Suggested Meaning:dail Hannay ‘Hannay’s holm’
First element:Gaelic dail ‘haugh, holm’
Second element:personal name: ‘Hannay’
Blaeu Coila (1654):N. Dalhana, O. Dalhanna
OS Names Book (1855-57):Little Dalhanna; Over Dalhanna,
Dalhanna Hill, Dalhanna Burn
Location:Ordnance Survey (1894)
Other Early Forms
Dalhannay (1516-1641), Dalhana (1654), Dalhannay (1654), Dalhaney (1672), Dalhannah (1695), Dalhannay (1795), Dalhanna (1795), Dalhanna (1803)

Nether Dalhana and Over Dalhanna are shown on Blaeu’s Map Coilia Povincia (1654)

Map1 Blaeu (1654) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Nether Dalhanna

The local name for Nether Dalhanna evolved into Little Dalhanna.

The Ordnance Survey Name Book Survey (1855-57) for Little Dalhanna reads –

A small farm house, situated north of Over Dalhanna, it is the property of Mr Carmichael of East End Lanark.

It was part of the Castlemains estate inherited by Mary McQueen Thomson Honeyman who later married Michael Thomson Carmichael of Eastend House, Carmichael, Lanarkshire. Today it lies in ruins and is better known as “Wee Dehana“.

Ruins of Wee Dalhanna (Robert Guthrie)

Over Dalhanna

Dalhanna farmhouse (Robert Guthrie)

The Ordnance Survey Name Book Survey (1855-57) for Over Dalhanna reads –

A farm house and offices &c. occupied by the proprietor Mr William Campbell.

The Campbell family association with Dalhanna goes back for centuries. Mr William Campbell was the current member of the family to own the property. He was married to Elizabeth Crawford Young, the daughter of the Reverend James Young, “Jamie Goose” in Robert Burns’ “Kirk’s Alarm” fame.

Following the demise of Nether Dalhanna, its neighbour dropped the ‘Over’ prefix and it is known simply as Dalhanna, or Dehana.

Dalhanna Hill

The Ordnance Survey Name Book Survey (1855-57) for Dalhanna Hill reads –

An elevated ridge on Little Dalhanna farm

The hill takes its name from the lands of Dalhanna.

The hill appears to have two summits and indeed the one on the left (north) is known locally as ‘Wee Dalhanna’. It’s claim to fame is that it is home to a smalle stretch of the celebrated turf embankment known as ‘Deil’s Dyke’.

Dalhanna Burn

The Ordnance Survey Name Book Survey (1855-57) for Dalhanna Burn reads –

A Small burn running by Dalhanna into the Afton.

The burn takes its name from the lands of Dalhanna.

tree-lined valley of Dalhanna Burn (Robert Guthrie 2022)

Dalhanna: Hannay’s Holm

First element: Brittonic dol- Gaelic dail ‘haugh, holm’

Place-Name Element:dal
Meaning:1. Brittonic dol ‘haugh, holm’
 2. Brittonic dolchurch-land
 3. Gaelic dail ‘haugh, holm’

The challenge is to determine if the first element of Dalhanna is Brittonic dol- or Gaelic dail- origin.

Dalhanna farmhouse sits on the lowers reaches of Glen Afton and although the land between it and the Afton Water is not named on the map below, it is known as Dalhanna Holm.

Map 2: Little Dalhanna and Over Dalhanna | Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland
Dalhanna Holm with Dalhanna farmhouse and the wooded Lochbrowan Hill in the (Robert Guthrie)

The New Cumnock School Fellows Reunion was held every year in the late 19th and early 20th century . The chair would share stories from the past including this one about Dalhanna Holm [1] –

Have we not in Afton Glen, where Queen Mary had her last ride for freedom; and the Chapel Knowe at the foot of Dalhanna Holm, with traditions of covenanting times and earlier times?

The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, January 6, 1893

The reference to Queen Mary is her retreat after the Battle of Langside to Dundrennan by way of Sanquhar Castle and the upper reaches of Glen Afton. However, it is the reference to Dalhanna Holm and Chapel Knowe that are more relevant in the context of the place-name Dalhanna.

The place name element Scots holm ‘water meadow’ is commonly used in the parish of New Cumnock. In the case of Dalhanna Holm it has been added later, at a time the meaning of the place-name element dal- had become obscure; giving an example of place-name tautology. It was probably at the same time when the meadows between the neighbouring farms of Lochbrowan and Blackcraig, and the Afton Water, were named Lochbrowan holm and Blackcraig holm. The addition of –holm suggests that the dal- in Dalhanna is Gaelic dail – or Brittonic dol– ‘water meadow’.

On the other hand the presence of a Chapel Knowe on Dalhanna Holm introduces the possibility of Brittonic dol- ‘church-land’. Although a St. Hannah does not come to mind, it is also worth noting that across the Afton Water on the lands of Knockshinnoch is the site of Buchanny Cairn. Hugh Lorimer considers the name to be ‘house of the Canon [2] presumably from J. B. Johnson’s [3] derivation of Buchanan (L. Lomond), G. both chanain. Of course the name could also be considered to have a second element – hanny. [Place-name Buchanny Cairn pending].

Dalhanna farm and Dalhanna Holm (Robert Guthrie)

Second element: personal name Hannay

The early forms of the place-name Dalhanna are found in the records of the Campbell family, such as in the following instrument of 1516 [4] –

Instrument narrating that Lawrence Campble, son of the late Patrick Campble of Glasnok, of his own motion, his own profit being considered, although Jonet Craufurd, his mother, and John Campble, his (brother?) german, have given to him, in view of marriage to be contracted between him and Cristina Douglas, the half of the merk land of Holis, inhabited by John Boyll, the half-merk land of Clochochyr, inhabited by Andrew (Nevyn), with a lease of the merk lands of Dalhannay, in terms of an agreement to be made, faithfully promised that he, notwithstanding, would never disturb their peaceable possession of said lands ; Laurence holding them until Jonet Craufurd shall pay him his natural share of goods according to their quantity at the time of Patrick Campble’s decease, which being paid, the said Jonet shall have full regress to Hohs and Clochochir as she formerly had, and Laurence straitly obliges himself not to come in the contrary. Done at the church of Cu(mnok), in the chamber of James Broun, ii January 1516. Witnesses, David Campbell, George Blak, John Chamer and Thomas Campbell.

Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, No.164

The form Dalhannay was prevalent throughout the 16th century and the mid 17th century, and then less so in the 18th Century. The form Dalhanna appears in the mid 17th century and is the dominant form by the 18th century.

Although Paterson in ‘History of the County of Ayr’ [5] does not include a detailed account of the Campbells of Dalhanna he comments –

Amongst the still existing families the oldest perhaps is Campbell of Over Dalhanna, who according to tradition, have held their small possession since the days of Bruce. The public records; however, fail to substantiate this. William Campbell, elder, in Over Dalhannah, as heir to his father had sasine of certain lands, 11th September 1695. The latest proprietor is James Campbell, road surveyor, Ayr.

James Paterson, History of County of Ayr

The Campbell family may well have had a long association with the lands of Dalhanna, however it seems the lands may take their name from another family. The various forms of the second element of Dalhanna, i.e. –hannay, –hanna, hannah compare well with G. Black’s entry for Hannay in ”The Surnames of Scotland” [6]

HANNA, HANNAH, HANNAY “The very common name Ahannay, now Hannay, may be for ap Sheanaigh ‘son of Senach’ rather than for ua Seanaigh.”

George Black, ‘The Surnames of Scotland’.

In the same way that Dalricket, in the north-west of the parish, was considered to be dal- Richard, ‘Richard’s holm’ ( see Dalricket ) then it is possible that Dahanna follows the same naming practice and is dal- Hannay ‘Hannay’s Holm’.

W. J. Watson notes dol-, dul– place-names are ‘found not uncommonly with saints names‘ [7] and although there is a St. Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel, there is no strong link with the Celtic church. Yet, the presence of a Chapel Knowe on Dalhanna Holm, as well as perhaps Buchanny Cairn nearby, should still be noted.

Hannay |Galloway

The Clan Hannay Society [8] identify Sorbie, Wigtownshire as the ancestral home of the Hannays and Gilbert of de Sowerby as the first recorded Hannay, his name appearing in a charter of 1328 and that he was possibly the son of Gilbert de Hannethe, a signatory in 1296 of the Ragman Roll.

Interestingly the variants of the surname Hannay, Hannah and Hanna Hannay all appear at one time or other, to varying degrees, in Dalhannay, Dalhannah and Dalhanna.

Maxwell in ‘The Place-names of Galloway’ [9] identifies a ‘Hannah Hill’ in the parish of Penninghame, Wigtownshire but offers no derivation of the name.

Elsewhere in Galloway the Ordnance Survey Name Book Kirkcudbright (1848-1851) records Hannayston farm (Hannaystoun, Hannanstoun, Hanyston) in the parish of Kells which today is known as Hannaston. The ‘Place-Names of Galloway Glens’ database [10] entry for Hannaston gives ‘farm belonging to Hannay’ from personal name Hannay + Scots toun; explaining that the surname is strongly represented in Galloway.

Remaining in Kirkcudbrightshire, Strahannaw sits on the upper reaches of the Water of Ken in the parish of Dalry. The Ordnance Survey Name Book entry suggests the name is from Gaelic strah an ath ‘the valley of the ford’. However it also records Strahana and Strahanna under ‘various modes of spelling’ which match with the Blaeu forms (1654) of Dalhana and Dalhanna. Indeed today the established names of these two settlements are Strahanna and Dalhanna comprising of a Gaelic 2nd element –hanna. It should be noted that there is a ford at Dalhanna (on a spur road off a parish road while the ford at Strahanna crosses a main route ), however there is no record of the name in the form Dalhannaw.

Maxwell however records the name in the from Strahannan (Carsphairn) but offers no derivation [11]; cf. the aforementioned Hannanstoun.

The ‘Place-Names of Galloway Glens’ database entry for Strahanna [12] considers three possible Gaelic first elements, i.e. strath-, sron-, stair– and the second element to be the personal name Hanna (also appearing as Ahanna, Hannah or Hannay) .

Only 10 miles separate Strahanna in the upper reaches of the Water of Ken from Dalhanna on the lower stretch of the Afton Water and both lie on a route reffered to the pass of Carrick Pass [13]. A possible early route for Hannays from Wigtown to travel and settle in Kirkcubrightshie into Ayrshire.

Hannay | Dumfriesshire

There are a host of Hannah place-names in Dumfriesshire including Hannah, Hannahgate, Hannah Park, (Cummertrees); Hannah’s Pool (Dunscore) and Hannah’s Well (Keir) and no further research has been carried out to detemine if they are associated with the surname Hannay.

Hannay | Ayrshire

The Ordnance Survey Name Book Ayrshire (1855-57) entry for Hannah’s Glen describes it as ‘a small shallow wooded glen, on the mutual boundary of Straiton & Kirkmichael [Parishes]‘ . The subsequent entry in the book is that of the farmstead of Dalvennan, a reference to which is found in the following instrument of 1529, when it was inhabited by John Hannay [14].

Instrument narrating that John Campble gave sasine of the two-merk lands of Dalvannane, lying in the earldom of Carrik, inhabited by John Hannay, to Sir John Kennedy, chaplain, according to a charter to be made to him. Dated 31 August 1529. Witnesses, Allan M’Ylvene and John M’Cawill,

Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, No. 1048

The farm steading of Hannaston (cf. Hannaston, Galloway above) is recorded under ‘the parish of Stair detached contained in Ochitree parish‘ in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) with Hannayston given as an alternative spelling. Hannaston lies four miles from both the hamlet of Stair and the village of Ochiltree but sits only one mile to east of Coylton. Long before this realignment of parishes John Hanay was one of the parishioners, in October 1513, that elected the parish clerk of the parish of Coylton [15]. Into the 20th century and Hannaston has evolved to Hannahston.

Closer to home in the parish of Cumnock (Old and New) and parish of Auchinleck the name Hanay, Hannay appears in a number of instruments of the early 16th century –

  • In September 1527 John Hanay was one of the parishioners of Auchinleck that elected the clerk of the parish church [16]
  • 1531 ? Hannay was one of the parishioners of Cumnock ‘that have chosen Sir Thomas Craufurd of Cumnok in and to the said office of clerkship.’ [17]

In August 1527, John Hannay was a witness to the following instrument [18] –

Instrument narrating that . . . Campble resigned the 20s. lands of Chang, lying in the parish of (Cumnok), in the hands of John Campble of Schankistoun, superior of the same. Done at the church of Cumnok . . . August 1527. Witnesses, John Hannay, Patrick . . . and Mr. Thomas Campbell, rector of Cumnok.

Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, 765

These latter instruments demonstrate at the vary least that the surname Hannay (and its variants) was known in Ayrshire, albeit it may be the same John Hanay/Hannay, in the early 16th century.

If the Hannays that settled in Glen Afton were descendants of those that held lands in Wigtownshire in the 13th century may have made their way through the Glenkens up the Water of Ken, settling at first at Strahanna. Some time later Hannays continued up the Ken and on to the upper reaches of the Holm Burn before reaching the head of Glen Afton and from there to the lower reaches of the Afton Water to settle and work the lands on what became Gaelic dail Hannay and now Dalhanna.


Personal Communication
Many thanks to Stuart Clarkson, Guelph, Ontario for information on the Campbells of Dalhanna based principally on sasine registrations and testamentary documents to be found in The Clan Campbell vol. v (Abstracts of Entries relating to Campbells in the Early Unprinted Records relating to Ayrshire 1515-1560), ed. Rev Henry Paton, Edinburgh: MacNiven & Wallace, 1917, with additional material from the Indices of Registers of Deeds for the years 1649-80, the Index of Registers of Sasine for Ayr (3 vol), and The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, various vols, ed. P.Hume Brown et al. Edinburgh:
[1] British Newspaper Archive, The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, January 6, 1893
[2] Hugh Lorimer, Cumnock Chronicle articles on place-names of New Cumnock
[3] James B. Johnston ‘Place-Names of Scotland’ 3rd Edition (1934)
[4] Scottish Record Society, Protocol Book of Gavin Ros (1512-1532) | No. 164
[5] James Paterson, ‘History of the County of Ayr: with a Genealogical Account of the Families of Ayrshire vol 1, Ayr’: John Dick, 1847, p.371
[6] George Black, ‘The Surnames of Scotland’.
[7] W. J. Watson ‘The Celtic Place-Names of Scotland’
[8] Clan Hannay Society
[9] Sir Herbert Maxwell, ‘The Place-names of Galloway’ | Hannah’s Hill
[10] Place-names of Kirkcudbrightshire. 2021. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. https://kcb-placenames.glasgow.ac.uk | Hannaston
[11] Sir Herbert Maxwell, The Place-names of Galloway’ |Strahannan
[12] Place-names of Kirkcudbrightshire. 2021. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. https://kcb-placenames.glasgow.ac.uk | Strahanna
[13] Papers of the Earl of Airlie , National Records of Scotland, GB234/GD16
[14] Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, No. 1048 , John Hannay, Kirkmichael (1529)
[15] Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, No. 52, John Hanay, Coylton (1513)
[16] Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, No. 111, John Hanay, Auchinleck (1527)
[17] Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, No. 1147, ? Hannay, Cumnock (1531)
[18] Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, No. 765, John Hannay, Cumnock (1572)
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 |Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654) | Dalhana, Dalhanna
Map 2 |OS Map (1894) | Dalhanna
OS Map (1894) | Hannayston, Kirkcudbright
OS Map (1894) |Strahannaw, Kirkcudbright
OS Map (1894) | Hannah’s Glen
OS Map (1894) | Hannaston, Ayrshire
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 | Over Dalhanna
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 | Little Dalhanna
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 |Dalhanna Hill
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 | Dalhanna Burn
Kirkcudbrightshire Name Books (1848-51) Vol. 12 | Strahannaw
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 59 | Hannah’s Glen, Straiton
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 51, part 2 | Hannaston, Stair (detached)
Dalhannay (1516)Protoclol Book of Gavin Ros | No. 164, 165
Dalhannay (1622-1641)Personal Communication, Stuart Clarkson, Guelph Ontario
Dalhannay (1647)Index of Register of Sasines, Sheriffdom of Ayr (1635-1660), Vol. II |Thomas Campbell, of Over Dalhannay, 15 Feb 1647
Dalhana, Dalhanna (1654)Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654)
Dalhannay (1659)Index of Register of Sasines, Sheriffdom of Ayr (1635-1660), Vol. II |Thomas Campbell, in Dalhannay, 20 Sep1659
Dalhaney (1672)Wills Glasgow Commissary Court CC9/7/39 Thomas 8/1/1672
Dalhannah (1695)Paterson , Sasine recors
Nether Dalhannay Dalhanna, (1759)Scotland’s Places Land Tax Rolls, 1759
Dalhanna (1803)Scotland’s Places Land Tax Rolls, 1803