Place-name:Auldnaw Burn, Auldnaw Glen
Suggested Meaning:‘burn of the kiln, glen of the burn of kiln
First element1. Gaelic allt ‘river with precipitous banks; stream,. a brook
First element2. Gaelic allt ‘glen’
Second element1. Gaelic ath ‘kiln’ 
Second element2. Gaelic ath ‘ford’
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57):Auldnaw Glen, Auldnaw Burn
Location:Ordnance Survey (1850)
Current Status:
Other Early Forms:

The Scotland Places entry for Auldnaw Burn reads –

“A stream which flows through the Auldnaw Glen into Beoch Lane burn.

The Scotland Places entry for Auldnaw Glen reads-

“A deep Glen through which runs a stream of the same name into Beoch Lane Burn”

1st element | 1. Gaelic allt ‘river with precipitous banks; stream, a brook’ [1]

Although the Auldnaw Burn clearly cannot be described as a river it can be described as a rather small burn “with precipitous banks” for a stretch of its course, i.e. that part through the Auldnaw Glen.

1st element | 2. Gaelic allt ‘glen’

Sir Herbert Maxwell in ‘Place-names of Galloway’ gives a number of examples of allt place-names which he associates with glens as well as doubling up with glens and burns [2]. These include –

  • Alltaggart (Pont: Alt Tagart): allt shagairt ‘the priest’s glen and burn’
  • Auld Taggart: allt shagairt ‘the priest’s glen’
  • The Alt Glen, Mochrum: allt, ‘a glen’
  • Altibrair: allt a braithar ‘the friar’s glen’
  • Altibrick Strand: allt a’ bruic ‘the badgers’ glen’
  • Alticry: allt a cruidh – ‘glen or burn of the cattle’
  • Altigoukie: allt a’ g-cubhaig – ‘the cuckoo’s glen’

2nd element | 1. Gaelic ath, atha ‘kiln’ 2. Gaelic ath ‘ford’

Maxwell in considering the place-name Craignaw, Minigaff offers two derivations creag an atha, ‘craig at the ford’ and creag na atha, ‘craig of the kiln’ and explains “it is difficult to distinguish these words from each other in compound names“.

Maxwell also quotes Joyce in another discussion on ath

Ath, is a kiln for drying corn and the word occurs very often in Irish names. It is generally found at the end of names joined with na, the genitive feminine of the article followed by h, by which it is distinguished from ath, a ford which takes an in the genitive.

P. W. Joyce ‘The Origins and History of Irish Names and Places’

The Auldnaw Burn is a very small burn and from source to its meeting with the Beoch Lane it runs for less than a mile. It can be easily crossed at any point without the need for a ford and there are no fords marked on the map. Incidentally, when the Beoch mineral tramway was erected it cossed the Auldnaw Burn, by way of a viaduct over the Auldnaw Glen.

Some 300 metres south of the Auldnaw Glens sits the Brick Field, indicative of clay deposits perhaps of some antiquity. Were kilns once in operation nearby?

Typically glens take their names from burns and therefore the first element of the name Auldnaw is allt ‘burn’ and the second element is ath ‘kiln’.

Auldnaw is Gaelic allt na ath ”burn of the kiln’ and at some point later, as usual the Scots burn was added to give Auldnaw Burn. Similarly the Auldburn Glen is probablly ‘glen of the kiln burn’ rather than ‘glen of the kiln’.

N.B. There is a Kiln Burn at the opposite end of the parish that flows from near Over Cairn farm into the River Nith.


[1] Malcolm MacLennan| Gaelic Dictionary (1995)
[2] Sir Herbert Maxwell | The Place-names of Galloway (2001)


Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Ordnance Survey (1850) | Auldnaw
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Auldnaw