aqu<a> de parua Dovane 1364 RRS vi no. 327 [‘water of Little Devon’]
aqu<a> de Litil Dovane 1502 RMS ii no. 2643
Black Devon 1753 Roy sheet 16, 1
Blackdaven Burn 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Sc black + en Devon
Its name-sharing with its bigger sibling, the Devon, goes back at least to the fourteenth century, and probably much earlier. It first appears as the *Little Devon, although the use of the affix black may also be very old, since the opposition black/white is found as a way of distinguishing closely associated rivers both in Celtic and Germanic names (see Nicolaisen 2001, 237). What makes this unusual amongst Scottish river-pairs is that the larger Devon is never referred to with the equivalent contrastive affix (Sc meikle or Sc white).
W. J. Watson gives the modern Gaelic for the Devon as Duibhe, and would derive it from an early British *Dubone or Dobona ‘black one’ (1926, 438). However, John Wilkinson has recently put forward a strong case for a derivation from an early northern British *domnona ‘deep one’ (2002, 139–43).
The Black Devon, like the Devon itself, is more associated with Clackmannanshire than with Fife, entering the Forth as it does near Clackmannan, and for part of its course running roughly parallel with the Devon, Clackmannanshire’s second river (after the Forth). However, the Black Devon in its upper reaches is very much a Fife water-course: it rises in the Cleish Hills, its main upper branch being OS Pathf. Nettly Burn, becoming the Black Devon at Outh Bridge (NT064945). It flows through SLN from its eastern to its western edge, then for about 2 km it forms the boundary between Fife and Clackmannanshire (SLN and Clackmannan parish). In addition to this, its main northern tributary, named on OSPathf. Roughcleugh Burn (Blackcleugh Burn 1775 Ainslie/Fife), forms the county boundary between Fife (SLN) and Kinross-shire (Fossoway parish).
This place-name appeared in printed volume 1