The Origins in Ayrshire

Gaelic Name: Siorrachd Air

Ayrshire is believed to have been inhabited for around 6000 years. A long-established agricultural area of smaller towns, Ayrshire has given its name to a noted strain of dairy cattle. Robert Burns, the most famous of Scotland's sons, was born and lived most of his life here. Burns was proud of his Ayrshire background and wrote of himself as 'Robin ... born in Kyle'.

Ayrshire became part of the kingdom of Scotland during the 11th century. Among the landmarks of Ayrshire is the early 14th-century Turnberry Castle, family seat of the leader of the struggle for Scottish independence, Robert Bruce. The Scottish national poet, Robert Burns, was born in the county at Alloway. The county's industrial growth in the late 19th century was aided by its coal deposits.

Part of the early British-speaking Kingdom of Strathclyde Ayrshire was later partially Gaelic-speaking until the mid eighteenth century. The shire's rich history is linked to the fortunes of the Stewarts, Cunninghams, Hamiltons, Boyds and Wallaces. William Wallace is believed to have been born there, both he and Robert the Bruce launched their campaigns against the English from here.

South Ayrshire covers 422 square miles on the south-west of Scotland. The area extends from Troon in the North to Ballantrae in the south and includes the towns of Ayr, Prestwick, Maybole and Girvan. Traditional industries are agriculture, fishing and forestry.

Amongst famous natives of Ayrshire are James Boswell (1740-1795), novelist George Douglas Brown (1869-1902) and Robert Burns (1759-1796). As well Robert Bruce, King Robert I (1274-1329) or "Robert the Bruce", the powerful warrior, liberator and future King of Scotland. He was born in Turnberry, Ayrshire.

Scotland, and Ayrshire

It is believed that his mother, the widowed Countess of Carrick, kidnapped the Lord of Annandale's son, before marrying him in 1271. Robert was born a few years later, in 1274. Bruce was crowned as King Robert I, in 1306.

Returning from exile in 1307, Bruce landed near Turnberry and gaining inspiration from watching the actions of a spider, as it repeatedly fell from it's web, only to rise again, he began the long campaign to reclaim his throne, as King of Scotland.

In 1314, under the command of Bruce, the Scots successfully defeated the powerful English forces at the battle of Bannockburn. This decisive, historic battle ended the English occupation of Scotland, delivering, for the first time, a new state of independance to the Scottish people.

In common with William Wallace, the earlier Scottish freedom fighter, Robert Bruce is remembered in the hearts of the Scottish nation, as the man who fought bravely for Scotland's freedom and independence.

William Wallace (c.1270-1305).

William Wallace, the celebrated Scots freedom fighter, was born at Elderslie, Renfrewshire, or as Ayrshire patriots suggest, at Ellerslie, Riccarton, where he scored his first victories against the occupying English army. In the struggle for Scottish independence, he became a folk hero, commemorated by two statues within the town of Ayr.

Wallace's Ayrshire exploits include, the Burning of the Barns, in Ayr, during which, Wallace and his men surrounded and killed an entire English garrison, by setting fire to the buildings and cutting down the fleeing soldiers and his successful defeat of the English force, in 1297, at Loudoun Hill, near Kilmarnock.

There is also a monument to, both, William Wallace and Robert Burns in Leglen Wood, Auchincruive, marking the place where Wallace found refuge from his enemies and where Burns sought inspiration for his stirring tribute, to the 13th-century freedom fighter, "Scots Wha Hae".