Aithernie SCO S N0379035 1 65m
Adhernin 1160 x 1172 N. Berwick Cart. no. 3 [‘c.1170’ Barrow 1980, 194; Earl Duncan of Fife gives Gillecamestone ELO (which his father Duncan gave), Aithernie, Montrave (Matheryue) SCO and hospitals of North Berwick ELO to North Berwick nunnery]
Athernin 1165 x 1172 N. Berwick Cart. no. 4 [Bp Richard of St Andrews confirms Duncan’s charter. N. Berwick Cart. no. 3]
Adernin x 1199 SHS Misc. iv no. 4, p. 308 [written ad Ernin in 1872 transcript (ibid. 335);  Aithernie and Montrave (Machrive) SCO]
Æthernin 1212 x 1214 RRS ii no. 516 [o.c.; = N. Berwick Cart. no. 9; Aithernie and Montrave (Mathriue)]
Adhernyn c.1214 N. Berwick Cart. no. 10 [rubric]
Adherenin c.1214 N. Berwick Cart. no. 10 [with facsimile; 12 acres of land in south part of Aithernie with common pasture, and mention of Cnocderenin nearby; see SCO Introduction]
Athirny 1452 x 1480 RMS ii no. 1444 [one of the lands belonging to the Church of St Andrews]
the lands of Atherny 1573 Assumption 145 [rental of North Berwick; set in feu-ferme to Richard Carmichael for ?11 p.a.]
Adorny 1587 Assumption 15
Aithirney 1654 Blaeu (Pont) East Fife
Aetherny 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Athernie 1662 Lamont’s Diary 153
Athernie 1662 Retours (Fife) no. 914 [Thomas Hope of Craighall CER, in the barony of Craighall]
William Rigg of Atherny 1663 Lamont’s Diary 163
(James Watson of) Atherny 1674 Retours (Fife) no. 1137
Aithernie 1686 Retours (Fife) no. 1272 [William Hope of Craighall CER, in the barony of Craighall]
Aitherly 1753 Roy sheet 18, 1
Ethernie 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Aithernie 1828 SGF [‘ruins’]
Aithernie Castle 1855 OS 6 inch 1st edn [‘remains of’ (antiquity); also Aithernie Den]
G àth + ? G feàrna + - in
? ‘Place at the alder ford’. The first element is probably G àth ‘ford’, referring to the ford, marked as such on OS 6 inch 1st edn and subsequent OS maps, over the Letham Burn below the ruins of Aithernie Castle. From Aithernie this burn flows south through Letham Glen and past Scoonie kirk. The ending is the common locational suffix -in, ‘place of or place at’, which regularly becomes -ie/-y.
The second element is probably G feàrna ‘alder’ (OG fern), a tree which grows in damp places, found in the names of other old Fife settlements, such as Fernie MML (PNF 4). However, the existence in an early thirteenth-century charter of the name Cnocderenin closely associated with Aithernie (Adherenin) muddies the waters somewhat. It would appear to be an example of generic element variation (for which see Taylor 1997), with the generic àth ‘ford’ alternating with G cnoc ‘hill’. The specific would thus be *der(e)n-in, *er(e)n-in or the like. It might even be *fer(e)n-in. In the last two possibilities the d in Cnocderenin would then be the remnant of the gen. definite article ind. A more satisfactory solution is to propose that Cnocderenin represents an underlying *Cnoc Aderenin, to be analysed as ‘hill of Aithernie, Aithernie Law’ (compare Knoklargauch, an early form of Largo Law, q.v.).
The NGR given above is for the ruin called Aithernie Castle, shown on OS Explorer (2001), but not on OS Pathf. It appears to have been a seventeenth-century building (NMRS NO30SE 2). OS Pathf. also shows Aithernie Den, through which the Letham Burn flows.
Different people in the locality pronounce this name differently, some with the stress on the first syllable, /ˈeðərnɪ/ or /ˈeθərnɪ/; others with the stress on the second syllable: /əˈðɛrnɪ/ or /eˈθɛrnɪ/. Second-syllable stress is what would be expected from the analysis proposed above.
This place-name appeared in printed volume 2