Auchincross, Hall of Auchincross

Suggested Meaning:(1) ‘field of the crossing over the ridge’
(2) ‘field of cross’
(3) ‘gallows field’
First elementGaelic achadh ‘field’
Second element1. Gaelic crosg ‘crossing over the ridge’ 
Second element2. Gaelic crois ‘cross’
Second element3. Gaelic croich ‘gallows’
Place-Name:Hall of Auchincross
First ElementScots hall ‘residence of laird’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Litil AchincorB , Midle AchincorB, AchincorB b.
OS Name Books (1855-57):Auchincross (Auchincrofs)
Location:Ordnance Survey (1892-1960)
Valuation Roll 1885:Auchencross, Hall of Auchencross
Valuation Roll 1940:Auchincross, Hall of Auchincross
Current Status:Demolished as part of opencast mining operations
Other Early Forms:
Auchincors (1530), Auchincorse (1531), Auchincors (1607), Auchincorse (1607), Auchincroce (1608), Auchincroshe (1648), Auchincorse (mR), Haw of Auchincorse (mR), Auchencrofs (mA)
Map of Ayrshire (1775), mR=Roy Military Map (1747/55)

Auchincors an early form of the place-name Auchincross appears in an instrument of 1530 [1] –

Copy of precept by King James the Fifth directed to the sheriff of Aire, narrating that he had commanded James Dunbar, baron of the barony of Cumnok, that without delay (he shall cause sasine to be had) to Patrick Dunbar, son and heir of the late Patrick Dunbar, of the 12 merk lands of Auchincors and Corsincone, with mill thereof, lying in the barony of Cumnok, which unless they do, the king directs the sheriff to give sasine. At Perth . . . November A. R. 18(1530), 150a.

Protocol Book of Gavin Ross N.P. (1512-1532)

Johan Blaeu’s map Coila Provincia, Atlus Novus (1654) shows the two properties Midle AchincorB and Litl AuchincorB on the banks of AuchincorB burn. A ‘middle’ property begs the question if there had previously been a third named property e.g Upper or Nether AuchincorB.

Through time the two properties came to be known as Auchincross (Litil AuchincorB) and Hall of Auchencross (Midle AchincorB).

Map 1| Blaeu Atlas (1654) By Permission of National Library of Scotland


1st element |Gaelic achadh ‘field’

Typically places names beginning with the elements achin-, auchen or auchin- would have started out as field names indicative of ancillary farming activity by Gaelic speaking settlers [2] and are all anglicised forms of Gaelic achadh ‘field’.

2nd element| –cross

Three possibilities emerge for the meaning of the second element of Auchincross –crosg, crois and –croich; ll of Gaelic [3] origin and are presented here in order of the most likely derivation.

2nd element | (1). Gaelic crosg “crossing over the ridge”

The OS Map (1888-1913) below perfectly illustrates the location of both the Auchincross properties between Rigfoot (bottom of the ridge) and Righead (top of the ridge). The modern day crossing over the ridge is the ‘back road’ from New Cumnock to Cumnock, shown on the east of the map. A later cottage about 1/2 mile to the west and on the lands of Auchencross was named Crosshill.

The most likely meaning of the name Auchincross is Gaelic achadh na crosg “field of the crossing over the ridge”.

Map 2 | OS One Inch (1885-1903), By Permission of National Library of Scotland

2nd element | (2). Gaelic crois (pronounced: crosh) ‘a cross’

Note the pronunciation supports early forms Auchincroce (1608), Auchincroshe (1648).

Path to Auchincross Farm over the ridge (Robert Guthrie)

Although fragments of ancient Christian crosses have been found in the east of the parish of New Cumnock, near Mansfield and Over Cairn, there are no records of any finds of this nature in the lands of Auchincross.

However adjacent to Hall of Auchincross are the lands of Wellhill and wells are often associated with Christian sites. Here again there is no evidence of an ancient well or a dedication to a well such as St. Bride’s Well in the parish of Coylton. It is also worth noting that further west within a couple miles of Auchincross there are a number of names with possible Christian origins e.g. Carniven ( G. naomh ‘holy, saint’), Carsgailoch (G. cailleach, nun), Pappethill (G. papanach ‘popish’).

2nd element | (3). Gaelic croich ‘gallows

According to local tradition the Laird of Auchincross resident in the ancient Hall of Auchincross tried local criminals at the nearby Court Knowe [4]. Those found guilty of serious crimes were later hanged at the Gallows Knowe [5]. On the Ordnance Survey map of 1858 the site of the Old Hall is shown within the grounds of the farm Hall of Auchincross at that time and the site of the Court Knowe is marked some 200 yards to the south-east.

Map 3 Hall of Auchincross|Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland

The Ordnance Survey Namebook (1855-57) entries for Hall of Auchincross and Court Knowe some 200 yards to the south-east of the Hall read –

Hall of Auchincross: “A farm house, the property of the Earl of Dumfries. On the N.W. side of this house stood the old Mansion the site of which has been pointed out by Mr. Welsh, the occupier. It is said to have been a very ancient place.”

Court Knowe: “A knowe upon which criminals are said to have been tried in ancient times by the Laird of Auchincross.”

The New Cumnock School-Fellows Annual Magazine (1898) includes a reference to this tradition in asking the question -“Did a noble, with a power to judge and put to death, live at Welsh’s Ha?“. Welsh’s Ha is a reference to George Welsh, tenant of Hall of Auchincross at the time [6] .

Although the site of the aforementioned Gallows Knowe is not shown on the map, there is a Ordnance Survey Name Book entry which reads –

Gallows Knowe: A small knowe about 20 ch. [chains] S.E. [South East] of the Hall of Auchincross. Condemned criminals are said to have been executed upon it, after having been tried upon the Court Knowe by the Laird of Auchincross.

The Court Knowe and Gallows Knowe were more likely to be where the Baron of Cumnock or his baillie tried and executed condemned men rather than be for the personal use of the Laird of Auchincross. The gallows would have to pre-date the properties of Auchincross to be the source of the derivation of the name.

Hall of Auchincross

Hall of Auchincross (Robert Guthrie 2008)

The hall in Hall of Auchincross takes its name from the original “Old Hall” that once stood there, to the north west of the farm building. Indeed what may be a marriage stone recovered from the Old Hall was embedded into the gable end of the byre of the Hall of Auchincross bearing the initials GC and BC either side of a heraldic symbol of three mullets (spurs) [7,8]. This is a reference to George Craufurd and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) Craufurd and the arms of the Craufurds of Ardmillan [9].

Hall of Auchincross Marriage Stone ( Robert Guthrie)

George Craufurd (fl. 1605-1650) and his family appear to have been involved in a number of local skirmishes [10].

  • In 1608, his son William and others ‘armed with lanceis, speiris, gantilelettis, hacquebutis, pistolettis and other prohibited weapons‘ attacked others “cuitit the syderepis of thair horspleuchis, lowsit the same,” and then avowed to shoot them unless they gave them “black maill‘; whereupon they paid them £20 for fear of violence”.
  • McKnight in Cumnock Mill (New Cumnock), Lambie in Polquheys and Murdoch in Brockloch, were among their victims.
  • When the officers came to fix a warning on the place of Auchincross, Craufurd “sent furth 26 women who would have prosequute thame to the death with stanes unless they had fled, ___ Lady Auchincors, and Katherine and Agnes, her daughter, and certain of their tenants on horseback, assisting in the pursuit and invasion of the said officer and his witnesses.”

The earliest map reference to the Hall of Auchincross is found on Roy’s Military (Lowlands) and appears in the Scots form “Haw of Auchincorse”

The modern day farm of Hall of Auchincross takes it place-name element hall from the original Old Hall which in turn is a reference to the residence of the laird [11], as opposed to latter day use of hall ‘farmhouse’ such as in Hall of Mansfield [12].

Hall, Haw, n. Also: hal(le, hale, haul, hawe. [ME. haule, hal (14th c.), hall, OE. hall, heall.]

l. A large and spacious building, esp. one which is the residence of a magnate. Found early in the place-names Blachall (1329), Halton (1345–50).

Dictionaries of the Scots Language [8]

Today nothing remains of the farmhouses of Auchincross or the Hall of Auchincross after extensive open-cast working in these lands, the former serving as offices for Kier Mining for a time.


[1] Protocol Book of Gavin Ross N.P. (1512-1532) |No. 1169
[2] W.F.H. Nicolaisen | Scottish Place-names (1986)
[3] Malcolm MacLennan | Gaelic Dictionary (1995) 1. croisg 2. crois 3. croich
[4] New Cumnock Place-Name | Court Knowe (in progress)
[5] New Cumnock Place-Name | Gallows Knowe
[6] The New Cumnock School-Fellows Annual Magazine (1898)
[7] CFA ARCHAEOLOGY LTD. ‘Greenburn Surface Mine Wellhill Extension New Cumnock, East Ayrshire, Hall of Auchincross Farm Architectural Watching Brief. Report No 3007
[8] CANMORE National Record of the Historic Environment | Hall of Auchincross
[9] Robert Guthrie | The Castles of New Cumnock (2009)
[10] Source: Stuart Clarkson | Notes on Craufurd of Auchincross
[11] Dictionaries of the Scots Language |hall, haw
[12] Dictionaries of the Scots Language | ha, haw
Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Blaeu Atlas of Scotland (1654), Coila Provincia
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1885-1903)
Map 3 | Ordnance Survey (1892-1960)
Ref |Roy’s Military Map
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Auchincross
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Hall of Auchincross
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 |Court Knowe
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 |Gallows Knowe