Abercrombie SMS PS NO521034 1 374 30m

ecclesia de Abercrumbin 1247 Paris BN MS latin 1218, fo 3r [= St A. Pont. p. xix; dedicated by Bp David 23 November (9 Kal Nov.)]
(church of) Abircrumbyn c.1250 St A. Lib 33 [St Andrews diocese, Fife deanery]
(church of) Ab<er>crumby c.1250 Dunf. Reg. no. 313 [ditto]
Johanne Coco de Abircrumby 1260 St A. Lib. 385 [w.; ‘John (the) Cook’]
Ricardo Coco de Abercrumby 1260 St A. Lib. 385 [w.; ‘Richard (the) Cook’]
(at) Abbercrumby 1270 CDS i no. 2577 [inquisition anent lands of Balcormo (Balcormok) CBE; also printed APS i, 92]
ecclesia de Ab<er>erimilay 1275 Collectoriae fo 53v [for Abercrumby; [341] paired with Arngask (Andisgros) PER, FIF, both diocese of St Andrews, and together valued at 2 merks 12 d.]
(church of) Abercrimsby 1276 Bagimond’s Roll, p. 64 [diocese of St Andrews]
(rector of the church of) Abercrumby 1295 NLS 34.6.24. p. 217 [17th c. copy; see discussion under Grange ELI, above]
ecclesiam de Abircromby 1320 NLS MS Adv. 15.1.18 no. 19 [see SMS Introduction, above]
Roberto de Abircrumby 1358 RRS vi no. 206 [o.c.; Robert of Abercrombie, ‘lord of that ilk’ (domino eiusdem), witness to a charter of 1351 x 1354; see Pitcorthie CBE]
(church of) Abyrcrumby 1420 St A. Lib. 413 [confirmed to St Andrews Priory by Pope Martin]
in dominio de Abircrumby 1425 RMS ii no. 20 [to James of Abercrombie (Abircrumby) the lands of Balcormo CBE in lordship of Abercrombie]
(our church & kirkland of) Abircrumby 1440 St A. Cop. no.109 [an assedation by Prior James of St Andrews Priory for 5 years]
(church of) Abircrummy 1471 RMS ii no.1039 col. 2 [one of possessions of church of St Andrews]
(lands of) Abircromy 1513 RMS ii no. 3879 [to Thomas Abercrombie (Abircrummy) and Margaret Crichton (Creichtoun) his spouse 2 parts of the lands of Abercrombie in the barony of Abercrombie (Abirc<r>omy)]
lie Manis et villa de Abircrumby 1546 RMS iii no. 3226 [see next entry]
in dominio de Abircrummy 1546 RMS iii no. 3226 [to Thomas Abercrombie (Abircrummy) son and heir of Alexander Abercrombie (Abircrummy) of that ilk, and to Elizabeth Gourlay his spouse, the lands of Stenton (Stentoun) ‘in the lordship of Abercrombie’; a chalder of barley annually ‘from the mains lands and toun of Abercrombie’ (de terris dominicalibus lie Manis et villa de Abircrumby); also the lands of Abercrombie (terras de Abircrumby)]
ad altare Diui Eugenii infra ecclesiam de Abercrummy 1548 Protocol Book of James Andersoun NAS NP1/5A fo 70v [money counted ‘at the altar of St Eoghan within the church of Abercrombie’]
ecclesiam de Abercrummy vocatam ecclesiam Sancti Eugenii 1548 Protocol Book of James Andersoun NAS NP1/5A fo77v [‘the church of Abercrombie called the church of St Eoghan’]
Abercrombie c.1560 s Purves 135
Abyrcrumme 1560 St A. Kirk Sess. 189 [‘Johane Steynson, readar in the kyrk of Abyrcrumme, and Marion Grymmen, his harlot, summoned for ‘huyrmongyn inveterat’ (inveterate whore-mongering)]
Abircrumbie 1604 Retours (Fife) no. 141 [David Taylor, 2 acres in the shed (division) (lie Schad) commonly called *The Muirflat (The Mureflatt), in the barony of Abercrombie]
Abyrcromby 1642 Gordon MS Fife [Kirk also shown]
Abircrombie 1649 APS vi (part 2) 434b [‘the kirk of St Monance (newly joined to the parish of Abercrombie) is to be callit in all tyme coming the kirk of Abircrombie’]
Abircroy 1654 Blaeu (Pont) East Fife
Abyrcromby 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife [two settlement symbols shown, but kirk is not named]
Abercromby 1753 Roy sheet 18, 1
Abercrombie 1775 Ainslie/Fife [with Chapel in Ruins marked]
Abercrombie 1828 SGF [Ruins marked at site of Abercrombie Church]
Abercrombie 1855 OS 6 inch 1st edn [also shows Abercrombie Mill at NO515037, and Abercrombie Church (Ruins of)]

Pictish aber + en *Crombie

‘Mouth of the *Cromb or *Crombie (Burn)’. The –ie ending, earlier –in, is best seen as the locational suffix meaning ‘place of’, added to the whole name, so ‘place of or at the mouth of the *Cromb (Burn)’. The burn-name is probably Pictish, since it occurs in combination with Pictish *aber ‘mouth (of a water-course)’. It would thus derive from the Pictish cognate of OIr cromb (G crom), Welsh crwm ‘bent, bent one’ (see also Watson 1926, 461–2). Similar hydronyms are found elsewhere in Scotland, apart from the other Abercrombie in FIF (now Crombie TOB, PNF 1), such as Allt a’ Chrombaidh, a tributary of the River Garry near Calvine PER, which flows through Gleann a’ Chrombaidh; and Dalcrombie, Daviot & Dunlichity INV (containing G dail ‘haugh, water-meadow’), which Watson renders Dul-chrombaidh, interpreting the specific as the gen. of crombadh ‘bending’ (Watson, loc. cit.).

The site of the medieval kirk of Abercrombie, the ruins of which still exist, supplies the above NGR. That this has been an ecclesiastical centre for a very long time is attested by the presence of early Christian carved stones built into the fabric of these ruins (see SMS Introduction). This leaves us with something of a puzzle, since the name, which was probably coined by the ninth century at the latest, is referring to a burn-mouth, yet neither the church site nor the settlement of Abercrombie is near such a feature. The old kirk is, to be sure, near a burn, the Dreel Burn, but if this was formerly known as the *Cromb(ie), Abercrombie old kirk is over four km from its mouth, where another medieval kirk, that of Anstruther (Wester) is situated. Alternatively the *Cromb(ie) may have been one or other of the small burns which make up the head-waters of the Dreel and which meet c.400 m north-west of the old kirk of Abercrombie. Both burns in the modern period have been canalised in their lower course, so it is difficult to know whether they were especially full of bends. A third possibility exists: that the burn now known as the St Monance Burn, was formerly known as the *Cromb(ie). This runs roughly parallel with the Dreel, a little over 1 km to the west, but takes a more direct route to the sea in its lower course. The settlement which later developed into St Monans lay immediately to the east of the mouth of this burn, and was known as Inverie, a G name meaning probably ‘place at the burn-mouth’ (q.v., below). The name Abercrombie may have arisen in early Pictish times to designate this settlement, then later it came to be applied to the whole of the hinterland, including the early church site which may have served the coastal settlement from the time of the church’s establishment. The name Inverie was then used for the settlement itself to distinguish it from the name of the wider area, in a similar way in which Abernethy and Innernethy (earlier Invernethy) PER, developed, with Abernethy the name for the old church site on the Nethy Burn but about 1.6 km from its mouth, while Invernethy was a later coining to refer to the settlement at the burn-mouth itself. There is in fact a pattern which can be observed in several (though not all) Aber-names in Scotland, by which the church known by an Aber-name is a considerable distance from the actual aber. Apart from Abercrombie and Abernethy PER, another example is Arbirlot, the parish to the south of Arbroath, earlier Aberhelot ‘mouth of the Elliot Water’, where the old church lies around 2.3 km from the mouth of the Elliot. There is also evidence that Arbroath (earlier Aberbrothoc) itself was the name of St Vigeans before it came to be applied to the nearby burgh, and St Vigeans lies almost exactly the same distance from the mouth of the Brothock as Arbirlot kirk does from the mouth of the Elliot.[342]

On OS Pathf. the name is used in reference to the settlement of Abercrombie as well as to Abercrombie Farm, adjacent to each other centred at NO5176028.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 3