From Rot­ten Row

City ’s road names have in­trigu­ing con­nec­tions

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - COURT REPORTS - BY STEVEN RAE

FROM streets named after Beano char­ac­ters, to one with a con­nec­tion to Wil­liam Wallace and an­other named after a type of fish, the city has its quirky thor­ough­fares.

The in­trigu­ing his­tory be­hind some of Dundee’s most mem­o­rable street names has been doc­u­mented by his­to­ri­ans across the city, in­clud­ing Dundee Civic Trust and Leisure and Cul­ture Dundee.

Here, the Tele takes a look at the back story of some of the names which stand out most.

The ba­sic street pat­tern from me­dieval times in the cen­tre of the city re­mains the same. The town plan was de­scribed by the Rev Robert Ed­ward in 1678 as: “Di­vided into four prin­ci­pal streets, rep­re­sent­ing a hu­man body, stretched on its back with its arms to­wards the west and its legs to­wards the east.”

Sea­gate was the first area of set­tle­ment in Dundee, dat­ing to around the 11th Cen­tury, and is one of the city’s old­est sur­viv­ing streets. It was the mar­ket cen­tre un­til the town grad­u­ally de­vel­oped west­wards.

The old shore of the Tay once ran par­al­lel along­side the east end of the Sea­gate.

How­ever, the name Sea­gate was a cu­ri­ous choice, given the street led to and from the River Tay – not the sea.

The Mur­ray­gate, which runs par­al­lel to the Sea­gate, is an­other of the city’s old­est streets. The name is thought to be de­rived from ‘Mo­ray Gait’ after Ran­dolph, Earl of Mo­ray, a com­pan­ion-at-arms of Wil­liam Wallace and Sir Robert the Bruce. Though pedes­tri­anised long ago, sec­tions of the for­mer tramway tracks have been left as a memo­rial of the vin­tage transport.

In me­dieval times, Dundee had a town herds­man who would drive cat­tle along the Cow­gate to the Town’s Mead­ows. Part of Cow­gate is also re­ferred to as Wishart’s Arch with the prob­a­bly er­ro­neous tale that Protes­tant re­former Ge­orge Wishart preached from the struc­ture to peo­ple with the plague, who had to stay out­side the town walls.

Hill­town folk could be for­given for hav­ing no de­sire to re­vert to the street’s pre­vi­ous name, Rot­ten Row, which was ac­tu­ally out­side the bor­der of 17th Cen­tury Dundee.

The area was a barony – a small sub­di­vi­sion sim­i­lar to a county – in its own right. The main road from Dundee to For­far ran through the area.

There are a few places named Rot­ten Row in the UK and it is thought the name may de­rive from the Saxon word ‘rot’ mean­ing ‘pleas­ant and cheer­ful’, rather than the deroga­tory con­no­ta­tions it throws up to­day.

Hav­ing been re­named the Barony of Hill­town after ex­tend­ing fur­ther north up the hill, the area was pur­chased from one of Dundee’s Lairds in 1697 and be­came part of the city.

In the 1870s, the district of Maxwell­town was ac­quired by the town from the es­tate of the fam­ily of Maxwell of Teal­ing. When the plan was pre­pared set­ting out the new streets, Maxwell ar­ranged that these should be named after mem­bers of

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