Craigbraneoch Hill and Rig

Suggested Meaning (1):G. creag braonach ‘craig of the moist place’
First element:Gaelic creag ‘rock, craig’
Second element:Gaelic braonach ‘moist place’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Kraigbyrnoch hil, Kraigbrinach
OS Name Books (1855-57):Craigbranoech
Location:OS Six-inch Scotland 1892-1960
Early References
Kraigbyrnoch hil, Kraigbrinach (Blaeu 1654)
Kraigbrinach, Kraigbyrnoch hil Blaeu (1654) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Craigbraneoch hill sits at the head of Glen Afton.  The hill is often called Stayamrie, however this is the name of one of three named rock faces on the hill with the other two being Corbie Craig and Garnel Craig.

The Ordnance Survey Name Books (1855-57) for Craigbraneoch hill reads –

A Steep hill at the north end of Craigbraneoch Rig, whole sides are covered with rocks and numerous precipices.

Craigbraneoch Hill with Corbie Craig rock face in the centre (Robert Guthrie)

First element: Gaelic creag ‘rock’

The first element of Craigbraneoch is Gaelic creag ‘rock’ and at its foot sits Craigdarroch farm. The farmstead Kraigbrinach shown on the Blaeu map above has not survived. The Scots form craig is also found in the aforementioned Corbie Craig and Garnel Craig and in the neighbouring Blackcraig Hill.

Craigbraneoch and its rock faces | Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Second element: Gaelic braonach ‘moist place’

The presence of Corbie Craig (Scots corbie ‘raven’) on the north face of Craigbraneoch hill invited the second element -braneoch to be considered as possibly containing Gaelic bran ‘raven’ . Could it be Gaelic bran achadh ‘place of the raven; raveny place’?

Michael Ansell in New Cumnock News [1] considers the Blaeu form Kraigbrinach and identifies it as Gaelic A’ Chreag Bhraonach ‘the drizzly/moist rock or cliff’.

W. J. Watson [2] explains that Gaelic braon is ‘a drizzle, ooze’ leading to G. braonach ‘a moist place’ while the dative-locative is braonaigh which becomes birnie in Scots by the usual metathesis. This perhaps explains the second element of the other Blaeu reference, Kraigbyrnoch hil, i.e –byrnoch in the same way that Gaelic cnoc braonach gives Knockburnie in west of the parish.

Of course the upper reaches of Glen Afton will gets its fair share of rainfall, as does much of the parish. Perhaps the reference to ‘moist, drizzle, or ooze’ is to the wet rock-faces as the rain seeps down the hill.

The long ridge that runs south from Craigbraneoch Hill is known as Craigbraneoch Rig which now forms the east bank of the Glen Afton Reservoir builtin 1935.

Craigbraneoch Rig and Glen Afton Reservoir (Robert Guthrie)
[1] Michael Ansell ‘New Cumnock News’ (Autumn 2020)
[2] W. J. Watson ‘The Celtic Place-Names of Scotland’
Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 Blaeu, Coila Provincia (1654) | Kraigbyrnoch hil, Kraigbrinach
Map 2 Ordnance Survey | Craigbraneoch Hill and Rig
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By permission of Scotland’s Places
Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Craigbraneoch Hill
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 | Craigbraneoch Rig