Suggested Meaning:Scots blow weary weary of the wind’
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57): Bloweary
Location:Ordnance Survey (1892-1949)
Current Status:very few ruins
Other variations
Blawearie, Blaw Weary (1871)

Bloweary is the name given to the farm cottage that sat off the roadway which runs between the farms of Low and High Polquheys.

Map1 | Bloweary and (Low) Polquheys : By Permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Ordnance Survey Name Book entry for Bloweary in New Cumnock reads –

‘A small Cottage on the road from N [New] Cumnock to Mansfield Colliery’

A further search of the Name Books throughout Scotland reveals a number of Blowearys or equivalents, namely in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire (Bloweary), Kirkcudbrightshire (Blaw Weary x 2), Berwickshire (Blawearie), Roxburghshire (Blawearie), Midlothian (Blaw Weary) and East Lothian (Blawearie). In the latter a derivation of the name is offered as –

“It derives its name from the bleak situation in which it stood, previous to the wood being planted.”

Elsewhere in Ayrshire there is a Blaweary in the parish of Dailly.

Further afield there is a Blawearie near Eglingham in Northumberland which ‘might be conveniently be described as Sick-of-the-Wind on the same basis of war weary. It sits on top of hill surrounded by heather, far as the eye can reach‘ [1].

The origin of the name Blowearie does appear to be self explanatory and conjures up a vision of a place exposed to the vagaries of the wind. Nevertheless, attempts have been made to assign a Gaelic origin to the name.

Sir Herbert Maxwell in ‘The Place-Names of Galloway’ [2] considers the two Kirkcudbrightshire examples, in Balmaclellen and Urr, and offers –

Gaelic blar iarach [eeragh]’ west plain or field‘ as a derivation

While John Milne LL. D. in ” Gaelic Place Names of the Lothians” [3] offers the more elaborate derivation-

BLAWEARIE, for Blath Chuith Airidh ‘pleasant fold On the shieling’ . Blath warm, pleasant; chuith, cuith aspirated, fold; airidh, shieling. All the aspirated letters were lost. Ui is pronounced we.

Perhaps the Gaelic scholars may have been overthinking the name Blowearie. Certainly, Blowearie in New Cumnock falls into ‘the weary of the wind’ category as it rested on the brow of the hill, nestled behind what is probably a later plantation of trees which also served as a windbreak. (cf. Blawearie entry in East Lothian Ordnance Survey Namebook)

Map 2 | Bloweary (By Permission of National Library of Scotland)

In the 1871 Census Records Straiton-born shepherd Peter Murdoch and his wife Mary Murdoch (nee McWhirter) were living at Blaw Weary with their infant daughter Catherine, born in April the year before; her birth certificate refers to Blaw Weary as Polquheys Cottage.

The Murdoch family would later move to Over Blackcraig cottage at the head of Glen Afton where in March 1882 shepherd Peter became a local celebrity after discovering a hoard of 40 gold coins and 141 silver. His reward for his honesty in handing the hoard over to the authorities one gold coin and one silver coin from the hoard and £85 10s from the Sheriff of Ayrshire [4].

Although the building is shown in the Ordnance Survey map of 1895, it is not named and may have been deserted by that time. Today there is little left to see of Blowearie other than the clearing behind the stane-dyke that runs the length of the plantation.

Remains of Blowearie (Photo Robert Guthre 2008)
Looking down on the Blowearie plantation (Photo Robert Guthrie 2008)

Of course the most famous Blawearie is the fictional one in Kinraddie, the home to Chris Guthrie and her family, the heroine of Lewis Grassic Gibson’s classic “Sunset Song” [5] .


[1] Godfrey Watson ‘Northumberland Place Names Goodwife Hot & Others’ ‘ (1995)
[2] Sir Herbert Maxwell ‘The Place-Names of Galloway’
[3] John Milne ‘Gaelic Place Names of the Lothians’
[4] Helen J. Steven ‘The Cumnocks Old and New’ (1899)
[5] Lewis Grassice Gibbon ‘Sunset Song’ (1932)
By Permission of National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Ordnance Survey (1843-1882)
Six-inch 1st edition, 1843-1882
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1885-1882)
Ayrshire XLII.2 (New Cumnock) Survey date: 1856   Publication date: 1858
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Bloweary