Meaning:burn, stream
Pollach, Polquhirter and Polshill Burns Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654) | Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland

G. W. S. Barrow [1] provides an insight into the distribution of the element pol- throughout Scotland and in particular its predominance in upper Nithsdale. He concludes that pol was the standard term for burn in this vicinity and that this early British name failed to be influenced by Old English, Gaelic or Scots (i.e. pow -).

The parish of New Cumnock makes a substantial contribution to the upper Nithsdale population of pol– names . It should be noted that although all the names appear in modern maps beginning with pol-, a number of them that appear in Blaeu’s Atlus Novus, 1654 begin with pow- or polw-, suggesting some Scots influence. Furthermore, the local pronunciation of pol in all these names is puh, pih or pah all with the ‘l’ silent.

All examples of pol- water-course names in New Cumnock are followed with the word ‘burn’. A similar observation was made by Sir Herbert Maxwell [2] in his study of the pol-names in the place-names of Galloway, where he explains ‘all these streams have had ‘Burn’ pleonastically* added to their names since Gaelic ceased to be spoken and understood‘.

Pol-Current NameFarms of the same name
Pollach Burn Pollach BurnPollach (ruins)
Polquhap Burn Shield BurnPolquhap
Polquheys Burn Muirfoot BurnPolquheys; High & Low
Polquhirter Burn Polquhirter BurnPolquhirter: East, West & High
Polshill Burn Garepool BurnPolshill
Polga Burn
Polhigh Burn
Pollachie Burn
Poljorg Burn, Little Poljorg
Polmath Burn
Polstacher Burn
Potential pol- names
Powkelly Burn
Pumarleuch Burn
Pochriegavin Burn


[1] G.W.S. Barrow ‘The Uses of Place-names and Scottish History – pointers and pitfalls’, in the ‘The Uses of Place-Names ,Ed. Simon Taylor. (1998)
[2] Sir Herbert Maxwell ‘The Place-Names in Galloway’ see comments under Polchiffer Burn
Reproduced with the Permission of National Library of Scotland
Map 1 |Blaeu Coila Provincia (1645) |pol-
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places