- KIRKOSWALD, a parish, in the district of Carrick, county of Ayr, 4 miles (W. S. W.) from Maybole; containing, with the village of Mardens, 2030 inhabitants. The name of this place is derived from Oswald, a Northumbrian king, who built a church here, in gratitude, it is said, for a victory he had obtained. An abbey called Cross-Regal, or Crossraguel, was founded about the middle of the 13th century, by Duncan, for monks of the Cluniac order: the last abbot was Quintin Kennedy, brother to the Earl of Cassilis. The building still remains, about two miles east of the village, and, being the most entire abbey in the west of Scotland, is preserved with the greatest care. From this institution the celebrated George Buchanan received £500 (Scots) yearly, on which account he denominated himself Pensionarius de Crosragmol. Both the temporalities and the spiritualities of the abbey were annexed to the bishopric of Dunblane by James VI, in 1617. The parish was also formerly remarkable as containing the ancient castle of Turnberry, the seat of the earls of Carrick, and which in 1274 was occupied by Martha, Countess of Carrick, who, in that year, was married to Robert Bruce, Earl of Annandale, from which union sprang the kings of Scotland of the Stuart race. The castle was held in the year 1306 by an English garrison under Percy; it was afterwards stormed by Robert Bruce, and the structure was thus greatly desolated by the contending parties.The parish, situated in the district of Carrick, and on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, is six miles in length, from north to south, and comprises 11,000 Scottish acres, of which 7432 are arable, 521 pasture, and the rest under wood. It is skirted nearly for its whole length, by a fine sandy beach; and the shore is covered with verdure almost to the margin. The surface is hilly: but the eminences, of which those called Mochrum and Craigdow are the most considerable, do not attain any great height. From every part fot the coast are interesting and beautiful prospects, compare-hending the Frith of Clyde, with the rock of Ailsa, and the islands of Bute and Arran, and the coast of Ireland. There are two lochs, each about thirty acres in extent; and numerous small streams traverse the parish in different directions, and supply plenty of very excellent water. The whole of the lands are under tillage, with the exception of the summits of the two highest hills, several tracts of moss, and the plantations. Wheat is grown in considerable quantities, and a little barley; but the principal grain is oats, which are of very superior quality. Dairy-farming receives much attention, and the produce is chiefly cheese, disposed of at the Glasgow market, whither also, and to Ayr, many cattle and sheep are sent for sale, having been previously fattened on turnips. Draining is extensively carried on; and three works are established here, producing yearly about 1,000,000 draining-tiles. Sandstone is the prevailing rock; and coal is obtained at Dulzellowlie, the amount of about £1750 annually, thirty persons being generally employed in raising it. The rateable annual value of the parish is £10,556. The principal mansion is Culzean Castle, the seat of the Marquess of Ailsa, built by David, Earl of Cassilis, in the year 1777. This edifice, surrounded by about 700 acres of park and pleasure-grounds, interspersed with thriving plantations, is a splendid pile, situated on a rock projecting a little into the sea, and commanding a beautiful view of the Frith of Clyde; a little below are the gardens of the old house of Culzean, formed on three terraces cut out of a rock, and kept in fine order. The village has about 300 inhabitants, who, with the other part of the population, are chiefly agricultural; but a few persons are employed as cotton-weavers, and obtain work from Maybole, Girvan, and Glasgow; and many females procure flowering-webs from the same places. The agricultural produce is sent chiefly to Glasgow, from the ports of Ayr and Girvan, especially from the latter place, seven miles distant, whither large quantities of potatoes are forwarded, as well as wheat and oatmeal. There is a regular fishing-station; and besides various kinds of shell-fish, many plaice, haddock, turbot, cod, salmon, and herrings are taken, valued at about £360 per annum. The public road from Glasgow to Portpatrick passes through the parish, and steam-vessels are constantly passing.Kirkoswald is in the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £213, with a manse, and a glebe of four acres and three-quarters, valued at £6 per annum. A church, on the decay of that of Oswald, was erected here by David I., in the 12th century; the present edifice, a neat structure, was built in 1777. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £30, with £40 fees. There is also a school endowed by the Kilkerran family, with accommodations and £12 per annum for a master. The most striking and interesting remains of antiquity, the ruins of the monastery, stand in the middle of eight acres of ground called the Abbot's yard, or the Precinct of Crossraguel, and consist of the sidewalls of the church and choir to the height of fourteen feet. Towards the east is the niche formerly containing the principal altar; and on the right are the vestry and the abbot's court-room, both entire, and handsomely arched; besides which there are several vaults and cells, built of fine dressed stone. At the east end of the abbey is the ruin of the abbots' original house, and on the west are the remains of the last mansion they inhabited. The ruins of the old castle of Turnberry are still to be seen, occupying a promontory on the barony of the same name; and about half a mile to the south-east of Culzean is the castle of Thomaston, built, according to tradition, in 1335, by a nephew of Robert Bruce; it was inhabited towards the close of the last century. Near Culzean Castle are some caves, six in number, supposed to have been originally designed for the celebration of worship. The parish contains also the remains of a vitrified fort, a Druidical temple, and numerous tumuli, cairns, and vestiges of encampments.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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