Dunshelt

Dunshalt - Author's Theory

The earliest map which shows a clear settlement where Dunshelt now lies was published by John Ainslie in 1775. At this point it was named Dunshill, which could reasonably be made up of Dun (Gaelic for fort, which presumably existed at that time) and hill. At this time the first attempts at draining Rossie Loch had been completed, the new Rossie Drain dug and the old loch outlet - which maps show to have been much nearer to where Dunshalt is now situated -  closed off. Nevertheless the maps also show that the River Eden was still a heavily meandered river and it is likely that the area was still boggy, scrubby marshland. Although the term 'hill' is only relative in this instance, the area where the first houses were built would clearly have been on the ridge of higher ground that separates the Eden and the Auchtermuchty Burn.

The change from Dunshill to Dunshelt by 1828 is a significant one, for which I can offer no explanation.

 

 

Every map of the village since 1828 spells the village as DUNSHELT. The two exceptions are as follows:

(1)     The large scale Ordnance Survey maps of 1895 (25") and 1896 (6)" refer to Dunshalt, whilst the concurrent 1" map still refers to Dunshelt. It is likely that this was therefore no more than a typographical error made in compiling these one off maps  which were not part of a longer series such as the 1" ones we all know.

(2)     The second coming of Dunshalt only happened sometime between the publication of the 1976 and 1989 1" maps. At that time, in 1975, the largest shake up of local government in Scotland for over a century took place. Old town and county councils were abolished at a stroke, to be replaced by new District and Regional Councils. Keen to establish their presence and authority, an early and very evident development was the introduction of new town and village signage. I would therefore postulate that there is perhaps a clear link between the establishment of the new Fife Regional Council as roads authority and the miraculous appearance of new village signs for DUNSHALT!