le Gairbrig 1521 Law MS fo 16v [(Bishop) Henry Wardlaw ... who built the Guardbridge (Henricus Wardlaw ... qui construxit le gairbrig); see McRoberts 1976, 148]
le Garbrig 1521 Law MS fo 16v [see McRoberts 1976, 98]
Gearbridge 1645 Gordon MS Fife
Gherbridge 1654 Blaeu (Pont) East Fife
Gearbridg 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Gairbridg 1684 Adair/East Fife
the Gair Bridge 1685 APS viii, 474 [see discussion, below]
Garebridge 1753 Roy sheet 18, 2
Gair Bridge 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Gair or Guard Bridge 1790s OSA 733
Guard Br. 1827 Ainslie/Fife
Guard Bridge 1828 SGF
Guard or Gair Bridge 1845 NSA ix, 478
? + Sc brig
The Sc form of this name, still used today, is Gairbrig /ger brIg/ and this is reflected in the forms on the maps of Pont and Gordon, with an englished generic. It is clear that the specific had nothing to do with English guard, and has simply been assimilated to it. Even the OS Name Book insists that ‘the proper name of the bridge ... is Gare, not Guard’ (46, 47). McRoberts assumes that the first element is an otherwise unattested loan-word into Scots from French gare ‘statio, halting place, assembly point’, referring to a place where pilgrims assembled to cross the River Eden, either by ford or bridge (1976, 98–9). This might just be correct, especially since alternatives such as Sc gerr ‘clumsy, awkward’ are even more unlikely.
The oldest bridge still extant was started by Bishop Henry Wardlaw in 1419. From the indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XIII in August 1419 to those who contribute to the building and maintenance of the bridge (which is not named), it is clear that there had been no bridge there previously, and that continuing existence of the newly founded university in St Andrews depended to a large degree on the bridge’s completion. On the north side of the bridge is a panel bearing the arms and initials of James Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews (1522–39); and in 1601 it is described as ‘altogidder ruyneous’ (Gifford 1988, 238). In 1685 ‘the Gair Bridge’ was among those bridges to be repaired from the revenues of vacant stipends of the diocese of St Andrews (APS viii, 474).
Today the main settlement of Guardbridge is on the west (LEU) side of the Eden, although Blaeu (Pont) and Blaeu (Gordon) show it to have lain on the east (SSL), with Blaeu (Pont) showing the settlement of Brigend on the west side. The above NGR (NO452188) is of the bridge itself.
Note the existence of a prehistoric fort overlooking the bridge on the Leuchars side of the river north-east of Seggie LEU NO4485 1930 (NMRS NO41 NW no. 40).
/gar brɪdӡ/, locally /ger brɪg/
This place-name appeared in printed volume 3