Auldnaw Burn & Auldnaw Glen

Place-names:Auldnaw Burn, Auldnaw Glen
Suggested meaning:stream with precipious banks at the kiln
element:Gaelic allt ‘river with precipitous banks; stream, a brook
elementGaelic ath ‘kiln’
elementScots burn ‘stream’
element Scots glen ‘a valley traversed by a stream’
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57):Auldnaw Burn, Auldnaw Glen
Location:Ordnance Survey (1897)
Other Early Forms:
Auldna (1845, New Statistical Account)

Auldnaw Burn and Auldnaw Glen

Auldnaw Burn through Auldnaw Glen (Photo Robert Guthrie 2009 )

The Ordnance Survey Name Book entries for Auldnaw Burn and Auldnaw Glen read –

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

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

[N.B. the Scots burn ‘stream’ [1] has been appended to Beoch Lane which already contains the Scots water-course term lane ‘slow-moving stream’ [2]

Map 1: Auldnaw Burn and Auldnaw Glen| Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland


element: Gaelic allt ‘river with precipitous banks; stream, a brook’ [3]

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, which clearly is the main feature of the burn.

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 [4]. 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’
element: Gaelic ath, atha ‘kiln’ [5]

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 the place-name element ath [6] –

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 stream is too narrow and the banks too steep or a ford. Incidentally, when the Beoch mineral tramway was erected it crossed the Auldnaw Burn, by way of a viaduct over the Auldnaw Glen.

N.B. there is also Kiln Burn at the opposite end of the parish that flows from near Over Cairn farm into the River Nith [ 7] .

Auldnaw Burn

At some time later the Scots burn ‘stream’ has been appended to the name, much in the same way that burn was appended to Beoch Lane in the OS Name Book entries above. The tautology giving the Kilnburn Burn!

Auldnaw Glen

It is not unsual for the term Glen to be applied to the burn that flows through it, where typically these are grand vistas e.g Afton Water and Glen Afton. However, Scots glen can also apply to smaller burns where the glen is described as a dell or a ravine [8].

GLEN, n. 1. A valley or hollow gen. traversed by a stream or river, usually but not necessarily narrow and with steep sides; in longer rivers connoting the mountain valley in the upper reaches as opposed to the strath or broader vale below; in small streams, a dell or ravine, a den.

The Dictionaries of the Scots Language Dictionars o the Scots Leid


[1] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | burn
[2] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | lane
[3] Edward Dwelly, Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary| allt
[4] Sir Herbert Maxwell, The Place-Names of Galloway (2001 edition) |allt place-names
[5] Edward Dwelly, Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary | ath, atha
[6] Sir Herbert Maxwell, The Place-Names of Galloway (2001 edition)
[7] New Cumnock Place-Name | Kiln Burn (in progress)
[8] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | glen


Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland
Images used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.
Map 1: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1960 (1895) | Auldnaw
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Auldnaw