An informative look at haughs and hopes

Michael Braithwaite of Applecross near Hawick has written 'Hopes and Haughs'.
Michael Braithwaite of Applecross near Hawick has written 'Hopes and Haughs'.

An enlightening look at how places in Roxburghshire came to be named has been brought to print by a Hawick-based author.

Michael Braithwaite of Clarilaw researched ‘Hopes and Haughs: an introduction to Roxburghshire Place-names’ over the last couple of winters.

Michael Braithwaite of Applecross near Hawick has written 'Hopes and Haughs'.

Michael Braithwaite of Applecross near Hawick has written 'Hopes and Haughs'.

While the author has enjoyed all aspects of outdoor life in the Borders, it is only recently he decided to write about the sometimes strange terminology used in naming places.

Michael said: “I have found the study both more difficult and more interesting than I had imagined and am conscious that what is presented in these booklets just scratches the surface of a large subject.”

The first section concentrates on certain landform elements that give the suffixes haugh, heugh, howes and knowes.

Then, Michael looks at natural history has formed the names, from principal habitats to the individual species which appear in place-names – such as Horselyhill, Oxnam and Cawfaulds.

He finishes off by looking at how human settlements were instrumental in the naming of places, with suffixes such as ‘cote’ which is a small cottage.

The author added: “Through my research, I have reinforced my long-held belief that the place-names speak volumes about the mindset of the people who named them.

“What is reassuring is that those people, mostly living maybe a millenium ago, had much the same feelings for the countryside that I and my fellow naturalists develop today.

“The shapes and colours of the hills and valleys, the principal habitats and certain characteristic animals, birds and plants that occur in quantity all play a part in defining the joys of what we experience.

“They also shared a sense of humour.”

His findings are produced in a colourfully-illustrated booklet, which contains photographs and maps – has been published by the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club, which has also brought to print Michael’s other booklet ‘Howes and Knowes: an introduction to Berwickshire Place-names’, which is also available and can be bought from the author by post – ME Braithwaite, Clarilaw Farmhouse, Hawick, TD9 8PT.

The cost, inclusive of postage, is £5 for the 40-page Berwickshire booklet, £6 for the Roxburghshire, and £10 for the two. Cheques can be made payable to “The Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club”.