Folk­lore of the coast

Sto­ries be­hind place names

The Galloway News - - DISTRICT NEWS - Nat­u­ral his­tory so­ci­ety

The first lec­ture of the new se­ries was by Nic Coombey, of the Sol­way Firth Part­ner­ship.

In his talk he dis­cussed the sto­ries be­hind coastal place names, il­lus­trated with some beau­ti­ful pho­tos of the places he talked about.

He made the land­scape of Dum­fries and Gal­loway look splen­did – no wet days here.

The talk was or­gan­ised by land­scape fea­tures, be­gin­ning with caves.

He showed how dif­fer­ent as­so­ci­a­tions in­flu­enced names. Place names could al­ter as their roles changed, thus Cas­tle Port – a safe land­ing – be­came St Ninian’s Cave.

Other caves had his­toric as­so­ci­a­tions, some prob­a­bly true like those linked to the covenan­ters (Barholm Whigs Hole) or lit­er­ary fic­tion such as Sir Wal­ter Scott’s Guy Man­ner­ing – Dick Hat­t­er­ick’s Cave.

Some cave names were purely de­scrip­tive, such as Butcher’s Cave from the colour of the red al­gae on it.

Some caves were named af­ter peo­ple who had lived in them – Cal­lie’s Cave was al­legedly named af­ter a smug­gler.

An­other cave, re­ferred to on early maps as Sheep Cave, be­came Lo­gie’s Cave af­ter Johnny Lo­gie who lived there for about 40 years, only leav­ing in the 1960s.

In­for­ma­tion was also given about is­land place names.

Ard­wall Is­land used to be known as Larry Isle af­ter a rather no­to­ri­ous in­hab­i­tant.

Hes­tan Is­land, which once had a monastery, has a more his­toric place name, Monks’ Pool, which prob­a­bly con­tained a me­dieval fish trap.

The meet­ing also heard of cliffs named af­ter birds such as Ducker Bing, a cor­morant nest­ing site.

Fi­nally, Nic con­sid­ered rocks. The Al­tar Stone, near An­nan, seemed to de­fine the bound­ary between town and par­ish and still re­tained a role in the rid­ing of the marches.

The talk was much ap­pre­ci­ated, as shown by the large num­ber of ques­tions af­ter­wards.

Mem­bers are now look­ing for­ward to the next talk, by Pro­fes­sor Andy Ferguson, which will deal with the im­pact of en­vi­ron­men­tal changes of na­tive fresh­wa­ter fish.

This will be given at the Cum­ber­land Street Day Cen­tre, in Dum­fries, on Oc­to­ber 19 at 7.30pm. Vis­i­tors wel­come.

What’s in a name? Nic Coombey talked about places along the Sol­way coast

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