Does haughty Gaul invasion threat?
Then let the louns beware, Sir;
There's wooden walls upon our seas,
And volunteers on shore, Sir:
The Nith shall run to Corsincon,
And Criffel sink in Solway
Cumnock, Comenagh 1296, Comenoc 1307, Cumno 1440,
Cumnoch. These early forms show the development of
Gaelic -ach > Scots -ock. Cumnock Castle, suggesting G.
comunn achadh 'place of the confluence' [1]. The seat of
the barons of Cumnock stood at the confluence of the
River Nith and Afton Water, in what is now the village of
New Cumnock in the parish of New Cumnock.

[N.B. the original parish of Cumnock was sub-divided into
the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock
in 1650].

Recently, Andrew Breeze considers Middle Welsh
cymynog ' hewing, cutting' and proposes that 'Cumnock as
a settlement has been named after a river, as was
certainly the case at Irvine, Ayr and Girvan'
. A desk-
top study of maps of Old Cumnock leads him to offer the
rather innocuous burn Carsgailoch Runner, as his afon

There is only one afon in 'the Cumnocks', Old and New,
and indeed in Ayrshire, i.e. the Afton Water. Cumnock
Castle stood at the mouth of the Afton, as Ayr, Girvan and
Irvine sit at the mouths of the rivers of the same names.
[1] Robert Guthrie and Scottish
Place-Name Society, Newsletter, Autumn 2000
[2] A. Breeze ' Brittonic Place-Names from South-West
Scotland, Part 2' Trans DGNHAS
A.M. Boyle 'Ayrshire Heritage'
[3] J.B. Johnston ' Place-Names of Scotland'
[4] W.J. Watson 'The Celtic Placenames of Scotland'
[5] The Acts of William I (Edited by G.W.S. Barrow)
[6] Blind Harry 'The Wallace' (Edited by Anne McKim)
[7] William McDowall 'History of Dumfries'
[8] J. Strawhorn 'A New History of Cumnock'
[9] J. Stuart 'Sculptured Stones of Scotland, 2'
[10] Robert Guthrie
[11]W.F. H. Nicolaisen ' Scottish Place-Names'
'Poems and Songs of Robert Burns' (Ed. James Barke)

Johan Blaeu 'Atlus Novus, 1654'

The Reverend Johnston offers G. abh donn 'brown stream'[3]
. Rabbie, not a great one for ministers at the best of times,
would certainly have found some choice words to rebut this
minister's offering. Immortalised the world over by Burns in his
enchanting 'Sweet Afton', the bard had originally called his
work 'Clear Afton' - brown stream indeed!

Comparison may be drawn with Avon Water in the
neighbouring county of Lanarkshire 'represents an early British
abona ''river, water", now represented by Welsh afon 'river'
and not Gaelic abhainn' [4]. Interestingly their respective
valleys have developed different names Afton Water > Glen
Afton; Avon Water > Avondale, Avendale, Strathaven.
'FLOW gently, sweet Afton! among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream'
Sweet Afton
'O WERE I on Parnassus hill,
Or had o' Helicon my fill,
That I might catch poetic skill,
To sing how dear I love thee !
But Nith maun be my Muse's well,
My Muse maun be thy bonie sel,
On Corsincon I'll glow'r and spell,
And write how dear I love thee.'
O Were I on Parnassus Hill
Corsencon Corswintoun {cor-swintoun} 1488 [7]
Corsintoune 1512 [8] A 9th century Anglian cross was
found near Corsencon in the adjacent lands of Mansfield
[9], formerly known as
Garif, indicative of Anglian
settlement, suggesting that the second element of the
form Corswintoun is OE
swin-tun 'pig-farm'.

Adjacent to Corsencon farm is Glenmuckloch,
Glenmucklam,1654 G. gleann muclac 'glen of the pig-
farm' indicating that later Gaelic speaking settlers
continued to farm pigs on the slopes of Corsencon hill.
The same Gaelic farmers that would pre-fix the element
G. cor 'rounded, tapered hill' to name this magnificent
landmark [10].

Direct comparsion can be drawn Dalswinton on the
River Nith, 20 miles downstream from Corsencon. ,
WFH Nicolaisen describes Dalswinton 'as one of the
most interesting names in the Scottish south because
of the later addition of [Gaelic] dail 'river-meadow'
to [Old English] Swin-tun 'pig-farm'is evidence of an
early English and largely pre-Gaelic element in the
population of that area'.

The New Cumnock Mural , at the Mary Morrison Memorial Garden
By Robert Guthrie
Burns' Trail
Mount Oliphant
New Cumnock
New World
Site of Cumnock Castle
Ruins of Auld Kirk (1657)
CD-ROM Cover of 'Flow Gently Sweet Afton' by Robert Hart
'On Corsincon I'll glow'r and spell, And write how dear I love thee', lines from 'O were I on Parnassus Hill',
undoubtedly one of Burns most beautiful and heart-felt works, where he yearns for Mount Parnassus and Mount Helicon,
the home of the Muses of Ancient Greece.

Corsencon W.J. Watson uncovers an early form of Corsencon in ancient charters"The charter of William I. granted
about 1205 to the burgh of Ayr, and confirmed by Alexander II. and David II. (1367, RMS), prescribes that 'toll and
customs due to the burgh shall be given and received at Mache and Karnebuth and Loudon and
(Krosnekone, 1367) and Lachtalpen.' [4] . G.W.S Barrow gives 'Precipio etiam firmiter ut apud Mach . et Karnebuth' .
et Lowdun' . et
Crosenecon . et Lachtalpin' [5]. From this early form Watson suggests G. cros na con 'crossing of the
hounds' ( in preference to 'cross of the hounds' since he finds no evidence of a cross). The ancient route through Nithsdale
did indeed pass by Corsencon, no doubt by way of the toll and customs point . Blind Harry records how the road was
'At Corssencon the gait was spilt that tide', at the time of Wallace.[6]

Mansfield Cross
Crown Copyright : Royal Commission on the Ancient and
Historic Monuments of Scotland

Blaeu 'Coila Provincia, Atlus Novus, 1654'
Showing Korsinkon and Glenmucklam
Corsencon Hill , New Cumnock
Corsencon Hill and the River Nith
Place-Names in the
Land o' Burns