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Theodosia? Dumbarton? There was a fourth century Roman general called Theodosius commanding the troops in North Britain. Was the feminine form of his name given to Dumbarton by the Romans?

Well, no. Here is what the celebrated twentieth century local historian Dr IMM MacPhail had to say about this rather exotic if somewhat unlikely town name:

"The statement by Joseph Irving and older historians that there was a Roman naval station called Theodosia at Dumbarton in the latter part of the fourth century, however, is one which has no archaeological evidence to support it, for it is derived not from any genuine source but from the fertile imagination of Charles Bertram, the literary forger. Bertram, an English teacher in Copenhagen, produced in 1758 a forged history of Britain in Roman and post-Roman times, which was accepted by all historians for a century. The forgery was exposed independently by two scholars in the late 1860s; but the errors of Bertram continued to be found in many histories down to this century."


Dumbarton Castle, pp.2-3


So, no Theodosia then, but it seems likely that the Romans would have had a name for such a prominent feature as Dumbarton Rock, presumably some Latin interpretation of Alclut, the ancient British name.


Townend was once a farm and hamlet at the north end of the town of Dumbarton. At high tide, the water of the "College Burn", an inlet from the River Leven, spread right across the area around present-day Poplar Road, and across much of The Common as far as the land now occupied by the Meadow Centre and its car park. When this happened, Townend was detached, and until the early 19th century, boatmen were employed to ferry people to and from Dumbarton.

During the 19th century some of The Common was permanently reclaimed, and when the College Burn was restricted, a road was completed from Church Street to Townend, the full stretch to Barloan forming Townend Road.


The name "Tullichewan" is a combination of two Gaelic words tulach (="hill") and eoghain (="Ewan" or "Ewen", i.e. the personal name). So it is "Ewan's hill". It is claimed in some sources that this Ewan was an 8th century ancestor of the Earls of Lennox. Even if the genealogical aspect of this claim is sound, it does not follow that the place name has anything to do with him. It might, but many place names have personal name elements that refer to individuals who, by all accounts, were people living in perfectly ordinary circumstances, and whose identity will never be discovered.

The old estate of Tullichewan, on which once stood Tullichewan Castle, stretched from the western slopes at the north end of the Vale of Leven down to the River Leven.

  • Tullichewan, the housing estate developed in stages during the twentieth century, only covers part of the land originally referred to as "Tullichewan".
  • Tullichewan Crescent and
  • Tullichewan Drive are both in the Tullichewan housing estate, while
  • Tullichewan Road runs alongside the railway station at Balloch, between Balloch Road and Lomond Road.
  • Near Balloch railway station is The Tullichewan Hotel (at the time of writing called "The Tullie"!). In the old days there was a Tullichewan Farm nearby on low ground to the west of the River Leven.

As might be imagined, various spellings of this name appear in old documents. One that fell out of use comparatively recently was Tillichewan.