The Wayfarer - Always a seafaring nation

This part of the world seems to have been well sited since we were not badly affected by either the Norsemen or Vikings plus we had the sea to produce its bounty of fish and the land to grow the famous Ayrshire tatties.

No wonder this area has been inhabited since 5000 BC, with a bronze age urnfield in the Coalpots area and a pre-historic fort at Dinvin. Chapeldonan was mentioned in a Charter of 1404 so the Girvan area was very popular in early times.

People did not travel far from home in those days prior to the railways, so the area was able to keep its head down and live fairly peaceably. However, Scotland was always a seafaring nation and the call of the sea was too much for those of an adventurous nature who often became pirates to plunder the seven seas.

Do not think that pirates were the exclusivity of the southern seas , as the Earl of Moray had a fleet of ships patrolling Loch Ness, where, as most goods were moved by water in those days, piracy became a common occurrence.

The various merchant ships paid a toll to be guaranteed safety, but the Loch Police became so efficient that the pirates went elsewhere and the merchants then refused to pay the toll.

Consequently the Loch Police had to turn to piracy to earn a living so the merchants were back where they started . However it was not just piracy that called on the adventurous Scots, as when the frozen north of Canada was opened up by the Hudson Bay Company, many Scots, mainly from Orkney and the Shetlands, volunteered to become Hudson Bay employees trading with the local Indians and Eskimos exchanging goods for furs.

This was a real challenge as these young men often found themselves in far flung outposts having to become doctors, vets, dentists and helpers to the local populace with just a handbook for guidance.

Latterly they did benefit from radio and seaplane connections with their head office, but what a challenge this must have been to the volunteers expected to live up to every emergency.

Although the fur business has become extinct except for the locals who still have to trap for food and clothing, there must still be outposts in this part of the world, but these will be manned for a different purpose by qualified persons.

However there are still quite a few of the original traders about who can tell and interesting tale of their exploits and the incredible things they had to perform.

I know one of them and have told him that he should put it all into print.

See you next week.