Place-name:March Burn
Suggested Meaning:a boundary burn
First elementScots march ‘boundary’
Second elementScots burn ‘stream’
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57):March Burn
Location:Ordnance Survey (1895)

March Burn

Scots march ‘ boundary’ Scots burn ‘stream’

There are several march burns in the parish of New Cumnock which generally serve or have previously served the purpose of forming a boundary. The first element is Scots march (pronounced mairch) ‘boundary’ [1] and the second element is Scots burn ‘stream’ [2].

Map 1: March Burn | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

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

A Stream rising on an eminence at the West end of Nipe Hill and uniting with Afton Water at Polloch.

N.B. Polloch (which is pronounced locally as pollosh) appears as Pollach on the OS Maps [3].

The following record from the Register of the Privy Seal [4] lists six properties that stretched from Lochbrowan in the lower reaches of Glen Afton through to Monthraw in the upper reaches with the modern names added for clarity.

At Striueling , 27 Jul [1535]

‘Ane Letter maid to DAME JONET STEWART, LADY MOCHRUM (a footnote says “the second wife of Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum, and mother of Gavin Dunbar, Archbishop of Glasgow), hir airis and assignais ane or ma, – of the gift of nonentres, malis, fermes, profittis and dewities of the four merk land of the Blakcrag [Blackcraig], ane merk land of Munthray [Monthraw], twa merk land of Cragydarrocht [Craigdarroch], thre merk land of Lagurgeroch [Lochingerroch], twa merk land [of] Polloch [Pollach], three merk land of Puntlo [Pencloe] and twa merk land of Lagbrowen [Lochbrowan], with the pertinentis, pertenyng to hir in in (sic) conjunct fee, liand in the barony of Cumnok, within the shirefdome of Aire, being in oure soverane lordis handis be resoun of nonenteree of the last terme of Witsounday, throw the deceis of umquhill James Dunbar of Cumnok’

Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol 2, no. 1737

The two merk lands of Lochbrowan and the two merk lands of Pollach neighboured each other on the east bank of the Afton Water and presumably the March Burn formed the boundary between the two properties. However, a closer look at the map reveals that Pollach farm is situated on the Lochbrowan side of the March Burn.

Map 2: March Burn | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The ruins of Pollach still stand on the north side of the March Burn, perhaps this was a later building and the original stood on the lands of Pollach.

Michael Ansell addressed the ‘odd situation’ of Pollach sitting on the north bank of March Burn which signifies boundary burn , suggesting the building did not sit on the same lands as Pollach Burn [5,6]

The situation on the far bank of the March Burn is odd, perhaps what happened was 1) Burn called Poll Ois, 2) holding called after the burn that stretched past the March Burn, 3) Subdivision perhaps in the Scots speaking times with the burn that became the March Burn re-named from its original name.

The March Burn meets the Afton Water with the Pollach ruins behind the trees on the left (Photo Robert Guthrie)

The lands of Pollosh were paired with those of neighbouring lands and farmhouse of Lochbrowan in the Valuation Rolls from 1855-1915 when they were under the ownership of the Marquis of Bute. The lands of Blackcraig were also included in the Valuation Rolls of 1885 & 1895. By 1920 the properties were owned by Campbell of Dalhanna [Scotland’s People].

The field boundary maps of 1944-45 [Scotland’s People] show that the lands of Pollach have now been absorbed by those of Lochbrowan, the extent of these lands now stretching from Lochbrowan Hill to Dingle Brae (see dotted lines on Map 1). Nevertheless the March Burn survives, no longer serving as a boundary but as glorious as ever.

[1] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.|march
[2] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.|burn
[3] New Cumnock Place-Names | Pollach- in progress
[4] Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol 2, no. 1737
[5] Michael Ansell | Correspondence
Michael prepared a number ofplace-name articles for the New Cumnock News
[6] New Cumnock Place-Names | Pollach
By Permission of National Library of Scotland
Map 1: Ordnance Survey (1857) |March Burn
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| March Burn
Scotland’s People
Ordnance Survey 6 inch plan (Ayrshire, sheet XLVIII.NW) marked to show farm boundaries, RHP75871 [1944-1955]