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Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

Culture & History Study Waughton and Mormond Hill Buchan, Aberdeenshire

Location 56km N of Aberdeen and 8km S of Fraserburgh in the county of Aberdeenshire.

Location Introduction Site Report Discussion Summary Bibliography Illustration and Tables
Fig.1 Terrain & 1:50 000 OS map Fig.2 Robert Gordon map 1640 Fig.3 1st Edition OS map 1760 Fig.4 Aberdeenshire SMR & RCAHMS Fig 5 Geology map Fig.6 Area Views Fig.7 Resting Cairn Fig.8 Admiralty Chart of Scotland 1842 Fig.9 John Ainslie map 1789 Fig.10 Baldwin & Cradocks map 1834 Fig.11 Religious Centre Fig.12 Inscribed Stone? Fig.13 Fount Stone Fig.14 Earthwork 1760 Strichen Estate Plan Fig.15 Comparison between 1st Ed OS and 1760 Estate plan Fig.16 Causeway looking west from Cairn 12 area Fig.17 Causeway. Looking east from Cairn 12 area Fig.18 Causeway. Looking east from Cairn 13 area Fig. 19 Mormond Dead

1 2 3 6 14 14

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

Dr. J.F. Tocher humanises Mormond Hill when he wrote, standing as sentry over Buchan in his introduction to the Book of Buchan 1910. His observation was probably based on his own extensive knowledge of local history, and his statement suggest that he was well aware of the strategic importance the Hill had once played in the defence of these shores. However, modern interpretations, if any can be found, have now dehumanised the Hill to such a degree that the archaeological sites on it, demoted to the lowest archaeological common denominator, have been disengaged from local folk law, tradition and culture. The reason why the sites interpretation has changed so dramatically may be a reflection of the changing social and economic condition of the local population, and their experience and understanding of the immediate world around them. Therefore to gain an understanding of the contribution that this landscape has made and continues to make on Buchan, Aberdeenshire and the history of Scotland, modern interpretations should be waylaid in favour of those recorded through historic documents, maps, local history and language.

Fig2. Robertus Gordonius a Strathloch describebat 1640. Note the spelling of Mormond. Many attempts made to Gealicsied this name but seen here in its Welsh (old British) translation meaning Sea Hill. (Aberdour and Aberdeen may also have similar origins).

Fig.3. 1870 1st edition OS map

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

Site Report

No 1 Index NJ95NE0001 Name Find spot Description SMR Two flint arrowheads found here under a suspected cairn (now destroyed) White Horse cut from hillside and backed filled with white quarts. Thought to commemorate a fallen Sergeant of Capt Fraser (Lord Strichens & Lovat) who fell at Battle of Gilzen in 1794. Additional Interpretation Evidence of human activity


Hill Figure


Standing Structure. Hunting Lodge


Resting Cairn

Two storey rubble built building. Now a shell. Inscribe slab centre on south wall reads-In this/ Hunter's Lodge/Rob Gibb/Commands/MDCCLXXIX. Rob Gibb was Charles II's jester. Cairn; 17.0m in diameter and 1.5m high, prominently situated on a spur of Mormond Hill; some large stones around the circumference, particularly in the NE arc, may be kerb-stones, but most appear to be disturbed. BA,

The horse is similar to other figures in the south of Britain. The war memorial story is one of many and its true origins are a subject of debate. Local th 19 century historians credited its function as a Landmark to aid maritime navigation and this appears to be the most plausible reason. Believe built by Capt Fraser . The date 1779 may be year of construction as the building is not on the 1760 estate plan. A toast to Rob Gibb is thought to have Jocobite origins. Locally known as Resting Cairn for it is believed to have been the place to rest coffins on their way from Strichen along the Corpse Road to Rathen Church. Its construction is contemporary with the Bronze Age and the building material of quarts makes it more likely that it was also used as a maritime marker of that period.

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

No 5

Index Recorded with number 6 Hunt Stone

Name Fount Stone

Description SMR A rectangular dressed granite block amongst a small scattering of smaller rocks.


Hunt Stone

A prominent earthstone semi submerged on the upper western slope of Mormond Hill.


Hill Figure


Eye Stone

Stag hill figure cut from hillside and backed filled with white quarts. A large glacial boulder that has traditionally been used as a boundary stone.

9, 10, 11

NJ95NE0052 NJ95NE0053 NJ95NE0054

Boundary stone Waughton Hill

Dressed boundary stone; still standing, which is depicted on the 1867 1st edition OS map.

12, 13, 14

NJ95NE0055 NJ95NE0070 NJ95NE0056

Cairn, destroyed

Site of a now destroyed cairn that is depicted on the 1867 1st edition OS map



Standing Structure

Tropospheric Scatter Relay Station

Additional Interpretation Often confused with the Hunt Stone the Fount Stone is below that stone next to a track and near to a spring. Its name suggests outside worship and derives from the act of baptism. A possible pagan ritual site it may have th been Christianised in the 7 century at the time of St Eddrens Hermitage also on Mormond Hill. May have fallen out of use after 1627 when Strichen received its own parish church and no longer requiring Rathens. The name suggests that this was a place to meet before Hunting. It is known to predate the Hunting lodge (3) for it appears on the 1760 estate map. The name hunt may be a corruption of its original name and if ever realised it may present a different interpretation of its function. Commissioned by Mr F W Cordiner of Cortes Estate, near Fraserburgh, as a wedding gift to his bride in 1870. Often suggested that it got its name from its eye-shape form. But such named stones are known as places of healing and named after the part of the body they cured. However, on the 1768 estate map it is marked Een stone. Een the language of Buchan, Doric, means numerical One. Or when pronounce eyes. Why it would be called One Stone or plural Eyes is at present unknown. May have been an Observatory. The Parish Boundary was made in 1627 however it may have been traced onto existing estate lines. None of the stones appear on the 1760 estate map but their location near or on the earthwork causeway that is depicted, suggest they mark the route of this causeway. The cairns function on the landscape is linked to the period of their construction. They may be BA but most probable were markers for the route along this ridge, and may be cotemporary or pre-date the Corpse Road and utilised as lych-stone to rest coffins; they may have been places of interment. Placing a cairn over a corpse was thought to stop the spirit wondering home. Site of Cold War NATO early-warning radio station to detect missile attacks. Station No.44. Radar dishes now removed but underground complex remains. Now used by commercial telecommunication companies and contains a compound of radio masts.

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

No 16,

Index NJ95NE0068

Name Cairn, destroyed Standing Structure Now destroyed Boundary stone Waughton Hill Boundary stone Waughton Hill Farmstead destroyed



Description SMR Site of a now destroyed cairn that is depicted on the 1867 1st edition OS map Clearing and reputed site of a Hermitage known as St Eddrens

Additional Interpretation May be linked to Number 17


18, 19, 20

NJ95NE0067 NJ95NE0066 NJ95NE0065

Dressed boundary stone; still standing, which is depicted on the 1867 1st edition OS map.

21, 22, 23, 24 25

NJ95NE0057 NJ95NE0058 NJ95NE0059 NJ95NE0060 NJ95NE0030

Dressed boundary stone; still standing, which is depicted on the 1867 1st edition OS map. Farmstead depicted on 1867 OS map shows u-shape steading opening to the east. Dressed boundary stone; still standing, which is depicted on the 1867 1st edition OS map. Site of a now destroyed cairn that is depicted on the 1867 1st edition OS map Kings Seat hunting viewpoint.

26, 27,

NJ95NE0061 NJ95NE0062

28, 29, 30 31

NJ95NE0063 NJ95NE0064 NJ95NE0025

Boundary stone Waughton Hill Cairn, destroyed Natural feature

St Eddren (St Ethren) was a 7 century monk/missionary. Rathens old rd church is dedicated to him. Died 3 December 669AD Marker stones that appear to mark the route from St Eddrens Hermitage (17) and his church in the settlement of Rathen, known as St Eddrens Slack. (Slack meaning a climbing hill track) Marker stones that appear to mark route from Waughton Hill or Eye Stone to a settlement at Number 25. May have once been called Forrest Slack. One of many farmsteads along the north face of the Hill. The shape may point to the agricultural improvements th of the 19 century. Numbers 26, 27 Stones and Numbers 28, 29, 30 Cairns may be linked to mark route of Green Slack. See above.



Find spot




Not Recorded

Standing Structure, Well, destroyed Earthwork

Site of find spot of flint arrowheads found in 1857 during land improvements. Now missing. Janet Lambs Well named on the 1867 OS map.

Howe Rig, marked on 1857 and modern OS maps


Not recorded

Earthwork / Dam

Not recorded on SMR as a feature. Shown on SMR map at a point where a drain ditch runs into a natural water course and back to a drain ditch. A spring is also shown upstream of it.

Traditionally a hunting viewpoint of a Scottish King (more likely Ri Alban, King of Alban the title used by Mormaers of Moray). Its spelling indicates its historical age for being a common area it has retained its Teutonic spelling, unlike, the nearby house on Kings Field, which has been Gealicsied to Mains of Auchries. Evidence of human activity date unknown, may be assumed contemporary with BA Resting Cairn. May have been named after a local woman. Date unknown but could be related to pilgrims on St Eddrens Slack as it appears next to this route. Rig and furrow are evidence of cultivation that may span centuries. The date of this feature is not known but may be contemporary with early settlement during BA. Could be a natural feature that has been utilised to dam this spot to provide a head of water for a mill further down the hill side. The spring may have a connection with the Fount stone (5)

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

The sites across Mormond Hills summit share a common function in that they are all markers on the landscape. As markers they may be further subdivided into three types; distant navigation landmark, local navigation landmark and ritual landmark. Much will depend on the period in question to which type each site is assigned, for the sites interpretation changes as their function changes to reflect the circumstances of the people at any given time. It maybe a reflection on our own time and circumstance that landscapes like Mormond Hill are being interpreted with greater emphasis on their land-value in momentary terms, and their cultural meaning and value is often reduced to a list of sites on a databases (fig.4). Such lists are often incomplete and may not provide a satisfactory format to an inquisitor on their historic landscape.


Aberdeenshire SMR
Blue dots represent recorded sites

A fresh interpretation is needed that is deduced from all available evidence on the sum of the landscapes archaeological sites on Mormond Hill. But before meaning and function can be assigned to what these sites were, the question needs to be addressed why are they here? To answer this question the geology and topography of the Hill needs to be examined. In geological terms Mormond Hills solitary bulk is called an Inselburgh, (German for Island Mountain). Its formation was by the process of extreme pressure and heat being exerted onto sandstone transforming it into hard solid quartz. The land surrounding this quartz would have at one time been level with its summits, but through millions of years of wind, rain and glacial erosion, these softer surrounding rocks have been eaten away exposing the hill feature we see today. (fig.5)


Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

Just like Ayres Rock, Australias famous Inselburgh, these features on the landscape continue to captivate the human imagination and are often personified into symbols of cultural identity. Such features have always attracted human activity and the probability of some of the earliest archaeology in Scotland being cited on Mormond Hill is high. To stress the significance of Mormond Hills bearing on the psyche of its people, fig.6 shows computer generated views from point around its periphery. It also demonstrates how a simple Desk Study of a map may fail to relay a sense of place.

A : Peterhead

B: St Fergus

C : Rattray

D : St Combs

E : Fraserburgh

F: Abordour

G : New Pitsligo H : Adziel Hill Fig.6 Distant views generated using Memory Map OS edition computer software.

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

When viewed on a map the Hill could be interpreted as being at the hub with the northeast coastline running along its rim. Such a view would be accurate if the Hill was an observatory, but when the hill is viewed from out at sea along that rim, its value as a landmark is clearly evident. What is not clear is why such a hill appears to have never been utilised for occupation and fortified, like so many other hills across Aberdeenshire in the Iron Age. This may be interpreted that either the people were so strong that they had no need of a fort, or that the hill was sacred; revered or feared? The answer may lay with the earliest known manmade site on Mormond Hill, a Bronze Age cairn known locally as the Resting Cairn. Made from the composite material of the hill, the reflective qualities of the quartz and its size would have made it visible from a great distance. These facts may yet substantiate a ritual interpretation concerning the hills pre-history. (fig.7)

Fig.7 Resting Cairn However, the Resting Cairn is also a good example of how social and economic circumstances have changed the way sites may be interpreted at any given point in time. Its latest manifestation on a recent archaeological Walking Survey by a developer was simply, A Cairn, an interpretation which devalues it to a commodity. But it is still regarded by locals as the Resting Cairn and is associated with being the spot where coffins were rested on the Corpse Road from Strichen to St Eddren's Church Rathen, (this will be expanded on later). It looks likely though that this cairn adopted that name sometime in the past 250 years, and it became a symbol to represent the ancient Corpse Road that ran a short distance behind it. This theory has been deduced on the cairn being named Big Cairn on the 1760 Strichen Estate map, a map that depicts many other stones by their local name, and is unlikely to have misrepresented this one. Being called Big Cairn it may suggest that there were either smaller cairns nearby, or its size was extraordinary in scale. The scale may indicate the stature of those entombed beneath it, but it is obvious that this structure was meant to be seen, and seen from a great distance. This puts the Resting Cairn in the same Type of distance landmark as the much later Hunting Lodge and White Horse Hill figure. Although this was useful as a landmark for land travellers, another group of travellers would have seen them as a life-saver, were the mariners.

Fig.8 Admilraty Chart 1842

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

The area of coast east of Mormond Hill between St Combs and Fraserburgh is known as Rattray Briggs and is a traitorous stretch of shallow water harbouring a reef of razor sharp rocks. Its notoriety has been passed down through the local oral tradition with the saying, Keep Mormond Hill a handspike high, And Rattray Brigs you'll not come nigh. (Fig.8) The prominence of Mormond hill as a nautical landmark is often overlooked by modern observers of antiquity in their cars. But Mormond Hill once held a monumental place not only in Scottish history, but in the history of Britain. For in the 18th century it was interpreted, and given the accolade, as the battle site Mons Graupius, a battle around 84AD between the Romans under Agricola and the Caledonians or FreeBritish under Calgacus, (the precursor of the Pictish nation). Why this battle became so important to British historians of this century, is that although the Caledonians lost they were not defeated, only separated from the other British tribes in the south until the act of union in 1707AD reunited them.

Fig.10 Baldwin & Cradock 1834


John Ainslie 1789

Considering that three times before the NE has provided the battle field that decided the fate of Scotland; Macbeths army was crushed at Lumphanan by Malcolm with the assistance of an Anglo-Saxon army in 1056, Bara in 1308 saw King Robert I defeat the Earl of Buchan and destroying the Comyns claim to the crown, and Harlaw in 1411 when the nobles of Aberdeen halted Donald the 2nd Lord of the Isle ambition in becoming King of Scotland. So it was natural to assume considering its location and topography, such a nation forging battle took place here. To date, archaeology has been unable to substantiate the Mons Graupius claim, but with recent discoveries like those found at Rynie that demonstrates interaction with the Roman Empire, and a growing interest in this period of Scottish history, it may do so yet. One thing that is known to have arrived from the Roman World on Mormond Hill was Christianity. It is thought that Christianity may have come to Scotland as early as the second century via refugees fleeing Persecution from the Roman Empire. The first recorded missionary in Buchan was St Ninian who may have travelled through Aberdeenshire from the mission he set up at Withorn in 396 or 397AD. It is

Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

assumed he set up a religious settlement at Andet in Methlick near a well also called St Ninians Well; and may have built the church, now destroyed, at Tyrie know as the White Church of Buchan which resembled his White Church at Whithorn. If proven, this puts Mormond Hill on a transit route between Methlic and Tyrie that incorporates other early Christian Celtic sites like Aberdour, Old Deer, Rathen, St Combs, Longmay and Rattery. This may also explain why there are so many slacks (tracks) incorporating cairns and earthstones up the gentler northern slopes and flanks of the Hill; for the Hill is an obvious focal point serving as a communal gatherings place for religious and secular events.

Fig.11 Religious centre

No investigation has been carried out to ascertain if these cairns and stones are contemporary with the arrival of Christianity or came later, or even much earlier. Considering that St Colms at Daviot and St. Manires at Crathie were built on the sites of standing stone circles, and that often Christian sites were adopted from pagan sites, there is every reason to assume that these tracks could be very ancient indeed.

Fig. 12 Inscribe Stone?

A possible inscribed stone depicting a Christian Valknut or Triquetra symbol inside a circle. Waughton Hill. Location withheld by the author until clarification.


Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

It is interesting then that the Fount Stone (fig.13) which stands in a natural amphitheatre near the top of the Hill, receives little recognition today, and is often confused with the Hunt Stone that stands a little way above it. Its modern SMR interpretation, maybe a place where baptism took place, is more a reflection of the decline of Christianity in current society than a statement of function. It should be emphasised that before the move of the Celtic Church to adopt the Church of Romes doctrine in the 12th century, along with the introduction of buildings to house congregations, all communal religious festivals would have been conducted in the open air in much the same way as the pagan people used sacred groves (nemeton).

Fig.13 Fount Stone

The Fount Stone then continues the suggestion of a ritual landscape, and this is borne out by two other sites to the north of it, St Eddrens Hermitage and St Eddrens Slack. St Eddren (also known as the St Ethren) appears to have been a member of a noble Pictish family. His association with Mormond Hill and the surrounding area runs deep, for not only is his hermitage on the hill but the ancient track that runs between it and Rathens Church of which he is patron, is called St Eddrens Slack. One tradition tells the story of how he became befriended by a deer that continued to live outside his hermitage until his death in 669AD; his feast day is 3rd December. The reason why almost 1200 years later in 1870 the local laird had the figure of a Stag cut into the hill as a wedding gift for his bride, on this side of the Hill, may have something to do with this story. The act of baptism leaves little evidence on the landscape, but the act of burial leaves plenty. It is the observance of Christian burial that may hold the key to interpreting Mormonds Hill most intriguing site, the earthwork shown on the 1760 estate plan. (fig.14)

Fig.14 Earthwork 1760 Strichen Estate Plan


Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

This feature runs from west to east across the summit of the saddle and roughly 1km parallel to the southern ridge line of the, Hunting Lodge, White Horse and Resting cairn. Archaeological evaluation may determine the age of this feature (or even if it exists), but such features are not common in this part of Britain. If contemporary with the Resting Cairn it may be a cursus. If later it could be a political boundary like Offas Dyke between England and Wales or Scots Dike between England and Scotland, on a smaller scale. But considering the whole area was under the remit of the Mormaers and Earls of Buchan, there would have been no need for such a physical political statement. What is most likely is that this earthwork is the remains of a causeway that use to be used as the Corpse Road between Strichen and Rathen mention earlier. (Fig. 15)

Fig.15 Comparison between 1st edition OS map and 1760 Estate plan


Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

It is difficult to trace the feature on the ground today, but it may be assumed that it either follows the modern parish boundary line, that is so distinguishable due to recent land-use with the northern side as heath land for game bird shooting, and the southern as grassed moorland. But there is a linear feature in the heather 10m to the north of this boundary approximately 3-4m wide that warrants investigation. (Fig. 16, 17, 18)

Fig.16 Causeway. Looking east from Waughton Hill to Mormond Hill.

Fig.17 Causeway. Lokking west from area of Cairn No.12

Fig.18 Causeway. Looking east from area of Cairn No.13 The evidence that this was the Corpse Road is in its description by Andrew Jervise FSA Scot: The inhabitants (Strichen) long continued to bury their dead at Rathen, and some of the lychstones, or boulders, which were used resting coffins upon, when being conveyed to the churchyard, still stand by the side of the old road which leads to Rathen, through between the hills of Mormond (Epitaphs, i. 136). These stones were named from the Anglo-Saxon word lie or lyce, a dead body or corpse. The numerous earthstones and cairns along this causeway strongly suggest that this was the route of the Corpse Road. The reason why it were needed is that Strichen, moderately populated throughout history evident in the many crop marks and finds of funeral urns of the beaker type as well as its Recumbent stone circle, did not have its own church until 1627AD. (Note: Strichen is mention in a charter 1206AD by Fergus last Celtic Mormaer of Buchan calling it Crux Medici (Cross of the Doctors). If it had been religious


Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

settlement as suggested by Watt when he wrote of Strichen parish being gifted to the monks of Arbroath, it vanishes around the time of the construction of Deer Abbey around 1218. Therefore Strichen, in the parish of Rathen had to burry its dead on the opposite side of Mormond Hill and had little choice but to negotiate the hill.) However, when times were particularly bleak, as with the great famines in Aberdeenshire of 1695 and 1699, the living had not strength or inclination to observe burial rites, and the comment on the 1760 Estate map which reads Place were three men has been buried next to the causeway indicates the practise of disposing of bodies in the peat bogs instead of continuing on their goulash journey.


Summary The Corpse road is still recited in the oral tradition of the area and the Resting cairn as already explained could be a memorial to it. But with no interpretation in the modern medium, its decline into obscurity is set to continue and is the cause and effect of a landscape and its sites function becoming obsolete. With Strichen receiving its own parish church in 1627 and the construction of the 18th century road transport network made possible by the drainage of the lowlands, which had traditionally been avoided because of the bogs there. The trek up and over the hill is no longer needed. Many people around Mormond Hill today when asked to interpret Mormond Hill will say it is an iconic cultural feature on the Buchan landscape. But asked why, they are often slow to answer. A romantic may say this proves that landscapes are charged by human emotion, that the ability to know something on instinct with the absent of reason, is a link to how people of the past must have felt and saw the world. However modern interpretation of this landscape, forged in a secular world, view it as an asset to be developed and exploited.

(A quick note bout Forrest that may excite the historian readership is that for many years Mormond Hill was marked as the site of the battle of Mons Graupius 86AD. Tacitus writing on the battle said that afterwards the Governor of Britain Agricola regrouped for the winter in the land of the Borsett. The Borsett have never been identified but the name has often been associated with Forest and on this tangible evidence Forres in Banffshire has sometimes been credited as the place of the winter camp. Considering the map reference


Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011

and the number of place names, Forest Hill, Forest Slack, Forest mains etc. There may be evidence to conduct further investigation.) . St Etheran was a member of a noble Pictish family who founded or came from a monastery on the Isle of May and is linked to the church at Rathen. He is also thought to have died at his hermitage on Mormond Hill on 2nd December 668. Up until the general adoption of the church of Rome by the Scottish Royal family in the 11th century, Christianity in Buchan followed the St. Ninian teachings first introduced into Scotland around 396-397AD. This was still within the period of occupation of Rome in central and southern Britain and with the recent excavation and discoveries of extensive roman luxury items at Rynie, the passage of goods and the Christian message may well have been voiced on Mormond Hill. Aberdeenshire, Colm: Fergus, Medan, Moluag, Nidan, Marnoch, Serf, Drostan etc. Unlike the later catholic priest and churches, Pictish missionaries usually travelled in pairs walking and teaching as they went. The missionaries taught the Picts how to be better farmers and it has also been suggested that water-mill technology was introduce by them.

Name Although place names are not archaeology in the sense they do not appear in physical form, they may provided insight to the physical archaeology that they are associated with. The survey area consists of two summits, the higher of which is Waughton Hill. However locally and throughout history the lesser or the two Mormond Hill has given its name to the whole site. The reason why may be explained through its meaning in the language of the past. There have been many attempts by antiquarians since the 13th century to assign Gaelic meanings to place name throughout the North East. Where Gaelic place names do occur next to Anglo Saxon or Welsh (old Britain) it points to a period of Gaelic overlord ship. Which did occur in this part of Scotland between the rises of xxx xxx 800 to the fall of Macbeth xxxx. This may be seen in the name of King Seat on the northern spur of Mormond Hill, a common area known and used by the common people, where as Kings Field which lays beneath it and is now a Mains, had been Gealicsied into Achirie by 1906 and then Auchiries (Irish for Kings Field) as it appears on maps today. Therefore the Gaelic Interpretation of Mormond Hill of large Moor is questionable especially considering the massive expanse of moor land stretching out from New Pitlargo to the North and West. Scottish History Society Volume L1, Macfarlanes Geographical Collections Vol.1 Pg 56 April 1906 Its true meaning may lay in the language that pre-dates the Gaelic insurgence, that of the Picts.. Unfortunately the Picts did not submit their language to paper, or if they did none of it has survived, so we may never know its sound. But it has often been surmised that it was closely related to other British Celtic languages like Cornish and Welsh. In Cornish, Welsh, Breton Mor becomes Sea, and so we get Sea Hill. Mormond Hill is in fact the collective name for a number of hills forming a ridgeline, the furthest north (Roman east) is known as Waughton Hill.11 Waughton may be a reference to the Hepburns of Waughton, a powerful Middle Ages clan family in East Lothian.12 But until evidence is forthcoming placing them in Buchan they may be discarded. However we find another meaning for Waughton in the language of NE Scotland, Doric. Doric is a Germanic based language believed to have been imported into Britain around the 4th century with the Saxons. In Old Saxon, Waughton becomes Waugh-ton; by discarding the ton, meaning a farm, village or enclosure, Waugh becomes Walh (singular) and Walha (plural). In pre 7th century old English Walha was the word used for foreigner, which we still use today as the word Welsh. But in its ancient Germanic guise Walha was the ethnic name used for a tribe of Celts called the Volcae; once the Volcae were Romanised, Walha (Waugh) became the ethnic name used by the Germanic Saxons for the Romans.


Andrew David Sturdy

Culture & History Study Waughton & Mormond Hill December 2011