Different names hamper hunt for lost village

Bonkyl Church, with the apse remaining outside from the original buliding.
Bonkyl Church, with the apse remaining outside from the original buliding.

The search for the lost Berwickshire village of Bonkyl continues, but it hasn’t been helped by the fact that historians have found 23 different spellings of its name, including Buncle and Boncle.

“The 23 different ways we have identified of rendering this name present a considerale challenge in searching records,” says Bunkle and Preston History Group, but it is not giving up on its search.

Archaeologists will spend the weekend doing a geophysical survey of the land around Bonkyl Kirk, and members of the public are invited along.

Those attending will meet in the field between 12th century Bunkle Castle and the churchyard, and that’s where the search for the lost village of Bunkle will begin.

The village and two farms – Westmains and Eastmains, now known as Marygold – were built around Buncle Castle and church in the barony and regality of Boncle .

Visibly all that remains of the castle nowadays is a mound beside the B6348 road between Preston and Marygold Farm, looking down on fields where there was once a busy weaving village.

The structure of the buildings presents a challenge in locating the village but it’s hoped a geophysical survey will yield initial clues.

The most recent mention of Bunkle village was in 1753, when James Millar was baptised there.

Almost a century later, George Henderson, author of The Popular Rhymes, Sayings and Proverbs of the County of Berwick, wrote: “Under the walls of the castle, there once existed a considerable village, but not a single human dwelling has stood there for the last 50 years at least.”

He also commented that in the early part of the last century, the village consisted of a number of clay-built cottages covered with thatch, chiefly inhabited by weavers.

A search of various records show that the names of the people living at Bunkle and the nearby farms in the 17th and 18th centuries include Craig, Cairns, Dickson, Dewar, Fair, Paterson, Purves, Sligh, Anderson, Mack, Millar and Simpson.

If you are interested in taking part in thegeophysics weekend or other aspects of the investigation, call 01361 883434 or email bandp3456@gmail.com