BURNFOOT (of Carcow Burn)

Suggested Meaning:foot of Carcow Burn
First elementScots burn ‘ stream’
Second elementScots foot ‘bottom’
Blaeu Coila (1654):
OS Name Books (1855-57):Burnfoot
Location:Ordnance Survey (1892-1960)
Other Early Forms:
Burnfoot of Carcow (1835), Karco of Burnfoot (1837), Burnfoot (1841), Carco Burnfoot (1844), Burnfoot (1851), Burnfoot of Afton (1861, 1881), Burnfoot Carcow (1871), Burnfoot Cottage (1891) , The Kennels (1937 – Marriage Certificate)
Map 1: Burnfoot Cottage | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland


Scots burn ‘stream’ and Scots foot ‘bottom’

A very common place-name and one or more occurences of the name appears in the Ordnance Survey Name Book entries of 19 Ayrshire parishes including 2 in the parish of New Cumnock. The name typically refers to a place at the foot of a burn [1] where it flows into another water-course;

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

A Cottage house – Situated at the foot of Carcow Burn, occupied by a GameKeeper.

Burnfoot sits on the Afton Road at the foot of the Carcow Burn a short distance from where it joins the Afton Water. It is part of the Estate of Knockshinnoch which includes the lands of Knockshinnoch, Laight, Culcreoch, Laglaff, Ashmark and Carcow (later called Monquhill).

N.B. There is also a Burnfoot farm in the west of the parish at the foot of Blarene Burn [2].

Burnfoot of Carcow cottage (Postcard)


The following two baptisms entries, only two years apart, in the Old Parish Records of New Cumnock reflect the changing nature of the names applied to Burnfoot –

12 Apr 1835 | Agnes (born the 9th) L.D. to James Tympanie and Margaret Bowman , in Burnfoot of Carcow.
09 Apr 1837 | Janet lawful Daughter to William Ferguson and Jane Lees. Karco of Burnfoot, was born March 16, bapt. 9th April.
The foot of Carcow Burn | Carcow Burn joins Afton Water (Robert Guthrie)

Ferguson family

In the 1841 Census, the property was recorded simply as Burnfoot. William Ferguson and Jane Lees had recently returned to the cottage along with their four children Margaret (10), William (6), Janet (4) and one year-old Alexander born at ‘Cargo’ i.e. Carcow. The family made the news three years later when, now 9 year old William, made what appeared to be an important discovery [3].


Last week, whilst a boy of the name Ferguson, in Carco Burnfoot, was attending his father’s cow, he amused himself in a plantation near the Laight, by lifting a stone and trying to break it upon another. In doing so, he observed some portions of it were very clear; and feeling somewhat curious to know what the substances might be, he carried the stone for inspection to Mr. Miller of Laight, when it turned out to be one of the best specimens of lead, about 40 lbs. in weight. The place where it was discovered is on the very brink of the Afton water, and within a mile of the proposed line of railway of England. The storm in January 1839 made great havoc among the trees in the plantation, and it was where the surface had been broken up that the lead ore was found. The property belongs to Snodgrass Buchanan, Esq., at present in Australia. The circumstance is creating considerable interest in the neighbourhood of New Cumnock, as it holds out the prospect of much future wealth to the district. A portion of the ore has been forwarded to our office, and it appears to be excellent quality.

Ayr Observer, Tuesday 23 April 1844

Cameron family

By the 1851 Census, James Cameron and his wife Flora Cameron along with their young family moved from Argyllshire to New Cumnock and settled at Burnfoot, where James took up the position of ‘gamekeeper and land steward’ on the Knockshinnoch estate. In 1851, their son John was born at Burnfoot while two years later son, Peter was born in the same cottage, recorded as Burnfoot of Laight of the birth records. The census records also showed variants of the name – Burnfoot Afton (1861), Burnfoot Carcow (1871), Burnfoot Afton (1881) before settling down as Burnfoot Cottage from 1891 onwards for a time. Peter Cameron followed in his father footsteps as gamekeeper and land steward at Burnfoot and in 1895 hosted the wedding of his sister Robina [4].

British Newspaper Archive | Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, Friday , July 8 1898

Duncan McBeth and John Pagan followed on from the Camerons as gamekeeper and land stewards on the Knockshinnoch estate.

Bolton family

In 1922 Richard Bolton and his wife Agnes McCormick settled at Burnfoot Cottage. While Richard fulfilled the duties of ‘gamekeeper and ground officer‘ of the Knockshinnoch estate , Agnes held tenancy of the shootings on the estate. Richard’s passion was gun-dogs and he became a respected judge while his dogs won many prizes and this prompted the family renaming the cottage and its lands as ‘The Kennels”, although it was also known as ‘Bolton’s Farm’ [5].

Although the 1940 Valuation Rolls record ‘Richard Bolton and Sons, Burnfoot cottage’ as the tenants of ‘House, Burnfoot Cottage and fields’, ‘shooting and fishings Knockshinnoch’, ‘Kirklands park and curling pond (part of)’ and ‘Pagan’s Park’ as well as the owners of a ‘Petrol pump at Burnfoot Cottage’ the formal address was soon changed to The Kennels, Glenafton, New Cumnock [6].

Map 2: Burnfoot and Burnfoot Bridge | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Burnfoot Bridge takes its name from Burnfoot cottage. It is one of several bridges on the Afton Road and crosses over the Carcow Burn.

Burnfoot Cottage in the background with outbuildings of Glenafton Sanatorium in the foreground.

Photographs of Burnfoot Cottage (The Kennels) and Burnfoot Bridge (Robert Guthrie)

Many thanks to Alison Bolton, The Kennels, Glenafton, New Cumnock
[1] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | burn
[2] New Cumnock Place-Names | Burnfoot of Blarene (in progress)
[3] British Newspaper Archive |Ayr Observer, Tuesday 23 April 1844
[4] British Newspaper Archive | Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, Friday July 8 1898
[5] Donald McIver, Old New Cumnock (1997)
[6] Correspondence with Bolton family
Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Ordnance Survey (1856) |Burnfoot
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1840s-1970) |Burnfoot and Burnfoot Bridge
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Burnfoot
Scotland’s People
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments
Old Parish Records | Baptisms