Ayrshire and Arran is one of the most productive areas of Scotland with a fascinating history and culture. Here you will be able to discover the rich heritage of this country from standing stones and castles to peaceful abbeys or long forgotten villages and their people. Ayrshire has connections to two of Scotland’s most famous and influential historical figures, Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter offer the visitor an area waiting to be explored.
Auchagallon, an ancient burial place dating from around 2000 BC, enjoys spectacular views south across Machrie Moor along the coast of the Isle of Arran and west across the Kilbrannan Sound. Take in the fantastic views and soak up the atmosphere of this scenic place and see if you can solve the original purpose of this mysterious place – Is it a Stone Circle or a Kerbed Cairn? It consists of 15 upright sandstone slabs encircling a large cairn. The diameter of the circle is 47ft and the stones surrounding it are graded, with the larger ones being on the downhill westerly side and the shorter ones on the uphill easterly side. In the 19th century a burial cist was found in the centre but no records were made at the time as to what was found and this remains the position to this day. Although the monument is now called a stone circle, it was probably built as a kerbed cairn where important people were buried, usually in a crouched position, in a stone-lined burial chamber (cist) complete with tools and decorated food vessels. This was then covered by a cairn of stone with a kerbed edge. There are many ancient sites in the area of Machrie Moor from complex stones circles, standing stones, burial cairns and ancient houses all dating back to the Neolithic era and Bronze Age. This was around the time hunter-gatherers began to put down roots and this fertile area supported a flourishing farming community, signs of which can still be seen today. Well worth a visit.
For history lovers a visit to Skelmorlie Aisle in the middle of the town of Largs is a must. Situated on the site of the original Largs Old Kirk, it was built as the mausoleum,. or burial place, for Sir Robert Montgomerie and his wife Dame Margaret Douglas in 1636. The outside of the Aisle is very simple, however, the interior is quite dramatic. A Renaissance style elaborate, carved, canopied, stone tomb is the centrepiece. The canopy is decorated with their Arms and Monograms, however, Sir Robert's panel has been left blank whilst Dame Margaret's is beautifully decorated. Their coffins still lie in the vault beneath the tomb. Sir Robert's coffin is very long and it is said that local fishermen removed much of the lead on the bottom of the coffin and used it for lead weights believing that it would result in a large catch of fish. Historic Scotland currently look after the building. Admission is free and the key can be obtained from the adjoining Largs museum. Open late May to early September.