Suggested Meaning:head, top of the road, way, path
S. gait ‘road, way, path’ + head ‘head, top’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Gaithead
OS Name Books (1855-57):Gatehead
Location:Ordnance Survey (1893-1960)
Early Forms
Gaithead (1654)

Gatehead appears as Gaithead in Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654). The first element of the name is Scots gait ‘road, way, path’ [1] while the second element suggests head, as in ‘head or top of the road‘.

Gatehead & Roughside in the background (photo Robert Guthrie)

In 1205 a toll and customs point was established at Corsencon, as well as at four other routes into the sheriffdom of Ayr, by William the Lion, King of Scots following his elevation of Ayr to a Royal Burgh [2]. Corsencon hill stands on the boundary of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire approximately three miles to the east of Gatehead.

Map 1 Gaithead (Blaeu 1654) | Reproduced with the permission of The Nationl Library of Scotland

Blind Hary makes reference to this route in “The Wallace” explaining that Wallace and his men on their way to his ‘ryall hous‘ at Blackcraig in Glen Afton were forced to turn back because the road (gait) at Corsencon had been destroyed (spilt).

At Corssencon the gait was spilt that tide,
Forthi that way behovid thaim for to ride.

The Wallace’, Book III   Blind Hary [3]

On 5th July 1680 during the Covenanting struggle government troops were stationed near the old Castle of Cumnock in pursuit of the Reverend Richard Cameron ‘The Lion of the Covenant’ and his men when they received intelligence that ,,

… Cameron with a partie of 13 or 14 horss marched to Corsancone toward Cummerhead and Crawford John

Earl of Airlie, Letters [4]

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

A farm house occupied by … Craig – the property of J. S.Menteth Bart

The farmer at that time was William Craig and the property was owned by Sir James Stuart-Menteth, 2nd Baronet of Closeburn & Mansfield. The medievel route from Corsencon towards Cumnock Castle is now known as Mansfield Road.

Map 2: C – Castle, G -Gatehead | Reproduced with the permission with the National Library of Scotland

The modern house of Gatehead sits a few hundred yards to the north side of the Mansfield Road at what could be considered the top of the road travelling from Corsencon. Alternately the gait in question could be the small path off the Mansfield Road to Gatehead, which sits at the head of the path.

Gatehead (photo Robert Guthrie)

See also Gallowhill


[1] Dictionary of Scots Language | gate, gait
[2] W.J. Watson ‘The Celtic Place-Names of Scotland’ | Corsancone p. 198
[3] Matthew P. McDiarmid ‘Hary’s Wallace’, Vol I. and II.,The Scottish Text Society (1968/69)
[4] Papers of the Earl of Airlie , National Records of Scotland, GB234/GD16
Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Blaeu Coila Provincia (1645) |Gaithead
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1885-1903) |Gatehead