|Suggested Meaning:||a rough shelter for cattle and their herds|
|Scots shiel ‘a rough shelter for cattle and their herds‘|
|Place-Name: Shiel + Scots burn ‘stream’|
|Blaeu Coila (1654):||N/A|
|OS Name Books (1855-57):||Shiel, Shiel Burn|
|Location:||Ordnance Survey (1894)|
|The Shield (OPR 1719), Shield (1841), Shiel of Dalricket (1871)|
Shiel and Shiel Burn
Shiel and part of the Shiel Burn are situated on the lands of Dalricket.
Scots shiel ‘a rough shelter for cattle and their herds‘
The entry in the Ayrshire Ordnance Survey Names Book (1855-57) for Shiel reads –
A small house on Dalricket* farm
*Dalricket transcribed as Dalwicket in Name Book
Despite the sparse entry it is interesting to note that all three ‘Authories for Spelling’, of the name, i.e. Mr. Ranken, proprietor, and his tenants at that time – Mr. Kennedy and Hugh Love considered the name to be ‘The Shiel‘.
Indeed an early form of the name, including the definitive article, is found in the following baptism record ‘10th February 1719, Jean daughter to George Wood and Marion* ___ in the Shield‘ [Scotland’s Places].
*presumably Marion McCrae, as the couple’s names appear in later records elsewhere in the parish.
Analysis of the Census Records gives the following forms of the name – Shield (1841, 1861,1881); Shiel (1851,1891, 1901,1911,1921) and Shiel of Dalricket (1871) and it is Shiel of Dalricket that prevails in the Valuations Rolls (1905-1940) [Scotland’s Places].
The following entry, one of a number of entries, for Scots shiel (and its variant shield) in the Dictionary of the Scots Language is by no means a perfect fit for Shiel .
SHIEL, n., v.1 Also shiell, sheul(l), sheel, sheil(e), schiel, shel(c); shield, sheild, she(e)ld. A sheepcot, a rough shelter for sheep or cattle and their herds in a remote place, specif. one used in the summer when sheep and cattle were removed to higher and more distant pasturesDictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd
Although Shiel is not located on higher ground nor is it particularly remote from Dalricket farm, (less than a mile by way of the footpath) it is seemingly distant enough from the farm to erect a shelter for livestock and living quarters for the farmhands and their family, like those of George Wood, Marion Macrae and their daughter Jean.
Further analysis of the Census Records reveals the changing activities at Shiel
- 1841, Shield: John Osborne, agricultural labourer, his wife Elizabeth and infants sons John & William
- 1851, Shiel: Hugh Dickson, agricultural labourer, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Elizabeth
- 1861,Shield: Hugh Dickson, agricultural labourer, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Elizabeth and son Hugh. The family later moved to Dalricket Cottage.
- 1871, Shiel of Dalricket: Alexander Black, labourer at coal pit, his wife Mary and their two daughters, Agnes and Susan along with Sarah Campbell, general servant. There were a number of coal pits in the vicinity including one near where the Shiel Burn joined the River Nith. However, of particular interest is Mary Black’s occupation, which is listed as bower, that is, she manages a dairy herd. [N.B. the Valuation Roll of 1865 records a ‘Cheese Room’ in Dalricket Mill]
The entry for Scots bower in the Dictionary of the Scots Language reads  –
Bower. One who has the management of or rents a herd of cows (with feed) for dairy purposesDictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.
- 1881, Shield: 71 year old Alex McKerrow, dairyman and his wife Jane.
- 1891, Shiel: The Black family returned to Shiel where Alexander now worked as a general labourer, while his wife Mary and their grown up daughters Agnes and Susan, all worked as dairymaids. The family had grown in size with daughters Jane and Margaret; sons James, Alexander and Andrew and grand-daughter Isabella all crammed into Shiel, although the address was given as Shiel (Bowing) , pronounced Boo-in, which is the local name assigned to South Boig farm .
The entry for Scots bowing in the Dictionary of the Scots Language reads  –
In some parts of Scotland (chiefly Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Kirkcudbright and Caithness) there is a contract of location which is popularly known by the rather singular name of “Bowing of Cows.” A proprietor or principal tenant, who is the owner of a stock of cows, lets them, with the privilege of grazing them on the farm, to a party who is called a “bower.”
To tak a farm in a bowin, to take a lease of a farm in grass, with the live stock on it; this still remaining the property of the land-holder, or person who lets it.Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.
- 1901, Shiel: Alexander and Mary Black had moved into Dalricket Mill while eldest daughter Agnes Black, dairy keeper was now head of the household at Shiel living there with her infant son John, sister Margaret and niece Isabel.
- 1911, Shiel: Agnes Black, bower and her infant son John McMinn Black
- 1921, Shiel: Agnes Black, bower and Annie Pollock, domestic servant
Agnes Black, continued to work as the bower at Shiel, until her death in 1924, aged 55 years.
In summary Shiel, had served as home to agricultural labourers that worked on the Dalricket lands (1841-1861) and thereafter was established as a bowing, bowin where herds of dairy cows were managed, possibly reverting to a use for which the original shiel was erected, i.e. ‘a rough shelter for cattle and their herds‘. Poetic licence allows comparisons to be drawn between Agnes Black of the Shiel of Dalricket and ‘Blythe Bessie in the milking shiel‘ in Robert Burns ‘The Country Lass’ .
The Country Lass
In simmer, when the hay was mawn,Robert Burns (1792), Burns Country ‘www.robertburns.org’
And corn wav’d green in ilka field,
While claver blooms white o’er the lea
And roses blaw in ilka beild!
Blythe Bessie in the milking shiel,
Says-“I’ll be wed, come o’t what will”:
Out spake a dame in wrinkled eild;
“O’ gude advisement comes nae ill.
Shiel has been in ruins for some time and indeed the land of Dalricket have been subject to extensive opencat
Place-Name: Shiel + Scots burn ‘stream’
The entry in the Ayrshire Ordnance Survey Names Book (1855-57) for Shiel Burn reads –
A small burn running on the east side of the Shiel into the River Nith
The burn  takes its name from the nearby Shiel and flows north to join the River Nith
Shiel has been in ruins for some time and indeed more recently the lands of Dalricket have been subject to extensive opencast operations like many other lands in the upper reaches of the River Nith. There are plans to reinstate the Shiel Burn.
Footnote : There is also a Shiel Hill in the parish, just over a mile to the west of Shiel. There is also a Shield and Shield Burn approximately two miles to the north and just over the parish boundary in Old Cumnock. Interestingly in the Old Parish Records of New Cumnock record the baptisms of three children (1722-1728) ‘of Thomas Mitchell and Ellison Shaw in Benston-Shield‘ – where Benston sits nearby to Shield, but on the New Cumnock side of the boundary!
| Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | shiel|
| Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. |bower|
| New Cumnock Place-Names | Boig|
| Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. |bowin, bowing|
| Robert Burns, | The Country Lass|
| Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | burn|
|Reproduced with the Permission of National Library of Scotland|
|Map 1: Ordnance Survey, Plan of the Craigengillan Estate, Ayrshire and Kirkcudbrightshire,| Craigengillan – Two Beochs|
|Map 2: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1843-1882 (1857) | Mid Hill and Midhill Stell|
|Map 3: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1960 (1894) |Shiel and Shiel Burn|
|Ordnance Survey Name Books|
|By Permission of Scotland’s Places|
|Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Shiel|
|Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Shiel Burn|