Dunshelt AMY S NO250104 1 362 40m
lie buttis in Inschelt 1558 NAS C2/31 no. 461 [appears twice as Inschelt; printed as such (once) as RMS iv no. 1288; to John Paterson and Agnes Ayton]
lie outsett nuncupat. Dwnscheill 1611 RMS vii no. 488 [to Stephen Paterson of Kincraigie SLO and Elizabeth Mure, the lands of Myres Over et Nether AMY of the lands of Auchtermuchty, with manor and fortalice and ‘the outset called Dunshelt’, occupied by John Laing, William Reekie and David Ramsay]
ac illo outset vocato Dunschelt 1628 Retours (Fife) no. 397 [Paterson of Myres (as in 1611 RMS vii no. 488) ‘and in that outset called Dunshelt’]
lie outsett vocat. Dunscheill 1634 RMS ix no. 45 [part of the lands of Over and Nether Myres AMY]
Dunsherly 1654 Blaeu (Pont) East Fife
Dunshelt 1722 Geog. Coll. i, 296 [‘another village pretty populous called Dunshelt’]
Dunsheat 1750s Roy [misplaced in the hills north-east of Auchtermuchty]
Dunshelt 1793 Sasines no. 3659 [over 60 references]
Daneshelt 1800 Rae-Arnot 1911, 117
Daneshalt 1819 Rae-Arnot 1911, 142
Dunshelt 1846 Rae-Arnot 1911, 163
Dunshelt 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn
G dùn + ? en Inschelt
A complex name, the following analysis is very tentative due to a lack of forms earlier than the sixteenth century. It may consist of G dùn ‘fort’, with the specific the existing name, Inschelt #, which appears only once in the record. This latter contains G innis originally ‘island’ but also ‘haugh, low land by water, slightly rising ground on or beside a flood-plain’, and probably G ealt or ealta ‘a flock of birds’, its modern meaning, also ‘a flock or multitude of any kind of animal’, such as a herd of cattle (DIL under elta). Innis very aptly describes the flood-plain of the River Eden at this point, and groups of grazing animals (in summer) as well as flocks of birds (especially in winter) would have been a common sight here. Inschelt may well have applied to a relatively wide area, perhaps including the land on which at least part of the eighteenth-century village of Dunshelt was built. Still in the Gaelic-speaking period, the remarkable fortification which sits at the southern edge of this flood-plain, just south of the Eden, was named Dùn Innis Ealt(a) ‘fortification of Inschelt’, a name which came to oust that of Inschelt itself for this southern part of AMY.
The fort itself is a multivallate earthwork at NGR NO246101. It was described in NMRS (NO21SW 14) in 1933 thus: ‘Dunshelt Plantation, situated on low-lying ground which was originally marshy but was later drained and planted ... When complete the fort, circular on plan, measured 315 ft in diameter from NE-SW and consisted of four well-defined ramparts, averaging about 4 ½ ft in height, with intervening ditches, from 18 to 29 ft in width …’ The same source, in 1956, notes that ‘the earthwork is probably a rath, and therefore post-Roman’, while the field-inspector in 1967 states categorically that it is not a fort, although he does not elaborate on this, nor suggest what it might be.
The form Dunshalt, which appears on several local sign-posts, is due to a piece of local place-name lore dating from at least the late eighteenth century (OSA, 62), which states that the name is actually Danes’ Halt, since the Danes halted here on a raid up the Eden.
/dʌnˈʃɛlt/ or, under the influence of the mythical Danes, /dʌnˈʃɔlt/.
This place-name appeared in printed volume 4