Ryelaw KGL PTM S NO227004 1 373 155m NEF

Rialie 1248 St A. Lib. 121 [Auchmuir (Admor’) and Ryelaw (Rialie) part of the barony of Kirkness]
Ryalty 1551 Dunf. Recs. {247} [Robert Boswell in Ryelaw]
Royallie 1599 RMS vi no. 913 [lands of Auchmuir (Admure) except the part of them called Ryelaw (Royallie) occupied by William Boswell, in the barony of Kirkness (Kirknes)]
terras et villam vocatas Roallie 1599 RMS vi no. 927 [on the south side of the Leven (aqua de Levin) in the barony of Kirkness]
the Royallie 1599 RMS vi no. 927 [boundary charter in Scots with details q.v., including (the) Royallie (once with definite article, once without) and the Royallie-Know]
Really 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Ryley 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Rylaw 1828 SGF [‘Part of Kinross’]
Ryelaw 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn.

This obscure name has undergone several analogical re-formations and re-interpretations. From the sixteenth-century forms it seems to have been re-interpreted, in a Sc context, as an adverb royally, and perhaps also as a noun royalty. By the nineteenth century it had been re-interpreted as Sc or SSE rye + Sc law ‘hill’. However, the earliest form (Rialie 1248) indicates a Celtic origin.

W. J. Watson discusses a word, G riaghail ‘a rule’, which he maintains occurs in Ryal WLO, while admitting that it is not clear to him what it means in a place-name context (1926, 147–8). However, MacDonald, in his detailed study of WLO place-names, gives the earliest form of this name (in Uphall parish) as Ryall (1696), and derives it from Sc or SSE rye hill ‘hill where rye grows’, comparing it to Ryal, Northumerland, with the same derivation (MacDonald 1941, 75). There are three other places called Ryehill in WLO (see MacDonald 1941, Index). The other names which Watson suggests contain the element riaghail all retain medial g. He makes no mention of Ryelaw KGL. On the above evidence it is very unlikely that Ryehill derives from riaghail.

There is range of other possibilities, none of them very convincing. There is a G word rail and railidh ‘oak’ (Dwelly), which appears in early Irish as rail (f.) ‘large oak, large tree’ (DIL). There is riagh (f.) ‘cross, gallows’ (OIr riag ‘gibit’). There is also righeal cùil or righeal-rìgh ‘herb Robert’.

See KGL Introduction for an account of Ryelaw’s transference from Portmoak KNR to KGL.

This place-name appeared in printed volume 1