Place names – ‘Lowes’

The ‘Place Names of the Galloway Glens’ project is now underway and we loved the following blog post from the researcher, Gilbert Markus, about the word ‘Lowes’…



In Balmaclellan parish there a farm called Lowes (its farmstead now at NX701790, though it seems to have been centred further east in earlier centuries). The name is interesting.  The element Lowes appears in several Scottish place-names, and if we look at them we will soon see a pattern which explains Lowes in Balmaclellan.

In Caputh parish near Dunkeld there is a farm called Lowes (NO054445).  Here it is in the middle of this section of an early OS 1 inch map (1897):

There is a place in Ettrick parish in the Scottish Borders called Loch of the Lowes (NT238198).  Here it is on the same OS map series in 1896:

And then we have our own Lowes in Balmaclellan, Kirkcudbrightshire:

What do you notice about all these Lowes names?  Yes, you got it in one. They are all at places where two or more lochs are either joined together or very close to each other. That is because Lowes is a modern spelling of the Scots word lowis, which is a plural form of a loan-word from Gaelic loch.   All these places called Lowes are named after the fact that there were multiple lochs in one place – clearly significant for early observers and namers of the landscape.

This name Lowes invites us to see the landscape with the eyes of those who named it; and to ponder the influences that languages have on each other, and the local context in which those influences take place.

Tickets are still available to attend GIlbert’s talk at the Catstrand on 30th March – see the CatStrand website for details.