Kennoway KWY PS NO350024 1 373 85m

Simone de Kennachin 1160 x 1162 St A. Lib. 128 [w. to a charter of Bp Arnold]
ecclesiam de Kennakin 1164 x 1178 St A. Lib. 258 [see KWY Introduction]
Symeone p<res>b<ite>ro de Kennakin 1164 x 1178 St A. Lib. 259 [Simeon the priest of Kennoway]
ecclesiam de Kennakin 1164 x 1178 St A. Lib. 259 [see KWY Introduction]
Symeone presbitero de Kennakin 1164 x 1178 St A. Lib. 259
ecclesiam de Kennachin 1172 x 1178 St A. Lib. 137 [Bp Richard’s confirmation]
ecclesiam de Kennachin 1183 St A. Lib. 60 [Pope Lucius III’s confirmation to St Andrews Priory; the church of Kennoway with the lands belonging to it and the land which is called Kilmux (Kenmocheth) beside Kennoway (Kennachin) which Merleswain (Merleswanus) gave to them]
ecclesiam de Kennakin 1189 x 1195 RRS ii no. 333 [King William’s confirmation to St Andrews Priory of the gift of Merleswain of the church of Kennoway; see KWY Introduction]
ecclesiam de Kennakin 1189 x 1198 St A. Lib. 152 [Bishop elect Roger’s confirmation charter to St Andrews Priory; ‘by the gift of Merleswain’ (ex dono Merlesyoni), the church of Kennoway with the lands belonging to it and the land which is called Kilmux (Kinmuhched)]
ecclesia de Kennachin 1214 x 1233 St A. Lib. 251 [rubric]
ecclesiam de Kennaukin 1214 x 1233 St A. Lib. 251 [William Cumyn earl of Buchan’s confirmation to St Andrews Priory]
in Kennochyr 1214 x 1233 St A. Lib. 251B [‘the land which is called Kilmux in Kennowayshire’ (terram que dicitur Kenmuckeveth in Kennochyr)]
in Kennochynschyr 1214 x 1233 St A. Lib. 252 [Kilmux (Kenmukeveth) in Kennowayshire (Kennochynschyr)]
Kinnahhinsyre 1214 x 1233 St A. Lib. 254 [Kilmux (Kenmuch) in Kennowayshire (Kinnahhinsyre)]
ecclesiam de Kennawin 1240 St A. Lib. 165 [see KWY Introduction]
Kennaken 1246 St A. Lib. 92 [Pope Innocent IV; possessions etc. of St Andrews Priory]
ecclesia de Kennachyn c.1250 St A. Lib. 34
ecclesia de Kenhacghy 1276 Bagimond’s Roll, p. 61
Kynnaghty c.1420 Chron. Wyntoun vol. 4, 284 [Macbeth chases Macduff to the latter’s castle at Kennoway]
Kennawchty c.1420 Chron. Wyntoun vol. 4, 285
ad castrum suum de Kennachqwhi 1440s Scotichron. Bk. 4, ch. 6 (vol. 2, 436) [‘to his (Macduff’s) castle of Kennoway’ (presumably Maiden Castle MAI), where Macduff flees for fear of Macbeth, before continuing to England]
(church of) Kennochy 1471 RMS ii no. 1039
in villa et territorio de Kennochy 1511 RMS ii no. 3579 [to Alexander Gourlay of Kincraig (Kincrag) ELI, three eighths of the lands of Auchtermairnie (Uchtirmerny) KWY along with 2 acres ‘in the toun and territory of Kennoway’]
Kennoquhy 1517 RMS iii no. 148 [to George Leslie earl of Rothes; part of the barony of Ballinbreich FLK]
(barony of) Kennoquhy 1525 RMS iii no. 315
(church of) Kennoquhy 1538 RMS iii no. 1829 [to William Gourlay of Kincraig (Kincrag) ELI, lands including 2 acres near (prope) the church of Kennoway]
Kynnochy 1539 RMS iii no. 1992
Kennoquhy 1540 RMS iii no. 2241
Kennewy 1543 RMS iii no. 2911
Kennowie c.1560 s Purves 154 [?5]
Kirk of Kennowy 1587 Assumption 15 [teind sheaves of St Andrews Priory]
Kennoquhy 1590 x 1593 RMS v no. 2339 [charter in Scots; occurs as such 7 times; once as Kennochie]
ecclesia parochiali de Kennoquhy 1594 RMS vi no. 117 [see Auchtermairnie KWY, above]
terris de Kennoquhie 1603 Retours (Fife) no. 128 [David Lundy of Newhall]
terrarum de Kennochie 1603 Retours (Fife) no. 128
Kennoquhie 1642 Retours (Fife) no. 619
Kennue 1654 Blaeu (Pont) East Fife
Keanoway 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
(parish of) Kenoway 1667 RMS xi no. 1074
Kenua 1684 Adair/East Fife
Kennoway 1753 Roy sheet 18, 1
Kennoway 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Kennoway 1828 SGF

? G ceann + ? – ach + – in

This is a difficult name. It probably contains G ceann ‘head, end’, but assuming that the first syllable has always borne the stress, it cannot be analysed in the same way as the many ceann-names in Fife (and beyond), such as Kilmux KWY, Kilrymont, Kingask or Kinkell SSL, Kinnaird KMB, or Kinloch CLS, all meaning ‘head or end of X’. The assumption that the first syllable has been stressed is based not only on the modern pronunciation, but also on the fact that it has retained the original vowel e, which would otherwise have become i if unstressed. The medial syllable, which seems to have ended in a velar fricative /x/ (with k, which alternates with ch in many of the earliest forms, representing a fricative) is best seen as some kind of extension to ceann meaning ‘head- or end-place, place at the head or end’, with the specific feature left unexpressed. The dramatic position of the old village on the edge of Kennoway Den probably means that the den or gorge itself is that unexpressed feature. The final syllable is the common locational suffix –in, which usually develops to -ie/-y, and which shows this regular development right up until the Blaeu (Pont) form Kennue, collected by Pont at the end of the sixteenth century, and which provides the modern form. In other words, it is the G ceann (OG cenn) with two locational extensions or suffixes, meaning something like ‘place at the head’, referring to its topographical situation.

    A less likely derivation might be from G ceannach ‘buying, purchasing, trading’ (OIr cennach, which can also mean ‘act of ransoming, redeeming; price, payment, reward’). If this is the element involved (again with the locational suffix –in), then a plausible interpretation might be ‘trading place’.

    By the end of the medieval period, and perhaps as early as the twelfth century or even earlier, the name had become associated with the personal name Cainnech, modern ScG Coinnech (Kenneth), who was cast as the dedicatory saint of the parish kirk (see KWY Introduction, Church Dedication, for a full discussion).

    In the 1790s OSA declared that the name was Gaelic for ‘the town above the cave’, but failed to mention what the Gaelic might have been (p. 423). Presumably the author had in mind G ceann na h-uaimhe or similar ‘the end or head of the cave’, probably referring to John Knox’s Cave in the Kennoway Den (for which see *Pittendweem KWY).

    OS Pathf. also shows Kennoway Burn, which flows through OS Pathf. Kennoway Den; and Kennoway Burns in the south-west of the parish, near the confluence of the Kennoway Burn and the Markinch Burn.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 2