The Wayfarer - Earl has fairy folk to thank for Cassillis House’s stunning location

As we go through life we must give credit to those amongst us who can spot an interesting tale from what seems to be a totally innocuous event.

For example the road at Stepends seems to be frequently in need of repair and squads of men can regularly be seen furiously digging large holes in the ground. It was pointed out to me that, if as suggested, there was oil in the Firth of Clyde then surely there could be gold on land and considering the number of times there have been road works on this bend it gives some credence to this suggestion.. .

With all the current publicity surrounding the sale of Cassillis House east of Maybole, and its recent very expensive refurbishment by the Australian tycoon Kate Armstrong, we should perhaps reflect on its beginnings. It was built many centuries ago by the Earl of Cassillis originally to be sited on the summit of Dunree a small conical hill south of the River Doon. However building it was not easy as each night the previous day’s work was demolished and the heavy stones transported to the banks of the River Doon. It was considered that only the fairy folk could have had the power to do this and the Earl was eventually forced to concede that the building should be relocated to their site. After completion it was decided that the fairy folk had done the Earl a favour, the new site on the river bank being a great improvement on the original.

However when some work was being done on the house in the early part of the 20th. century a panel came to light behind which was a staircase leading down into the bowels of the earth. At the top of the staircase was a faded mural depicting a knight in full armour brandishing a pike, pointing the way downwards to a tunnel which was thought to lead to the riverbank. All these old castles had secret escape routes should they be needed and it was thought that another one was discovered when a flagstone doubling as a trapdoor was uncovered. But it only led to a dismal underground chamber some twelve feet below which proved to have been used as a prison when in cleaning it out, the skeletons of many bodies were unearthed. Not knowing what to do with these grisly remains they were eventually crushed and used as fertliser on the surrounding fields. There are many tales about this ancient house as there are about most places of historical influence. I will keep unearthing them for your pleasure and look forward to seeing you next week.