Auchincross

Place-name:Auchincross
Suggested Meaning:‘field of the crossing over the ridge’
First elementGaelic achadh ‘field’
Second element1. Gaelic crosg ‘crossing over the ridge’ 
Second element2. Gaelic crois ‘cross’
Second element3. Gaelic croich ‘gallows’
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
Valution Roll 1940:Auchincross, Hall of Auchincross
Current Status:Demolished for purposes of opencast mining
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)

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 a third named property e.g Upper or Nether AuchincorB. Through time the two properties came to be known as Hall of Auchencross, the larger property and Auchincross to the south.

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 [1] and are all anglicised forms of Gaelic achadh ‘field’.

2nd element| –cross

Three possibilities emerge for the meaning of the second element of Auchincross. These are presented here in order of the most probable.

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
Path to Auchincross Farm over the ridge (Robert Guthrie)

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

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

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 Auchencross there are a number of names with possible Christian origins e.g. Carniven ( G. naomh ‘holy, saint’), Carsgailoch (G. cailleich, 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. Those found guilty of serious crimes were later hanged at the Gallows Knowe.

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 | OS 25 inch (1858), By Permission of 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?“, where George Welsh was the tenant at the Hall of Auchincross.

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 site of the Gallows Knowe was situated 20 chains (440 yards) to the south-east of the Old Hall.

If the Gallows Knowe was where the Laird of Auchincross dispensed justice it is unikely that it pre-dated the Laird’s residence and as such is unlikely to be the source of the name Auchincross.

Hall of Auchincross

Hall of Auchincross (Robert Guthrie)

The above map reveals that 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 intials GC and BC either side of a heraldic symbol of three mullets (spurs) . This is a reference to George Craufurd and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) Craufurd and the arms of the Craufurds of Ardmillan [4].

Hall of Auhincross Marriage Stone ( Robert Guthrie)

George Craufurd (fl. 1605-1650) and his family appear to have been involved in a number of local skirmishes [5].

In 1608, his son William and others “armed with lanceis, speiris, gantilelettis, hacquebutis, pistolettis andother 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; whereuponthey 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, assistingin the pursuit and invasion of the said officer and his witnesses.”

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

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

References
[1] W.F.H. Nicolaisen | Scottish Place-names (1986)
[2] Malcolm MacLennan | Gaelic Dictionary (1995)
[3] W. J. Watson | The Celtic Place-Names of Scotland (Birlinn 2004)
[4] Robert Guthrie | The Castles of New Cumnock (2009)
[4] Source: Stuart Clarkson |
Maps 
By Permission of National Library of Scotland 
https://maps.nls.uk/ 
Map 1 | Blaeu Atlas of Scotland (1654), Coila Provincia 
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1885-1903) 
Map 3 | Ordnance Survey 1855-1882) 
Ref |Roy’s Military Map 
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
scotlandsplaces.gov.uk
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