by John Smith of Dalry (1895) - covering the Parishes of
Maybole │ Dalrymple
Straiton │ Kirkoswald
(Transcription contributed by David Killicoat)
Maybole, from its number of old castles, its camps and
forts, its standing stones, and from the number of ancient relics that
have been found from time to time - although in the matter of relics it
cannot cope with either Stevenston or Dundonald - might well be called the
antiquarian district of Ayrshire.
At the east end of Bowerhill, low down, situated on the
left bank of a little stream, there are the remains of a fort (Fig. 252).
It is placed on a point of land which has been nicked off by a ditch, and
measures 31 paces by 23, the said ditch being partly filled up; the centre
of the platform described is occupied by another ditch, surrounding a sort
of citadel, which measures 11 paces by 8, the long distance being in the
direction of the long distance of the outside platform, which is
north-west by west, and south-east by east. There is a good look-out from
this fort on the Firth, and the low-lying lands of Kyle, Brown Carrick and
the Heads of Ayr are visible from it.
At the west end of Bowerhill, high up, and situated on
what is known as the Heads of Ayr, there is a fort placed at the extreme
point of the heads. If it was to be known by nothing else, the richness of
the vegetation caused by human occupation might point it out; but it has
been defended on the land-side by a broad ditch, which is still 7 feet
deep, the other sides of the fort being very steep. Its surface slopes
seawards, and measures 25 paces by 21. The view from it is magnificent,
commanding nearly the whole of the Firth of Clyde, Arran, Ailsa, and the
greater part of the coast of Cunninghame, Kyle, and Carrick.
Dunduff Castle there is a fort (probably the
original Dun Duff, or Fort of Duff ), called in the district the Danes'
Hill, from a tradition that the Danes fought here (Fig. 253). It is a
rocky knoll, with a patch of protected drift on its south-west side, an
incident which enables us to speak with certainty of its having been a
fort, for it is only this part that has any visible alteration wrought on
it. Had it happened to be steep all round, like Hourat Castle Hill, then
we could only have surmised from its name of Dane's Hill, or Dun Duff,
that it had been occupied as a fort. The south-west side of this fort is
protected by a ditch, 7 paces wide at the bottom. Inside of the ditch
there is a rampart, or murus, slightly curved, and 36 paces long. Its top
is 8 feet above the bottom of the ditch. The outer rampart is also curved,
and sub-parallel to the inner one; it is 8 feet above the ditch, and 7
feet 9 inches above the surface of the field outside. The surface of the
fort inside the inner rampart is 37 paces by 52, being very irregular,
and, except next the rampart, the sides are precipitous and rocky. As it
is situated 450 feet above sea-level, on the slope of Brown Carrick Hill,
the outlook from it on the Firth is splendid.
At the bend on the river Doon, a little-distance below
the railway bridge, there is an old fort, named on the Ordnance map as
‘The Tower,’ but known in the district as ‘The Craig.’ The name ‘Tower’ is
significant, and we might infer from it that The Tower near Dalry was also
an old fort. This fort is 29 paces in diameter across its summit, being
surrounded by the foundation of a wall or rampart, composed mostly of
granite boulders, and thicker on the land-side than at any other part. The
ditch on the land-side is wide, and the wall as it is is 14 feet above the
bottom of the ditch, the slope on the river side being precipitous, and
when in its complete state I have no doubt but that this old fort would
have a tower-like appearance (Fig. 254).
On Trees Hill there is a fort, and the place goes by
the name of the Castle Knoll, its original name having been probably Dun
Ean. On its south-west side there are the remains of three ramparts and
three ditches. There are also the remains of a low wall on the north side,
the diameter of the top of the fort being 24 paces and the ditch on the
north side 12 feet 4 inches below the top of the earth wall. It has been
very much altered, possibly by hunting for treasure. On its west side the
rock has been quarried a bit, possibly in recent times.
There were several tumuli in the district, now perhaps
all removed, and two mounds were erected on West Enoch to commemorate the
fight between Bargany and Cassilis, which took place in 1601. I was
informed that these were levelled by the last tenant of the farm, and were
probably the last remembrance mounds erected in Ayrshire. There was a
cairn called Drumochreen, now probably all removed.
On Kildon Hill there is a very fine fort, the space
within the inner rampart measuring 54 paces by 25. Three sides of it - the
south, east, and north - are rocky and precipitous, the east base of the
rock showing an extensive scarp, which is carried round to the north side
of the hill. On the west side the fort is defended by three ramparts and
three ditches. The inner rampart is carried partly round the south side,
is 43 paces in length, and is completely vitrified, being the only
vitrified wall I have seen in Ayrshire, the height from the inside of the
camp to the top of the vitrified wall being 13 feet 8 inches, and above
the ditch at its highest part only 3 feet. The next rampart is about 12
paces, measured from centre to centre, outside of the vitrified rampart,
and is only 15 paces in length, the hilltop here being narrow. Its top is
5 feet 6 inches above the last-named ditch, and 8 feet 6 inches above the
next or middle one. The outside rampart is about 12 paces from the middle
one, 5 feet 4 inches above the middle ditch, and 11 feet 4 inches above
the outside ditch, which is partly cut out of the rock. The outside
rampart is 36 paces long, and both it and the middle one are composed of
earth, with a few stones. A recent footpath ascends the hill on its south
side in a slanting direction, cutting through the vitrified rampart, and
exposing a good section of it; the vitrification is also seen at three
other places, the rest being covered with grass. The monument to Sir C.
Ferguson is placed within the fort, and the outlook from it into the
Girvan Valley is very fine.
Near the Doon, and not far from its mouth, there is a
Standing Stone of tough dolerite. In height it is 6 feet 8 inches above
the ground, and at the base it measures 5 feet 10 inches by 3 feet. It is
said to have been erected to commemorate a treaty of peace between the
Picts and Scots. The field in which it stands is called the Stone Park,
but the stone itself has no name. A short distance to the south-west of
it, on Burton Farm, there is another Standing Stone, and tradition has it
that there was a line of them all the way to Stranraer.
There is a granite boulder on Blairstone on which is
cut an incised figure, popularly believed to represent the sword of
Wallace; but a glance at it shows that it has not been made to represent a
sword, but a cross, which measures 3 feet 6 inches long, and 14 inches
over the arms of the cross, which, as well as the top of it, widen out a
bit at the ends (Fig. 255). The tradition of the neighbourhood is
to the effect that Wallace laid his sword on the granite boulder, and some
kind artist chalked off the outline, and cut out its representation on the
stone; but it is far too small for Wallace's sword, even if it were the
proper shape. For its better preservation, the stone has been surrounded
by a stone-and-lime wall, and some author says that the cross on it was
cut to commemorate a treaty of peace between the Picts and Scots.
On Newark Hill, where the people of the time assembled
to have a look, from a safe distance, of the ships of the Spanish Armada,
a flat stone was placed to commemorate the destruction of that formidable
fleet; but it is strange that in the district there is no tradition about
that stone, and some of the oldest inhabitants never even heard of the
Spanish Armada, one of them gravely informing me that it had not been in
the Clyde in his day. I searched the hill carefully, but could not find
any trace of the stone. Perhaps it has been overgrown with peat.
About 2 furlongs from the top of Newark Hill, towards
the south-west, as I should have mentioned when speaking of the forts, the
Ordnance surveyors show a ring camp, half a furlong in diameter; but after
a lot of searching, I failed to find it.
On Lyonstone there is a standing stone of gray granite,
which stands 4 feet above the ground, and measures 3 feet 4 inches by 2
feet 7 inches. It is larger at the top, very much rounded at the angles,
and is situated on the summit of a bit of rising ground.
At Lochlands is a bit of land, once covered by the O
Loch; there was found, in 1856, a fine hammer-axe of dolerite or
whinstone. It is figured in the third volume of the Ayr and Wigton
Collections, its size being about 8 inches in length, by 3¾ inches wide at
the butt, and 2¾ inches thick, the sides being nearly parallel and
straight. Its weight is 6 lb. 3 oz.
On the lands of Lagg there was found an axe of
greenstone, 10½ inches long, and a porphyry celt 4¾ inches long.
On Dalduff, in an old crock in a drain, there was, in
1846, a hoard of bronze celts discovered; how many nobody knows. Three of
them have been preserved in the National Museum at Edinburgh, with two
portions of swords which covered the mouth of the crock; the rest are not
at present known. The three are figured in the fourth volume of the Ayr
and Wigton Collections, and belong to the looped and socketed types, with
broad convex cutting-edges, one of them having two small apertures on the
beading of the butt. One of them is 23/8 inches
long, and the others 3¼ inches, the three being rather plain, with
chamfered sides; the sockets are round or elliptical.
Another bronze looped and socketed celt was got in this
district, and is figured in the fourth volume of the Ayr and Wigton
Collections. The socket is sub-square, the chamfers slight, and on each
face there are three slightly-raised ribs. It measures 3½ inches in length
by 13/8 inches (Fig. 256).
A bronze axe, 5 inches long by, 17/8
inches, was found at Auchendrane.
A bronze dagger, 14¾ inches long, was dug up at Mosside.
A bronze spear-head was got on Drumbeg.
A bronze image of Justice, ‘with her equal scales,’
turned up at Drumshang.
In the first volume of the Ayr and Wigton Collections a
very much ornamented urn or ‘food vessel’ is figured, and is probably one
that was found at the ‘fort.’ It measures 5¼ inches high, by the same in
diameter at the mouth, and 2¾ inches wide at the base. Concerning it, Dr.
Macdonald says: ‘The ornamentation of this "food vessel" is somewhat
complicated and peculiar. The lip or upper edge of the mouth is scored
with diagonal lines. Just below the rim come several encircling lines,
indistinctly dotted as if with a finely-toothed instrument, and then a
band so incised with triangular depressions as to have a zigzag form. At
the line of greatest circumference is an encircling ridge scored with
perpendicular markings; 1½ inches below is another, the space between
being adorned in nearly the same way as the rather broader space between
the first ridge and the mouth. Below the second ridge is a thin band with
zigzag markings, between which and the bottom notched lines cross each
other in diagonal fashion.’ The bottom of this specimen has got a
There are no court-hills in Carrick, and it is
questionable if ever there were any. There is a natural eminence, called
the Gallows Hill, 1 mile west of Maybole Castle.
The castles of the district are Maybole, inhabited;
Newark, inhabited; Greenan, Dunduff, an unfinished one; Dunure, Kilhenzie,
inhabited; Doonside, Sauchrie, Craigskean, Beoch; Auchendrane, inhabited;
Garryhorne, Brockloch, and Smithstone, which originally probably all
belonged to the Kennedys or their dependents, Dunure having been their
‘Twixt Wigton and the toon o' Ayr, Port Patrick and the
Cruives o' Cree,
Nae men need think fur tul bide there, Unless he court a Kenedie.'
Seventy-one paces to the south-east of the oldest part
of Greenan Castle there is a large ditch, the material from which has been
spread on its north-west side. Nearer the castle there is another ditch,
and it is quite probable that the castle site was at one time occupied by
a more ancient fort.
Near to the ruins of Dunure Castle there is an old
dovecote still entire.
Kirkbride Church, now a ruin, built in 1193 by the Earl
of Carrick, is conjectured to have been a parish church.
St. Cuthbert's, now rooted out, was also built by. the
Earl of Carrick in 1193.
The Collegiate Church, now a ruin, was built by Kennedy
of Dunure in 1371.
Lady Cross is near Brockloch.
Of the named ancient wells, St. Helen's is to the north
of Baloch Mount; Pennyglen Cross Well and St. Cuthbert’s in Maybole.
In the grounds of Newark Castle there is still
preserved the stump of the Dule Tree, on which culprits were hanged in
About 1830 there was turned up by the plough, near
Dunduff Castle, a coin, about the size of a crown-piece, of Albert and
Elizabeth of Bruges and Brabant.
Maybole fairs occur at Candlemas, Beltan, Lammas, and
NOTE. - Since this was in type, I have discovered a
shell-mound on the Carrick Shore, south of the Heads of Ayr. The great
peculiarity about it is that under the mound there are eight
seats hewn out of the solid sandstone rock, and capable of
accommodating twenty-two persons. Six of the seats have curved backs, one
is straight, and one projects. Many split bones were got, especially in
the lower part of the mound, along with hand-made and wheel-turned
pottery, bits of flint (none of them worked), copper, and iron.
The Dalrymple district has been a pretty rich one in
archaeological remains and relics, although the progress of agriculture
has either obliterated or considerably modified the ancient structures,
and no doubt many of the relics have either been lost or destroyed.
In Barbiston Holm, during the making of a road in 1805,
a mound - described by Mr. Fullarton, the proprietor, as a gravel hillock,
was removed, and under it a stone coffin was found with human bones. Mr.
Fullarton says, as narrated in the New Statistical Account of the parish,
that he applied the end of the right thigh bone to his hip-joint, and the
other end of it went nearly to the centre of his shin; and yet he informs
us that he stood 5 feet 11 inches in height, so that in this mound a
person of pretty lengthy proportions must have been buried.
The big, or king's, cairns of the district are now all
removed. One stood in Barbiston Holm, near to the mound described, one at
Saint Valley, and one on Priest Hill.
In them were got human bones, heads of pikes, spears,
etc., which have probably all been lost.
The Lindston Camp is situated pretty high up; the view
from it is extensive, the Heads of Ayr and Brown Carrick Hill being well
This camp is circular, measuring round the outside of
ditch, which is still filled with water, 192 paces in circumference.
There is no rampart on the inside of the ditch, but on
the outside of it there are slight remains of one. This arrangement
is peculiar, and the outside rampart was probably intended as a screen to
effectually blind the ditch; when the enemy, having got over the rampart,
would find that he had a deep ditch to face, as well as the arrows of his
enemies, who would be safe within the stockaded camp.
On the east side there is a roadway across the ditch,
and this, in all likelihood, was the entrance to the camp.
The Woodland Camp is situated on the summit of rising
ground, within a large loop of the Doon River. Here the Doon flows for 2
miles in a south direction, and, having reached Cassilis Castle, begins,
to turn, and after a bit flows for 1½ miles through scenes of sylvan
beauty, winding considerably as it goes. Within the loop thus formed the
Woodland Camp stands.
During recent years this camp has been ploughed over,
but the ditch still forms quite a conspicuous feature on the land.
The present farmer informed me that during ploughing
operations he has repeatedly removed bits of a stone and lime structure
placed along the inner side of the ditch.
If this building (wall, I presume) has been
contemporaneous with the camp, and formed part of it, then, so far as I
know, it is a unique feature in connection with an ancient Ayrshire camp,
and possibly points to a Roman origin for this camp, and, I may say, it is
locally known as the Roman camp.
We know that along the Roman Turf Wall, ‘Cespetitious
Murus,’ between the Clyde and the Forth, the camps were furnished with
stone and lime buildings.
The reputed Roman road passes through this district,
within 3 miles of this camp, and within 3 furlongs of the Lindston Camp.
The writer of the New Statistical Account says that ‘on
a ridge of a rising ground, about 3 miles in length, forming the boundary
between the valley of Dalrymple and the low road from Ayr to Maybole, are
the remains of three British fortlets. They are all circular, and
surrounded by trenches, and contain about fifty falls of ground. The
trenches were filled with a rich black mould, resembling moss-earth; and
on its being removed some years ago for the purpose of manure, human
skulls, bones, and deer's horns were found.’ No doubt this compost of
human skulls, etc., would raise good crops.
The Lindston and Woodlands camps appear to have been
two of the fortlets referred to in the above quotation. Where the third
one was situated I have not been able to ascertain.
Two urns, or food vessels, were at one time dug up at
Skeldon. Both are figured in the first volume of the Ayr and Wigton
Collections, each being nearly 5 inches high, and nearly 3 inches wide at
One of them is ornamented all over the surface by
perpendicular and diagonal lines, the spaces between which are filled in
by triangular-shaped punctures. At 15/8 inches from
the rim an incised line passes round it, below which it tapers to the
The upper 1¾ inches of the other one is ornamented by
eleven string-lines, placed in a concave belt, bordered below by a sharp
incised groove, in which are placed four knobs. The tapering portion of
the urn has got five incised lines marked with the herring-bone pattern.
In 1790 a bronze tripod ewer was found in Lindston
Loch. It is figured in the fourth volume of the Ayr and Wigton
Collections, and measures 95/8 inches high, by 3¼
inches across the mouth, bulging out to 41/8 inches.
It is furnished with spout and handle, and Dr. Macdonald, who describes
it, says that, though they were long popularly believed to be of Roman
manufacture, they are now known to be of late mediaeval origin.
A bronze tripod ewer, with spout and handle, and almost
identical to the Lindston Loch specimen, was found at Skeldon.
At Percleman, in 1833, an earthenware jug was dug up.
It stands 13 inches high, is 4¾ inches in diameter at the mouth, and 5¾
inches at the base, the greatest circumference being 26 inches. It is
furnished with a handle and a small spout, and is variously ornamented,
the principal figures being those of a man’s face and hands, and it was
covered with a greenish glaze. It is figured in the first volume of the.
Ayr and Wigton Collections. Dr. Macdonald, its describer, thinks it may
have belonged to mediaeval times.
This district contained the baronies of Dalrymple and
part of Martnaham; the castles being Kerse and Barbiston (rooted out), and
Skeldon (modernized and inhabited).
A few silver coins have been found in this district,
belonging to the reigns of James I of Scotland and Edward I and Edward III
Kirkmichael district is said to take its name from St.
Michael, who lived during the tenth century.
On Cassilis Downans, right over against Woodland Camp,
there are the remains of a camp or fort. It occupies the summit of a small
hill, on the south side of the river Doon, and near the farmhouse of
Dunree. This fort is, in all likelihood, the original Dun Ree (Dun Righ),
or King’s Fort. The top of the hill has been surrounded by a rampart of
sods and stones, 152 paces in circumference, and the entrance has been by
a gateway placed on the west side.
From the vicinity of the Doon, and the hilly and
undulating nature of the neighbourhood, this is a very romantic and
charming spot, and one quite suited for the fort of a king.
On Guiltree Hill, and situated between 500 and 600 feet
above sea-level, there is another camp, but during recent years its site
has been ploughed over; still, the ditch can be distinctly traced, and
measures along its centre 224 paces in circumference. It is situated on
the top of a small hillock, and from it there is a very extensive view to
the north and south-west.
There is said to have been another camp on Guiltree
Hill, one on Kewnston, and one on Cassington, but I failed to find them,
and they may have been entirely obliterated, as the country people did not
seem to know anything about them.
I have a perforated stone hammer axe which was got in
this district under a cairn some sixty years ago. It measures 8¾ inches in
length, by 4¼ inches in width, and 2½ inches in breadth, and is in perfect
preservation, the shaft-hole, which tapers from both sides, being 1½
inches in diameter at the centre.
This axe-hammer is made of dolerite; and a stone ball
of the same material was got under the cairn along with it, and measures 23/81
inches in diameter.
This is the only instance I know of a stone ball having
been got under an Ayrshire cairn.
I have a very fine flint knife-blade or spear-head, got
in this cairn along with the axe and stone ball. It is 33/8
inches long, by 11/8 inches broad (Fig. 257).
The castles of the district are Cassilis, built in 1450
(Kennedy's), and Cloncaird.
There was a chapel at Linsayston, and beside it a holy
The martyr's stone of the district is McAdam’s,
situated in the churchyard.
The ancient lych gate has been recently restored.
Straiton is thought to get its name from the narrowness
of the glen, or. strath, through which the Girvan Water flows.
The Mote of the Doonans is 1½ miles south-east of the
village, on the south side of Kildoach Burn, Ordnance Map.
The Dalmorton mound of stones and earth in the valley
of the Girvan has been partly removed, what is left of it measuring 17
paces by 7, by 4 feet 6 inches high. The spot on which it stands is
surrounded by hills, some of them with strongly icemarked faces.
Further up the Girvan Valley, and near to the last
house in it, the Knockdon Cairn stands close on the left bank of the
stream. It measures 15 paces in diameter, and is 3 feet 6 inches high on
the one side, and 5 feet 4 inches high on the other, being placed on a
slight slope. It appears to have been opened.
This cairn is situated in the land of the whaup and the
wild duck, and there I saw what I never saw before, and that was some
hundreds of the latter rising from amongst the reeds of a little loch.
On Little Barbeth Hill, overlooking Bogton Loch, there
is a cairn which measures 31 paces in diameter, is much reduced in size,
and grass-grown. Here the rock rose grows in profusion, being the furthest
inland I have seen it in Ayrshire.
In 1851, when a mound of earth was being removed at
Gennoch, a number of urns containing burnt bones and smaller urns were
got. Only one of the small urns was preserved, the rest either falling to
pieces or being broken.
The one preserved is figured in the first volume of the
Ayr and Wigton Collections, and measures 3 inches in height by the same in
diameter at the mouth, and 2½ inches at the base, its greatest
circumference being 15 inches. Near the lip and bottom there are four
surrounding incised lines, and six near the middle. This little urn, which
Dr. Macdonald calls an ‘incense-cup,’ although it was filled with burnt
bones when found, has two perforations in the side, and it was covered
with a lid of burnt clay, with a hole perforated in its centre.
This is a rare feature in connection with urns, as they are generally
covered, when not inverted, with a stone lid
(Fig. 258). The manner in which an ancient funeral urn
was placed had. no doubt some significance, of which we can now
form no idea.
The mound in which the Gennoch urns were got was
called Knockerrennie Knowe.
Two urns were discovered on Bennan Hill, probably under
a cairn; and on the same hill there are the remains of a fort.
To the west of Loch Doon, and opposite Beoch
Shepherd’s house at a distance of about a mile, there is a cairn of
small stones known by the name of the White Laise, which may be a
corruption of White Wraes, or Warriors' fort. It measures 16 paces in
diameter, and is 6 feet high on the low side, but has been very much
dug into and scattered.
A little to the east of it there is a large
congregation of boulders, which may have formed a fort, but they are in a
bad position for such; and near them are three small cairns, 6, 6, and 9
paces in diameter respectively.
About a quarter of a mile further to the west of the
White Laise, and near the March Dyke, there is a rocking-stone, which can
easily be moved with one hand, and in the district it is known by the name
of Logan Stone. It is of gray granite, resting on graywacke, and measures
4 feet 3 inches by 4 feet, by 3 feet high.
On the west side of Loch Doon, about 2 miles
north of the castle, there is an island called Donald’s Isle, a moraine of
granite blocks and debris, and on it there are two structures called the
Monks’ Graves. The larger one is 19 paces by 8, the long direction being
with the long axis of the loch. The smaller one is 3 paces distant, and to
the south of the larger, measuring 12 paces by 6, and its long direction
is at right angles to that of the other. Both are formed of boulders, and
are hollow in the centre, and although called graves they may have been
monks’ cells, some of the monks having probably been buried in or near
When they were opened, several relies of antiquity were
obtained, including a bit of red and yellow bead, a polished stone,
fragments of pottery, bits of iron, etc.
On the moor, some 2 miles to the north-west of Loch
Doon, is Staney Buchts, an extensive ruin of many apartments, which has
been founded with. granite boulders without lime, the walls having been
probably formed of turf.
One of the most interesting archeological remnants of
antiquity is what I take to be an ancient turf village, situated on Old
Galloch, a short distance to the south-west of Glenalla Fell. It consists
of the remains of eighteen houses and two hut circles (Fig. 259),
and is placed on a sloping piece of ground, which continues to slope till
it reaches Glenalla Water. The houses are in pairs, a sub-square apartment
and an elongated one, but possibly having no communication with each
other. The small apartment is in every instance placed at the north-east
side of the longer and larger one, the smallest sub-square one measuring 4
paces by 6, and the largest one 7 paces by 6.
The other apartments are placed with their long axis up
and down hill, the smallest one measuring 18 paces by 4, and the
largest one 22 paces by 4, although one of them is 6 paces wide. They are
remarkably entire, although it would be difficult to say where the doors
had been placed, the sheep having made numerous openings through the turf
The north-west one has its wall in line with a turf
dyke, which is carried round three sides of the village, and possibly has
completely surrounded it; but on the east side only a small part of it can
Nineteen paces distant from the north-west house there
are the remains of another wall.
The double apartments are placed roughly in lines both
up and down and across the brae face ; and the nearest approach one house
makes to another is 5 paces; and the most distant from its neighbours is
separated from them by spaces 16 and 14 paces in length.
The middle pair at the upper end have got a short turf
wall extending for 3 paces out from the south-east corner. The pair east
of it have a turf wall starting from the same angle, sweeping round and
joining on to the north boundary wall of the village. The central pair
have got a turf wall extending out from the same angle as the others for
ten paces, being slightly curved upwards at the end. The pair east from
them has got a turf wall, beginning at the same angle as the others, which
sweeps round and joins the southeast corner of the sub-square apartment.
The south-west pair are joined to the next pair by a turf wall, 12 paces
long, which curves up before it comes in contact with the south-west angle
of the middle bottom pair. And from this same pair a straight turf dyke
proceeds from the south-east corner, and goes to within 6 paces of the
back wall of the south-east pair. From this last pair a short turf wall
proceeds, still from the same corner as in the others, wheels round, and
forms a loop, 4 paces by 6.
The south wall is the most irregular of the three
boundary walls, and at a short distance from the centre it turns abruptly
northward for a distance of 17 paces.
The hut circles are placed near the south-east corner
of the boundary wall. They are 4 and 5 paces in diameter respectively,
both having short turf walls 5 and 6 paces in length, and parallel to the
What appears to have been the gateway through the south
boundary wall is placed near to the east hut-circle, which was perhaps the
gatehouse of the village.
There is no tradition in the neighbourhood concerning
this, what I have called for convenience’ sake, turf village; and, so far
as I could learn, it is not a long time since the peculiar mounds on the
hill slope were observed to have relationship and similarity of plan, and
although I had been directed to the place by two parties, still, it was to
the shepherd on Glenalla that I was ultimately indebted for taking me to
the spot and pointing out the similarity of structure in the nine pairs of
buildings, for, although they are easily enough seen - in plan on a plain
sheet - still they are not, till one becomes familiar with them, so easily
made out on the ground, occupying, as they do, an area of about 140 paces
As to their significance, the interpretation I put on
them is this: One of the hut-circles was the gatehouse of the village or
township; the long houses were byres, built with their long axes running
up and down hill, for convenience of drainage; and the sub-square houses
placed at the east upper ends of the long ones, were the dwelling
apartments, put in these positions as being the driest and healthiest.
A short distance. down from the turf village, and
between it and Glenalla Water, there is a turf dyke, which extends for a
long distance, and from its dimensions - still 8 feet high at some parts,
and probably 12 feet originally - seems to have been no ordinary field
wall. If this dyke was contemporaneous with the turf village, it is quite
possible that a different interpretation may be put on the latter, and at
it a regiment of cavalry may have been stationed for the protection of the
wall, which from its height and length appears to have divided the
territories of two kingships of old.
I am also very much indebted to the shepherd on
Glenalla for pointing out. to me some interesting antiquities on the banks
of the Deil's Elbow Burn, and about a mile to the north of the old Galloch
In going up the burn one sees, situated on a point
where the burn branches, the remains of three turf huts, placed in the
form of a triangle, and at a distance of about 4 paces from each other.
One is 4 paces and another 6 paces in diameter, the remaining one being
oval, and measuring 5 paces by 3 (Fig. 260).
About a furlong further up, and placed between the
burns, there is an elliptical turf ring, 11 paces long by 6 paces wide,
and on its east and south sides there is a turf wall, 3 paces distant from
it on the east side, and 4 paces on the south, after which it curves out a
bit, its total length being about 20 paces.
Thirty-six paces further up the burn still there is the
strangest figure of them all in the shape of a turf spiral. It measures 19
paces long, the inside being 13 paces, and its long axis is placed in a
north-west and south-east direction. A large boulder is placed at the end
of the wall at the mouth of the spiral, and a few other boulders are in
connection with it. Inside of the spiral there are the remains of a small
wall (Fig. 261).
Nothing is known in the district as to any of the
above, and they are known by no name, the name of the locality being
Glenalloway, the fine hill called Glenalla Fell being a short distance to
The hut circles have in all likelihood been dwellings;
what the second structure has been I can form no idea, and the spiral we
might imagine to be the termination of a trap, into which wild cattle were
driven during a great hunt. We can imagine the tribesmen, placed in two
rows extending for miles, gradually widening out as they receded from the
spiral focus into which the cattle were to be driven, and the king with
his warriors driving the wild cattle on along the gradually-narrowing
area, until they were finally got into the turf spiral and despatched.
Loch Doon was anciently called Loch Balloch; but the
vernacular pronunciation is Loch Din, which probably meant the fortified
loch, or loch with a fort in it.
Near the head of the loch, on an island, there are the
ruins of a royal castle, the district to the south being of old called the
Forest of Buchan or Star.
When the waters of Loch Doon were lowered at one time
by cutting away a bit of the rocky barrier at its north end, several
canoes were got in the loch near the castle. In one of them, as the writer
of the New Statistical Account of the parish tells, there were got an
oaken war-club and a battle-axe. Two of the canoes have been preserved in
a pond at the head of Glen Ness. They have all been made out of single oak
trees, one of them being 23 feet long, and 30 inches in depth, by
33 inches in breadth. A rich diatom deposit occurs under peat in the
bottom of the loch.
Besides Loch Doon Castle, the other castles of the
district are Blairquhan (inhabited), which belonged to the family of
McWhirter, and Keirs Castle, only a small fragment of which remains. It
belonged to the Schaws, cupbearers to some of the ancient kings of
The church is pre-Reformation, and at the base of
Trostan Hill there was another, called The Chapel.
There is one Martyrs, Stone in the district to McHaffie,
and it is placed in the churchyard.
When Sir David Blair was infeft into the Barony of
Straiton, the ceremony had, according to law, to be performed in an old
building, and that a going workshop. The old mill was selected, the
Sheriff of Ayr at the same time placing a stone and earth on
top of his head before witnesses.
There once stood on the top of Bennan Hill a monumental
obelisk, which I was informed by the people of the district had, according
to tradition, been erected by the Romans, but which, as I have read
somewhere, was put up as lately as 1780. If this was the case, it is
strange that the old tradition as to its origin should have been
remembered, and the recent date entirely forgotten. However, when Blair’s
Monument, or Craigengower, was erected, the older one was demolished,
unless, as I was informed, ‘people would not know the one from the other.’
This was certainly bad taste, and worse policy; for should ever another
monument be erected in the district, Blair’s, according to precedent, will
require to come down.
At Berbeth there is a monument to a beggar, with a
quaint rhyming inscription.
At Patna there is a small monument, bearing a recent
inscription on a brass plate.
In the Kirkoswald district, one of the most interesting
remnants of antiquity was the Lochspouts Crannog. The little lake in which
this crannog was situated was impounded by a natural dam consisting of a
trap dyke, over which the waters of the loch flowed at several parts, and
whence in all likelihood the loch got its name of Lochspouts.
Owing to this lake-basin having been drained and
cleaned of mud and vegetable debris, for the purpose of its being
converted into a reservoir to supply Maybole town with gravitation water,
exceptional facilities were offered for having this crannog explored; but
owing to the rapidity with which the excavations were carried on, perhaps
the most was not made of it.
Before anything was done, the crannog site was
represented by a grassy mound on the margin of the loch. Five feet
below the centre of the mound there was discovered a wooden pavement
formed of oak beams, covering the central portion of the area within the
circle of piles, the rest being laid with branches and stems of trees, and
near the surrounding piles there was a reticulated structure of stakes and
beams, which appeared to have been carried all round, and sloped slightly
towards the piles, and under the log pavement there were abundance of
beams and brushwood. The diameter of the circular part within the piles
was 95 feet. Above the log pavement, and separated from it by masses of
stones embedded in yellow clay, there were three circular hearths, about 5
feet in diameter.
Connecting a rocky prominence which had formed a
portion of a former margin of the lake, there was discovered a wooden
gangway, which appeared to have been originally always submerged so
as to allow of secret access to the crannog. The piles of this structure
projected about 2 feet above the gangway, and the horizontal beams were
placed in a fan-like manner, leaving lozenge-shaped spaces between.
Dr. Munro, who explored this crannog, came to the
conclusion that its surface has subsided from what it originally was to a
depth of over 10 feet.
The relics obtained from it were chiefly got over the
area of the log pavement and around the fireplaces, but none nearer the
surface of the mound than about 18 inches.
Under this log pavement were sometimes got large
quantities of limpets and periwinkles.
Hammer-stones were pretty common, and some forty
specimens were obtained. They were of three types - circular and flat
ones, with signs of wear all round the edge; similarly shaped ones, but
with the markings on the flat surfaces; and elongated ones, which had been
used at one or both ends.
Of polishers, two types were got – pestle-like
implements and flat ones - one specimen being triangularly-shaped,
somewhat like a modern smoothing-iron, and all of them smooth and glossy
over their surfaces.
Of whetstones, one figured resembles the modern
scythe-stone in shape, and another flat one has got a hole in it towards
the end for suspension.
Three pieces of sandstone were got, with a hole in
each, the holes being funnel-shaped off both sides, and somewhat similar
to the ' sinkers' got by Mr. James Bennie in connection with the Clyde
Pebbles were abundant in the mound, some having been
used as anvils, heating-stones, sling-stones, etc.
Eleven quern-stones were. got, nearly all made of
granite; but there were only two which could be said with certainty to be
under ones. One of them had evidently been used for a long period of time.
It was oval, and measured 15 inches by 13, and 5 inches in depth,
the mouth of the funnel into which the corn was poured being 5 inches in
diameter, the smaller end containing the hole for the handle.
Only one spindle-whorl, and that one made of sandstone,
and measuring 1¾ inches in diameter, was obtained.
Two polished discs, one not a complete circle, and the
other one represented by fragments, were obtained. The largest bit
measures 4 inches in diameter. One is composed of a whitish micaceous
stone, and is quite smooth on both sides; the other is made of a dark
compact stone, highly polished on both sides. These discs may, having been
wetted, have been used as looking glasses by the crannog people.
There is an oval implement figured, made of hard gray
trap, and measuring 3¼ inches by 25/8 inches
in width, its thickness being 15/8 inches. It
exhibits thumb-and-finger cavities on each side, and if intended for a
hammer-stone, had never been used. This is an exceedingly rare type of
stone article in Ayrshire (Fig. 262).
Of flints, only two scrapers were got, one nearly
circular, and about 2 inches in diameter.
Several bits of gas-coal were obtained, some of them
showing marks of workmanship - a beautifully made ring, 1¼ inches in
external diameter (Fig. 263), and a pendant ring-cross, ornamented
by incised rings and short lines, which have been filled with a yellowish
enamel, and is perhaps a unique ornament of this type for Ayrshire.
Two portions of gas-coal rings like armlets were found.
Of bone objects, there were a pin (Fig. 264), a
chisel (Fig. 265), an awl-like instrument, three pointed
implements, a spatula, and a knife-handle. .
Of objects in horn, there is a pick made of red deer's
horn similar to the ones I got at Ashgrove Crannog, a hammer or club like
article, a spear-head, a pointed object, and a knife or dagger handle. A
bit had been cut from a roe-deer's horn showing three points, and had been
probably used as an implement.
Of wooden articles, there was a semi-globular piece, 7
inches in diameter, with a shallow cavity cut out of its flat side ; a
cup-shaped vessel, surrounded by a deep groove, which divided its lip into
two rims, which were penetrated by nine or ten small pins in holes going
These were of soft wood, but an oaken article, 3 feet 6
inches long and 1 foot broad, by 4 inches thick, was obtained, and had
been fashioned into an implement of peculiar construction, having a hole
in the centre, over which there was a handle, perforated both vertically
and horizontally, a projecting piece being at one of its ends, and a
groove in its side. It showed marks of having been long in use, and was
made out of a solid piece of wood. All the wooden articles were found
below the upper log pavement.
Of articles in iron, few were got, and these very much
corroded, one object having been a dagger, evidently riveted at one time
to a handle.
Of bronze objects, there was a small ornament with
raised central parts, widening out at the ends, and having on each side a
concavo-convex circular boss, and above a loop possibly for suspension
(Fig. 266); a key, somewhat modern in shape; and an ornament, which in the
drawing presents the appearance of a boiler safety-ball, but which is
hollowed in the part representing the ball, its total length over the top
of the suspending loop being a little more than 1¼ inches.
There was a leaden spindle-whorl-like object got,
measuring three-quarters of an inch in diameter.
Of vitreous paste objects, there was an amber-coloured
bead of the ‘melon’ type, variegated with yellowish slag, smooth over the
surface, and about three-quarters of an inch in diameter; a yellowish
circular bead, with flat sides; and one, a melon, of similar corn.
position, but represented only by a half, and grooved over its surface,
the hole in it being constricted by a circumscribing sharp ridge, its
diameter being an inch. Another bead, somewhat similar in shape to the
last, is made of green-glazed ware, and measures five-eighths of an inch
Of pottery, there were three kinds - a dark,
fine-grained variety, a light-coloured variety, with abundance of
sand-grains in its composition, and shreds of Samian ware, represented by
four fragments. The bit figured has belonged to a highly-ornamented
vessel, 6 or 7 inches in diameter. Conspicuous amongst the ornamentation
is the festoon and tassel, or egg-and-tongue border,
a very characteristic moulding on this quality of ancient ware (Fig. 267).
The only article remaining to be noticed is a
sub-triangular shaped ornament of rock-crystal, nearly an inch wide, and
which must have been ground down to its present shape. No doubt such an
article, considering its hardness and quality, would be held in great
esteem by its prehistoric possessors, the crannogites. The only other
rock-crystal article that I know of having been found in Ayrshire was the
specimen got at Kilmarnock.
The Lochspouts Crannog is described by Dr, Munro in the
third and fourth volume of the Ayr and Wigton Collections.
As the original bottom of the lake was never reached in
the explorations, there can be no doubt but there are a large number of
relics lying there yet.
At Balchriston there is a fort, situated on a point of
land where a small stream branches off from the principal burn. It
measures 40 paces in circumference round the top of the wall,
outside of which it slopes steeply in front, and to the burns on each
side. There has been a ring of large boulders as a foundation to the wall,
and the diameter of this ring is 19 paces. On the north side there is the
appearance of a gateway. On the land side, towards the east, it has been
defended by a wide ditch, the bottom of which is still 13 feet below the
top of the rampart. On the south side of the rampart there is a large
This fort is situated about 300 feet above sea-level,
and from it there is an outlook on the Firth of Clyde; but being placed
somewhat in a hollow, the land view from it is limited (Fig. 268).
I am indebted for a knowledge of it to the blacksmith
of the district, to whom it had been a lifelong enigma.
Kirkhill Fort, or Camp, is situated on the top of a
hill of that name, which rises 850 feet above sea-level, and from which
there is a magnificent view of Mochram Hill, the Dailly and Girvan Hills,
and part of the Firth of Clyde.
Kirkhill is in all likelihood a corruption of Caer
Hill, or the ‘fortified hill’ (Fig. 269).
The rampart is on the outside of the ditch, not quite
circular, and measures 221 paces in circumference. The centre of the fort
rises considerably above the top of the rampart, and right in the centre,
on the top of the hill, there is a level platform, 20 paces in diameter,
which was probably fortified by a stockaded citadel, and similar to
several platforms already described in other districts.
This fort has the appearance of having been pitted in
several parts, as if someone had been hunting for treasure.
The Hollowshean Camp is conspicuous as having been
defended by no less than four ramparts on its
east side. Within the inner rampart it measures 93
paces east and west, by 62 paces in the opposite direction. On the south
side the ground is naturally steep, and on the north the slope has been
scarped for a distance of 12 feet down. The spaces between the ramparts
gradually decrease in width in going out from the camp towards the east,
the respective distances apart being 14, 9, and 6 paces, measured
from the centres of the walls. The two inner ramparts are still complete,
there being gateways through each near the centre; the inner one is
semicircular, and 80 paces in length, the rest being sub-parallel to it.
The northern half of the two outer ones have been removed. There are no
ditches in connection with this camp (Fig. 270).
The outlook from Hollowshean Camp is also very fine,
and when I visited it in April, 1893, its surface was covered with
anemones, which looked even finer than those which grow in woods.
At a short distance to the west of Hollowshean Camp, on
the top of Prop Hill, there is a small mound, 8 paces in diameter and 3
About the centre of the district there was a Druidical
circle, which has probably been removed, and several stone cists were got
containing ornaments, as per Statistical Account.
Two large mounds of ashes, 10 yards apart, and 30 yards
from the sea, were at one time conspicuous, but were removed for manure.
They are said by the writer of the New Statistical Account to have
contained 4,000 cartloads, and were in all likelihood shell
Between Turnberry and Girvan there are eight large
drums of boulder clay facing the sea, parts of some of them having been
cut away by the waves during the raised-beach period. On the third one,
counting from Turnberry, is the old fort of Dinnymuck* (the fort of the
sow), now called Dowhill (probably, and as pronounced in the
district, Dubh Hill, or ‘black hill,’ from its having been covered with
sloe bushes, part of which still remain).
The outer rampart is horseshoe shaped, the part of the
fort towards the sea having slipped away, and is 160 paces in
The inner rampart is 67 paces in circumference, the
space within it being hollow, and at parts nearly six feet below the top
of the rampart.
On the outside of the outer rampart, at both
extremities, there are short ditches. There is a narrow platform
surrounding the inner rampart, 4 feet below it on the north side, and 3
feet 6 inches on the south side. The ditch surrounding this platform is 12
feet 8 inches below it on the north side, and 10 feet 4 inches on the
south side, and runs from 7 to 11 paces wide at the bottom. The outer
rampart runs from 3 to 8 feet high above this ditch, and the short ditch
on the south side is 10 feet 8 inches below its top.
Turnberry Castle, Ailsa, the Girvan Hills, the Fairy
Knowe, and Craighead Fort are visible from it.
The Coves of CuIzean are six in number, hollowed out of
porphyritic rock by the waves when the land stood lower relative to the
sea than it does now. The largest one is some 200 feet long, by about 50
feet high at parts.
So far as I know, no archaeological exploration of them
has ever been undertaken; but I think such an examination would repay the
trouble, as they are most likely to have been inhabited at one or several
On Balkenna, at about the level of the new shore road,
stood a large cairn of stones. David Jameson, my informant, who assisted
at its removal, said that under it there were several stone coffins, or
cists, with human remains.
At Port Morrough, a traditional bay, but now 100
yards inland, and 25 feet above sea-level, situated opposite The Maidens,
a group of fantastic rocks between CuIzean and Turnberry Castles, there
was found under a ledge of rock, after some soil had been removed, a
hoard of five bronze celts, and a bronze ring. Dr. Munro, who
describes the find in the fourth volume of the Ayr and Wigton Collections,
thinks that there was evidence in the manner of their occurrence to show
that the sea had receded considerably since the hoard of bronze celts had
been stowed away.
The whole five celts belong to the same type, and that
the simplest of the bronze celts, formed evidently in imitation of
the more ancient stone celt, the chief differences being their
comparative thinness - a natural difference, seeing that they were made of
a much tougher substance - and a widening at the cutting edge.
This ‘kit o’ tools’ is nicely graduated in size, the
intermediate ones having undergone the most wear by work; and the find is
probably unique, and points to a time when the art of the carpenter, aided
by the use of metal implements, was first known in the land.
The largest of these bronze celts measures 5½ inches by
41/8 inches wide, by 2/3 of an
inch in thickness; and the smallest, 3¾ inches by 1½ inches, by 1/5
of an inch in thickness (Fig. 271).
The bronze ring is a penannular one, 27/8
inches in external diameter, circular in section, with a thickness of ¼ of
This find was certainly a very interesting one,and if
similar finds were as promptly brought before the notice of the proper
authorities, archaeological science would make rapid progress, and our
knowledge of antiquities increase by leaps and bounds.
*It may mean the strong-house of the
Monk; muk being the Norse word for Monk.
A rapier bronze sword was discovered in a moss, but
where is not stated. If it is the same article as is described in the New
Statistical Account as a ‘very curious spear,’ it must have been found
some sixty years ago. It is figured in the fourth volume of. the Ayr and
Wigton Collections, and measures 15 inches in length, and 2¼ inches across
the handle plate.
A dagger-blade, or halbert, of bronze is figured beside
the above, and measures 14¾ inches long, by 4 inches broad at the widest
part, and has three rivet holes at the base, with a rivet still in one of
them. It was found near Crossraguel Abbey, and is in the National Museum
Between Kirkoswald village and the sea, half a mile
distant from the latter, is a mound called Shanter Knowe. It is situated
on the summit of a rising terrace which overlooks the beautiful bay of the
This mound is nearly circular, 90 paces in
circumference at the base, 33 feet in diameter at the flat summit; and its
height is 12 and 20 feet, being placed on sloping ground. It has been
partly explored by Lord Ailsa, who describes and figures it in the seventh
volume of the Ayr and Galloway Collections.
No articles were got in this mound nearer the surface
than 5 or 6 feet, or deeper than 12 or 13 feet.
The following were the finds : Periwinkles; limpets;
bones or horns of ox, horse, sheep or goat, swine, red-deer, roe-deer, and
dog; well-made flint scraper; fragments of flint; quartzite hammer-stone;
bronze pin, 2¾ inches in length; whorl of lead 1 inch in diameter, with
central perforation; portion of an iron curb-chain; iron slag and
fragments of glazed and unglazed wheel-made pottery.
From the, number of edible shells that were got, this
had probably at one time been a shell mound, subsequently
heightened and converted into a moote hill or fort.
At the south end of Maidenhead Bay is Rab’s Knowe, a
subconical, grass-grown, mound-like old sea stack rock, quite suitable for
Near it, and just to the south of the Weary Neuk, is
Th’Stinnen Stane, a dolerite block, or monolith, erected on the summit of
a bit of rising uncultivated ground. It is 5 feet high, by 3 feet 6 inches
by 2 feet, its surroundings being exceedingly picturesque, part of them
including the ancient policies of Turnberry Castle, now an extensive
grassy plain, partly broken up by bent-covered sand-hills.
The Dounan Knowe on Drumbeg, and close to the
shore-road, has probably been fortified. At one time, when it was being
divested of brushwood and brought under cultivation, a number of human
bones were brought to light, as I was informed by an old man over eighty
years of age, called David Jameson, who remembered seeing the skeletons.
The Fairy Knowe, an artificial mound, is on Balkenna,
close by the shore road, and is situated on a drum of boulder clay. It
measures 37 paces by 11, and is 9 feet high.
According to a tradition of the neighbourhood, it was
erected by the Danes in a single night.
The castles of the district are Turnberry,* thought to
have been the Perigonium of the Romans, destroyed by Bruce in 1308;
Thomaston, built by Bruce's nephew in 1335; CuIzean, built in 1777 near
the site of a more ancient one called Cove Castle.
Crossraguel Abbey was founded by the Earl-King Duncan
in 1260, demolished by Percy in 1307, built again and inhabited by
the monks for thirty-four years after the Reformation. The Abbey,
Chapter-house, Abbot’s house, Port, and Dovecot are still pretty entire.
There is the round tower of an old windmill a short
distance to the south of Maidenhead Bay.
In the Dailly district (the vale or valley) there are,
about a quarter of a mile east of Blair Farm-steading, a series of three
wall-like mounds. They are each 13 paces in length, lie parallel to one
another, and are included in a space of 8 paces wide, their average height
being about 2 feet, the middle one having a short spur at the end.
Fourteen paces east of the above, there is a U-shaped
wall-like mound, similar in size to the three described - viz., 13 paces
by 8 - the open end of the U being towards the east.
* Bruce’s Castle
It is not easy to conjecture what these structures may
have been used for, and nothing is known about them in the district.. Can
they have been ‘Picts’ kilns’ for making charcoal, wherewith the ancients
smelted and fashioned their iron and bronze weapons, implements and
ornaments (Fig. 272) ?
On Dobbingstone there is a moat-like hillock, which is
entirely natural, having been carved out of the boulder clay by the joint
action of two streams, and in the glen of the larger stream there is the
most magnificent display of that formation in Ayrshire. Above this
moat-like hillock there is a rampart-like structure running for some
distance, which took me some time to convince myself was also a natural
The burn at the base of the mound-like hillock has so
fortified it by a trench that it, the mound, may have been used as a fort,
and at one part there seems to be a bit of artificial ditch. The
surface of the hillock is 29 paces long by 9 paces wide, the sides being
On Hadyard Hill, on the lands of Maxelton, there is a
camp, locally known as ‘Bruce’s Camp.’ It is situated towards the
south-west end of the hill, and commands an extensive view, the lower part
of the Girvan Valley, with its finely-wooded clumps and mansions, being
just beneath the hill to the west, a large part of the Firth, the Girvan
Hills, Knockdolian’s top looking over them, and the numerous hills
stretching away towards the east, are in view from this coign of vantage.
This camp still shows considerable portions of two
ramparts and two ditches, the ramparts being placed on the inside of the
ditches. Commencing at the south side, the outside ditch and rampart,
measuring along the bottom of the ditch, extends for a distance of 224
paces; then there is a break, where the ditch is filled up, of 15 paces.
The gateway may have been placed here, as there is an opposing break in
the inner ditch. Continuing along the outer ditch, it sweeps round for 66
paces further, when the hillside becomes so. steep that for 110 paces
there was no need of either ditch or rampart on the south-west side.
On the south side, the inner ditch and rampart extend
further round towards the west by 31 paces than did the outer ditch
and rampart. There is a gap of 11 paces, and then the inner ditch begins
again, being 8 paces inside the outer one, and sweeps round for 158
paces, which brings it to the gap spoken of (the gateway?), which is 10
paces wide. Here the inner ditch is 25 paces within the outer one. It
extends for a further distance of 57 paces, when it conies to the steep
part of the hill already spoken of (Fig. 273).
Twenty-three paces to the east of the camp there is a
split boulder of fine-grained gray granite.
Craighead Hill is one that should not fail to be
visited by the geologist, as besides the fine view to be obtained from it,
its summit has been carved out into numerous natural hollows.
To the south-west of it there is a prominent,
crag-and-tail little rock, and situated on the crag-end of it there is an
old fort, which I have called Craighead Fort. Its summit is 24
paces by 15, and is for the most part surrounded by granite
boulders. Mochrum, Kirkhill Camp, Turnberry, Ailsa, and Dinnymuck Fort are
visible from it, the view towards the east being limited by
I asked the Rev. George Turnbull to give me some
particulars about the Charter Stones of Dailly, which are unique in
Ayrshire, and he has very kindly sent me the following notes: ‘There are
two stones, which tradition calls the Charter Stones of Old Dailly. They
lie in an enclosure attached to the ruined church of Old Dailly, which is
pre-Reformation, and very old. The enclosure (in which they lie) is
sometimes called a "vestry," but it is rather supposed to have been the
burying-place of the Boyds of Trochrague. The stones were used in bygone
times as in trial of strength, the smoothness, as well as the
weight, making it difficult to lift them. They were once taken away, and
thrown into the river (Girvan); but the people of Old Dailly fished them
out, and restored them to their place. They are bluish, and very hard.’
The facts of these stones being called charter
stones, and also used as tests of strength, is very
interesting, and would seem to indicate that nobody in the district was at
one time allowed to hold a charter unless he was of sufficient
strength to lift one of them, or perhaps both. The practice might be
revived over the length and breadth of the land without in any way proving
detrimental to the national physique.
In the district two large bronze rings were at one time
In St. Andrew’s College Museum there is a bronze
sword-sheath of elegant workmanship, found in a drain near Bargany House.
It is figured and described by Dr. Munro in the seventh volume of the Ayr
and Galloway Collections. In length it is 24 inches.
At Kilkerran a bronze chaldron, along with bronze
socketed celts and fragments of bronze swords, were discovered ; and
towards the east of the district, at the base of the hills, a granite
quern was found.
The castles of the district are Penkill, inhabited and
situated in a romantic glen, there being an older castle of that name
which exists as a ruin; Dalquharran Castles, an inhabited one and a ruin;
Kilkerran Castle, and the site of Drumellan Castle.
At the foot of the romantic little Lady Glen there was
situated Lady Chapel, and Mackrikil (Machar-a-Kill) was the site of
another chapel, and near it there was got a socket of a cross, which
measures 4 feet 2 inches high, and .3 feet 6 inches by 3 feet at the base
; smaller at the summit, as it is calvered, and steps in twice. The
socket-hole is 2 feet by 8 inches, and about 1 foot in depth.
Another relic has been made out of a rough boulder of
sandstone, and measures 2 feet 9 inches by 2 feet 7 inches, and 1 foot 7
inches. On it there is a small incised cross. It is conjectured to have
been a ‘Knockin’ Stone,’ and if so is unique in having a cross inscribed
on it, as Dr. Anderson remarks, and adds that the cross may have been
intended to bless the barley that was being prepared in it.
Both of these stones have been figured and described at
some length in the third volume of the Ayr and Wigton Collections by Mr.
On the same site there was a small monolith, which has
been removed from its original position.
In the churchyard there are some grave-slabs, which are
inscribed with the sword and cross, and shears and cross.
A circular pyx of brass was at one time dug up near
Dalquharran Castle. It was filled with coins of Edward I and Edward II of
England, and two counterfeit sterlings of the Count of Flanders and
Porcieu, and is figured in the seventh volume of the Ayr and Galloway
Ailsa Craig formed part of the Barony of Knockqerran in
Dailly parish, and on it there is a ruin.
There is a Covenanters’ monument in the Old Dailly
churchyard to Semple and MacLorgan.
Dailly was anciently Dalmaolkeran, or land of the
bald-headed (saint) Keiran.
Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, London