Page last updated on: Friday, 24 July, 2020.

This map shows the location of Gatehouse within the British Isles.


The name survives today as part of the Dumfries & Galloway Region in South West Scotland.

Galloway includes the old counties of Wigtownshire and  Kirkcudbrightshire.

The boundaries of these areas have changed over the years, probably more recently in an attempt to equalise populations throughout local government areas, but Galloway nominally starts at the River Nith in Dumfries and is bounded by the sea to the south and west and by Ayrshire to the north (the Galloway Hills being the dividing line).

People from Galloway are usually called Gallovidians although the term Galwegian is also used. Galwegian is also the term used to describe the form of Gaelic spoken in the area until about the 16th century A.D.

Stewartry of Kirkcudbright

The county of Kirkcudbrightshire was first created in 1452 when James II, King of Scotland, having disposed of the Black Douglas, decided to break up the all-powerful Earldom of Galloway. In doing so he created Wigtownshire, which was also known as the Sheriffdom of Wigtown, and Kirkcudbrightshire, also known as the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.

Prior to 1452 Galloway had a sheriff (or shire-reeve) who collected revenues for the King. From 1452 the King's representative in Wigtown was a sheriff, whilst Kirkcudbright had a Steward. Reasons for the different designations are unclear, but the word Steward might actually have been Stewart and indeed the Stewart family were closely associated with being the King's representatives for collection of taxes etc. 

Annandale, in the east of Dumfries and Galloway, was another Stewartry.

Kirkcudbright was the only area in Scotland to retain the title of Stewartry into the modern era. The shires and the Stewartry were dissolved with the local government reorganisation in 1975 although many of the old names are still in use today. Formal documents tended to use Kirkcudbrightshire until 1996 when further local government changes left the Stewartry District as a  sub- area of the Dumfries & Galloway Region.

The Lord-Lieutenant is the UK monarch's representative for a particular county area.  Matthew Murray Kennedy St.Clair, the Lord Sinclair is the current Lord-Lieutenant for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright  [as of 2021].


Girthon is a large parish in area, covering about 16 miles north to south from the River Dee, near New Galloway, to Fleet Bay, and between 2 and 5 miles east to west.

The River Fleet marks the boundary between the two parishes of Girthon and Anwoth.

It has been suggested that the name Girthon may be a development of an earlier name of Garthavon, and that the river Fleet might have been the Avon. There is no written reference to this and it must be considerd as speculation.

Girthon is surrounded by seven parishes - Anwoth, Kirkmabreck, Minnigaff, Kells, Balmaghie, Twynholm and Borgue. Movement between parishes was common, and this should be borne in mind when searching for ancestors.

The original church (Girthon Kirk) was at the Clauchan of Girthon and is now a ruin. A new Girthon Church was built in Gatehouse in 1818, after the town had become the main centre of population in the parish. The churches of Girthon and Anwoth combined in 1975 and c.1990 Borgue was also linked. The combined churches title became ‘Gatehouse of Fleet Parish Church’ in 2005.


Anwoth Parish is smaller than Girthon in land area being about 6.3 miles from the hills in the north to Fleet Bay in the south and about 2.3 miles from east to west.

At one time there was a separate parish of Kirkdale to the west. Most of this parish was later included in Kirkmabreck but a small portion joined with Anwoth.

In some old documents Anwoth is sometimes spelled Anworth

Old Anwoth Kirk at the Clachan of Anwoth was built about 1627. It was used until 1825 when the new Anwoth Church was built a little further to the west of the clachan. Although Anwoth and Girthon parishes combined in 1975, Anwoth Church continued to be used until 2002.

Anwoth has only two neighbouring parishes - Kirkmabreck to the west and Girthon to the east.

It has been suggested that the name Anwoth may be a development of an earlier name of Avonwoth, but as with the origins of the name Girthon this must be considerd as speculation.

River Fleet

As referred to above, the origins of the names for Girthon and Anwoth might have meant that an earlier name for the River Fleet could have been the Avon.  The name Fleet might have been Norse-based. An old postcard of the bridge over the Fleet  says :
                                                                    The bridge over the River Fleet,
                                                                     Where Girthon and Anwoth meet.

Gatehouse of Fleet

Gatehouse of Fleet is a planned town dating from the late 1700's. Prior to this date, there were probably small clachans around the area with similar names. Documents about a visit by Edward 1 to the area in 1300 mention ‘Gerton of Flete’, while Pont's map of the 1580's shows ‘Gouhous’.

For hundreds of years various Roman roads, drove roads and pilgrim routes had crossed the River Fleet by ford near where the bridge now stands. Dates on the present bridge suggest that there has been a stone bridge there since at least 1730 but there was probably a wooden bridge as early as 1661.

It is believed that for many years Gatehouse consisted of a toll house where travellers paid to cross the river (the Gaithous in Ann Street), an inn (probably on the site of the present day Murray Arms Hotel) plus maybe a farm and some scattered dwellings.

In 1795 Gatehouse was given the status of a 'Burgh of Barony', and as such was allowed to hold markets and hiring-and-firing fairs and to have a Town Council to run its affairs. Gatehouse of Fleet had become a town.

Place Names around Gatehouse

We have a number of sources for information about place names in the area. Maybe we should combine them all into one document, but that could become very large and cumbersome to use.

1. Our earliest attempt is actually on another website called ''. This contains references to all place names in Kirkcudbrightshire, on a parish by parish basis, which appeared in the 1851 census or the first detailed maps of the area which were published around 1854. The source documents used mean that names within the town of Gatehouse are very sparse, but this source is searchable and has links to maps and photographs. See sub-page Link to ''.

2. Our next contibution was a table of street names within Gatehouse, many of which have changed since they were first built. See sub-page. Street Names : old & new   (see highlighted sub-pages in the column to the left)

3. Subsequently we produced a document which lists all the place names that we know of in Girthon and Anwoth, together with grid references and generally accepted reasons for the names that were used. This list includes old and modern names many of which do not appear on maps.     See sub-page  Place Names : old & new     (see highlighted sub-pages in the column to the left)

4. We are very priviledged to have recently met a relatively new inhabitant of Gatehouse who is a retired 'historical linguist'. His knowledge of ancient languages and word usage is far greater than ours and he has very kindly agreed to produce an alphabetical list of local words, together with his expert opinion on their derivation. The gentleman concerned is Alan James and his work is on a sub-page Names : liguistic derivation     (see highlighted sub-pages in the column to the left)

We have also acquired some old farm maps which name individual fields. We have come across references in censuses to families living in a named old building in the middle of a field somewhere, but the building is now delapidated or non-existent. Often the fields still retain the names used for these old buildings and are therefore important for social history purposes. These have still to be finalised and added to this website.

Farms & Field Names

Between 2010 and 2012 we were given access to maps of a number of farms in Girthon. These quoted field names as well as a number of small buildings within these fields.
These could be very useful to any genealogist or local historian whose is researching farming families who might have worked or even lived in these fields.

We transcribed the detail from these maps with the intention of adding a dialogue about them. This dialogue has remained on the "to do list", but we thought that we ought to make the maps public and add the dialogue later. Our friend Alan James has started to provide linguistic origins for some of these names and we hope to add these to our website in due course.

These maps, field names and their origins will be kept in the sub-directory "Farms & Field Names", which is accessed from the highlighted sub-pages in the column to the left.