1899 map of Dunbar

Plan of Dunbar including Belhaven and West Barns

This month and March 2020 will feature the 1899 map of Dunbar, a copy of which is held in the Society’s room in the Town House. The first two quarters from the map are highlighted this month. I (Jim Herring) was given considerable help with this by DDHS member Liz Curtis and David Anderson who are experts  on local place names.

There is some textual information on the map below but I have put together a video on this part of the map which I hope you will find interesting as a Virtual Talk which can also be accessed here on YouTube.

If we look at the very top of the map, we can see that the islands off Winterfield Promenade and the harbour are named. Finding the origins of place names onshore or offshore can be tricky and for some, there may not be one definitive explanation of the name, while some are more straightforward. Here are a list of the most likely origins:

1899 map of Dunbar (click on maps to enlarge – recommended)

Wallace’s Head – named after Scots legend William Wallace; Oliver’s Ship – after Oliver Comwell who beat the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650; Half Ebb Rock – this rock is covered at half tide; Castlefoot Rock – rock standing near the foot of Dunbar Castle; Scart Rock – from the Scots word scart meaning cormorant or shag; Long Steeple and Round Steeple – from the Scots word for a tower; The Yetts – The gates – from the Scots yett meaning gate; The Gripes – An interesting one as it means a rock or rocks which might cause a boat to gripe or get into difficulties. In addition, many of us will know the term The Grips which is now a landing on the north side of the harbour, over the water from the back of the castle and round the corner – going towards the harbour from The Gripes on the map. How the present Grips area got its name is not known. Going back west of the castle, Boy’s Buss can be seen – This probably means ‘Bay’s rock’ from Scots buss – ‘any small sea rock that is exposed at low tide’ and St Bay, who was the patron saint of Dunbar collegiate church and whose well is nearby and where the name Bayswell comes from.

If we go to the harbour on the map, we can see that the hospital is named. Also featured on the video are The Hotel Bellevue, The Roxburghe Marine Hotel and The Retreat.