Waterhead Castle & Waterhead Farm

Place-name:Waterhead
Suggested Meaning:headwaters of a river (River Nith)
Blaeu Coila (1654):Waterhead
OS Name Books (1855-57):1. Site of Castle
2. Waterhead
Location:Ordnance Survey (1894)
Earlier Forms
Waterhead (1515), Watterhede (1520), Watterhed (1523), Wattirheid (1547, 1587), Waterhead Cast. (1654, Blaeu), Waterhead of Nith (1765), Waterhead of Nith (1813)

Waterhead Castle

Map 1: Waterhead Castle (Blaeu) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Waterhead: Scots water ‘water-course’ + head ‘near source’

Although there is not a specific entry for Waterhead Castle in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) it is covered in the following entry for CASTLE (Site of) [Castle Hill] –

This was a Baronial residence belonging to the Cathcart family. There are no remains except the rubbish left when the stones were removed for building purposes. The Castle appears on the Estate Plan – 1805.

The entry also includes the following brief remarks from James Paterson in “History of Ayrshire” [1], which in turn may have been taken from the New Statistical Account of the parish of New Cumnock [2]. Additional notes from “JCG” questions the observation that the castle is ‘near the source of the Nith’. Indeed the Nith rises on Enoch Hill some 3.5 miles upstream from site of the castle.

Near the source of the Nith. Some remains of an old baronial residence exist on the property of Sir John Cathcart of Carleton.

(This is a considerable distance from the source of the Nith JCG)

The Castle Hill [3], the Site of Castle and Waterhead Farm on the banks of the River Nith are shown on the Ordnance Survey map below -.

Map 2: Site of Castle | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The origins of what later became known as the “9 merkland of Waterhead” in what is now the parish of New Cumnock can be found in the following records associated with the barony of Dalmellington.

In 1374 Lord Alan Cathcart inherited the baronies of Sundrum and Dalmellington through his wife Margaret Wallace, sister of Sir Duncan Wallace [4]. Ten years later he entered into a written agreement with Roger Craufurd of Dalelglis in which he renounced his own 10 merk lands in his barony of Dalmellington in return for £46 13s 4d, with the intention of paying back the money within an agreed period of time and recovering his lands [5].

At Edinburgh, 31 May (1427).
THE KING confirmed a certain indenture,- [in which Lord Alan of Kethkert knight, lord of the same, pledged and offered the title of pledge (?) and renounced to ROGER of CRAUFURDE lord of Daleglis,-his own 10 merk lands in his barony of Dalmelyntoun, in the sheriffdom of Air, viz. the farthing land of Benbane, the obulatam (?) land of Drumcalder, the farthing land of Lathanis, the farthing land of Molynnach, the farthing land of Dalwar, the farthing land of Rewach, the obulatam land of Knocbyrny, the farthing land of Marchaleholme,- for Ł46 13s. 4d. sterling; which the said Roger paid to the said Alan as necessary:

See Appendix for full translation

Register of the Great Seal, vol. II, #90 (translation):

The lands later passed on to a branch of the Cathcart family, known as Cathcart of Waterhead. (N.B. not be be confused with Waterhead in the parish of Carpshairn, Kirkcudbrightshire and held by the McAdam family.)

Several references to Allan Cathcart of Waterhead (and variants of the place-name) appear in a number of legal instruments in the Protocol Books of Gavin Ros N.P. (1512-1532) [6]. In one such instrument of 1519 he is referred to as ‘Allan Cathcart of Watterhed, baillie of John, Lord Cathcart’ [7], presumably John, 2nd Lord Cathcart.

As baillie he administered Lord Cathcart’s lands in his barony of Dalmellington. So rather than being a baronial residence, Waterhead Castle was instead the residence of the baillie of the barony of Dalmellington.

In the following century, on 9th April 1631, William Cathcart of Waterhead was served heir to his father in the ‘nine merkland of old extent of Waterhead’; his records providing the names of the properties making up the estate. [8]

In 1655 the Cathcarts of Carleton purchased the ‘seven-merk land of Waterhead‘ and in 1766 they ‘acquired the two merkland of Drumcallander-Rig and Loanhead‘ reuniting the properties into the original ‘9 merk-land of Waterhead’ [9].

The Cathcarts were Baronets of Carleton, in the parish of Colmonnel, Ayrshire and it is their later ownership of these lands that has given rise to Waterhead Castle being referred to as a baronial residence, rather than a property owned by a baillie.

In the same year of the Ordnance Survey Name Books (1855-57) the lands owned by by Sir John Andrew Cathcart, 5th Baronet of Carleton in the parish of New Cumnock are listed below and aligned to the ’10 merk-lands of Lord Cathcart and ‘9 merk-land of Cathcart of Waterhead’

1364: 10 merk-lands
Lord Cathcart

1631: 9 merk-lands
Cathcart of Waterhead

1855: Valuation Rolls
Cathcart of Carleton

0. Benbane
farthing land
Not applicableNot applicable
1. Drumcalder
obulatum? land
1.Over and Nether Rigg
2 merk-land


1.1.Drumcallander-Rigg (1766)
merk-land
1.1Rigghill, Back Rigg, Burnside of Rigg, Forerig, High Rigend, Little Rigend,
1.2. Loanhead
merk-land (1766)
1.2 Lanehead and Sunnyside
2. Lathanis
farthing land
2.Lethanis
merk-land
2. Meikehill
3. Molynnach
farthing land
3. Manight
merk-land
3. Maneight
4. Dalwar
farthing land
4. Dalvey
merk-land
4. Waterhead farm, House of Water
5. Rewach
farthing land
5.Blackfarding
merk-land
5. Blackfurthy
(Name-Book: Blackfarding)
6. Knocbyrny
obulatum? land
6. Knockburny
2 merk-land
6. Knockburnie
7. Marchaleholme
farthing land
7. Marshallmark
merk-land
7. Marshallmark

Lord Cathcart’s 10 merk-lands in the Barony of Dalmellington is made up 6 farthing lands (seemingly equivalent to 6 merk-lands) and 2 obulatums? (equivalent to 4 merk-lands).

0. Benbane

The farthing land of Benbane (Benbain) represents the merk-land of a difference between Lord Cathcart’s 10 merk-land and the 9 merk-lands of Waterhead. Benbain farm stood 3 miles south-west of Waterhead Castle in the parish of Dalmelllington, while all the lands in the Waterhead estate are in the parish of New Cumnock.

1. Drumcalder | Over and Nether Rigg

The name place-name Drumcalder ‘ridge of the hard water‘ [10] has been abbreviated through time to Scots rigg ‘ridge’ and spawned a number of variants of that name. By way of example in 1631 these lands are referred to as 2 merk-lands Over and Nether Rigg, while in later records of 1766 they appear as a Drumcallander-Rig and Loanhead and then Rigg and Loanhead; where the latter property is now known as Lanehead [11]

2. Lathanis | Lethanis

Lethans Hill is situated on the east bank of the River Nith close to its source [12]. On the opposite bank of the Nith is Meikle Hill with the farmstead of the same name sitting on its lower north-facing slopes [13]. Although the name Lethans (or a variant of the name) doesn’t appear in the Cathcarts of Carleton list of properties in the 1855 Valuation Rolls, that of Meiklehill does and it may be the case that the combined lands of Lethans Hill and Meikle Hill made up the one merk-land of Lathanis/Lethanis.

3. Molynnach | Manight

The change in the form of the name from Molynnach to Manite is quite dramatic. Later forms include Monaicht (Map1: Blaeu 1654) and the three variants McKnight, Macnaught and Maneight given in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) [14].

Map 3: Lethans, Meikle Hill, Macnaught | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

N.B.Lethans Hill is shown on the OS Six Inch Map [Map 4]

4. Rewach | Blackfarthing

On first impressions the farthing land of Rewach was suggestive of the place-name Fardenreoch in the parish of New Cumnock, however these lands were held by the Earl of Dumfries and later the Marquis of Bute, in the barony of Cumnock. In 1631 the lands are referred to as Blackfarding [15] which sat downstream from Waterhead Castle on the south bank of the River Nith, although it should be noted it sits a mile south of Fardenreoch.

5. Dalwar | Dalvey

The name Dalwar / Dalvey (1631) and Daluey (Blaeu 1654) is now lost [16]. Its proximity to the Waterhead Castle perhaps suggests that this merk-land was the land that Waterhead Farm and House of Water later occupied.

6. Knocburney | Knockburny

On firmer ground it is evident that Knocburney is the forerunner of Knockburnie the current form of the name [17].

7. Marchaleholme | Marshalmark

On firmer ground it is evdent that Marchaleholme is the forerunner of Marsielmark (1426) and current form of the name Marshallmark [18].

Plotting the merklands of the Waterhead estate quickly addresses the concern raised by “JCG” in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) that the ‘baronial residence considerable distance from the source of the Nith’, i.e. the head of the water. The name Waterhead refers to the upper stretch of the River Nith from Blackfarthing to Lethans Hill, a four-mile stretch, and possibly a portion of the remaining mile stretch to its source. Waterhead Castle takes it name from the Waterhead estate.

Map 5: Waterhead estate | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

In Ainslie’s Map of Southern Scotland (1821) the stretch of the River Nith from the Ruins (Waterhead Castle ) to its source is named ‘Heads of NITH R.’

Map 6: Ainslie (1821) Heads of Nith R. | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Mr Hugh Cathcart of Waterhead, one of the heritors of the parish of Cumnock in 1650 when it divided into the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock, was probably the last Cathcart of Waterhead before the Cathcarts of Carleton acquired the 7 merkands of Waterhead, some five years later. It is not clear when Waterhead Castle was abandoned but its demise probably began after it changed hands and was owned by an absentee heritor. It is shown on Hermann Moll’s of South Ayrshire map as Waterhead C., and although the imprint is dated 1745, Moll had died some years earlier in 1732 [Map 7].

Map 7: H. Moll (1745) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Waterhead is also shown on Roy’s Military Map (1745), although it is not designated as a castle [Map 8]. However, the location on the south bank of the Nith fits with the site of the castle, as opposed to Waterhead farm which would be built on the north bank of the Nith.

Waterhead Castle is shown as unnamed ruins, albeit on the north bank of the Nith, on Armstrong’s Map of Ayrshire (1775) [Map 9], however the ruins are named as Waterhead in a later reduced form of the map (1783) [Map 10].

In 1895, John Smith in ‘Prehistoric Man in Ayrshire’ writes –

In the wall of one of the buildings of Waterhead Farm-steading there are two stones, each having carved on it, in monogram form A.C. and A.D. These stones were taken from the old castle, not a vestige of which now remains in situ.

John Smith, Prehistoric Man in Ayrshire (1895)

One of the two stones was recovered from Waterhead farm when it was demolished in 1980s. There is no date on the stone but the initials are probably those of Allan Cathcart of Watterheid and his spouse Agnes Dunbar the names of whom appear in the Index of the Register of Sasines [19,20].

Recovered from Waterhead Farm

Footnote

In 1978/1979 the New Cumnock Local and History Society “partially excavated” the site of Waterhead Castle with our efforts professionally surveyed in 1980 and recorded in CANMORE [21] –

NS 5416 1141. The amorphous earth and stone mound, which is up to 0.5m high, was partially excavated in 1978-9. The main exposed feature is a 12.0m long, 1.0m wide and up to 1.4m high wall which is oriented NE-SW. Central to this and at right angles there is a 3.2m length of similar walling. A fragment of curvilinear walling adjacent to this wall may be part of a stair tower.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (MJF) 24 September 1980.

CANMORE National Record of the Historic Environment

In 1994 another survey was carried out by CFA Archaeology, sponsored by British Coal Opencast in preparation for extensive opencast operations, here in the upper reaches of the River Nith. CFA findings are also given in the CANMORE [21] –

Little Rigend Castle stands in a field beside the River Nith. Previous excavations at the site have confused its appearance, but a basic rectilinear form can be made out, and two internal chambers discerned. A possible stair base is situated in the W chamber. Traces of three disused earthen banks, which may be associated with the occupation of the castle, were recorded in the same field.

Sponsor: British Coal Opencast.

CFA (1994n) ‘House of Water (New Cumnock parish): post-medieval industrial and agricultural landscape, castle’, Discovery Excav Scot, 1994. Page(s): 62

N.B. As well as local history enthusiasts confusing the appearance of the site, the archaelogists have confused the local history by renaming the castle after the nearby deserted farmhouse of Little Rigend!

Revisiting the site just over 40 years later and the big tree is still there!

Waterhead Farm

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Waterhead farm is short and to the point.

A good farm house occupied by Messrs Roxburgh

An early reference to Waterhead farm is found during the Covenanting period when the Reverend Richard Cameron and his followers rode into Sanquhar on 22nd June 1680 to deliver their damning Declaration and ‘disown Charles Stuart, who hath been reigning or rather (we may say) tyrannizing on the throne of Britain these years past’ . On the 30th June the Privy Council issued a warrant for the apprehension of ’notorious Traitors and Rebels against Us and Our authority’ including [22]

____ Creichtoun, sone of Robert Creichtoun, of Auchtitinch, now of Waterhead

In the Old Parish Records the baptism on 25th January 1710 of Daniel Mitchell, son of Damiel Mitchell and Margaret McWhirter is recorded; almost certainly descendants of Daniel Mitchell of neighbouring Craigman who had married Marion Cathcart, daughter of Allan Cathcart of Waterhead ‘[23].

Waterhead is not recorded as one of the ’10 merklands of Lord Cathcart’ or the ‘9 merklands of Cathcart of Waterhead’ but does appear in the 1855 Valuation Rolls while the merkland of Dalvey dissapears from view.

Dalvey is shown as Daluey in Blaeu Coila Provincia (1645), based on Pont’s manuscript ca. 1590), in close proximity to Waterhead Castle just as Waterhead farm did in later times.

Map 1: Waterhead Castle (Blaeu) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1844, four farms on the Estate of Waterhead were advertised to be let, i.e. those of Marshallmerk, Knockburnie, Meiklehill and Waterhead. The extent of the lands of Waterhead were described as follows [24] –

Waterhead extending to 379 acres, 2 Roods 36 Falls, Scots , or thereby, of which a considerable portion is an excellent Holm Land, on the banks of the Nith; the remainder good arable and pasture land, including meadow.

Ayr Advertiser March 21, 1844

The reference to the excellent Holm Land is the stretch of land between Waterhead farm and House of Water [25] on the banks of the Nith to south and Beoch Lane to the north. This holm land must surely be the original Dalvey, Gaelic dal beith ‘birch holm’ [16].

Map 11: Waterhead and House of Water | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

It appears that following the demise of Waterhead Castle as the residence of the Cathcarts of Waterhead, that the nearby farm of Dalvey later adopted the name Waterhead.

Waterhead farm and House of Water along with much of the excellent Holm Land were lost in the 1980s to opencast operations. The farm took its name from Waterhead Castle which in turn had taken its name from the head-waters of the River Nith.

Ruins of Waterhead Castle with Waterhead Farm in the background (Robert Guthrie 1980)

Acknowledgements
My thanks to Stuart Clarkson, Guelph, Ontario for the translation of Register of the Great Seal, vol. II, #90
References
[1] James Paterson,’History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton, Volume 1, Kyle Part two’ | Parishes of Cumnock
[2] Rev. Matthew Kirkland ‘New Cumnock, Ayrshire, New Statistical Account’ Vol. V, 1845
[3] Place-Names of New Cumnock | Castle Hill
[4] James Paterson,’History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton, Volume 1, Kyle Part two’ | Parish of Dalmellington
[5] Register of the Great Seal, vol. II, #90.
[6] Protocol Book of Gavin Ros N.P. (1512-1532), No. 363 , Allan Cathcart of Watterhed (1519)
[7] Protocol Book of Gavin Ros N.P. (1512-1532)
[8] The Scottish Jurist: Containing Reports of Cases Decided in the Supreme Court of Scotland, Vol. XV (1843) |Rev. Matthew Kirkland v Sir John Andrew Cathcart
[9] Cases Decided in the Court of Session, Vol. 5 (1843) | Rev. Matthew Kirkland v Sir John Andrew Cathcart
[10] New Cumnock Place-Names |Drumkalladyr
[11] New Cumnock Place-Names |Lethans Hill – in progress
[12] New Cumnock Place-Names |Lanehead
[13] New Cumnock Place-Names |Meikle Hill – in progress
[14] New Cumnock Place-Names |Maneight – in progress
[15] New Cumnock Place-Names |Blackfarthing
[16] New Cumnock Place-Names |Dalvey – in progress
[17] New Cumnock Place-Names |Knockburnie
[18] New Cumnock Place-Names |Marshallmark
[19] Index of Secretary’s Register of Sasines For Sherrifdom of Ayr and Baillieries of Kyle, Carrick and Cunningham, 1599-1609, No. 23,
[20] Index to Particular Register of Sasines For Sherrifdom of Ayr and Baillieries of Kyle, Carrick and Cunningham, 1617-1634, Vol. I | Marion Cathcart
[21] CANMORE National Record of the Historic Environment |Little Rigend, Waterhead Castle
[22] Register of the Privy Council, Charles II (1680), p.483
[23] Index to Particular Register of Sasines For Sherrifdom of Ayr and Baillieries of Kyle, Carrick and Cunningham, 1617-1634, Vol. I | Marion Cathcart
[24] The British Newspaper Archive | Ayr Advertiser March 21, 1844
[25] New Cumnock Place-Names |House of Water – in progress
Maps
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
https://maps.nls.uk/
Map 1: Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654) | Waterhead Castle
Map 2: Ordnance Survey (1892-1914) |Site of Castle and Waterhead farm
Map 3: Ordnance Survey (1895) | Meikle Hiil , Macnaught Hill, Lethans Hill
Map 4: Ordnance Survey (1894) | Lethans Hill
Map 5: Bartholomew (1895) | Waterhead lands
Map 6: Ainslie Map of Southern Scotland (1821) | Heads of Nith R.
Map 7: Herman Moll , South part of Ayrshire | Waterhead Castle
Map 8: Roy Lowlands, Military Map (1752-57) | Waterhead
Map 9: Armstrong New Map of Ayrshire (1775) | Ruins
Map 10: Armstrong, Reduced Map of Ayrshire | Waterhead
Map 11: Ordnance Survey (1895)| Waterhead and House of Water
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
scotlandsplaces.gov.uk
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Site of Castle
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Waterhead
Scotland’s People
https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments

APPENDIX

At Edinburgh, 31 May (1427).
THE KING confirmed a certain indenture,- [in which Lord Alan of Kethkert knight, lord of the same, pledged and offered the title of pledge (?) and renounced to ROGER of CRAUFURDE lord of Daleglis,-his own 10 merk lands in his barony of Dalmelyntoun, in the sheriffdom of Air, viz. the farthing land of Benbane, the obulatam (?) land of Drumcalder, the farthing land of Lathanis, the farthing land of Molynnach, the farthing land of Dalwar, the farthing land of Rewach?, the obulatam land of Knocbyrny, the farthing land of Marchaleholme,- for Ł46 13s. 4d. sterling; which the said Roger paid to the said Alan as necessary:- to be held by the said Roger and Elisabeth his spouse and the longer living of them and their heirs and assignees from the said Alan, his heirs and assignees, until such time as the said Alan and his heirs or assignees shall have paid Ł46 13s. 4d. upon the high altar in the kirk of St. Conval of Cumnock on one Sunday between the sunrise and setting next following the one festival of the birth of the blessed John the Baptist (ie 24 June):- also the said Alan yielded to the said Roger and Elisabeth and their said all farms and proficua (?profits) of the said lands, having been levied in the meantime, for counsel and aid :- returning to the said Roger and Elisabeth one secta (?vote) at the three head courts annually held at Dalmelyntoun, with an annual return of 2 merks, 1d. :- Moreover if they shall have been expelled from the said lands, Alan obliged himself, his heirs, etc, and all his lands of Cathkert and Sondrum, etc … . At Sundrum Tuesday next after the feast of the birth of the Lord 1384]:- witnessed by John bishop of Glasgow chancellor, John Forstare chamberlain, Robert of Lawedre knight, justiciar; Walter of Ogilby treasurer.

Register of the Great Seal, vol. II, #90 (translation):
Courtesy of Stuart Clarkson Guelph, Ontario