Airigh study 1

Airigh farm names in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
Introduction In an article written for the Galloway News in 1983, Gaelic poet William Neil estimated that 80% of Galloway's farm names are Gaelic in origin.1 From preliminary analysis of 1500 farm names recorded between 1623 and 1700 in the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds this would seem a good estimate. Of the remaining 20%, the majority are Scots with very few which can be identified as farms from the Northumbrian or earlier Brittonic periods. Until recently the huge number of Gaelic farm and place names could be explained by the settlement of gaelic speakers from Ireland in the Rhinns of Galloway from around 500 AD (indicated by the Gaelic place name element sliabh). Gaelic then spread east so that Gaelic had already become the main language of Galloway before Old English speaking Northumbrians arrived in the later seventh century. It is now thought that the language change occurred swiftly and dramatically after the collapse of Northumbrian power and influence in the late ninth century. Northumbrian power had been disrupted by the Vikings. The Viking armies which attacked Northumbria spoke Old Norse, which was similar to the Old English of the Northumbrians. However the people who brought Gaelic to Galloway were part of a new culture which was mixture of Gaelic and Norse cultures. This new culture emerged after the Viking raiders who had moved down the west coast of Scotland and into Ireland became settlers, farms and traders with Gaelic speaking wives and hence Gaelic speaking children. The earlier bands of Vikings may also have included young Gaelic speaking men attracted to the 'warrior- lifestyle'. Even if the language of the ruling elite was Old Norse, Gaelic was the everyday language of this group – or rather groups – who dominated the lands around the Irish Sea and the west coast of Scotland. Historical records for Galloway and south-west Scotland in the ninth and tenth centuries are lacking, but by the eleventh century there were at least two Norse-Gaelic kingdoms in the region. On his death in 1034, Suibne mac Cinaeda was described in contemporary Irish records as king of the Gall-Ghaidheil. The territory Suibne ruled over was probably centred on the Firth of Clyde and did not extend into Galloway. Echmarcach, who died in on pilgrimage to Rome in 1065 (having ruled since 1031), was described as rex inna renn, king of the Rhinns (of Galloway), a territory which included the Machars of Wigtownshire and the Isle of Man.2 If the Stewartry of
1 Galloway News/ Dumfries and Galloway Standard Farming Review February 1983 2 For the detailed discussion of this background, see Clancy T: 'The Gall-Ghaidheil and Galloway', Journal of Scottish Name Studies Vol. 2 (2008)

Airigh study 2 Kirkcudbright had a similar Norse-Gaelic ruler at this time, his name is not known. If there was such a ruler, he may have been the forebear of Fergus of Galloway.3 The evidence for this suggestion is based on a cluster of Scandinavian place names around Kirkcudbright (see map 2 below) and a possible Viking grave found near St. Cuthbert's graveyard in Kirkcudbright. Another possible Viking grave was found on Blackerne farm (near Castle Douglas) in 1756.4 Somewhat confusingly then, the strongest evidence for Viking influence in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright are Gaelic place and farm names. But if Gaelic had become became the main language by the tenth century, does this mean that most of the Stewartry's farms are over 1000 years old? This is unlikely. The late seventeenth century population of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright has been estimated from Hearth Tax records5 as being between 15 000 and 16 000 [with a similar number for Wigtownshire and 33 000 for Dumfriesshire] with most of the population living on the 1500 farms recorded from the same period. [Kirkcudbright was the only settlement in the Stewartry which could be described as a town and had a population of 300 in 1690]. Seven hundred years earlier the population must have been much smaller and so there would not have been enough people to occupy the 1200 or so farms with Gaelic names. Most of the Gaelic named farms must have been established gradually over the period (about 500 years) that Gaelic remained the main language. Also, some farms with Gaelic names may have been established by Scots speakers naming the farm from an existing Gaelic place name. It would therefore be very difficult to trace the pattern of ninth to eleventh century settlement of the Stewartry using Gaelic farm names alone. However, there is one Gaelic farm/ place name which can be used to identify early Norse -Gaelic settlement. In his discussion of the Norse-Gaelic origins of the medieval lordship (originally kingdom) of Galloway established by Fergus, Richard Oram draws attention to the place name element airigh, which represents the adoption of a Gaelic Irish or Hebridean term by non-Gaelic settlers, and with it the adoption of the dairy-based pastoral economy of the Gaelic west. It has widespread distribution throughout Galloway, Mann and the English Lake District, where the common link has been identified as Norse and Norse Gaelic settlement after c.900 as part of the diaspora of colonists attendant on the expulsion of the Scandinavians from Dublin.6

3 4 5 6

Oram R : The Lordship of Galloway, (Edinburgh, 2000) Chapters 1 and 2 accessed 17 March 2010 Adamson D: 'The Hearth Tax for Dumfriesshire', Transactions DGNHAS 3rd Series, Vol. 47 Oram R : The Lordship of Galloway, (Edinburgh, 2000) p.247- 250

Airigh study 3

Map. 1 Distribution of airigh place names as shown by Oram in The Lordship of Galloway. The exact location of the airigh place names is difficult to establish from the above map, but it is possible to identify three farm names in Stewartry of Kirkcudbright which contain the place name element airigh. 1. In Balmaghie parish there is Airie farm NX 63 69, the abandoned (since circa 1850) Upper Airie farm NX 61 69 and Airie Hill NX 62 68 (291m) which is flanked to the west and east by two Airie Burns. Two kilometres to the south east of Airie farm is the settlement of Slogarie NX 64 68 and Slogarie Hill NX 63 67 (256m). Slogarie has been identified by Simon Taylor as a sliabh place name.7 2. In the neighbouring Kells parish, there is another Airie farm NX 61 78, an Airie Lane (watercourse) also NX 61 78 and the Rig of Airie NX 60 78 as well as the possibly related Sheil Hill NX 60 79 and Arie Bennan hill NX 58 77. 3. In Kelton parish, there is Airieland farm and Airieland Burn NX 75 57 (shown as Airyland Gill on Ainslie's map of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in 1797), Aireland Moor and Summer Hill, both NX 76 65. 4. Finally, in Rerrick parish there is an Airyhill cottage NX 78 47 (possibly former croft) on Barlocco farm.
7 Taylor S.: 'Sliabh in Scottish Place-names: its meaning and chronology', Journal of Scottish Name Studies Vol.1 (2007) p.126

Airigh study 4 Of these airigh farms, when Airie in Balmaghie and Aireland in Kelton are studied in more detail, some interesting possibilities emerge which may cast light on Norse-Gaelic settlement patterns in the Stewartry. 1. Aireland and Arkland

Map 2 Scandinavian settlement names from Andrew McCulloch Galloway a land apart. (A more detailed list8 is attached as an appendix). Airieland lies between 10 Gelston and 11Milnthird on the above map and thus within the densest cluster of Scandinavian place names in Galloway. Since 24 Arkland in Girthon parish is included as a Scandinavian farm name, then Low Arkland NX 72 58, High and Over Arkland NX 73 57 in Kelton parish should also be added to the list. Arkland is also a possible more Norse than Gaelic, from the Cumbrian erg form of airigh) variation of Airieland.9 If Airieland and Arkland were originally one unit, then the original airigh land stretched from Screel Hill NX 77 55 (344m) down to the river Dee in a strip roughly 2km wide by 6km long. Almorness (7 on above map) represents a similar block of land, roughly 7km long by 1km wide. However, as recorded in 1376 and again in
8 From Brooke D: 'The Northumbrian Settlements in Galloway and Carrick', PSAS Vol.121 (1991) 9 Collingwood W. Scandinavian Britain (London, 1908) p. 223 and Johnson J. Place Names of England and Wales (London, 1915) p. 109 Arkholme and Arklid

Airigh study 5 1456, Almorness remained as single block of land, although it had been divided into several farms by the mid -seventeenth century.

Map 3. Roy's Survey of 1755 showing 'Harkland', Lochlain (Auchlane), the Lochdougans and Airyland and the 'old kirk' of Kirkcormack beside river Dee. [From National Library of Scotland's online maps] If Airieland/ Arkland was originally a similar block of territory to Almorness, by 1456 it had already been broken up. Represented by the present- day farms of Louchdougan NX 74 56 and Lochdougan Dairy NX 73 57 mid-way between Airieland and Arkland, the farms of Myddyllochdougane, Neddeyrlochdougane and Ovirlochdougane were amongst those forfeit to the Scottish crown by the 9th earl of Douglas as lord of Galloway in 1456. Two adjacent farms -Slagnaw (Sleugnaw in 1456) NX 74 58 and Dildawn (Dandawn in 1456) NX 73 59 were also forfeit although Auchlane NX 74 58 (mapped as Lachlein by Pont/Bleau and Roy, above) was not.

Airigh study 6

Map 4. from OS six inch map of Kirkcudbrightshire Sheet 45.[From National Library of Scotland's online maps.] Note: The separation or division of Over Arkland from High Arkland took place in on 8 April 1680.10 To the south there are other Scandinavian place names which Gillian-Fellows Jensen has suggested have Danish rather than Norwegian origins.11 In particular, the -by place names Bombie NX 71 50 and Gribdae (Gretby in 1356) NX 73 50 and one -thveit, Galtway (Galtweied 1156-70). Galtway is a former parish (church site NX 70 48) and a farm (NX 70 47, Galtway Hill NX 70 48). Scandinavian influence can also be traced in the farm names Milnthird (Myddilthride in 1458) NX 72 52 and Netherthird (Netherthrid in 1475) NX 71 55.12 Richard Oram has suggested that the original core of Fergus of Galloway's territory was in this lower Dee valley area, centred on Kirkcudbright.13 Arkland was in the former parish of Kirkcormack (chapel site NX 716 574) and Airieland in that of Gelston (chapel site NX 778 573), both incorporated into Kelton parish in the seventeenth cenury.. At Kirkmirran NX 800 550, close to Gelston kirk, a chapel site was excavated by Chris Crowe in 1985. Although the chapel building was dated to the thirteenth century, Irish style metal work from the ninth or tenth centuries was found beneath the chapel, suggesting a ninth century origin for the Kirkmirran site.14 No similar archaeological investigation has been carried out at the Kirkcormack site, but it would presumably also have a ninth century origin. Just to the south-east of the study
10 Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds 1675-1700 (Edinburgh, 1950) Entry 422 11 Fellowes-Jensen G (ed.) : Denmark and Scotland: the cultural and environmental resources of small nations (Copenhagen, 2001) p. 126/7 12 Brooke D: 'The Northumbrian Settlements in Galloway and Carrick', PSAS Vol.121 (1991) p..321 13 Oram R :The Lordship of Galloway (Edinbrgh 2000) p. 56 14 Crowe C: 'An excavation at Kirkmirran Dalbeattie 1985', Transactions DGNHAS 3rd series Vol. 61 (1986) p.60 - 62.

Airigh study 7 area, in what would have been Galtway (now part of Kirkcudbright) parish is Kirkbride farm NX 743 542, giving another potential early chapel site. Slightly further away in Buittle parish is Kirkennan NX 82 58 and Kilkerran cottage NX 82 57. The main church of Buittle NX `80 59 was originally dedicated to St. Comanell. The name of the old church has almost disappeared; it only survives in the name of a well within a bow-shot of the ruins—San Comell. It springs in a field called the "Meikle Kirkland," which was no doubt once the property of the church. San, of course, is Saint, and Comell is an evident corruption of Colmanell. The position of the well indicates that St. Colmanell stood near probably where the old ruin stands.15 The dedications of these kirks may indicate an origin in Kintyre and southern Argyll for the Gaelic settlers of this area of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, but as Thomas Clancy (drawing on work by Fiona Edmonds) notes, connections can equally be made with Dublin and Leinster. The Gall-Ghaidheil were not the only Norse-dominated Gaelic-speaking group to have been colonising the south-west. The expansion of Gaelic into the region may thus have occurred from a variety of different points of origin, and we may expect to see Irish, as well as Kintyre/ Argyll influence on the region and its toponymy.16 A possible (rather technical) example of Irish influence in the study area is Bengairn (NX 77 54, 391m, adjacent to Screel Hill NX 78 55, 344m and Bentudor NX 75 54, 274m). Assuming an original Beinn na(n) gCairn the place name Bengairn shows a k to g shift or eclipsis. This, and other examples from Galloway place names which show an eclipsis of b- to m-, implie strong Irish influence on Galloway Gaelic and 'may suggest that the Gaelic settlement of Galloway was later than in other parts of Scotland'.17 It should also be noted that there are two possible slaibh place names in the study area – Slagnaw (Sleugnaw) farm mentioned above and Slaeharbrie (Slaeharbrae Hill) NX 74 56 shown on Map 4 above.

15 accessed 8 March 2010 16 Clancy T: 'The Gall-Ghaidheil and Galloway', Journal of Scottish Name Studies Vol2. (2008) p. 44/5 17 O Maolalaigh R: 'Place-names as a Resource for the Historical Linguist' in Taylor S (ed) The Uses of Place- Names (Edinburgh, 1998) p.28/9.

Airigh study 8

2. Airie in Balmaghie and Grobdale.

Plate 1. Airie Hill from Grobdale. Grobdale of Girthon farm on left, Grobdale of Balmaghie farm on right.

Aireland and the Arkland farms are now in Kelton parish. The old church of Kelton was dedicated to the Northumbrian saint (and former king) Oswald, who died as a 'martyr' fighting the pagan Penda at the battle of Maserfield in 642. The site of Oswald's church overlooks Carlingwark loch and lies just beneath Kelton Hill. There is a crannog site on Carlingwark loch and the Carlingwark Cauldron hoard was found close to the crannog site in 1866.18 The Carlingwark hoard contained a mix of Roman and native metalwork, including scythe blade fragments. There is a sequence of Roman forts and marching camps at Glenlochar NX 73 64, two miles from Carlingwark loch. Andrew Breeze has suggested that this Roman fort complex (rather than Threave castle island or Carlingwark loch) was probably the Locatreve, Locatrebe of the Ravenna Cosmography.19 In his discussion of the Romanization of Galloway, Allan Wilson suggests that centres of Brittonic power like the Kelton/ Carlingwark/ Threave area were used by the Romans to facilitate conquest.20
18 accessed 5 March 2010 19 Breeze A. :'Brittonic place-Names from south-West Scotland part 2' Transactions DGNHAS 3rd series Vol. 75 (2001) p. 152/3. 20 Wilson A: 'The Novantae and Romanization in Galloway' ,Transactions DGNHAS,3rd Series Vol. 75 p.81/2

Airigh study 9 Although early evidence is lacking, the Dee/Ken river system is navigable from Threave castle island for 15 miles up stream to the north end of loch Ken. Daphne Brooke has suggested (echoing Allan Wilson) that the Northumbrians took over an existing Brittonic 'tribal' territory centred on Kelton, but extending northwards to take in Balmaghie parish21 (in addition to similar territories around the Dee estuary/ Kirkcudbright, the Glenkens and the mouth of the Fleet.) Essentially, Brooke argues that Northumbrian influence extended over most of the lowland zone of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. With collapse of Northumbrian power in the late ninth century, these lands (the most fertile) were open to takeover. If the Scandinavian place name evidence from around Kirkcudbright can be relied on, and taking into account Thomas Clancy's suggestion above, then the Gaelic-Norse settlement of the Stewartry may have been distinct from those of Wigtownshire and the Firth of Clyde region. To speculate, such settlements may have extended up the Dee/Ken river system beyond the limits of Daphne Brooke's Northumbrian 'shires' into the upland zone of the Stewartry. The airigh farms of Airie in Kells and Airie in Balmaghie may provide evidence for this process. What is tantalising about these upland airigh settlements, in particular Airie in Balmaghie22, is that archaeological evidence for the process of settlement may survive.

21 Brooke D: 'The Northumbrian Settlements in Galloway and Carrick', PSAS Vol.121 (1991) p.303/4. 22 accessed 11 March 2010

Airigh study 10

Map 5. Airie in Balmaghie and Grobdale. From John Thompson's map of the Stewartry 1820. [NLS online maps] In particular, at Stroan Hill23 (1 km from Airie farm) and Laughenghie Hill24 (3 km from Airie farm) there are pre-Improvement settlements which were abandoned in the late seventeenth / early nineteenth century. The abandonment was associated with the consolidation of upland landownership into a few very large estates based on extensive sheep-farming. While most of these sheep farms were converted to forestry in the mid to late twentieth century, an area south from loch Stroan, including Airie farm and Grobdale was not. Since 1985, the area has been part of the 2308 hectare Laughenghie and Airie Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest. The area has also been very thoroughly surveyed by RCAHMS as the map of the Stroan settlement below shows.

23 accessed 10 March 2010 24 accessed 10 March 2010

Airigh study 11

Map 6. RCAHMS survey of the Stroan settlement.25 These surveys were carried out by Piers Dixon of RCAHMS in 1990. In his discussion of the Stroan evidence, Dixon observes that There are also small plots of lazy-bed rig within the site, which are not immediately evident from the plan and may be seen at other townships in the area (e.g. Laughenghie near by, as well as High Eldrick in Wigtownshire)...more extensive patches of lazy-beds are to be found at Laughenghie and elsewhere in the south-west (e.g. Auchensoul in Ayrshire).26 Lazy-beds are called feannagan in Gaelic. Herbert Maxwell suggested that Barwinnock NX 38 43 in Glasserton parish Wigtownshire and Barwhinnock NX 65 54 in Twynholm parish in the
25 In Foster S and Smout T: The History of Soils and Field Systems (Edinburgh, 1994) p. 48 26 Dixon P : 'Field Systems, rig and other cultivation remains' in Foster S and Smout T: The History of Soils and Field Systems (Edinburgh, 1994) p. 46 Auchensoul is in Barr parish, South Ayrshire NX 267 938

Airigh study 12 Stewartry both contain this place name element (but notes that feannag is also Gaelic for crow).27 Maxwell found early seventeenth century (1616,1620) records for Barwinnock in Glasserton so if there were lazy-beds at Barwinnock, these could not have been used for the cultivation of potatoes as they were later in the north-west Highlands, since potatoes were not cultivated in Galloway until the early eighteenth century. Outwith the north-west Highlands, lazy-beds are also found in Argyll as well as south Ayrshire and Galloway. As well as lazy-beds, the 'classic Galloway type' of rigsystem can also be found in Argyll. The rig-systems that can be found throughout Argyll include examples that would be at home in southern Ayrshire or Galloway. On Bute, for example, at Bicker's Houses, there is a farmstead surrounded by blocks of both curvilinear and straight rig, the latter, at least, within geometrically defined enclosures formed by turf banks. This system compares well with the southern Ayrshire evidence, although elsewhere on the island, at Kelspoke Castle, there is a much more varied array of rigs. Even here, however, where there are some relatively broad rigs overlain by plots of short straight rigs, there is at least one plot of rigs that appears to be pinched in towards one end in the manner of the classic Galloway type. Indeed, northwards throughout Argyll this type of tapering plot can be found, examples being identified in the collection of vertical aerial photographs on Kintyre near Saddell, on the Craignish peninsular, and around Kilmichael Glassery. On the island of Lismore too, rigs with this distinctive feature at one end of a plot have been photographed at Achadun.28 The references to Bute and Kintyre above are interesting since Thomas Clancy (following on from Andrew Jennings study of evidence from Kintyre) has suggested that Bute was one of the places settled by the Gall-Ghaidheil and that Ormidale NS 003 817 at the mouth of Glenadruel 'provides a nice toponymic parallel with the -dalr names discussed by Jennings for Kintyre'.29 In this context, could the Grobdale of Girthon/ Balmaghie be on original -dalr place name rather than a later Scots one? And if it is, could it be contemporary with the airigh of Airie in Balmaghie? Unfortunately, without archaeological investigation in the area, even a rough dating for the settlements cannot be established. Summary and Conclusion As part of the wave of improvement stimulated by the Scottish Enlightenment, several attempts were made to diversify the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright's economy in the later eighteenth century. Cotton mills and other industrial developments along with planned towns and villages were created. Despite these attempts, the Stewartry's economy remained predominately agricultural. However, the combination of these developments with the rationalisation of the Stewartry's agricultural economy
27 Maxwell H : The Place Names of Galloway (Glasgow, 1930) p. 34 28 accessed 10 March 2010 29 Clancy T: 'The Gall-Ghaidheil and Galloway', Journal of Scottish Name Studies Vol2. (2008) p. 31

Airigh study 13 had a profound effect on the pattern of settlement in the Stewartry. They began a population shift from the pre-Improvement ferm-touns and crofts to the new towns and villages which continued through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although the particular progress of these changes as they affected the Stewartry may not have been studied in detail, the wider effects of the process of late-eighteenth/ early- nineteenth century ' Improvement' have been and so are well known to historians and the general public. In contrast, the origins and subsequent developments of the farming system which was swept away by improving landowners are obscure apart from an outline of the evolution of farming practice provided by Alexander Fenton30 which needs to be updated to include more recent studies.31 One of the interesting but difficult to answer questions is raised by the Gaelic farm names. Was the major ninth/ tenth century language change to Gaelic matched by a similar major change in farming practice and land use? This questions contains several other questions within it. In the context of the Stewartry, some of these are as follows. Firstly – what was the immediately prior (at the end of the Northumbrian period) pattern of land use and population distribution? Daphne Brooke's hypothesis was that direct Northumbrian influence was confined to areas of higher quality land in the lowland zone. These areas were of land capable of supporting arable farming, had been cultivated since at least the Roman era and were important centres of Brittonic power. The sequence of Roman forts and marching camps at Glenlochar were built to control one such centre. The majority of the Stewartry's pre ninth century population are likely to have lived in the lowland zone. However, since large parts of the lowland zone would have been bog and marsh or prone to frequent flooding if near rivers or lochs, the lowland population during the Northumbrian era is unlikely to have grown much beyond that of the Brittonic era. Brooke also suggested that the Northumbrian settlement did not extend into the upland zone of the Stewartry which remained Brittonic but which was linked to the lowland zone through a combination of tributes and trade. Farming in the upland zone would have been based on cattle, sheep, horses and goats. Population density would have been low.

30 Fenton A : 'Plough and Spade in Dumfries and Galloway', Transactions DGNHAS 3rd series Vol. 45 31 e.g. Gregory R.A : 'Prehistoric Landscapes in Dumfries and Galloway' Parts 1 and 2 , Transactions DGNHAS 3rd series, Vols. 74 and 76, Coles D: 'In a quiet watered land, the Cree Valley: Neolithic Chambered Cairns and Early Farmers', Transactions DGNHAS 3rd Series, Vol.79

Airigh study 14 Finally, as Northumbrian power waned, the peaceful conditions which had prevailed would have been lost. Since slave-raiding was a feature of viking culture and since the Stewartry is unlikely to have supported very much in the way of a Northumbrian warrior elite, the impact of even a few minor viking raids on the economy of the lowland Stewartry would have been very damaging and difficult to recover from. Additionally, the Brittonic speaking labour force of the lowland arable farms may well have responded to any such raids by seeking refuge in the upland zone. However, it would have been difficult for the upland zone to support any such increase in population. Secondly – was the language shift to Gaelic the result of extensive settlement by incomers? Or did the indigenous population adopt Gaelic at the expense of Brittonic and Old English? If the, as suggested above, the collapse of Northumbrian power in the Stewartry led to a collapse of the lowland farming system and placed extra pressure on the upland farming system, the indigenous population of Stewartry is likely to have been reduced. Therefore even a relatively small influx of Gaelic speaking settlers could have either absorbed or further isolated the non-Gaelic speaking population. Norse-Gaelic culture was dynamic and expansionist. In contrast, the Brittonic culture of the Stewartry had been isolated and weakened over several generations by Northumbrian influence, even though Old English speakers would have been a minority.

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