[If the text below uses any of the terms ‘hill-letter’, ‘river-letter’, ‘old-style name’, ‘transitional name’ and ‘inversion-type name’ a reader who is not familiar with those terms may wish to refer briefly to ‘The Celtic names of hillforts’, where an explanation of those terms is given].



The Celtic names of hillforts


Dow Hill


Location: immediately south of Girvan, Ayrshire

OS map reference:  NX 193 961                                    

Celtic name: possibly Rigonion

Source: Ptolemy - RerigoniumRerigonius bay


A hillfort and apparently also a dun (see for example the Canmore website of Historic Environment Scotland) on the summit of a steep-sided hill immediately south of Girvan in south Ayrshire.

The Celtic name Rerigonion is a river-name of the kind having a river-prefix, here just the river-letter r, attached to a land-name, here Rigonion, where Rigonion is an inversion-type topographical place-name in the hill-letter r, the Rig element meaning ‘hill steep’. The river Rerigonion appears to have been the Water of Girvan, so Rigonion will have been an Iron-Age hillfort or settlement close to that river. The hillfort on Dow Hill is the obvious candidate. However, there has been some talk in recent years as to the possible presence of a hillfort on the summit of Doonans Hill (NS 394 028), a little south of Straiton. That hillfort, if its existence is confirmed, will have been at the top of a steep slope immediately adjacent the Water of Girvan. The hillfort might then have been called Rigonion and the Water of Girvan of course the Rerigonion. In all probability the river-name was transferred to a Roman fort/harbour at the mouth of the river. That fort/harbour will have been Ptolemy's Rerigonium.



[This page was last modified on 01 April 2022]