Downans DGY S NT187847 2
Dowinnis 1441 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 51
Downingis 1574 Inchcolm Chrs. p. 219
(lands of) Downyngis 1628 RMS viii no. 1243
Downing 1758 RHP37878
Downings tofts 1758 RHP37878
Downara 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Downing’s Planta<t>i<o>n 1811 Moray/1811
Downans Plant<ation> 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn.
Downan 1872 Sasines no. 1544 [‘lands of Barnhill and Grange and Downan and Bowpray]
‘Small (fortified) hill, small fort’, diminutive of G dùn (see Inchcolm Chrs. p. 250). The Sc pl., which is such a persistent feature of this name from its earliest appearance, may mean that the lands were divided. However, this is unlikely, given that the name never appears with a divisional affix. It is more likely that we are dealing with a name which was originally plural in G (i.e. dùnain), referring to the two neighbouring peaks, discussed below. And it is this duality which is probably being expressed in the Sc plural –is, later –s. Within Downans Plantation there is a steep hill with a flat top and the remains of masonry. There is another, smaller, eminence immediately adjacent to the larger one. The place is referred to locally with the definite article (The Downans).
The lands of Downans are first mentioned as belonging to Inchcolm Abbey. They were presumably attached to the abbey’s estate of Barnhill DGY, which lay immediately to the south-west.
According to the detailed 1758 estate plan of the earl of Moray’s lands around Aberdour (RHP37878), the tofts or dwelling-houses of Downans lay immediately east of Downans Hill (NT187847). They were swept away in the enclosures of later that century, since they do not appear on Moray/1811. By then Downans was simply the name of a plantation. A similar fate was shared by Hatton and Muirton.
The name has survived in OS Pathf. Downans Plantation NT184846, which first appears as a plantation in 1811 (Moray/1811).
See also Downing (Point) below.
This place-name appeared in printed volume 1