Bolt Craig, Bolt Burn, Boltcraig Hill

Place-names:Bolt Craig
Suggested Meaning:‘The Curve’
First element:Scots bolt, bout, bowt ‘curve’
Second elementScots craig ‘crag, ock
Blaeu Coila (1654):Bootfoot
OS Name Books (1855-57):Bolt Burn, Bolt Craig, Boltcraig Hill
Location:Ordnance Survey (1937-1961)
Other Early Forms:
Boutfoute (1642), Bootfoot (1654)
Map 1 Bootfoot (Blaeu 1654)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1642 Jean Campbell in Boutfoute was one of a group of eleven people that during a local feud descended upon nearby Craigdarroch, home of William Reid, “all boddin with swords, rungs, pitch forks and other weapons invasive” and the assailants “were put to the horn and escheated” [1] . Boutfoute was probably locate at the foot of the hill known locally as The Bout, or possibly the Bout Burn. Whatever the case the property no longer exists.

In modern day Ordnance Survey maps the place-name element bout– (1642) , boot – (1654) is replaced with Scots bolt, pronounced bout, the meaning of which in this context will be discussed later.

Map 2: Bolt Craig (OS Map 1857) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Bolt Craig

Scots bolt ‘?’ Scots craig ‘crag, rock’

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Bolt Craig reads –

A cliff extending from the top to near the bottom of the north side of Bolt Craig Hill.

The hill known as The Bout is often heavily wooded and only when deforested does it expose the Scots craig ‘crag, rock’ [2] that runs diagonally from top to bottom of the east facing slope of the hill. Could the rock face be considered to resemble the shape of Scots bolt, bowt , bout ‘ a short heavy arrow’? [3].

Bolt Burn

Scots bolt ? + Scots burn ‘stream’

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Bolt Burn reads

A stream rising on Craigdarroch rig and flowing north of Bolt Craig into Afton Water.

Presumably this Scots burn ‘stream’ [4] takes its the name from the hill known locally at The Bout.

Boltcraig Hill

Scots bolt ? Scots craig ‘crag, rock’ + hill

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Boltcraig Hill reads

A steep rocky hill at the north end of Craigdarroch Rig.

The ‘Authorities for Spelling’ as John Welsh, senior and John Welsh, junior both of Craigdarroch and the Craigdarroch Property Map. This suggests that the hill has been named after the rock-face Bolt Craig, surely at some date after the names Boutfoote and Bolt Burn had been coined – otherwise these would have been nameed Boltcraigfoote and Boltcraig Burn?

It is also interesting to the note the difference in naming convention compared with the nearby Craigbraneoch Rig where its rocky hill at its north end simply adopts the rig’s name, i.e. Craigbraneoch Hill.

So what is the meaning behind the name ‘The Bout’?

Sir Herbert Maxwell identifies Bolt Rig in Balmacllelan, Kirkcudbrightshire but does not offer any derivation of the name [5] . However, a glance at the Ordnance Survey Map (see link below) reveals what appears to be a field of the name Bolt Rig [Map 3 ].

‘The Place-Names of the Galloway Glens’ database entry for Bolt Rig reflects this topography and offers ‘without any confidence‘ Scots bolt ‘the extent of ground covered as the mower, driller or ploughman moves from one end of a field to the other, sometimes used also to include the return action’, one of a number entries for bolt in the Scottish National Dictionary [6].

The upland topography of ‘The Bout’ and its environs are of course significantly different from that of Bolt Rig. A review of alternative entries for Scots bout, bowt, boot in the Dictionary of the Scots Language revealed the following ones for consideration [7].

BOUT, BOWT, Boot:-

3. “The sweep or curve made by a scythe“ (Ork. 1929 Marw.); the amount of corn, etc., cut by one such sweep. Abd.9 1934: In the days of the scythe . . . a following wind made the cut corn fall away from the scythe and form a neat bowt.

4. Phr.: lying in the bout (see quot.). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.1 1935. Mearns 1825 Jam.2:

Corn or hay, when cut by the scythe, and lying in rows, is said to be “lying in the bout.“

Bout, bowt is used to describe the curve made by a scythe and the interestingly the cut corn or hay is said to lie in the bout, an example of bout being preceded by the definite article, i.e. ‘The Bout”.

There is noticeable curve from the Bolt Burn, Bolt Wood to the Low Bolt Wood and perhaps this curve was the extent of what is known locally The Bout, as opposed to only the hill.

Map 4: Bolt Burn, Bolt Craig, Boltcraig Hill (OS Map 1953) | Reproduced with the permission of National Library of Scotland

It is noted that the above Dictionary quotations refer to post 1700s in the north east of Scotland, i.e. Aberdeenshire, Angus, Banffshire, The Mearns and that it is not clear if the term was used in Ayrshire in the pre-1700s.

However, although Sir Herbert Maxwell had little to say on Bolt Rig, Balmaclellan he identifies the Boughty Burn, Penninghame, Wigtownshire as ‘the winding burn’ and quotes John Jamieson’s derivation bought, bucht ‘a curvature of bending of any kind’ [8]. That is to say bought, a possible form of bowt ?, was in use in the south-west of Scotland to describe a curve of any kind.

If this is the origin of the place-name ‘The Bout’ then it originally referred to the curved stretch of land shown above after which the burn, craig , woods and the property Boutfoute took their names. Locally the term was applied to the hill only. At some point the Scots term bout was replaced by the variant of Scots bolt leading to Bolt Burn, Bolt Craig and Bolt Woods while the hill was ‘renamed’ Boltcraig hill after Bolt Craig.

Map 5 “The Bout” (OS Map 1895)
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

References
[1] Stuart Clarkson correspondence |Complaint by George Hamilton in Westland and others against Patrick Hamilton in Colcreoch and others for assault on their persons, Edinburgh 28th June, 1642.
[2] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | craig
[3] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | bout, boot
[4] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. burn
[5] Sir Herbert Maxwell ‘The Place-Names of Galloway’ |Bolt Rig , Balmacllelan,
[6] Place-names of Kirkcudbrightshire. 2022. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. https://kcb-placenames.glasgow.ac.uk | Bolt Rig
[7] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | bout, boot
[8] Sir Herbert Maxwell ‘The Place-Names of Galloway’ | Boughty Burn
Maps
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
https://maps.nls.uk/
Map 1: Joan Blaeu, Coila Provincia, [or], The province of Kyle / auct. Timoth. Pont.|Bootfoute
Map 2: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1843-1882 (1857) |Bolt Craig, Bolt Burn, Boltcraig Hill
Map 3: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1843-1882 (1850) | Bolt Rig
Map 4: Ordnance Survey, 1:25,000 maps of Great Britain – 1945-1971 (1953)| Boltcraig Hill
Use of these digitised maps for non-commercial purposes is permitted under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence.
Map 5: Ordnance Survey, One-inch to the mile maps of Scotland, 2nd Edition – 1885-1900 (1895) | ‘The Bout’
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
scotlandsplaces.gov.uk
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Bolt Burn
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 |Bolt Craig
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 |Boltcraig Hill