A unique map of old place and field names around Borgue is nearing completion. But the Borgue Field Name Project is still missing a few pieces of the jigsaw. Hundreds of descriptions have been logged so far by a team of local volunteers. Now they are keen to fill in the gaps before age-old descriptions are lost forever. The project, part of the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere’s PLACE initiative, depends on tapping into local knowledge. And according to Borgue Community Council chairman John Shields, the public response has been excellent. He said: “A big part of this project is to ensure this stuff survives and is catalogued. Otherwise, it will all be lost as this generation disappears. It has simply been a matter of knocking on farmers’ doors. And not just farmers but ex-farmworkers as well. Adam Gray who has sadly passed away was a keen historian. A lot of information came from the Gray estate.”
Borgue and its parish lands boast a rich Gaelic, Scots and Viking heritage dating back centuries. The village name itself derives from the Old Norse ‘borg’ signifying a stronghold. It only had the ‘ue’ added in recent years for the sake of appearance.
Mr Shields said: “There’s a lot of secondary information in many of the names. For example, they can tell us how the land was used and about the people involved in working it. Many names are of Celtic, Gaelic or Norse origin while some are named after local farmers of old.”
Among the local names researched is Hac Noose, a big field next to the shore-side road between Brighouse Bay and Rockvale. Its meaning could derive from the Old English for a hook-shaped headland. Another theory contends that it is based on the Old Norse ‘hack’ – a fish-trap. Mr Shields said: “We have not got a final solution to that one yet.”
Imaging of Borgue from the sea and map-making have formed part of the project. The Lottery-funded scheme is being supported by Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and the Southern Uplands Partnership. Biosphere communities in the Wigtownshire Moors and the Stinchar Valley are also taking part.
Aerial filming has been used to create a virtual impression of an iron age galleried dun on the Borgue coast. Castle Haven was excavated by enthusiastic archaeologist, James Brown, who used the remains as a template to partly reconstructed the structure in the early 1900s. Identified by the Borgue community as an ancient monument that would benefit from some maintenance volunteers cleared undergrowth from the central area of the structure to reveal the extent of the castle for all to see.
Film maker, Calum Ansell, used drone footage to recreate the stone structure often likened to brochs found in the north of Scotland. No one knows for sure what Castle Haven would have looked like but using the most up to date technology this Virtual Reeconstruction provides an immersive experience of how it may have been to live on the Borgue coast 2,000 years ago.
Operation Tub is up and running now and the flower tubs are appearing all around the Borgue area. Here’s the one at the Knockbrex “roundabout” which is a thank you to all the essential workers, from farmers to posties, who’ve kept us all going over the last few months.
Here’s a message from Jo Mercer about a plan to brighten up Borgue this summer. More details can be found on the ‘Operation Tub‘ page.
“No one will be surprised to hear that the Flower Show has been cancelled this year. However, an alternative activity has been suggested – ‘Operation Tub’. The idea is to plant up a tub (or tubs) and fill Borgue with flowers and plants. The tubs have kindly been sourced and half filled with well rotted compost and are available NOW from Sarah McCarthy in Borgue village.”
As part of the PLACE project, some drone videos have been created to explore the landscape and place name origins of the Borgue area. The videos were created by Calum Ansell. The research on the place names was by Michael Ansell and Alan James. The video voice-over is by Alan McClure. Click here to view the videos.
The Gatehouse Volunteers and Borgue community members have been clearing a lot of vegetation from the walls of the Iron Age fort at Castle Haven, near Kirkandrews. There was an initial session in January that removed most of the brambles, gorse and ivy from the inside walls. There will be a follow-up session on 19th February to clear the outer walls.
The BT Openreach roll-out of fibre broadband to the Borgue area has now been completed but has unfortunately failed to reach some of the remoter parts of the Borgue parish. Click here for the latest information on how to get higher speed broadband connections.