Suggested Meaning:S. sunnyside land having a southern exposure
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57):Sunnyside
Location:Ordnance Survey (1894)
Earlier Forms
Sunnyside (1838, OPR), Sunnieside (1875, Valuation Roll)

Sunnyside: Scots sunnyside ‘land having a southern exposure’

Sunnyside ruins (photo Robert Guthrie)

A search through the Ordnance Survey Name Books in Scotland’s Places reveals 8 properties named Sunnyside in Ayrshire and further occurences of the name in 24 other counties.

Presumably many of these take that name from their location ‘on land having a southern exposure’ as offered by John Jamieson in the 1825 supplement to his Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1808). The entry for sunnyside (under sun) in the Dictionaries of the Scots Languages also cites an interesting example from Aberdeenshire.

sunnyside, id., “land having a southern exposure” (Sc. 1825 Jam.);

Sunnyside. A frequent name for a farm. It is derived from the former practice of dividing lands into a sunny side and a shadow side. Abd. 1952 W. M. Alexander Place-Names 385:

Dictionaries of the Scots Languages [1]

New Cumnock’s Sunnyside certainly fits this description. It is located on the lands of Lanehead midway up a south-facing ridge while Lanehead farm sits in the shade at the base of the ridge on the banks of Lane Burn.

Map 1: Sunnyside (OS 1 inch, 1895) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

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

A farm house occupied by Thomson Lammie, the property of Sir J. Cathcart

Sir John Andrew Cathcart, 5th Baronet of Carleton in the parish of Colmonnel, Ayrshire was the proprietor of the extensive Waterhead Estate in the parish of New Cumnock that included the lands of Lanehead, which in turn included Lanehead farm and the much later Sunnyside farm.

The earliest recorded birth at Sunnyside is that of William Riddall, born in 1819, son to John Riddall & Susanna Kerr; three other siblings were born there over the period 1821-1826. Prior to settling at Sunnyside, two other siblings had been born at Maneight (1815) and Blackfarding (1817) both of which properties were part of the Waterhead Estate. It may be the case that this branch of the Riddall family were the first tenants of Sunnyside, suggesting it was built in the early 19th century. The Riddall family had a long history with Lanehead and the earliest baptism dates back to 1777, while by 1841 the Census Records show Riddalls as farmers at both Lanehead and Sunnyside.

John Lammie and Margaret Lammie, the parents of Thomson Lammie referenced in the Ordnance Survey Name Book above, were probably the next tenants of Sunnyside. Prior to her marriage, Margaret Lammie had given birth to a son James Hylsop who would in later life would become a celebrated poet best known for his poem ‘The Cameronian’s Dream’ , inspired by the loss of Richard Cameron ‘Lion of the Covenant’ and his band of Covenanters in 1680 at the Battle of Airdsmoss. Margaret passed away at Sunnyside in 1845 and her husband John died there seven years later. They both rest together in the Auld Kirkyard, New Cumnock along with several of their children. Their son Thomson along with his wife Jean McKnight and their family continued to live at Sunnyside for a few years before settling Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire [2].

Sunnyside continued to welcome several new tenants through the year to work the land.

The Desirable Lands of LANEHEAD and SUNNYSIDE, on the ESTATE OF WATERHEAD, in the parish of New Cumnock, which are presently occupied by Mr. John Neill. These farms consist of good Pasture Meadow and Arable Land, and are well adapted for Dairy and Sheep Stock. The Farms have been partially drained and improved, and are advantageously situated with easy access from the Railway Stations at Dalmelington , Old Cumnock and New Cumnock. The House, &c are in good repair, having almost been rebuilt within the last three years

North British Agriculturist, June 13, 1877 [3]

In its latter years Sunnyside ceased operating as a farm and the building was typically tenanted by coal miners and their families.

Maps 2 and 3 Sunnyside | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Today Sunnyside stands in ruins surrounded by strategically planted hawthorn trees that would have been familar to those that have come and gone through the years.


[1] Dictionaries of the Scots Languages | sun, sunnyside
[2] New Cumnock Heritage | Mother of the Cameronian Dreamer
[3] British Newspaper Archive | North British Agriculturist (1877)
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Ordnance Survey (1895, 1 Inch) |Sunnyside
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1855, 25 inch) |Sunnyside
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1908, 25 inch) |Sunnyside
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Sunnyside
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