Kinglassie SSL S NO557136 1 363 60m NEF

Kilglassin 1198 x 1199 St A. Lib. 318 [Culdees to have all teinds and ‘revenues’ (obuentiones) except for baptism and burial of dead; see SSL Introduction, The Culdees of St Andrews]
Kynglessyn c. 1220 Terrier F [17/18th c. copy; held by bp and his men]
(prebend of) Kinglassy 1501 RMS ii no. 2601 [for a prebend in the church of St Mary (of the Rock)]
Kynglassie c.1560 s Assumption, 77 [‘Prebend of Kynglasssie and Kyngask (Kingask SSL)’, pertaining to Thomas Methven, a prebend of St Mary on the Rock collegiate church]
terras de Kinglessye 1583 RMS v no. 585 [Alexander Winchester; ‘with its brewery and the house of Lochmalony SSL’ (cum brasina ejusdem et domo de Lochmalony)]
Kinglassie 1644 Retours (Fife) no. 670 [James Winchester of Kinglassie, in the lands of Kinglassie; see Boarhills SSL for more details]
(lands of) Kinglessie 1649 Retours (Fife) no. 775 [members of Winchester family in lands of Kinglassie, ‘with the house of Lochmalony’ (cum domo de Lochmolonie) SSL ‘in the lordship of Boarhills’ (in dominio de Byrehills), and a quarter of the lands of Polduff SSL]
Kinglassie 1684 Adair/East Fife
Kinglassie 1753 Roy sheet 19, 5
Kinglassie 1775 Ainslie/Fife

G cill + ? G glais + – in or + ? pn Glas + – in or ? pn Glasíne

‘(Place of the) church by a burn’ or ‘(place of the) church of (St) Glas’, ‘church of (St) Glasíne (or similar)’. The early confusion between Kil- and Kin- is seen also in Kinglassie KGL, which would appear to contain the same elements, and is recorded once in the late twelfth and several times in the early thirteenth century with Kin- (see PNF 1, s.n.).

The second element is more problematic. Like the church of Kinglassie KGL, the name may refer to the church’s position by a burn (G glais) or to its dedication to a saint called Glas, Glasíne, Glaisne or similar. It should be noted that the vast majority of Scottish place-names in cill contain a personal name as the specific element. The medieval church of Strachur ARG is called Kilmaglass (OPS vol. 2, part i, 77), which contains a hypocoristic form of the same personal name.[299] For further discussion of the cult of St Glas, Glaisne or Glascinanus, see Kinglassie KGL (PNF 1).

The church did, however, once lie on a burn. Because both church and burn have all but disappeared, this statement will need to be carefully tested. The first question to be answered is ‘where was the old church?’ The name Kinglassie on the modern (OS Pathf. and Explorer) maps is attached to a pair of farm cottages (now on the farm of Kenlygreen) at the above NGR. The original (and eponymous) church of Kinglassie, however, seems to have lain about 600 m to the east (NO561136), where the present church of Boarhills now stands. There is a Chapel marked at this site on SGF (1828), which must refer to an earlier building, since the present church, described by John Gifford as an ‘unlovable lanceted box by George Rae’, was not built until 1867 (1988, 101). On the OS 6 inch map (1855) this site is marked simply as a ‘Grave Yard’, and is described as ‘A small square enclosure situated a little S.W. of the village of Boarhills, used by some families resident in the village as a place of interment. There never was a church or chapel situated here’ (OS Name Book 64, 13). Evidence of its much greater antiquity, however, emerged when Rev. Robert Skinner of St Andrews visited it in 1867. He reported that ‘a stone kist had just been found in the interior of the new chapel at Chesterhill, near Pitmilly’, which, despite the rather imprecise geographical description, must refer to the newly built church of Boarhills. He added, ‘Of the precise origin of this little isolated churchyard there is no account, but it is the site of an ancient chapel, and the new edifice has very likely been built upon the old foundations. Close, therefore, to the spot where the ancient altar would have stood, was found a stone kist, consisting of several rude slabs, lying with the head to the west ...’ (PSAS 7, 1866–8, 257). A cist (perhaps a different one) was uncovered by a grave-digger in the churchyard in 1953, but the man re-buried it, and died before information could be recorded as to its precise location (NRMS NO51SE 16). It is very likely, therefore, that the early ecclesiastical site of Kinglassie is where Boarhills kirk now stands.

As there appears to be no water-course anywhere near this site, where was the above-mentioned burn? As is the case with so many small water-courses in Fife, the answer is that it has been put underground. In fact SGF (1828) clearly shows immediately south of the Chapel a burn flowing north-eastwards to Boarhills, where it joins the Kenly Water. By the 1850s, when the OS 6 inch 1st edn map was made, this burn had disappeared into an undergound drain. Today it rises over 1 km south-south-west of the kirk, flowing above ground for only 20 m (at NO551134), before sinking and re-emerging very briefly under a bridge within the car-park of Boarhills kirk, 30 m south of the kirk itself, at NO562136.

Traces of a ring-ditch were picked up by aerial photography in 1983 at NO5517 1351, west of Kinglassie and north of the standing stone (NMRS NO51SE 36); and, much closer to the cill-site, there is a possible enclosure, roughly circular, centred at NO5605 1363 (NMRS 51SE 177).


This place-name appeared in printed volume 3