Riccarton, Ayrshire

Riccarton is a village and parish in East Ayrshire, Scotland. It lies across the River Irvine from Kilmarnock. The river Irvine divides the parishes of Riccarton and Kilmarnock and the river used to form the boundary between the districts of Kyle and Cunninghame.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. Kilmarnock. Pps. 49 - 47.]

History

The village became a burgh of barony in 1638, but its civic powers were never exercised. Riccarton is also sometimes called Ellerslie. [http://www.ayrshirescotland.com/clans/wallace.html The Clan Wallace.] ] In 1875 Riccarton had a population of 1889,Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 54.] but by 1951 that had increased to between 7000 and 8000; many of whom were employed at the Glenfield Works in Kilmarnock.Strawhorn, John & Boyd, William (1951) The Third Statistical Account of Scotland. Ayrshire. Pub. Oliver & Boyd. Edinburgh. P. 456.]

Riccarton has effectively been absorbed into Kilmarnock, partly through the growth of council housing estates at Shortlees, Witchknowe and Burnpark, and later by the improvements to the A71 (T) road, the building of which, together with associated interchanges, effectively made the old village centre into a large traffic island.

The barony of Riccarton

The ancient 109 merkland [http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/A_Researcher's_Guide_to_Local_History_Terminology A Researcher's Guide to Local History terminology] ] barony included 54 separate landholdings, including the coalheughs of Riccarton and all the buildings, orchards, woods, mills, and fishings (salmon and others). Riccarton and Shaws mill were included. Also the £17 lands of Kaimshill, Auchindinane and Hunthall, oddly the £5 land of Elderslie in Renfrewshire, the 4 merklands of Inchgotrig and the 2 merklands of Holme. [http://www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/content.asp?url=/comser/tourism/William%20Wallace.pdf Wallace & the Barony of Riccarton] ]

The churches

Location map
Scotland
label = Riccarton
position = right
lat = 55.58
long = -4.48
mark =
caption = Location of Riccarton, East Ayrshire
width = 150
A pre-reformation Riccarton parish church stood in the centre of the old burial ground; first noted, as a chapel, in 1229, sub-ordinate to the church of Dundonald.Groome, Francis H. (1903). "Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland." Pub. Caxton. London. P. 1379. It was granted by Walter, High Steward of Scotland, to the short lived independent convent of Dalmulin. This convent, dissolved in 1238, and the 'chapel' was given to the monastery of Paisley, becoming the parish church which still belonged to the monks. The last patrons were the Cunninghames of Caprington, whose impressive memorial still stands; some of the Campbells of Treesbank are also interred here.Paterson, James (1863). History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton. Pub. James Stillie. Edinburgh. Vol.1.-Kyle. P. 639.] MacIntosh, John (1894) "Ayrshire Nights' Entertainments". Pub. Dunlop & Drennan. Kilmarnock. P. 241 - 242.] The old cemetery has a number of interesting pre-reformation style gravestones, ornamented with scenes of men ploughing with oxen, one with a bodkin, shears and iron, another with millstones, wheels, and other gearing, and even a few with Garden of Eden scenes. The oldest discernible stone is marked 1641.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 51 - 52.] Unfortunately many are very worn and heraldic devices, etc. can no longer be made out with any certainty.

From the presbytery records it would appear to have been rebuilt in 1725. [http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/pls/portal/newcanmore.newcandig_details_gis?inumlink=42797 Riccarton church on the RCAHMS site] ] It was replaced by the present church (at NS 4282 3639) in 1823, which was built on the old Judgement or Moot hill of the barony of Riccarton. Of the old church in the small churchyard nearby, nothing now remains above ground, the stones being used to build a single story house close to the old bridge.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 53.]

The manse no longer exists, however it had a claim to significance in that it had a mantelpiece in its kitchen which came from the dining room of Riccarton castle.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 55.]

Old cemetery gallery - 2007

Local worthies and eccentrics

The Rev. Alexander Moodie, minister of the parish, is buried in the old cemetery. Robbie Burns mentions him in "The Holy Fair".MacIntosh, John (1894) "Ayrshire Nights' Entertainments". Pub. Dunlop & Drennan. Kilmarnock. P. 242.]

Sandy McCrone was a blind fiddler who is remembered for having climbed to the top of the new church when the scaffolding was till in place and placing a potato on the beak of the weathercock.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 50.]

William Stevenson was a local beggar who came from Dunlop. About 1787 he separated from his wife and made the unusual pledge that if either of them were to make an attempt at reconciliation then that person was to pay the other a £100; a considerable sum in those times. When he died it was found that he was worth around nine hundred pounds. He set aside money for all the beggars in Ayrshire to come and see his body lying in state and then enjoy a great feast in his honour.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 52 - 53.]

Sir James Shaw, Bart., a Lord Mayor of London was born at Mosshead farm on the Treesbank estate in 1764.Paterson, James (1863). History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton. Pub. James Stillie. Edinburgh. Vol.1.-Kyle. P. 641 - 645.] His statue now stands outside the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock.Strawhorn, John & Boyd, William (1951) The Third Statistical Account of Scotland. Ayrshire. Pub. Oliver & Boyd. Edinburgh.] Sir James endeared himself to Scotland by the active part which he took in raising money in London for the widow and children of Robbie Burns. [http://fp.ayrshireroots.plus.com/Towns/Riccarton/Riccarton.htm Sir James Shaw in Ayrshire Roots.] ]

The Seat of Judgement

The present 1823 parish church of Riccarton stands on a mound which is partly natural and partly artificial and which was formerly called "Seat of Judgement", having been a court or moot hill where justice was administered by the old baron court of Riccarton. Paterson in 1863 called it the "Moat."Paterson, James (1863). History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton. Pub. James Stillie. Edinburgh. Vol.1.-Kyle. P. 639.] [http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/pls/portal/newcanmore.newcandig_details_gis?inumlink=42801 The Moot hill.] ] Soil from the foundations of the new church on the old moot hill was used to fill up part of the river bed when its course was changed at East Shaw Street, and this area though north of the Irvine still lies in Riccarton parish.Strawhorn, John & Boyd, William (1951) The Third Statistical Account of Scotland. Ayrshire. Pub. Oliver & Boyd. Edinburgh. P. 456 - 457.] Witchknowe is an area of Riccarton named after a low hill. No definite site for the 'Gallow's hill' associated with the Moot hill has been identified and this is a candidate, together with the 'Castle hill.'

The 'Castle Hill' in 1895 was a round-topped mound with an oval base close to Damhead House. It was 26 paces in its longest diameter at the base, 15 feet high on one side and 4 foot 6 inches on the other. It was covered with trees and had a seat and a path to the top.Smith, John (1895) "Prehistoric Man in Ayrshire". Pub. Elliot Stock. London. P. 130 - 131.]

Riccarton castle and the William Wallace connection

The name Wallace was spelled in various ways, such as 'Waleys', 'Walensis', 'Walays', etc. [http://www.ayrshirescotland.com/clans/wallace.html The Clan Wallace.] ] The family were the barons of Riccarton and it is said that Wallace's father was born here. Some go so far as to suggest that William Wallace himself was born in Riccarton.Strawhorn, John & Boyd, William (1951) The Third Statistical Account of Scotland. Ayrshire. Pub. Oliver & Boyd. Edinburgh. P. 456.] After his murder of Selby, Governor of Dundee, William Wallace first sought refuge in Riccarton castle; another time being after he had revenged his uncle's death at the Barns of Ayr.MacIntosh, John (1894) "Ayrshire Nights' Entertainments". Pub. Dunlop & Drennan. Kilmarnock. P. 90.] A little below the watermeetingsAdamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. Kilmarnock. Pps. 49 - 50.] of the Irvine and the Kilmarnock Water took place a pivotal incident in 1297 Robertson, William (1908). Ayrshire. Its History and Historic Families. Vol.1. Pub. Dunlop & Dreenan. Kilamrnock. P. 61 - 63.] which led to the Scottish Nation regaining its independence following what was effectively its conquest by Edward I of England.

Sir William Wallace was fishing on the Irvine at Monksholm also Maxholm farm,Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 49.] about half a mile to the west of old Riccarton castle,Wilson, Professor & Chambers, Robert (1840) "The Land of Burns". Pub. Blackie & Son. London. P. 75.] when a troop of English soldiers dismounted and demanded that he give up his catch. He offered to share, but this was refused and he was grossly insulted by the soldiers for his temerity. He had no weapons, however he used his fishing rod to disarm one soldier and then killed him with his own sword. He similarly dispatched two others and the remaining soldiers then fled.

He went to his uncle's castle, the nearby Riccarton castle and took on the disguise of a woman working at her spinning-wheel, thereby eluding the vengeful English troops.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 50.] In the following months an uprising slowly gained impetus through the example of one unarmed Scotsman killing three armed soldiers.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. Kilmarnock. Pps. 49 - 50.] A thorn tree called the "Bickering Bush" stood nearby and its site is marked on the 1860 OS map and a public house by that name used to stand in Riccarton, although another still exists in Bonnyton, Kilmarnock.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 49.]

John Wallace of Riccarton married the heiress of Craigie castle and this became the principal residence , the old castle being allowed to fall into ruins.MacIntosh, John (1894) "Ayrshire Nights' Entertainments". Pub. Dunlop & Drennan. Kilmarnock. P. 90 - 91.] In 1875 all that remained of the castle was some stately trees, including a pear tree supposedly planted by William Wallace.Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 49.]

Death at Riccarton's Nether ford

At the Nether Ford on the Irvine near Riccarton, Robert the Bruce in 1307 sent Sir James DouglasRobertson, William (1908). Ayrshire. Its History and Historic Families. Vol.1. Pub. Dunlop & Dreenan. Kilamrnock. P. 92 - 93.] to intercept the English soldiers commanded by Sir Philip de Mowbray. The English were ambushed as they crossed the ford on the Irvine and sixty lay dead before the panic-stricken survivors fled in panic.

Riccarton Gallery

Riccarton old bridge

Riccarton Bridge is an 18th century 3-span, segmental arched bridge, with dressed stone arch rings, rubble spandrels and triangular cutwaters. [http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/pls/portal/newcanmore.newcandig_details_gis?inumlink=42821 Riccarton bridge.] ] The first recorded wheeled vehicles to be used in Ayrshire were carts offered gratis to labourers working on Riccarton Bridge, Kilmarnock, in 1726, and even then some of the labourers refused them.Strawhorn, John and Boyd, William (1951). The Third Statistical Account of Scotland. Ayrshire. Pub.] Adamson, Archibald R. (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Pub. T. Stevenson. Kilmarnock. P. 48.] The 1860 OS map shows that stepping stones crossed the river just upstream of the old bridge and just before the confluence of the Kilmarnock water with the river Irvine.

The Toll Road

Riccarton parish was often in dispute with the Kilmarnock to Cumnock committee over the payment of so called 'conversion' money for the Toll Road maintenance. Even after recourse to law the committee still failed to obtain any money from Riccarton and Galston parishes.McClure, David (1994). "Tolls and Tacksmen." Ayr Arch & Nat Hist Soc. Ayrshire Monograph No.13. P. 21 & 22.

Riccarton mill and cottages

At Map reference: NS 4463 3701 lies the old Riccarton mill with its associated cottages. The mill wheel has gone and the building has been converted into a private house. [http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/pls/portal/newcanmore.newcandig_details_gis?inumlink=172863 Riccarton Mill.] ]

Riccarton Institute

John Galloway, Esq., of Barleith and Dollars Collieries built an institute in New Street Riccarton for the use of the working-men in the locality. The building still survives as a Community Centre run by East Ayrshire Council.McKay, Archibald (1880) "The History of Kilmarnock". Pub. Archibald McKay, Kilmarnock. P. 346.]

Riccarton and Craigie railway station

The village had a railway station by this name on the Gatehead and Hurlford branch of the Glasgow and South Western Railway. Part of the line remains open to supply a petrol depot in Kilmarnock. The remains of the station were extant until the new Kilmarnock bypass removed all traces. It was a goods only station (no passengers) as the line never had a publicly advertised passenger service. It is listed in 1929 as 'Riccarton and Craigie' by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, one of the stations which the company conveyed goods to.LMS (1929), "List of principal towns & places to and from which the LMS convey goods from and to Sheffield and Rotherham." Euston Station, London.] It closed officially on 5 July 1965, originally just called Riccarton and renamed in 1905.Robin, G. H. (1962), "The Nith Valley Route." The Railway Magazine, January P. 23.]

Bellfield Estate

This grand Georgian mansion and its 240 acres of woodlands and gardens, including a notable rock garden, were gifted to Kilmarnock by the Misses Buchanan, Elizabeth, Jane and Margaret, in around 1879. The ladies were the daughters of George Buchanan, a Glasgow merchant.Love, Dane (2005) "Lost Ayrshire. Ayrshire's Lost Architectural Heritage." Pub. Birlinn Ltd. ISBN 1-84158-356-1. P. 26. Bellfield housing scheme borders it.Strawhorn, John & Boyd, William (1951) The Third Statistical Account of Scotland. Ayrshire. Pub. Oliver & Boyd. Edinburgh. P. 457.]

The Buchanan Bequest was donated by the Buchanan Family from Bellfield House. It contains only 100 titles, from the original 1,500 books donated, dating from 1759 to 1856; these can be found in the Ayrshire Collection at the Dick Institute. The Museum Service also has a number of items, including those on history, biographies, dictionaries, reference works, periodicals, general literature, poetry & theology, industry, agriculture & natural history, travel, topography & illustrated works. [http://www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/comser/libraries/heritage-special%20collections.asp The Buchanan Bequest] ] The house was demolished in 1970, much of the land was used for building council housing and the remainder is now used as a public park and playing fields.Love, Dane (2005) "Lost Ayrshire. Ayrshire's Lost Architectural Heritage." Pub. Birlinn Ltd. ISBN 1-84158-356-1. P. 26.

Bellfield gallery 2007

Water courses

The Simon's burn runs down from near High Coodham, through the grounds of Treesbank House and then runs underground through the village and finally enters the Irvine. The Todgrige burn runs from near Muirmill Equestrian centre to join the Irvine at the Caprington castle estate. Ainslie's map of 1821 shows a loch near Earlston, with a farm named Lochside. [http://www.nls.uk/maps/early/649.html Ainslie, John, 1745-1828. Map of the Southern Part of Scotland. Pub. Edinburgh : Macreadie Skelly & Co., 1821.] ]

Coal and limestone mining

Coal existed in great abundance and was mined from a very early date. Anthracite or blind coal was chiefly mined and limestone was quarried for use as a 'manure' on the fields as well as for making mortar.Groome, Francis H. (1903). "Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland." Pub. Caxton. London. P. 1379.

Miscellany

Riccarton is also a locality to the south-west of Edinburgh, the site of Heriot-Watt University's main campus

Riccarton Junction railway station was on the Waverley Route line built by the North British Railway. It closed in 1969.

Mr & Mrs. Campbell from Treesbank attended the Eglinton Tournament of 1839.Ker, Rev. William Lee (1900) "Kilwinnning". Pub. A.W.Cross, Kilwinning. P. 321.]

References

External links

* [http://www.nls.uk/maps/index.html/ Maps at the National Library of Scotland]
* [http://www.old-maps.co.uk/ 1860 OS Maps]
* [http://geo.nls.uk/roy/ General Roy's Military Survey map of Scotland.]
* [http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/A_Researcher's_Guide_to_Local_History_Terminology A Researcher's Guide to Local History terminology]
* [http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/ RCAHMS Canmore archaeology site]


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