Place-name:Craig of Bahoun
Suggested Meaning (1):crag of the hill of ?
1st element:S. craig ‘crag, rock’
2nd element:G. barr ‘height, hill’ +
3rd element:G. ?
Blaeu Coila (1654):Kraig of Barachoun
OS Name Books (1855-57):Craig of Bahoun
Location:Ordnance Survey (1894)
Early Forms
Kraig of Barachoun (1654), Craig of Bahoun (1828), Craig of Bahoun, Craig-de Bohun (1855)

Craig of Bahoun

The Craig of Bahoun is a substantial rocky landscape on the west side of a steep glen through which the Connel Burn flows, a few hundred yards from its source.

1st element: Scots craig of -‘crag, rock of- ‘

The place-name element craig is a very common throughout the parish of New Cumnock. It is from Scots craig ‘crag, rocky’ [1], as in this case, while others are from Gaelic creag ‘rock, precipice’ [2]. However, this is the only example of a ‘Craig of -‘ place-name name which suggests it may be associated with another topographical feature, place or person.

Map 1 Craig of Bahoun | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

2nd element (1): Personal Name de Bohun

Craig of Bahoun holds a special place in the history of New Cumnock through its reputed connections with Robert the Bruce, King of Scots during the Wars of Independence. The relationship is captured in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Craig of Bahoun which reads –

A rocky precipice bounding on one side a deep Glen, situated at the Source of Connel Burn. Messrs Murray & Johnstone State that this name is derived from “Bohun”, the name of a proprietor of the ground who lived in the days of Robert Bruce. They also state that Bruce was pursued by de Bohun’s Bloodhounds into this glen and that he drew blood from his arm which he scattered on the ground in order to escape the pursuit. It appears that if the Bloodhound sees blood or scents it, when found out on the ground, he will not proceed any farther, and perhaps considers that his mission has been performed –

Messrs Murray and Johnstone were the Reverend Robert E. Murray, minister of the parish of New Cumnock and Mr. William Johnstone, schoolmaster at the parish school. One or other or both were also probably the source of the ‘Craig-de Bohun’ as one of the ‘Various Modes of Spelling’.

“Bohan” the proprietor of the ground is is probably a reference to Humphry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford. After Bruce had been crowned King of Scots in May 1306, Edward I of England confiscated his properties in England and Scotland, including Annandale and Lochmaben Castle which he awarded to de Bohun [3]. After the death of Edward I in July 1307 his son Edward II marched a great army north in pursuit of Bruce and his men, who were still at large in south-west Scotland evading capture from the English forces and their Scots allies. Edward II camped at Cumnock Castle (New Cumnock) on 19th August 1307, however having failed to capture Bruce he set off homeward on 29th August to think again. His Wardrobe Account Book covering his stay at Cumnock Castle includes the following entry with a reference to his brother-in-law Humphry de Bohun [4] –

Pardon at the request of Humphry de Bohun earl of Hereford and Essex, to John Scot of Great Petlyng for the murder of John Lenegle of the same place. Cumnock

Seven years later when Edward II and his army faced Bruce and his forces in mid-June 1314 at Bannockburn, Humphrey de Bohun was one of the English nobles that fled the field and sought a safe-haven in Bothwell Castle, only for its owner to switch allegiance to Bruce and hand over de Bohun to the Scots. This was a significant capture for Bruce as he was able to trade de Bohun for his queen Elizabeth de Burgh, his daughter Marjory Bruce and several other Scots held hostage in England at that time [5]. Humphrey De Bohun was killed in 1322 at the Battle of Boroughbridge where he was one of a number of rebellious barons along with their combined forces that were defeated by the Royalist army of Edward II.

Despite the high status of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford it was through the actions of his young nephew Sir Henry de Bohun on the battlefield at Bannockburn that the name de Bohun is perhaps best remembered. On the opening day of the battle the young de Bohun, riding in the vanguard of the cavalry, spotted Robert the Bruce mounted on a small horse armed only with battle-axe. Seizing the moment de Bohun lowered his lance and charged the King of Scots who stood his ground and at the right moment raised himself up on his stirrups before bringing the full force of his axe down on the head of his assailant cleaving it in two [6].

Robert the Bruce v. Henry de Bohun , Bannockburn 700th anniversary, 2014 (photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie)

In the New Cumnock School Fellows Magazine (1898) a series of questions was posed regarding historic events associated with the parish [7] , including the following one which identified the celebrated Sir Henry, and not the Earl Humphrey ‘proprietor of these lands’ as the de Bohun that hunted Bruce with hounds.

Was Bruce hunted with bloodhounds by Sir Henry de Bohun along the narrow pass at the head of Connel Burn?

The earliest reference to Craig of Bahoun appears to be that on Johnston’s County Map of Ayrshire (1828). It may be the case that Craig of Bahoun is a misinterpretation of ‘Craig de Bohun’, i.e. rather than ‘Craig of de Bohun’. A subtle difference perhaps, but indicative of the Craig being named as a commemoration to de Bohun rather than owned by de Bohun. There are no records to substantiate Messrs Murray and Johnston suggestion that de Bohun was the proprietor of these lands, presumably gained by Earl Humphrey through Edward I’s forfeiture of Bruce lands. The Schoolfellows’ question suggests the Craig of Bahoun ( a variation of Craig de Bohun) is named to commemorate Sir Henry de Bohun chasing Bruce with hounds at the head of Connel Burn.

George Sanderson in ‘New Cumnock Far and Away’ shares some family folk lore of the tenants of nearby Glenee farm [8] –

At Glenlee farm on the Deugh Water the tenants have always handed down a folk lore of Robert the Bruce resting there and an Anglo Norman knight, Bohoun, who was hunting Bruce has his name remembered in the Craigs of Bohoun at the nearby source of Connelburn.

Map 2 Craig de Bahoun (Johnstone Map of Ayrshire) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

John Barbour in his epic work ‘The Bruce’ recounts the time Bruce was was hunted by a sleuth hound in the hills of New Cumnock [9]. He his and 400 men were up in the hills when they became aware of the plans of English forces under the command of Sir Aymer de Valence and their Scots allies under John of Lorn (John MacDougall, nephew of John Comyn) to trap them in a pincer movement.

John of Lorn and ’22 men-at-arms and 800 foot’ were guarding Ayr on 19th July 1307 [10] while Aymer de Valence and his forces were in the Glenkens on 24th July 1307 [11] before returning to Skeldon on the banks of the Doon by the end of the month [12]. A case has been made for considering that de Valence and his men returned from the Glenkens by way of the upper reaches of the Water of Ken and then descending Glen Afton while John of Lorn marched his forces from Ayr to Glen Afton by way of Cumnock Castle to set up the pincer movement [13].

Barbour explains that Johne of Lorn not only had a force of ‘aucht hundreth men and ma‘, which matches exactly well with the numbers guarding Ayr, but also had sleuth-hound with hime which was had been reared by Bruce and would follow him wherever he went.

John Barbour “The Bruce. Book 6”

Bruce, with a force of 400 men, decided the odds were stacked against him and that the best course of action was to break into three groups to escape to Galloway and live to fight another day. Johne of Lorn set the hound off and Bruce quickly noticed that it was following his goup which he then divided further, time and again, until he was only paired with his foster-brother. Together they fought and killed five pursuers and yet still the hound pursued them. Bruce and his foster brother entered a wood and went downwards to a glen where a stream ran through the wood. Here Bruce informed his companion that he had once been told that whoever wades down a stream for the length of an arrow shot the slueth hound will lose its scent and his master the prey. So, into the burn both men waded, for an arrow-shot’s length, before continuing their journey on land. Soon after Lorn reached the burn, but the hound became confused and clearly had lost the scent of Bruce, who did indeed lived to fight another day.

Perhaps the burn in question was the Connel Burn and the glen was the one overlooked by the Craig of Bahoun. However, sadly Barbour makes no reference to either Sir Humphrey de Bohun nor his nephew Sir Henry de Bohun in his account of Bruce and the sleuthhound. It may well be the case that this episode along with other tales of Bruce were ingrained in local folklore and that Craig of Bahoun was readily identifiable with Sir Henry de Bohun, well known for his endeavours at Bannockburn, and somehow the two events became intertwined.

(N.B. Comparisons can be drawn with local folklore that suggests the rockface known as Stayamera, on Craibraneoch Hill in Glen Afton, is from stay Amery in the sense of persevere Amery after the commander of the English army had once again failed to capture Robert the Bruce [14].)

Although it seems the connection betweem the sleuth-hound and de Bohun can be dismissed, it does not negate the Glenlee folk lore that Robert the Bruce rested there … albeit after being chased by his sleuthhound under the control of John of Lorn.

The mystery of the meaning behind Craig of Bohun may lie in the early form Kraig of Barachoun.

Kraig of Barachoun

The early form Kraig of Barachoun appears on Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654) and although it is shown some distance from the source of the Konnyr b. (Connel Burn) its proximity to Chayng hil (High Changue / Changue hills) confirms this is the modern-day Craig of Bahoun.

Map 3 Kraig of Barachoun| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

1st element: Scots craig of -‘crag, rock of- ‘

The first element of this early form is also Scots craig of– ‘crag, rock’ and indicative that the craig may be associated with another topographical feature, place or person.

A search for similar place-names yielded Drumbrochan in the parish of Old Cumnock and two occurences of the place-name Barrachan in Galloway.

2nd element (1): Gaelic brochain ‘porridge, gruel’


W.J. Watson in “The Celtic Place-Names of Scotland” [15] considers Drumbrochan as Gaelic druim brochain ‘porridge, gruel ridge’ where “brochan is applied to a mixed-up ‘through-other’, sort of place, or to soft sludgy ground.

2nd element (2): Gaelic barr fhraochan ‘hill of the whortleberries’


The 2nd element in effect comprises of two elements, the first of which is the common place-name element Gaelic barr ‘height, hill’. Sir Herbert Maxwell in “The Place-Names of Galloway” [16] considers Barrachan, in the parish of Mochrum, Wigtownshire along with its early forms Barbrochane (1557), Barqurohane (1612), Barcraechan (Pont, 1654)) as Gaelic barr fhraochan ‘hill of the whortleberries’. N.B. he also identifies Barfraggan (Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire) as Gaelic barr fraechan ‘whortleberry or blaeberry hill’.

2nd element (2): Gaelic barr a’chreachainn ‘height of the stony declivity of a hill’


Here again the 2nd element comprises of two elements, the first of which is Gaelic barr ‘height, hill’. John MacQueen in “Place-Names of the Wigtownshire Moors and Machars” [17] also considers Barrachan, Mochrum (Pont: Barcacchran) and its Wigtownshire counterpart Barrachan, Penninghame (Pont: Barchraichan) and finds them both to represent Gaelic barr a’chreachainn ‘height of the stony declivity of the hill’.

MacQueen’s ‘height of the stony declivity of the hill’ matches the topography of Craig of Bohoun (Kraig of Barachoun)’ extremely well; indeed better than than Galloway counterparts fit their topography.

Map 1 Craig of Bahoun | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

However McQueen Barcacchran & Barchraichan (1654) > Barrachan and Barachoun (1654) > Bahoun

However, although the topography of the New Cumnock place-name Barachoun may match McQueen’s place-name derivation its transformation from Barachoun (1654) > Bahoun doesn’t comapre favourably with the Galloway transformations Barcacchran & Barchraichan (1654) > Barrachan


PlaceBlaeu (1654)OS Name Books
New CumnockKraig of BarachounCraig of Bohunrock of the stony declivity of a hill
PenninghameBarchraichanBarrachanheight of the stony declivity of a hill
MochrumBarchracchanBarrachanheight of the stony declivity of a hil

Barrach; pinnacled? Oun; uaine/green? “Green pinnacled rock/height”?

I ask just because if the stress is on the -houn, I don’t think it can be related to those other names where there stress is elsewhere. But also it would help a little bit with first bit of the name disappearing a bit. If it wasn’t stressed that makes that more plausible.

Re “de Bohun”, there was an old rhyme in which “Bruce and de Bohun fought for the croon”, so that “de Bohun” and “croon” rhymed. In other words, no “h” pronounced

Just came across an old poem called “Words on Connelburn” which has the lines.”Is it up at the Craigs o’BahounWhere the lambs in their mirth run sporting aroon!”which ties in with your rhyme with “croon” and silent “h”.

Craig of Bahoun ( known locally as Craig or Craigs of Ba-hoon). Local folklore has it named after Henry de Bohun who was cleaved in two by Bruce in the opening encounter at Bannockburn. The local tale goes back to earlier times when de Bohun was said to chase Bruce with a sleuth-hound in the uplands of New Cumnock (the minister and schoolmaster include a reference to this in the OS Survey Name Books 1855-57).Indeed, John Barbour’s in his “The Bruce” includes an encounter of Bruce being chased in the hills of New Cumnock, but with no reference to de Bohun. Barbour’s account has John of Lorn & 800 men along with Bruce’s own sleuth hound coming to hunt the king and his 400 men (CDS has Lorn at Ayr with 800 men, July 1307). The account remains part of our local history but it appears Craig of Bahoun is not part of it! Blaeu 1654 has Kraig of Barachoun and on searching for similar names I have considered the following. Drumbrochan, Old Cumnock: Watson has G. druim brochan ‘porridge ridge’. Barrachan, Mochrum, Wigtownshire: Maxwell has G. barr fraechan ‘whortleberry, blaeberry hill’.Barrachan, Mochrum, Wigtownshire ( Pont Barchracchan) and Barrachan, Penninghame (Pont Barchraichan) are considered by John MacQueen to be G. barr a’chreachainn ‘height of the stony declivity of the hill’, presumably from Dwelly. This description fits extremely well with the features of Kraig of Barachoun; presumably craig of – was added later.However, I can’t find any form of Barachoun of the type given in Pont for the Wigtownshire Barrachans ! Is it valid to compare Barachoun with Barrachan? How to explain the change from Barachoun to Bahoun? Thanks.

Craig of Bahoun


[1] Dictionaries of the Scots Language |craig
[2] Gaelic creag ‘rock, precipice’ [2]
[3] e awarded to de Bohun [3]
[4] Wardrobe Account Book
[5] several other Scots held hostage in England at that time [5].
[6] assailant cleaving it in two [6].
[7] New Cumnock School Fellows Magazine (1898
[8] George Sanderson in ‘New Cumnock Far and Away’
[9] John Barbour in his epic work
[10] John of Lorn and ’22 men-at-arms and 800 foot’ were guardin
[11] Aymer de Valence and his forces were in the Glenkens on 24th July 1307 [11
[12] oon at Skeldon by the end of the month[12].
[13] Cumnock Castle to set up the pincer movement
[14] stayamra
[15] watson
[16] maxwell
[17] macqueen
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Ordnance Survey (1856) |Craig of Bahoun
Map 2 |
Map 3 | Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654) | Kraig of Barachoun
Ordnance Survey | Barrachan, Penningham, Wigtownshire
blaue /barchraichan mill
blaeu | Barchracchan, Mochrum
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Craig of Bahoun
Wigtownshire OS Name Books (1845-49) Vol. 47 | Barrachan, Pennighame
Wigtownshire OS Name Books (1845-49) Vol. 65 | Barrachan, Mochrum
Wigtownshire OS Name Books (1845-49) Vol. 66 | Barrachan, Mochrum