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MayboleCarricksCapital.jpg (33235 bytes)Maybole, Carrick's Capital Facts, Fiction & Folks by James T. Gray, Alloway Publishing, Ayr. First published 1972. Copyright Permission for display on this site granted by David Gray. You may view and download chapters of this book for personal research purposes only. No other distribution of this text is authorized.

 


Chapter I

FIRST FACTS

For many centuries the district around Maybole has been inhabited and there is evidence of this in the number of old forts sited throughout the parish, the numerous standing stones and memorial mounds and the many old relies and antiquarian finds which have been turned up from time to time. Indeed John Smith in his book Prehistoric Man in Ayrshire states that Maybole might well be called "the antiquarian district of Ayrshire."

There are prehistoric forts at Bowerhill in the north part of the parish near the Heads of Ayr, at Dunduff, (or Domes Hill as it was called from a tradition that a battle with the Danes was fought there) and on Trees Farm, below the quarry on How Muir, there is an excellent example of a fort which went by the name of Dun Fan and which is preserved as an ancient monument. On Kildoon Hill there is a fine example of another prehistoric fort and the monument to Sir Charles Fergusson of Kilkerran, who died in 1849 stands within its ramparts, while there are numerous other examples throughout the district.

There are several old standing stones and memorial mounds in Maybole Parish and perhaps the best known local one is in a field on Lyonstone Farm on the south side of the low road to Ayr. This stone, which is of grey granite, was probably erected to commemorate some long forgotten important event in the history of the district. There is another well known Standing Stone on Blairstone Farm near Alloway on which there is roughly engraved a cross. Local tradition has it that the cross represents Wallace's sword, which he is supposed to have laid down on the stone, but even a cursory glance shows the incised figure is not meant to represent a sword but a cross, and this stone is believed to mark the spot where a treaty was formed between the Picts and the Scots. Near the mouth of the River Doon in a field known as Stone Park there is another Stanrlinn Stone which is again believed to commemorate a treaty between Picts and Scots who seem to have been as adept at making and breaking treaties as the nations of the twentieth century.

It was a common custom to erect standing stones or memorial mounds in bygone days and on Newarkhill there used to be a flat stone set in the hillside which was said to mark the spot where the local people gathered to watch the ships of the Spanish Armada which had been blown up the firth and wrecked on the rocky headlands. Although this stone has long since disappeared and there are no local traditions about this event it is interesting to note that the records of Ayr Town Council for 1577-1578 show an entry for 4 expended for "meat and drink for the pure Spainyardis" who were shipwrecked sailors of the Spanish Armada.

For over two hundred and fifty years there was a memorial mound on the lands of West Enoch Farm which was erected to commemorate the skirmish between the Earl of Cassillis and the laird of Bargany on 11th December, 1601 when young Bargany was killed. This was erected a few years after the event but was unfortunately levelled by the tenant farmer in the latter part of the nineteenth century as undoubtedly it was the last memorial mound erected in Carrick.

In 1846 a collection of bronze celts (axes) was found on Lagg Farm, three of which are preserved in the National Museum in Edinbulgh, while on Lochland Farm, just to the south of Maybole a fine Whinstone hammer axe was found in 1856. About the same period the farmer at Drumshang, when ploughing a field, turned up a bronze figure holding scales which is believed to represent "Justice", and many other stone and bronze implements have been unearthed around Maybole from time to time.

The most interesting find in the district was the discovery of crannog dwellings at Lochspouts when this loch was drained and cleaned to make the town reservoir in the 19th century. When the loch was drained the remains of a settlement of lake dwellers was found and this was one of the most important antiquarian finds in Ayrshire and indeed in Scotland. A circular wooden platform made of oak beams about 95 feet in diameter had been built on oak piles set in the loch and on this platform three stone hearths or fireplaces had been formed in stone and clay. Access to the little loch village or crannog was by a wooden gangway built just below the level of the water so that intruders would not easily find it and the inhabitants of the crannog dwelling were fairly safe from unexpected visits of not too friendly neighbours. Being sited in the loch the inhabitants of the settlements had a handy coup for their refuse and everything was thrown into the water when it was of no further use. To the antiquarians this coup proved invaluable and many interesting finds were made by carefully sifting the silt at the bottom of the loch. A large quantity of stone hammers and axes were found, also stone pestles and querns for grinding corn, nearly all made of granite, together with huge heaps of small pebbles, probably used as heating stones for the meat pots or for slingstones for hunting game. Some very fine ornaments were unearthed, many in bone in the shape of rings and pins, and a bronze ornament with a loop which probably fastened on to a hide thong to hang as a necklace, also a quantity of shaped and pierced beads. A great deal of broken pottery had been tipped into the loch and many of the shards found had decorative designs characteristic of ancient pottery of that period. One of the most interesting finds was a triangular shaped piece of rock crystal which had been carefully formed and highly polished and would be worn probably as a pendant. No doubt its owner would greatly prize it and bewail its loss over the side of the crannog platform into the loch, as it was too fine an object to have been discarded and thrown over into the natural and handy rubbish dump. A sandstone spindle whort was also found and it would seem that the crannog dwellers of the first century were weavers as were also practically all the townspeople in the 18th and 19th centuries. Two hollowed out tree trunks (presumably used as boats) were found embedded in the silt and one was taken to a museum in Glasgow and the other given to the Marquess of Ailsa and it could be seen at the Pond Cottage at Culzean until a few years ago. There is no doubt that the discovery of the Lochspouts Crannogs was one of the most important discoveries in the country and it gives ample proof that the Maybole area has been inhabited for over two thousand years.

These small communities through the centuries no doubt gathered together to gain greater strength in numbers and probably chose the sheltered hillside on which the town now stands to form a small township long before the name of Maybole appears in the charter by Duncan dated 1193. It is rather interesting that the townspeople still draw much of their water supply from Lochspouts, which was the site of the earliest known dwellings in the district, and that two thousand years ago the town's forefathers were using water for washing and drinking from the same source as the present Minnieboler does today.

It is also of interest to learn from the antiquarian finds in the district that the people in these old days were not altogether the rude barbarians one is inclined to picture in one's mind. They lived in little communities well designed for protection against marauders and well laid out for the living needs of their day, with much thought evidently given to the choosing of suitable sites. The men of these times had spears and axes for hunting and for offence or defence as the occasion arose, their wives and daughters decorated themselves with rings, bangles and necklaces as do present day wives and daughters and their children supped from wooden porringers with bone spoons and had their unruly hair combed with bone combs just as many townspeople of this century had, in their childhood, a wooden bowl and a horn Spoon. The crannog dwellers hunted animals, caught fish, and cooked their food in wood pots by throwing heated stones into the water when it was not roasted over the large fireplaces. Food and shelter were the main necessities of life then as now and if one discounts electric cookers, refrigerators, etc., there would be found to be little difference in the life of the Minnieboler over the centuries.

There are no written records or mention of the town and district until the twelfth century although this part of Scotland was mentioned by the Romans during their occupation of South Scotland. The inhabitants were then known as the Damnii, and were Druids, and there are many Druidical remains in the surrounding districts, although there are no traces of any left in Maybole Parish. In the fifth century the people of Carrick were converted to Christianity and since then it has been closely connected with religious houses and the place names give great evidence of this.

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