'O leave novels, ye Mauchline belles,
Ye're safer at your spinning-wheel;
Such witching books are baited hooks,
For rakish rooks like Rob Mossgiel'
O Leave Novels
WJ Watson includes Mossgiel [MAUCHLINE] in
his collection of British names, containing the
element W. maes 'open field, plain', explaining that
'in some cases at least maes appears as moss
when it is the generic term in a compound and
therefore unstressed'
. Finding Mossgiel in the
form Mosgavill 1588, he concludes the second
element of the name W. gafeal, G. gabhail
'holding'. [1] The modern-day farm is nestled in
the fork of the Mauchline-Kilmarnock and
Mauchline -Tarbolton roads, routes that may follow
much older paths. In which case G. gabhal 'fork,
branch' is worthy of consideration, as in Dargavel
at Bishopton in Renfrewshire, which Watson gives
as G. doire gobhal 'copse of the fork' and
Dungavel in Lanarkshire.

Interestingly, an early form of Kyle Castle [OLD
is Castle Cavil (1445), [2] the castle
sits on the boundary of King's Kyle and Kyle
Stewart at the fork of Guelt Water and Glenmuir

Perhaps the real meaning of Mossgiel, or
Mossgavill is to be found in the Scots tongue in the
form, S. gavall 'to revel, live riotously' - perhaps
not, but I think Rob Mossgiel would approve!

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.
[1] W.J. Watson 'The Celtic Placenames of Scotland'
[2] Dane Love 'The History of Auchinleck '
[3] The Acts of William I , Edited by G.W.S. Barrow
'Poems and Songs of Robert Burns' (Ed. James Barke)

Johan Blaeu 'Coila Provincia, Atlus Novus, 1654'
Andrew Armstrong 'Map of Ayrshire, 1775'

1784 - 1788
A well known Ayrshire example is Moscow [KILMARNOCK] where the second element is W. collen, G. coll 'hazel' [1].
Mossblown [TARBOLTON] looks like another example, however, an early form is Montblawen (Blaeu ). Mosswalt
[New Cumnock] now appears as Castle Meadows in modern OS Maps, and is possibly W. maes + wellt 'grassy field'.
There is a host of other moss- place-names in Ayrshire which contain the Scots element moss 'peat, boggy ground,
moorland' compounded with a common English element, e.g. of the type Mosshead, Mosside, Mossfoot.

The now lost and extraordinary sounding place-names Monedamdereg, Monemethonac appear in William I's Act
announcing his new burgh at Ayr in 1205. G.W.S Barrow considers that these names are now represented by the modern-
day name of Mosshill [AYR] and Mossend [COYLTON][3]. The first elements of the lost names W. mawn G. moine 'peat

There are also those mosses that contain personal or honorific elements e.g. Airds Moss [AUCHINLECK], (although this is
probably Ayr's Moss from the River Ayr) , where Richard Cameron 'the Lion of the Covenant' and eight other Covenanters
were killed and buried there in 1680. His sister Marion Cameron is said to lie in Martyrs' Moss [NEW CUMNOCK].
Scots moss 'peat, boggy ground'
The New Cumnock Mural , at the Mary Morrison Memorial Garden
By Robert Guthrie
Burns' Trail
Mount Oliphant
New Cumnock
New World
Aird's Moss - Armstrong's Map of Ayrshire 1775
Place-Names in the
Land o' Burns