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Castlehill

Today Castlehill is a Council housing scheme north of Cardross Road at the west end of Dumbarton. Before this scheme was built in the middle of the 20th century, Castlehill Farm occupied the land.

The name "Castlehill", which is self-explanatory in derivation, seems to be very old, and may well date back to the time when King Robert the Bruce had a manor house near the River Leven, probably in the vicinity of Dalmoak Farm. It seems reasonable to assume that some form of fortification or large look-out post on the hill nearby, with a good prospect over the Clyde and Leven valleys would have been associated with his presence in this area of Scotland.

Documentation is so sparse, however, that all this remains speculation as regards the details, but it seems safe to say that the place-name probably derives from the existence in the past of some fortification at a high spot in the area. Nevertheless, in the absence of documentary or physical evidence of such an edifice, the view that the name may have arisen from an erroneous assumption about Bruce's "castle" cannot be totally discounted.

Castlehill Road, Castlehill Quadrant and even Castlebrae, all streets in the Castlehill housing scheme, need no further explanation.


Chapelhill

This hillock near Gavinburn School, Old Kilpatrick, was the western terminus of the Antonine Wall in Roman times. The name implies that at one time at least there was a chapel on the hill, though seemingly no remains of such have been found. It would not have been unusual, however, for some small Christian place of worship to have been erected on the site of what may have been a Roman pagan shrine.


Chapelton

Chapelton is part of Townend (q.v.), Dumbarton, though at one time it would have been on its own, so to speak. This one-time farm -ton (enclosure) must, in medieval times, have been Church lands incorporating a chapel, presumably connected to the Collegiate Church of St. Mary at Dumbarton, and probably dedicated to the Virgin.

As housing spread in the Townend area, farmland was taken over. The last Chapelton Farm buildings lasted until the 1960s. Nowadays Chapelton Gardens, Chapelton Avenue and Chapelton Terrace (the red sandstone tenement block on the opposite side of Townend Road) remind us of the area's past.


Church Street

Streets called "Church Street" are, obviously, so named because they contain, are adjacent to, or lead towards a church, or the site of a former church.

  • Church Street (Alexandria) is the street that runs alongside the grounds of Alexandria Parish Church (no longer in use). It was probably laid out around the time the church was built, in 1840.
  • Church Street (Clydebank) only dates from the latter part of the twentieth century. It runs down towards Crown Avenue in the Kilbowie area of Clydebank, the name referring to the nearby Radnor Park Church.
  • Church Street (Dumbarton) is one of Dumbarton's oldest streets. Along with High Street and College Street, it formed the medieval town plan of the burgh. It got its name from the fact that it led towards the old Parish Church. The locals at one time referred (in Scots) to the street as Kirk Vennel, "vennel" being an old Scots word for "alley" often used for the narrower streets of a town. Today the much altered Church Street still leads towards Riverside Parish Church.

Clyde (River Clyde)

This name emerged out of the so-called "Dark Ages" in the time of the Strathclyde Britons. They were a Celtic people who spoke a Brythonic language related to modern Welsh. Their word for the River we call "Clyde" is thought by scholars to have derived from an old Indo-European root clut that meant something like "wash".

Versions such as Cloithe and Cluith were used in medieval times, and a poetic word Clutha was developed from them many centuries later. The name is spelt Clyd in Timothy Pont's late 16th century map, suggesting that the "d" sound has become common, and it is likely that the use of "y" indicates some vowel-sound modification during the preceding centuries.


Clydebank

This place name is easy enough to explain. Clydebank is the largest town in West Dunbartonshire. Its development, however, only dates from the 1870s when J.& G. Thomson feued some land at Barns of Clyde from the Hamilton family and built a shipyard which they called 'Clydebank', because it was on the banks of the River Clyde. The town grew up rapidly adjacent to the shipyard, and took its name from the yard.


Cochno

Irving in his Place Names of Dunbartonshire says that this strange name, sometimes spelt "Cochna", "Cochnach", "Cochina", etc. in older documents, comes either from the Gaelic cnocnach (= "hilly lands") or from the Gaelic cuachanach (= "[place of] little cups") and deriving from the root word cuach, meaning "cup". This second explanation refers to the ancient cup and ring markings discovered in the district. The derivation from cnoc seems doubtful. Such place names usually get transformed into "knock-" when Anglicised or Scotticised. The second derivation is the more likely.


College Street, Dumbarton

College Street, along with High Street and Church Street, was one of the three principal roadways that made up the medieval plan of Dumbarton. It was so-called because it ran between the High Street and the pre-Reformation Collegiate Church of St Mary which stood roughly on the site of the where Dumbarton Central Station was later built.

Looked at from the other direction, College Street was also sometimes called Cross Vennel, because it was the "vennel" or alley that led towards Dumbarton Cross. The street was popularly known just as "The Vennel".

In the 1960s and 1970s, the town centre of Dumbarton was largely rebuilt to make way for a shopping centre. Most of College Street was obliterated. All that remained was the northern end by the junction with Station Road.

College Way was the name given to the southern entrance and the walkway of the above-mentioned shopping centre in Dumbarton, thus preserving the historical reference.


Cordale

The name for this land (now incorporated into the village of Renton) may be derived from a combination of the Gaelic words corr (= "horn", "horn-shaped") and dail (= "field"). This would relate to the horn-shaped peninsula formed by the sharp bend at that part of the River Leven.

Alternatively, corr is also a Gaelic word for a crane or heron, in which case "Cordale" would be "heron field".

In the 20th century, the name refers specifically to a Council housing scheme built before the Second World War on land partly occupied earlier by a large Victorian villa called Cordale House, and partly by the one-time Cordale Printworks.

Interestingly the local pronunciation of "cordal", with the emphasis on the first syllable, is more etymologically accurate than the Anglicised "cordale".