NS4959 : The Fereneze Hills

taken 5 years ago, near to Gateside, East Renfrewshire, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title The Fereneze Hills in this square
The Fereneze Hills
The Fereneze Hills
The fence is encountered after walking a little further along the old path shown in NS4959 : Remnants of a path.

The skyline hill a little left of centre is Neilston Pad (NS4755 : Neilston Pad) in NS4755 ("so called from its resemblance to a pillion" OS Name Books).

The Old Statistical Account (1792) had earlier commented on the name: "The craig of Nielston, in the south part of the parish is the highest in the district, and the only hill which stands by itself, not forming a ridge or tract of the country. It is vulgarly called the Pad, from having in its appearance the form of a pillion. It is 820 feet about the flood mark, and yet is all green, and arable to the very top, though now only used for pasture."

The book "Paisley Poets" (1890) elaborates: "The Pad is a local vulgar name given to the Crag of Neilson, from its having the form of a pillion or cushion for a woman to ride behind another person on horseback."

The hill on the right, beside the point where the foreground hillside hides the distant skyline from view, is Knockenae Plantation (NS4554 : Knockenae Plantation) in NS4554.

Some distant wind turbines are visible. Those almost behind the Knockenae Plantation are centred on c.NS453538. Others, near the far left edge of the picture, are centred on c.NS488533.

- - - -

The name Fereneze itself is of interest, and local historians have given several different explanations for it (the name struck me as having an odd feel, which is what prompted me to look further into its origin). For example, Robert Brown, in the first volume of his "History of Paisley" (1886), had explained it as "fir ness", that is, "the promontory or upland of firs". David Pride, author of "A History of the Parish of Neilston" (1910), understood it to be derived from Gaelic words meaning "alder meadow" or "alder marsh".

More recently, G W S Barrow, in his book "The Kingdom of the Scots" (2003), pointed out that "Fereneze" is a "ghost-name", one that had "apparently arisen through the misinterpretation of a term occurring in documents of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries".

Some very early forms of the name can be found in the Paisley charters, which were written in Latin. Transcriptions of them were published in the "Registrum Monasterii de Passelet" (Maitland Club Edition, Edinburgh, 1832). The earliest forms of the name, as found in those charters, are as follows, with their respective dates (and page numbers, which refer to the Maitland Club Edition):

"Forineisun" (116573), on page 6,
"Ferineisun" (117799), on page 12, and
"Forineisim" (120818), occurring twice on page 17.

In each of those occurrences, the subject matter is the same: the skins of hinds taken either in ("in"), within ("infra"), or outside ("extra") of Forineisun.

Barrow explains that the word that our printed edition transcribes as "Forineisun" should correctly have been read "Formeisun", derived from the Old French "fermeyson", a word which passed into English as "fermison", and which meant "the close season for stags and time for hunting hinds". The charters would then be referring to the skins of hinds that were taken either in or out of that season.

This French-derived legal term was later misunderstood to be a place-name, and came to be associated with the particular area that still bears it. Barrow explains that the misunderstanding of the word developed early: a document of 1504 already refers to a "village of Ferrenes" in the parish of Paisley.

See the work cited for further details. The relevant passage is in chapter 15, "The Earliest Stewarts and their Lands".
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Grid Square
NS4959, 112 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Monday, 2 May, 2016   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 18 May, 2016
Geographical Context
Boundary, Barrier 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4922 5924 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:48.1704N 4:24.4272W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4922 5925
View Direction
SOUTH (about 180 degrees)
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Other Tags
Fereneze Braes Path Network  Toponymy 

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Image Type (about): geograph 
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