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


Scots march ‘ boundary’ Scots burn ‘stream’

The farm of Marchburn takes its name from the small March Burn [1] some 400 yards to the south. 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’ [2] and the second element is Scots burn ‘stream’ [3]. Here the March Burn forms a small part of the boundary between the lands of Craigman, on which Marchburns stands, and those of the neighbouring Brunston.

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

The earliest reference to a baptism at Marchburn in the Old Parish Records (1706-1851) was that of ‘Elizabeth, daughter to John Mitchell and Elizabeth Campbell‘ on 4th December 1754 [Scotland’s Places] and it appears on a map for the first time in Johnston’s ‘Map of the County of Ayr’ (1838), as March Burn.

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

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

A sublet farm house – situated near a Waudmine – the property of the Marquis of Bute.

The Waud Mine, was later known locally as the Craigman Graphite and its entrance was only a few hundred yards to the west from the farmhouse [4]. There were some coalpits just to the east and others to the south, around Craigman farm, at all of which John Nisbet and George Sloan had a lease from the Marquis of Bute to work coal [5].

Map 3: Marchburn | Reprodcued with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

William Graham was recorded as ‘farmer of 100 acres‘ at Marchburn in three consecutive sets of Census Records from 1841-1861. He married Isabella Campbell, daughter of Ivie Campbell (I) and his second wife Margaret Dubar, and together they had 9 children of their own. Isabella’s younger brother Ivie Campbell (II) , farmed at the neighbouring Dalgig and would become one of the leading farmers and gentlemen in the parish. Isabella died at Marchburn in 1860, aged 73 years while husband William passed away four years later through the ‘decay of nature‘ at the grand old age of 94 years.

By the 1881 Census Records the name Marchburn disappears as the farm is renamed Craigman, probably because this was now the prinicipal farm on the lands of Craigman. It was now home to Ivie Campbell (III), son of Ivie (II), along with his wife Christina McCaig and their family. Meanwhile the original Craigman was renamed Old Craigman but this does not survive to make the 1891 Census.

Map 4: Old Craigman & Craigman (formerly Marchburn) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The association between the ‘new’ Craigman and the nearby near March Burn now lost. In living memory therefore the farm that began as Marchburn has only been known as Craigman, while Old Craigman disappeared and existed only as place on old maps.

Time eventually caught up with the ‘new’ Craigman however as the coal that was once retrieved by small pits in the vicinity of the original Marchburn and Craigman was extracted by extensive opencast operations in the late 20th and early 21st century. The ‘boundary burn‘ March Burn was also lost.

Marchburn vs. Craigman

The photos (Robert Guthrie) below are from a stroll round the abandoned farmhouse and grounds in 2008 when the opencast operations were in full swing. A comparison is drawn below between the map of Marchburnn (1858) and that of Craigman (1892-1914) and the landscape in 2008.

Map 5: Craigman (1892-1914) & Map 3: Marchburn (1856) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
1. Farmhouse

Clearly the farmhouse at Marchburn in 1865 had been demolished and a new one built at some time probably in preparation for thr rincarnation of Marchburn as Craigman. From the photos you can see how close to the edge of the farmhouse the opencast excavations extended. You can also spot the ‘pig’ waiting at the front door who appears to have turned to stone!

2. Marchburn Outbuilding and enclosure

The outbuilding and stane-dyke enclosure at the rear are clearly part of the original Marchburn set up and continue to be in use during the Craigman years before falling into disrepair. Presumbly the stane-dyke enclosure at the back was to hold livestock. Later maps show a sheep-fold between the outbuilding and the farmhouse.

3. Ruins

Little remains of the building shown on both maps. Mr Woodburn, who grew up on the farm, explains that it once served as a shool.

4. Graphite Mine

The site of the then disused graphite mine was a casualty of the opencast.

5. Craigman outbuildings

The majority of these outbuildings also fell foul of the opencast workings and only a few remnants remain. There were also a couple of cases of coal core samples left behind.

Spectacular views of the extent of the opencast operations were afforded from the farm.

While further up the hill the burn with no name continues to run unaware of the changes.

Many thanks to the Woodburm family for the info on the school , and of course the ‘pig’ at the front door.
[1] New Cumnock Place-Names | March Burn (2)
[2] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.|march
[3] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.|burn
[4] New Cumnock Place-Names | Waud Mine- in progress
[5] J. L. Carvel ‘The New Cumnock Coalfield (1938)
By Permission of National Library of Scotland
Map 1: Ordnance Survey (1857) |Marchburn
Map 2: Johnson’s Map of County of Ayr (1838)| March Burn
Map 3: Ordnance Survey (1857) | Marchburn
Map 4: Ordnance Survey (1888-1913) | Craigman
Map 5: Ordnance Survey (1892-1914) | Craigman
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Marchburn