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Dalrymple, Ayrshire

Historical Description

DALRYMPLE, a parish, in the district of KYLE, county of AYR, 5 miles (N. E.) from Maybole, and 6 (S. E.) from Ayr; containing 909 inhabitants. This place derives its name, in the Celtic language signifying "the dale of the crooked water", from the situation of its village on a bend of the river Doon. The barony, which in ancient times was held by a family who took their name from the lands, was, in the reign of David II., divided into two portions, and held by two families named Dalrymple, descended from one common ancestor. In 1371, on the resignation of one of the portionists, John Kennedy of Dunure obtained from Robert II. a charter granting him that half of the barony, and in 1377 another charter, conferring upon him the other half; and the whole continued in the possession of his descendants till 1684, after which the barony passed into the hands of various proprietors. The PARISH is about seven miles in length, from east to west, and three miles in extreme breadth, and is bounded on the south and west by the river Doon. It comprises 6700 acres. of which 4200 are arable, 1900 meadow and hill pasture, 500 woodland and plantations, and about 100 water. The surface, with the exception of that part in which the village is situated, is exceedingly uneven, being interspersed with rising grounds and small detached hills of various elevation. Woodland, the most southern height, commands a fine view of the surrounding country, including the isles of Bute and Arran, the Mull of Cantyre, Ailsa Craig, and Ben-Lomond; and from the summit of Kirkmien, the highest of the elevations, the north coast of Ireland may be distinctly seen in fair weather. There are numerous springs in the parish, and several of them possess mineral properties, though one only, on the lands of Barbieston, is a chalybeate of moderate strength.

Of the lakes, the only one of much importance is that of Martinham, which is about a mile and a half in length, and less than a quarter of a mile in breadth; its greatest depth is about twenty-six feet. On a beautifully-wooded island in this lake, are the ruins of an ancient building supposed to have been the mansionhouse of the Martinham estate; they are 100 feet long and thirty in breadth, and the walls, which are the chief remains, are thickly overspread with luxuriant ivy. The other lakes are Loch Snipe, Loch Kerse, and Loch Lindston. All of them abound with pike, perch, and eels, and are frequented by wild-duck, teal, widgeon, and other aquatic fowl. From the loch of Martinham, which extends a considerable way into the parish of Coylton, a small burn flows into the river Doon. This river, celebrated by the poet Burns, falls, after a course of about thirty miles, into the Firth of Clyde. Salmon are found in its stream, though in less number since the laying down of stake-nets at its mouth, and some are taken which weigh from ten to twenty pounds: sea and yellow trout, par, eels, and pike are also found in its waters.

The SOIL is principally clay, though alternated with sand, gravel, and loam: the clay is of various kinds, of a red, blue, and whitish hue; the loam is found chiefly near the river and around the lochs. There is very little mossy land. The crops are oats and wheat, barley, bear, potatoes, turnips, beet, and a small quantity of flax for domestic use; the system of agriculture is in an advancing state, and all the more recent improvements have been introduced. There are several large dairyfarms, all of which are well managed; about 4000 stones of cheese are annually produced, of which a considerable part is sent to market, and the remainder sold for the supply of the immediate neighbourhood. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5615. The woods consist of oak, elm, ash, alder, birch, plane, and lime; and the plantations, of larch, spruce, and Scotch firs. In the old gardens at Skeldon are six stately oaks, supposed to be more than 300 years old, and some remarkably fine larches; and in the village are to be seen a sycamore and horse-chesnut tree of extraordinary dimensions. The substrata are limestone, red sandstone, and conglomerate: the limestone occurs in masses not more than a foot in thickness, and of great hardness; the sandstone is of good quality for building, but not extensively worked. Large boulders of trap and granite are scattered over the surface of several of the lands. Coal is found in the upper parts of the parish, and there are two mines, but not at present in operation. The seats are Skeldon and Hollybush, both of them handsome residences seated in richly-planted demesnes.

The village is beautifully situated, and is uniformly and neatly built on lands belonging to the Marquess of Ailsa. A subscription library, a musical society, a curling club, and a club in honour of the poet Burns, have been established here, and are well attended. Several of the inhabitants are occupied in the various trades requisite for the wants of the neighbourhood; and a woollen manufactory, employing about thirty persons, has been erected on the bank of the Doon. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Ayr, synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £229. 17., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12. 10. per annum. Dalrymple church, situated near the village, was rebuilt on the foundation of the ancient edifice, in 1764, but in a very insufficient manner. The parochial school affords education to about sixty scholars; the master has a salary of £30, with £25 fees, and £8 in lieu of a house and garden. There are some remains of the ancient castles of Kerse, Skeldon, Barbieston, and others; that of Barbieston was converted into a dwelling-house about fifty or sixty years since. Part of a Roman road, supposed to be that from Solway Firth to the Firth of Clyde, may be traced through this parish into that of Ayr. A tripod of Roman bronze was found in Lindston loch, near the line of this road, about half a century since; and a flagon of earthenware of Roman workmanship was found at Perclewan, on the same line of road, in 1833. On the road from Ayr to Maybole are three ancient circular forts, situated on an elevated ridge, and all surrounded with trenches, in which human bones and the horns of deer have been discovered. A stone coffin, containing a skeleton of large stature, was dug up in cutting through a hillock of gravel to form a new- approach to Skeldon House; and in the meadows of Barbieston, not far from the same spot, were several cairns, on the removal of which, human bones, heads of pikes, and spears were found. In a grave in the churchyard, several silver coins of James I. were found a few years since; and silver coins of Edward I. and Edward III. were discovered by the plough, in a field near the village, in 1835. The poet Burns, alternately with his brother, attended the parochial school of Dalrymple.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis