Star Bog

Place-name:Star Bog
Suggested Meaning:star-grass bog
First elementScots star ‘species of grass or sedge, gen. growing in moorish or boggy ground’
Second elementScots bog ‘wet spongy ground’
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57):Star Bog
Location:Ordnance Survey (1894)
Map 1: Star Bog| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Ordnance Survey Name Book entry for Star Bog reads –

A swampy bog, about 8 chains N [North] of the west end of Quintin Knowe. It owes its name to a quantity of star grass growing in it.

Scots star ‘star grass’ + bog

The Dictionaries of the Scots Language entry for star [1] reads –

STAR, n.2 Also starr.

1. One or other of various species of grass or sedge, gen. growing in moorish or boggy ground. The word also occurs as an element Star- in place-names, esp. in ne.Sc., Starhill, etc. Also in comb. star-grass, as above. Obs. or dial. in Eng. Adj. starry, covered with star.

2. A place over-grown with star. Mry. 1763 Session Papers, Dunbar v. Dunbar State of Process 14: There was a Place called the Bog and Swell, or Star.

The entry included the following various species of grass or sedge with the caveat that it is not certain that all the identifications are correct.

  • the bladder-sedge, Carex vesicaria
  • the tufted bog-sedge, Carex caespitosa
  • the pink-leaved sedge, Carex panicea
  • the club-rush, Scirpus maritimus
  • the common rush, Carex vulgaris
  • the heath rush, Juncus squarrosus
  • the tufted hair-grass
Star Bog | Photograph courtesy of David Bunten

The place-name star, starr appears in several Ordnance Survey Name Books in Scotland including another Star Bog in Aberdeenshire.

There are also two occurrences of Star Bog in the Place-Name of Northern Ireland web-site including one in County Antrim [2]. Here at Ballymena, local artist Sharon Adams has a workshop and tells stories through objects she has crafted. These include Star Bog Spades that are used to dig peats from the bog.

Star Bog Spades , County Antrim| Photograph courtesy of Sharon Adams

Sharon has also produced a fascinating video of the crafting of the Star Bog Spades and her putting them to use in cutting peats from Star Bog which can be viewed here.

Photographs and Video
David Bunten | Many thanks for the permission to use the photo of Star Bog, New Cumnock.
Sharon Adams |Many thanks to Sharon Adams for permission to use the photo of Star Bog Spades and sharing the link to her video.
[1] The Dictionaries of the Scots Languages Dictionars o the Scots Leid|star
[2] Plae-Names of Northern Ireland |
By Permission of National Library of Scotland
Map 1: Ordnance Survey (1857) | Star Bog
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Star Bog
Aberdeeshire OS Name Books (165-71) Vol. 43 | Star Bog