Auldnaw BURN & GLEN

Place-name:Auldnaw Burn, Auldnaw Glen
Suggested Meaning:‘kiln stream, glen of the kiln stream
First element:1. Gaelic allt ‘river with precipitous banks; stream, a brook
First element:2. Gaelic allt ‘glen’
Second element:1. Gaelic ath ‘kiln’ 
Second element:2. Gaelic ath ‘ford’
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57):Auldnaw Glen, Auldnaw Burn
Location:Ordnance Survey (1897)
Other Early Forms:
Auldna (1845, New Statistical Account)
Auldnaw Burn through Auldnaw Glen (Photo Robert Guthrie)

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 term burn has been appended to Beoch Lane which already contains the Scots water-course term lane ‘slow-moving stream”

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

AULDNAW | 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, which clearly is the main feature of the burn.

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’

AULDNAW | 2nd element

1. Gaelic ath, atha ‘kiln’

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’

It should be noted that there is a Kiln Burn at the opposite end of the parish that flows from near Over Cairn farm into the River Nith.

2. Gaelic ath ‘ford’

Incidentally, when the Beoch mineral tramway was erected it cossed the Auldnaw Burn, by way of a viaduct over the Auldnaw Glen.

In conclusion, it would appear the Auldnaw is Gaelic allt na atha ‘kiln stream’.


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


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 the Scots glen can also apply to smaller burns where the glen is described as a dell or a ravine.

GLEN, n. 1. A valley or hollow gen. traversed by a stream or river, usu. 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] Malcolm MacLennan| Gaelic Dictionary (1995)
[2] Sir Herbert Maxwell | The Place-names of Galloway (2001)
[3] Dictionaries of the Scots Language |glen


Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Ordnance Survey (1895) | Auldnaw
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Auldnaw