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silver pieces, such as dollars and half-dollars, crowns and halfcrowns, and in a heap of musty rags a collection of guineas and seven-shilling pieces; while in a box were found bonds of various amounts, including one for three hundred pounds, giving altogether a sum of about nine hundred pounds. A will was also found bequeathing twenty pounds to the old woman who attended him, and most of the remainder to distant relations, setting aside sufficient to give a feast to all the beggars in Ayrshire who chose to come and see his body lie in state. The influx was immense, and after the funeral, which was attended by a motley group of gaberlunzies, all retired to a barn that had been fitted up for the occasion, and there indulged in revelries but little in accordance with the solemn season of death."
When “the decent church which tops the neighbouring hill” was erected, the quaint, weather-worn structure which stood in the centre of the churchyard was demolished, and more the pity, for it was of great antiquity, being in existence, according to Chalmers, so early as 1229. “The chapel of Ricardtoun,” he states, was afterwards established as a parish church, which belonged to the monks of Paisley; and it remained as such till the Reformation. The monks, meantime, received the tithes and revenues, while the church was served by a chaplain who was appointed by them. In a rental of Paisley Abbey, which was given up to Government in 1562, it was stated that the monks derived from the church of Richardtoun 17 chalders, 6 bolls, and 1 firlot of meal yearly."
Upon resuming the journey I held along the wall of the manse garden and turned into Craigie Road, and after a brisk walk reached Knowehead, an eminence from which an excellent view of the surrounding district is obtained. Strolling onward, I passed through the toll-bar of Shortlees, and soon gained a shady portion of the road near to the entrance gate of Treesbank estate. Here a nameless burnie gurgles through a small plantation and gladdens the heart of the wayfarer with its music as it steals from beneath a small bridge by the roadside.
Its tone was seductive, but despite it and the picturesque scene, I commenced the ascent of Scargie brae, and soon gained the row of humble thatchcovered cots which present their gables to the highway.
There is nothing about the buildings worthy of note, except perhaps the fact that John Burtt, author of “Horæ Poetica" and “Transient Murmurs of a Solitary. Lyre," spent his early years in one of them may be of interest. Burtt was for some considerable time a schoolmaster in Kilmarnock, and afterwards a clergyman in America ; but he is best known on this side of the Atlantic as the author of several lyrics, and more especially of the following, which is often mistakenly ascribed to Robert Burns, being supposed to have been written by the bard after the death of Highland Mary :
“O’ER THE MIST-SHROUDED CLIFFS.
Where the wild winds of winter incessantly rave,
The storm's gloor pat on the breast of the wave.
Ere ye toss me afar from my loved native shore,
The pride of my bosom-my Mary's no more.
And smile at the moon's rimpled face in the wave;
For the dew-drops of morning fall cold on her grave.
I haste with the storm to a far distant shore,
And joy shall revisit my bosom no more.” Leaving Scargie behind, a pleasant walk along the undulating, hedge-bordered highway brought me to Knockmarloch and the little plantation which all but conceals the shattered remnant of its manor house, and ultimately to the base of Craigie Hill, as a rugged upheaval forming the terminus of a rocky range of eminences rising to a height of some 550 feet above the level of the sea is termed. The view from the summit of this locally-famous height is very fine, comprising as it does the Firth of Clyde, the Coast of Ireland, the Mull of Kintyre, the Paps of Jura, the heights of Arran, Ben Lomond, and the Grampians. Landward, Loudoun Hill is also distinctly seen, and on the plain the town of Kilmarnock, with its surroundings, is witnessed to great advantage—indeed a better bird's-eye view of the Land of Burns cannot weil be had, and the pedestrian will do well
to avail himself of it. Entering a rude path or cart-track leading past the lime mines of Howcommon, I followed the rugged way until it merged into a substantial parish road, and afterwards steered my course to a farm-house with the intention of making certain doubly sure by inquiring the way to Lochlea. “Doon, ye deevil, doon !" cried the stripling addressed, as with a well-aimed kick he drove away a frolicsome whelp that nearly upset me in a mud-hole with its great paws while endeavouring to lick
face. “ Lochlea ! my certie ye’re a braw bit frae it; but it's a fine day, and you'll manage brawly. Ye'll be lookin' for calves, nae doubt ?” “ Yes; two legged ones,” said I, with a significant glance, and without the least suspicion that the joke would penetrate his dull pate and recoil upon myself. “Then,” said he, with roguish glee, “ye'll be hard to please gin ye judge ithers by yoursel'.” He laughed, and I laughed, and the whelp barked, and from that moment we were friends; and when I left, I did so perfectly satisfied that if I lost my way the fault would be his, so thoroughly bewildered had I become with his instructions, and the intricate windings of the route he counselled me to follow.
Trusting to perseverance I returned to the road, and soon gained the extremity of the heath-covered heights behind which the remote but picturesque village of Craigie nestles. For a long way the scene was cheerless and barren, and nought was heard save the cry of the peesweep and the song of the lark; but gradually the country opened, and a rich agricultural district met the gaze. Arriving at a very conspicuous farm-house, according to instructions received I rounded a small pond on the wayside and turned into a hedge-bordered road on the right, and held onward, for the sun was in its glory, and the whin and the broom-clad banks and the fields and the green pasture lands looked luxuriant in the exhilirating rays.
At the termination of this road I found myself in that running between Mauchline and Ayr, but turning to the left I took the first on the right and held onward. It proved one of the old sort-steep and rugged—but following its undulating windings, a two mile walk brought me to the farmstead of Lochlea, and the fields which Burns furrowed with his plough and reaped with his sickle at harvest time.
The fields pertaining to the farm slope gently to the road,
which at this point verges on a low-lying track of mossy looking land. This at one time formed the bed of the loch from which the place takes its name. In 1839, when the speculative proprietor had the water drained off, two canoes of rude manufacture were discovered near a mound whose summit had formed a kind of island, but they attracted little attention, and in course of time the circumstance was all but forgotten. Towards the close of 1878 the marshy nature of the soil rendered its re-drainage absolutely necessary, and it was subjected to the operation. When cutting a portion of the mound referred to, the workmen came upon what they considered to be the remains of a house which had rested upon piles systematically driven into the ground. The dis covery coming under the notice of Mr. James Brown of Tarbolton, a most intelligent and discriminating gentleman, he at once wrote to Mr. J. Anderson, keeper of the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, who communicated with R. W. Cochran-Patrick of Woodside, the respected secretary of the Archäological Society for the counties of Ayr and Wigtown, and he proceeded to the scene of operations and at once recognised in the remains the remnant of a crannog or lake dwelling. In presence of Mr Cochran-Patrick, Mr Turner (factor for the Duke of Portland), Mr Anderson, and other gentlemen, a series of systematic excavations were begun, which in course of time disclosed rows of rude oaken piles driven firmly into what had been the bed of the loch, and secured by horizontal beams, planks of oak, and young trees, all of which were in an excellent state of preservation, and marked by the indentations of some cutting instruments. The area which the piles enclosed was some 60 feet in diameter. Within it were discovered four pavements of stone, which upon investigation were found to rest upon layers of clay, boulders, and logs of oak firmly imbedded and interspersed with charred wood, burnt bones, and ashes.
From this peculiar structure three rows of closely-set wooden piles, which had evidently supported a gangway extending to what had been the shore of the loch, were also laid bare ; but the most curious circumstance connected with the discovery was the enormous quantity of bones which the excavators met with. They were strewn about in all directions, and in sufficient quantities to have filled several carts,
and when the writer visited the spot every turn of the spade disclosed others which were interspersed with brushwood and small boulders. These bones were evidently the remains of animals which had been used for food by the occupants of the peculiarly situated structure which occupied the spot, but who or what they were can only be conjectured. That they were the primeval inhabitants of the district, and lived in a rude, barbarous age, however, is evident from the numerous articles which the explorers brought to light—such as stone hammers, bone chisels, querns, boars' tusks, and rudely formed instruments made of deers' horns, bone, and wood; and also a canoe formed out of a solid log; a knife of metal, with a yellow ferrule adhering to the remains of the haft; and a variety of iron and flint implements. Dr Munro of Kilmarnock took a deep interest in the excavations, the success of which was greatly owing to his personal exertions, and to his able and elaborate account of the discovery, which is illustrated with plans, sections, and drawings of the crannog, I must refer the reader.
The whole of the articles discovered being found on the ground of the Duke of Portland, were the property of His Grace ; but through the intervention of Mr Turner, he generously presented them to the town of Kilmarnock, so that they might form the nucleus of a Museum and be open to the inspection of the curious.
Upon entering the farm-yard of Lochlea, a glance was sufficient to show that the hand of improvement had wholly changed its aspect, the buildings surrounding it being modern, substantial, and slated. In the poet's time the steading consisted of a one-storied thatched dwelling house, with a barn on the one side and a stable and byre on the other. The old dwelling is now converted into a stable, and a comfortable residence has been erected in its stead ; and the barn, which the poet is said to have roofed with his own hands, has given place to a more modern and shapely erection, which, thanks to the Duke of Portland's factor, Mr Turner, contains at least one stone of the old fabric.
It bears the following inscription :
66 THE LINTEL OF THE POET'S BARN.