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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Monday, June 06, 2005

History as landfill

Three years ago I did some historical and placename research for a campaign to prevent a landfill site being extended. It was fun to do, but had no impact on the eventual decision to grant planning permission. Unfortunately the Council had already committed themselves to a PFI waste management scheme to be run by Shanks plc and the extension of the landfill site was a key part of the project.

I had a bit of a run in with the Council Archaeologist over it. I spotted an old chapel site marked on early maps right next to the entrance to the landfill site - but she said it was actually 500 metres away on the other side of a road. I then got a phone call from a local achaeologist who said he had found the chapel site ten years earlier -in the location I had identified. Unfortunately he had 'borrowed' a mechanical digger to help excavate the site and managed to sink it in the bog on which the landfill site lies, which terminated his explorations...

So it goes. The campaigners used the following in an attempt to get the Scottish Executive to step in and stop the plan. But without the support of the local expert - the Council Archaeologist- it got brushed aside.

Still, I recently got a pat on the back from the editor of the book mentioned in Section 4. The 'lane-names ' he mentions are a local puzzle. I have found over 70 streams which are called 'lanes' but no-one is sure why and how they became 'lanes' rather than burns.

Dear Alistair (if I may)

Very many thanks for your material on lane-names which you sent me, along with a copy of your letter dated 25 Jan 05 to Prof. Nicolaisen. I was pleased to see you had been inspired by Heather James's chapter on Gwaun Henllan [ see section 4 below] - funnily enough I will be seeing her next week when I visit Carmarthen following the Society of Name Studies conference in Swansea this weekend - she will be pleased to hear of your work. I'm sorry your attempt save the possible site for St Bride's chapel from landfill was unsuccessful.

You lane-research is excellent, and is well worth working up into an article. You might want to do a short piece on it for the Scottish Place-Name Society Newsletter, but it deserves much fuller treatment - there are various possibilities- Nomina and Dumfries and Galloway Transactions being the most obvious. There are plans afoot to produce a Journal of Scottish Name Studies (which I would be editor of), to appear probably Spring 2007, but you might not want to wait that long.

I don't think I can help much with your lane-research - though I'd be pleased to see anything else you might write on it. From a quick perusal of the material, it did strike me that there might be simple phonetic assimilation of lean(a) to lane when the former was borrowed into Scots either as a lexical or an onomastic item.

The boundary charters you mention [see Section 1 below] are brilliant - I might come back to you on these when I get back from Wales.

Best wishes

Simon Taylor

Aucheninnes Landfill Site [Extension]

1.Holm Cultram Charter Evidence

On 15th September 1927, R. C. Reid presented a paper to a Field Meeting of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society held at Kirkgunzeon Church. In this paper [attached] Mr. Reid drew on the Register of Holm Cultram Abbey in Cumbria to illustrate the history of the Parish of Kirkgunzeon. The relevant section of Mr. Reid's paper concerns the boundaries of the 'grange' lands rented by Holm Cultram. These still form the boundaries of the Parish of Kirkgunzeon.

The road leading from the bridge of Polatkertyn to Crosgile ultan, thence by the straight way to Cloenchonecro, and going down by the steam called Grenethfalde, as the stream runs into the water that comes out of Lochart[ur] and as Polnechauc falls into the same water at the foot of Locharthur, and from Polnechauc to the Munimuch, and from Munimuch by the top of the hill to Glastri straight to Poldere-duf, and so across to the source of Poldereduf, and as Poldereduf falls into the great water which runs between Culwen and Boelwinin, and then down the water which runs between Blareguke and Halthecoste, and so up the middle of the alderwood to the great moss, and across the moss to Polnehervede, and as Polnehervede falls into Polchillebride, and the last into Dufpole and so up steam to Polatkertyn.

The Dufpole is identified by Reid as the Kirkgunzeon Lane [or Dalbeatttie Burn], the Polnehervede as the Arnmannoch Burn, and the Polchillebride which links these two, as the Little [Kirkgunzeon] Lane. The Little Kirkgunzeon Lane flows through Aucheninnes Moss and past the existing Aucheninnes Landfill site. Reid translates Polchillebride as "St. Bride's Kirk burn".

Since the charter quoted above [Register of Holm Cultram No. 129] was one obtained from Alexander, King of Scots [reigned 1214-1249] confirming an original charter granted by Uchtred of Galloway [died 1174], it would seem reasonable to assume that a church or chapel dedicated to St. Bride existed in the Aucheninnes area in the 12th century. This church or chapel gave its name to the stream.

2. Edyngaheym: Daphne Brooke's evidence

Dr. Richard Oram is the author of 'The Lordship of Galloway' [published by John Donald, Edinburgh, 2000]. This is the most academically authoritative study of the history of medieval Galloway. In an Obituary of Daphne Brooke published in the 2002 volume of the Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Dr. Oram wrote the following:

The first indication of the scale of her finding came in 1987 in vol LXII of the Transactions, where her 'The Deanery of Desnes Cro and the Church of Edingham', pointed towards the former existence of an Anglian minister or monastic community in the heart of the territory between the rivers Nith and Urr. When presented in isolation in this article, her arguments appeared rather thinly stretched, but the publication in 1991 of "The Northumbrian Settlements of Galloway and Carrick', which appeared in vol 119 of the proceedings of the Society of Antiquarians of Scotland, set Edingham into a broader context and provided compelling evidence for a complex administrative structure extending through Galloway from the Nith to the Rhins. In conjunction with the steadily emerging archaeological evidence for a highly organised Northumbrian monastery and estate based on Whithorn, this article revolutionised historical interpretations of the nature and extent of the historically obscure period of Anglian hegemony in Galloway from the later 7th until the 10th centuries. By 1991, her research had demonstrated beyond question that place-name evidence could give voice to the silent centuries in Galloway's history.

In the article 'The Deanery of Desnes Cro and the Church of Edingham' referred to above [also attached, page 54], Daphne Brooke suggests that

There was also a chapel in Colvend dedicated to St. Bride. A bounding title of 1185-86 [Holm Cultram 121] refers unmistakably to the water course which is now called the Little Kirkgunzeon Lane as Polchillebride. It is too far from Blaiket to be named after that church. A separate chapel of St. Bride must have existed here, and possibly became the parish church of Colvend (the patron saint is no longer known).

3. Evidence from the Ordnance Survey

Unfortunately neither R.C. Reid nor Daphne Brooke appear to have connected the place-name evidence of the Polchillebride with the work of the Ordnance Survey carried out in Galloway between 1847 and 1850. Fortunately the Rev. David Frew in 'The Parish of Urr, Civil and Ecclesiastical: A History' [first published in Dalbeattie, 1909, republished in 1993] did. On page 186 he mentions that a chapel site near Aucheninnes farm is recorded on the current OS map of Kirkcudbrightshire.

It is difficult to precisely correlate locations given on Victorian OS maps with modern OS maps. The old maps use latitude and longitude rather than numbered kilometre squares. A possible location of the chapel site has been given as NX 8464 6098 by Dumfries and Galloway Council Archaeologist. However this is some distance from the apparent location in a field opposite the entrance to the existing Aucheninnes Landfill Site. The Council Archaeologist did keep a 'watching brief' on the old OS map location when the B 793 was under construction in 1994, but noticed nothing of significance.

[Note: see above on this. Using www.old-maps.co.uk I have got a modern map ref for chapel site as NX 84779 60945 or their Grid Reference 284779,560945 ]

The Ordnance Survey were approached in an attempt to clarify this anomaly, but were unable to do so. The OS suggested that RCAHMS [Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland] might be able to help. Unfortunately RCAHMS depend on the local expert knowledge provided by, for example, Council Archaeologists.

Where, as with the B 793 road construction in 1994 and the proposed extension of the Aucheninnes Landfill Site, a Council is acting as both Planning Authority and a partner in the development, issues of conflict of interest can arise. Where, as in this case, evidence for 'significance' is ambiguous and depends upon interpretation, objectivity becomes problematic and could be swayed by subjective factors. Mapping evidence for a chapel site in the immediate proximity of the proposed development exists. In this case, independent assessment of its existence or non-existence is required to ensure objectivity.

4. Importance of Place-Name Evidence: a Welsh Case

In 'The Uses of Place-Names' [ed. Simon Taylor: Scottish Cultural Press: 1998], Chapter 7 'Gwaun Henllan-the oldest Recorded Meadow in Wales?' Heather James illustrates the significance of place-name evidence in the context of a Planning Appeal against an open-cast mining development. [Attached].

The parallels between the Welsh case and the present one lie in the ability of place-name evidence to reveal continuities and changes in a historic [i.e. documented] landscape. Aucheninnes is a Gaelic place-name with the meaning 'the field in the water-meadow'. [Maxwell: Place Names of Galloway]. The fact that Aucheninnes is now described as a raised bog or moss rather than a water-meadow reveals changes in the agricultural/ land-use patterns of the area. In 'The Lordship of Galloway' [Oram: 2000: 258] the neighbouring farms of Arnmannoch, Meikle and Little Cloak are specifically referred to in this context.

Daphne Brooke has drawn attention to one particular place-name element that apparently charts the process of bringing land from the waste into cultivation or pasture. This is the Gaelic noun earann(a share), which survives in the prefixes arn-, ern- or iron-. The earliest surviving documented mention of an earann names dates to 1408...but the specific elements of several of the names implies the use of the generic at a much earlier period. Certain of the place-names, such as Arnmannoch (the Monk's Share or the Share of the Monk's Vassals, depending on whether the specific is a corruption of monoch or manach) and Ernespie (the Bishop's Share), point to ecclesiastical involvement in the formation of assarts. Armannoch in Kirkgunzeon (NX 858 605) lies on land that formed part of the Holm Cultram Estates. It is probably to be identified with the 'Clochoc of the Monks' mentioned in a perambulation of the estate in 1289, where it was described as lying across the boundary line from 'Clochoc beg of Culwen'. Modern farms lying immediately across the old parish boundary from Arnmannoch are Meikle and Little Cloak. A second Arnmannoch lies on the northern edge of Lochrutton parish... in both cases, the farms lie on marginal grazing lands and may represent land taken out of the waste by monastic estates managers or their tenants.

It is significant in this context of land being 'taken out of the waste' and returning to 'the waste [i.e. bog or moss status] that land at Little Cloak farm is to be managed under a separate legal agreement to provide a 'waste' habitat for the Bog Bush cricket as part of the Landfill Development of Aucheninnes Moss. The 'natural heritage' value of Aucheninnes Moss has been recognised. Its 'cultural and historic heritage' value has not.

5. Conclusion

On the basis of the above, would a 'reasonable person' [famously described by Lord Denning as 'the man on the Clapham omnibus'] conclude that Dumfries and Galloway Council neglected to take into proper account the archaeological, historical and cultural significance of the Auchenninnes area in the planning process?

That the residents of Dalbeattie who objected to the proposal at the local stage were not aware of, and so did not draw attention to, the evidence presented above does not affect this argument. As the Planning Authority, it is Dumfries and Galloway Council who should have carried out this research. That the Council Archaeologist carried out a 'watching brief' when a new access road to the Aucheninnes site was built in 1994 in case remains of the 'Chapel' recorded on old OS maps were uncovered is significant. That it is claimed that no significant finds were revealed in 1994 does not mean that this chapel does not exist. Detailed mapping suggests it lay just to the east of the route of this road and immediately north of the entrance to the existing Aucheninnes Landfill Site. Place-name and historical evidence supports this location.

The preservation of the Holm Cultram records for the area makes it unique in a local historical context. Both Daphne Brooke and Richard Oram have drawn upon this documentation to extend and develop our understanding and knowledge of the history of Galloway.

Unfortunately, since the proposed development is part of a Private Finance Initiative agreement between Dumfries and Galloway Council and Shanks Waste Management Ltd, a potential conflict of interest exists between the role of the Council as Planning Authority and as partner in the development. Dumfries and Galloway Council have an urgent need to find a solution to their waste management problems. If it had not been for the intervention of Scottish Natural Heritage as an external agency, it is unlikely that the conditions subsequently imposed to protect the Bog Bush cricket would have been imposed.

In the parallel case of the Edingham Waste Transfer Station part of this regional Waste Management strategy, the issue of potential impact on a historic site [the former Edingham munitions factory] was taken into account in the planning process.

6. Suggestion

That the Scottish Executive should, taking into account the historical and cultural significance of the Aucheninnes/ Edingham area, make their approval of the Aucheninnes Landfill Site Extension conditional upon an independent archaeological assessment of the possible chapel site.

In addition, should it be felt that there are sufficient similarities with the Gwaun Henllan case, that an independent assessment be made of the possible national historical and cultural heritage value of the Edingham/ Aucheninnes area.

On this last point, Shanks Waste Managment Ltd have announced that they are to appeal to the Scottish Executive against the decision by Dumfries and Galloway Council acting as Planning Authority to reject the Edingham Waste Transfer Station. Since the Waste Transfer Station aspect is integral to the Landfill Site Extension aspect, then the importance of Daphne Brooke's evidence needs to be assessed.

It is unfortunate that, in this particular case, rather than taking the opportunity to extend local historical knowledge, Dumfries and Galloway Council have chosen not to.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just stumbled across this. I'm a Dalbeattie resident who has a major passion for history and after reading Daphnae Brook set about trying to find more information on this. Like you say D&G Arch. were not overly helpful and I had to acquire the watching brief using a friend who worked in planning.

As the town is trying to set up its DIscovery Centre perhaps it would be great if we could "discover" the church of St Brides at Edingham........

9:33 pm  

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