Motray Water

Motray Water ~ BMO/CRC/FGN/KLM/LEU/LOG W NO452196 1 363

    iu ta pontem de Modri<c> x 1228 St A. Lib. 275 [printed Modrit; Duncan de Lascelles gives to St Andrews Priory 2 acres of land in territory of Seggie LEU ‘beside the bridge of Motray towards the west’ (uersus occidentem)]
    aqua de Mothtry 1233 x 1239 Balm. Lib. no. 37 [see Rathillet Mill KLM]
    Motrich 1243 x 1260 NLS Adv. MS 34.5.3 fos 5r–7r [14th c. copy; = Balm. Lib. no. 12, which has Mothric; see Taylor and Henderson 1998, no. I (p. 241)]
    Mot’h’ric[8] 1243 x 1260 NLS Adv. MS 34.5.3 fos 5r–7r [14th c. copy; = Balm. Lib. no. 13; see Taylor and Henderson 1998, no. II (pp. 242–3)]
    Mothric 1243 x 1260 NLS Adv. MS 34.5.3 fos 5r–7r [14th c. copy; = Balm. Lib. no. 14; see Taylor and Henderson 1998, no. III (p. 243)]
    Mothric 1260 NAS, Scrymgeour Wedderburn Muniments (Dudhope), Box 5, bundle 5, no. 1 [o.c.; printed as Taylor and Henderson 1998, no. V (pp. 244–5); royal confirmation of Simon’s grant of west part of Kinnear to Balmerino]
    in Motrich 1268 Balm. Lib. no. 56 [see BMO Intro., Medieval Marches]
    portu de Motre 1428 SAUL B13/22/3 [o.c.; printed Home 1882 no. 3; part of Cupar burgh, ‘the harbour of Motray’ with free entry and exit]
    within the watter of Edyne & Mothre 1518 Fife Ct. Bk. 107 [the tidal waters of Eden and Motray, ‘quhare the sey fillis & flowis’]
    piscaria super aqua de Motre 1540 RMS iii no. 2114 [fishing on the water of]
    ad aquam de Multrie 1700 Retours (Fife) no. 1440 [see Seggie LEU]
    Motry Burne 1775 Ainslie/Fife
    Motree 1775 Ainslie/Fife [as if the name of a settlement beside the burn]
    Multree Burn 1790s OSA, 598 [three bridges in LEU cross it]
    Mulltree-burn commonly called Mothry Water 1790s OSA, 613
    the Moultry 1845 NSA ix, 219
    Motray Water 1855 OS 6 inch 1st edn

The origin of this river-name is unclear. As with so many hydronyms, it probably belongs to an early stratum of names, long pre-dating the arrival of Gaelic in Fife. However, the early forms bear some similarity to OG mothrach ‘overgrown with thicket, wild or waste (of land)’ (DIL), an adjective deriving from OG mothar ‘thicket, wilderness’ (DIL). This is found also in Dwelly (mothar, gen. mothair, m.), where it is marked as obsolete, and defined variously as ‘cluster, clump of trees, tuft of grass, park, enclosure’ etc., with its derivative mothrach (m.) ‘a damp woody place’. It might therefore mean something like ‘burn running through mothar’. If it is an earlier name, as is likely, it may have been re-interpreted by Gaelic-speakers as deriving from this word.

    For the port or harbour of Motray, see CUP Intro., Burgh, below.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 4