and Southern Uplands Partnership) is being undertaken by a small team of volunteers, has been mapping the old names of fields in an area stretching from the Fleet to the Dee.
The team would like to offer a huge thank you to all the local farmers and everyone else who has helped with this project, and are pleased that after 18 months nearly 1,000 field names have been collected, and the meaning and possible origin of the names analysed.
We have created an interactive map of the Borgue area that shows the field names along with other historical and cultural information. Click on the image below to view the map.
But there are a few gaps in the map, and the team would love to hear from anyone who could help with the old names of the fields in these areas. If you know the names of any of these fields, or any otherwise unrecorded place-names please let us know, by getting in touch with John Shields on John@borgue.org or phone 01557 870678. Alternatively, you can enter comments at the bottom of this web page.
Five map extracts to show the locations of the missing field names (images © Microsoft/Ordnance Survey):
Glenterry and fields around the A75. We have the following names, but don’t know which fields they belong to: Whitehill; Stumpy Field; Steep Field; Big Hill; Horse Park; Wee Barngaber; Minto Field; Smith’s Field; Dromore; Big Barngaber
Earlston, Gledpark and surrounds: We have the following names, but don’t know which fields they belong to: Smiddy Field; Croft; Tampit; The Hill; Mid Field; Paples; Wash Green; Garden; Lawn
Clauchendolly: 6 fields and we have no names at all.
Tonguecroft: Very small fields along the edge of the lane, we have no names, but believe they could belong to the fields on the other side of the lane, before it was fenced/walled in.
High Nunton: We have no names.
For more information about place names in Dumfries & Galloway, take a look at the Galloway Glens Place Names site.
The National Library of Scotland has a collection of historical estate maps of Kirkcudbrightshire including some from the Borgue area. These are available here.