Pitbauchlie DFL S NT108862 1 70m

Petbachelin 1128 David I Chrs. no. 33 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 1]
Petbaclachin 1150 David I Chrs. no. 172 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 2]
Petbahclachin 1154 x 1159 RRS i no. 118 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 35]
Petbachalin 1163 Dunf. Reg. no. 237
Petbachlin c.1166 RRS ii no. 30 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 50]
Petbachlakin 1227 Dunf. Reg. no. 74
Petbauchlyn 1267 x 1275 Dunf. Reg. no. 316 [rubric]
medietatem de Petbauchelyn’ 1267 x 1275 Dunf. Reg. no. 316 [‘half of’]
Petbachlakin 1277 Dunf. Reg. no. 81
Pethbauchly 1304 x 1313 Dunf. Reg. no. 339 [rubric]
medietatem de Pethbauchly 1304 x 1313 Dunf. Reg. no. 339
Petbachly 1451 Dunf. Reg. no. 434
Pitbawillie 1561 Dunf. Reg. p. 425
Pitbachlie 1594 RMS vi no. 75
Pittbackly 1642 Gordon MS Fife
Pitbackly 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Pitbaughly 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Pitbachlie 1828 SGF
Pitbauchlie 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn.

G pett + G bachall + - in

‘(Place of the) estate of (the) crozier; (place of the) crozier-land’. According to W. J. Watson (1926, 266) bachall was originally an -i- stem fem., with gen. bachla or bachlae, so the earliest recorded form of this name Petbachelin (David I Chrs. no. 33) is probably for *Pettbachla + the locational suffix –in ‘place of’. However, the forms with -baclach- (e.g. Dunf. Reg. nos. 2, 35) suggest that bachall was sometimes treated as a consonantal stem fem., with gen. bachlach. This is supported by the early forms of other place-names containing this specific.[132] Thurneysen (1946, 204) comments that nouns with nom. sing. in -r and -l are especially prone to adopt the consonantal stem inflections.

Watson discusses various possible interpretations of place-names containing G bachall, such as church-land in general, land held by a bishop, and land held in respect of the custody of a saint’s staff (1926, 141, 266). Another possible interpretation of –bachlach- in place-names, not mentioned by Watson, is ‘staff-bearer’, OIr bachlach, with the meaning found in early Irish tracts of a dependant of an ecclesiastical superior, an ecclesiastical subject, or a church tenant, forming an ecclesiastical counterpart to the secular aithech ‘rent-paying commoner’ (Etchingham 1999, 397–8). He would possess a house of his own probably located not in a nucleated church settlement but on his own farmstead (ibid. 417). While this cannot be ruled out in the case of such names as Glenballoch PER (Glenbachlach 1300 C. A. Chrs. i no. 66), the evidence adduced below strongly indicates that bachlach ‘church tenant’ is not the element involved in Pitbauchlie DFL.

Pitbauchlie was part of a group of estates with which King Malcolm III and Queen Margaret endowed the church of the Holy Trinity at Dunfermline.[133] Turgot, Margaret’s biographer, makes no mention of a church at Dunfermline before Margaret founded one ‘in the place where her wedding had been celebrated’ (ES ii, 64). However, place-name evidence, above all Pitbauchlie and Pitliver DFL, another of these lands granted to Dunfermline church by Malcolm III and Margaret, suggest that there was in fact an important earlier church somewhere at or near Dunfermline.[134]

Before speculating further, I would like to move to the firmer ground of the fourteenth century. A remarkable charter dated between 1304 and 1313 and relating to Pitbauchlie supplies an important piece of evidence regarding the terms on which the land was held, and ultimately on the meaning of the second (specific) element of the name. The charter was issued by the abbot of Dunfermline to Mariota Cook, the then representative of a family who had been renting half the land of Pitbauchlie from the abbey for at least two generations. The charter specifically exempts Mariota and her heirs from various burdens including the payment of dereth’ or derech’ and slother.[135] These are both G words: dereth’ is probably from G deòradh, ‘dewar, relic-keeper’, while slother seems to contain the G sluagh ‘host, army’, and probably represents an original sluaghadh ‘hosting, raising an army’ (see Dickinson 1941, 99 n. 1).[136] This exemption is unique in Scotland, so we can rule out the idea that they relate to general burdens on lands. These two duties are in fact best explained as forming part of a very old tenurial agreement between the superior of Pitbauchlie and its tenant, who was, as the place-name suggests, the dewar of a saint’s crozier or bachall. This agreement was to do with the duty of producing the holy relic for purposes of law-enforcement (such as the tracking down of stolen property, which was one of the duties of the keeper of St Fillan’s crozier in Strathfillan in western Perthshire),[137] the swearing of oaths, or the inauguration of secular rulers, encapsulated in the term dereth,[138] and for the purposes either of raising an army or of accompanying an army to maintain morale and ensure the saint’s blessing on the enterprise, encapsulated in the term slother.[139] These duties seem to have been commuted to a money-payment by the time this charter was issued: it is from this payment that the charter exempts those who hold the land.

Who was the saint whose crozier was looked after and manipulated by the tenants of Pitbauchlie? The chief saint of west Fife, before St Margaret took on that role, was St Servanus or Serf, whose monastery in Loch Leven was of such high status that even Malcolm III and Margaret made a grant of land to it, as had King Macbethad and Queen Gruoch before them (St A. Lib. 115, 114). Dunfermline lay in the centre of what can be termed St Serf’s parochia or sphere of direct influence, marked out by three important St Serf sites: Culross 10 km to the west, Dysart 23 km to the east, and St Serf’s Inch in Loch Leven 15 km to the north. We know from St Serf’s Vita that there was a proliferation of staffs (baculi) connected with St Serf (Macquarrie 1993, 138). In fact, there were so many in circulation that the Vita had to explain that he made four of them from the True Cross while passing through the Holy Land on his spectacular progress around the Mediterranean. I would suggest that the bachall held by the tenant of Pitbauchlie, and by virtue of which he or she held that land, may well have been one of these four croziers of St Serf.

The place-name Pitbauchlie therefore vividly expresses the pre-Margaret G-speaking world of interconnecting secular and ecclesiastical interests. We do not know when the bachall itself, which was the original focus for these complex interests, ceased to play its original cultic and legal role, but as late as the fourteenth century the G terms which had expressed its power and social function were still current, and the imprint of the bachall has survived till today in the name Pitbauchlie. At least one other parish, KGL, had in it a person who owed dereth, dewar-service, to Dunfermline. Simon Dereth (and here his office seems also to have become his surname, Dewar in modern terms) and his heirs held an office there, described as the office of sergeantry (officium sergieandi) (Dunf. Reg. no. 234).

By the late thirteenth century the land of Pitbauchlie had been divided into two halves, with one half being feued to Richard Cook (or Richard the cook) by Abbot Simon (1267–75). In the charter recording this grant the half held by Richard, and his father before him, is described as the northern half which lies along the Pothyn’.[140] It would appear that Pothyn is the name of a water-course, and must refer to the burn which rises near Calais and flows westwards to join the Lyne Burn south of Brucefield House (Dunf. Reg. no. 316). From the charter issued to Richard Cook’s daughter Mariota, and discussed at length above, the half of Pitbauchlie held by the Cooks was estimated as being one third of a davoch, suggesting that the whole of Pitbauchlie was estimated at two thirds of a davoch (Dunf. Reg. no. 339).

On nineteenth-century OS maps Pitbauchlie is shown as a farm or small settlement well beyond the burgh limits at NT108862, which supplies the above NGR. This is a short distance east of the present-day Pitbauchlie Bank Hotel.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 1