Beath BEA PS NT152921 1 160m

Beeth 1128 David I Chrs. no. 33 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 1; given to Dunfermline by Queen Sibilla 1107 x 1123, wife of King Alexander I]
Bééth 1154 x 1159 RRS i no. 118 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 35]
(chapel of) Beth 1179 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 2
terram meam totam de Beeth quam Waldeuus tenuit x 1203 Dunf. Reg. no. 154 [Saer de Quinci grants to Dunfermline Abbey all his land of Beath which Waldeve has held; see *Beath-Waldeve BEA, DFL]
terram de Beeth quam Waldeuus tenuit 1196 x 1203 RRS ii no. 396 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 66; king confirms Saer de Quinci’s grant to Dunfermline Abbey the land of Beath which Waldeve has held; see *Beath-Waldeve BEA, DFL]
terr<a> de Beeth 1220 x 1235 Dunf. Reg. no. 177 [all the land of Beath (Beeth) which had belonged to Alexander de Setoun, and which he confirmed to his sister Emma and her husband Adam de Pollisworth; referred to in the rubric as Beeth Fleming, for which see *Beath-Fleming DFL]
(Edmund of) Beeth 1231 Dunf. Reg. no. 192
(chapel of) Beth 1251 x 1272 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 22
Beth’ occidentali<s> 1274 Dunf. Reg. no. 207 [Wester Beath, given to Dunfermline Abbey by Malcolm de Moravia; rubric has ‘Beeth occidentali<s>’]
Beth 1277 Dunf. Reg. 81
Beeth occidentali<s> 1277 Dunf. Reg. no. 89 [Wester Beath]
(Dunfermline Abbey’s lands of) Baithis 1327 Dunf. Reg. no. 370
(chapel of) Bethe 1420 CSSR i, 195
(chapel) de Bechto 1420 CPL vii, 144 [seems to show a Latin ablative ending]
(parish church of) Beth 1430 Inchcolm Chrs. no 49
(barony of) Beith 1541 RMS iii no. 2264 [= Kirkbeath]
the kirk of Bayth 1574 Inchcolm Chrs. p. 220
Bayth 1593 Retours (Fife) no. 1515 [in the barony of Beath (in baronia de Bayth)]
Baythe 1593 Retours (Fife) no. 1515 [ in four merklands of the lands of Beath (in 4 mercatis terrarum de Baythe)]
ecclesi<a> de Baythe 1593 Retours (Fife) no. 1515 [on the western side of the church of Beath (ex parte occidentali ecclesiae de Baythe)]
Bath 1654 Blaeu (Pont) West Fife
3 Baiths 1654 Blaeu (Pont) West Fife [probably Stewart, Swynton and Bonally]
Beth K<irk> 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Patrick Stewart of Baith 1650 Retours (Fife) no. 794 [in the vills and lands of Westerbaith called Stewartsbaith, for which see Halbeath DFL]
Kirk of Beath 1753 Roy sheet 17, 5
Beath Kirk 1775 Ainslie/Fife

G beithe

‘Birch’. This is not a common element in Fife place-names, occurring only in Balbedie KGL, Banbeath SCO, and Craigbeath, the name of a rocky escarpment north of Dunfermline between Lochhead and Hillhead. It also occurs in the name Crambeth (Crambeth 1231), the former name of the barony of Dowhill, Cleish KNR (formerly FIF).

The birch is not commonly found in long-established indigenous forest. It belongs rather to the first growth in new woodland, as part of the early phase of afforestation or re-afforestation. The name ‘Beath’ refers to an extensive area of upland (mostly between 120 and 240 m) to the west and north-west of Dunfermline, originally at least 15 km square. Let us assume that the name was given by the Scots sometime after their settlement of Fife in the late ninth century because birch was the predominant tree in the area at that time. (The alternative is to assume that it was the adaptation of an already existing Pictish place-name.) We can then infer that the area had been cleared of its original forest covering at an earlier period, and had started to regenerate tree-cover in the late Pictish period. Such regeneration was probably the result of less intensive pastoral activities, perhaps through neglect because of warfare or a general slump in the pastoral economy.

The many divisions of the lands of Beath are discussed in BEA and DFL under their individual names. The above NGR is of the kirk of Beath.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 1