Moat Hill

Moat Hill CUP R NO368147 1

    le Mathelaw 1376 x 1380 Fraser, Southesk ii no. 40 [Robert II confirms a charter of Robert earl of Fife and Menteith (his son) in favour of William Ramsay of Colluthie MNZ, knight, granting the lands of Leuchars, for which Ramsay owes ‘3 suits of court at the 3 pleas of our (i.e. the earl’s) head-court to be held at the Moat Hill’ and also ‘a pair of gilded spurs’ on the feast of the birth of John the Baptist ‘at the foresaid Moat Hill’ (faciendo inde ... tres sectas ad tria placita capitalia curie nostre apud le Mathelaw tendenda; et reddendo ...vnum par calcarium deauratorum ... apud le Mathelaw predictum)]
    apud le Methlaw 1398 x 1407 NAS C1/11 no. 13 [printed as RMS i no. 886; inspeximus by Robert duke of Albany and earl of Fife, in 1407, of his own charter of 1398, granting to John Ramsay of Colluthie MNZ the castle and all the earl’s lands in barony of Leuchars, conditions as in the preceding entry]
    Camehill de Cupro 1400 Fraser, Wemyss ii no. 31 [see discussion, below]
    Montis Placiti de Cupro 1497 RMS ii no. 2360 [3rd of 8 acres of arable land adjacent to north side ‘of the Plea-Hill of Cupar’]
    Montem Placidi 1601 Retours (Fife) no. 92 [for Placiti; Arnot’s Comb CUP]
    Montem Placiti 1608 RMS vi no. 2157 [Nicholas Baxter, the *Kellylands, beside (prope) the lands of Bondfield and Moat Hill of the said burgh (of Cupar)]
    lie Muithill de Cupro 1622 RMS viii no. 301 [to provost and bailiffs of burgh of Cupar, a 3rd of 8 acres of lands on north side of the Moat Hill of Cupar, etc.]
    Mute hill 1645 Gordon MS [plan of Cupar; marked to the north of West Port]
    Moat Hill 1775 Ainslie/Fife [Cupar Plan; also Moat Hill Road]
    the Mote, or as some write it, the Moat-hill 1790s OSA, 221 [the author states that Mote Hill is more correct]
    East Moot Hill 1820 Wood/Cupar
    the Moot Hill 1845 NSA ix, 3 [‘a peak of greater elevation ... on which, according to tradition, the Earls of Fife used to hold their councils of war, and dispense the awards of justice’]
    Moat Hill 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn [at NO368147; also Moathill Cottage]
    East Moat Hill 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn [shown at NO372148]

Sc mut(e) + Sc hill

‘Hill of the moot or plea’. The fact that the earliest references refer to legal assemblies or pleas[160] that were conducted here, presumably in an open-air court on the hill, shows that the specific element is Sc mut(e) ‘a formal meeting or assembly’ and ‘an action or case at law, a cause or plea’ (DOST), rather than Sc mote, motte, etc., ‘castle mound’. The two words seem to have fallen together in later usage, as the modern form of Moat Hill shows, causing confusion, as seen for example in Fife Ct. Bk.  p. xii, and the authors such as Neilson quoted there.

    This was where the earl of Fife held his court. The earliest references to Moat Hill are in stipulations of the duties of the laird of Leuchars to attend annually ‘three principal sittings of the earl’s head court’ (tria placita capitalia curie nostre), that is courts held at the ‘head’ or caput of the sheriffdom.[161]

    The hill was also known as *Kame Hill (of Cupar), containing Sc kame ‘comb, ridge’ (see Arnots Comb CUP).[162] In 1400 Sir John Erskine protested against the legality of a court held by Robert duke of Albany (and earl of Fife) ‘sitting at the hill which is called *Kame Hill of Cupar’ (sedens apud montem qui vocatur Camehill de Cupro) (Fraser, Wemyss ii no. 31; quoted Fife Ct. Bk. xiii).

    The NGR given above is for the western end of the long ridge, where the 1856 map shows Moat Hill. Apart from the Moat Hill itself, the name is found in the Cupar street-names Moathill Road and East Moat Hill.

This place-name appeared in printed volume 4