Wayfarer column- ‘Weary Neuk’s’ connections with kings and queens

Some centuries ago life for many was cheap and to get out of their poverty and meaningless lives many followed a more adventurous trail.

This was particularly the case when we had characters such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce to follow in their quest to free Scotland. But before we follow that path let me revisit Dunure, which has connections with the Bruce, and bear me out with just a few more tales of this part of Scotland. It is interesting to note that quite apart from the fishing industry, at Pan Point salt water was evaporated to obtain salt and there were also lime kilns to provide lime.

Now the production of salt was required to preserve the fish catch and coal from the local coal mines was needed to boil the seawater to evaporate the salt lime required to spread over the fields as an alkali against acidic soils so there was a thriving industry all combining to meet the needs of each other, but it was a miserable life for those who were involved in the labouring side. Bruce is reputed to have landed near here and rested at Weary Neuk House which derived its name from Bruce describing Dunure as a ‘Weary Neuk’, but that cannot be said today. Nearby is a stone where he is reputed to have tethered his horse and it is from hereabouts that the future King Robert the Bruce began the Long March which led to Bannockburn and Scottish independence.

No doubt that Weary Neuk provided many a young man looking for adventure inspiration to follow our hero on that wondrous adventure to Scottish independence.

Dunure has a castle of some notoriety and we all know the tale of the Abbot of Crossraguel who was burnt in oil in the castle dungeons by Gilbert 4th Earl of Cassillis who thought that he was a law unto himself and whose greed knew no bounds.

The Abbot was eventually rescued by his brother-in-law Kennedy of Bargany who complained to the Privy Council on his behalf but Gilbert Kennedy known as the ‘King of Carrick’ was so powerful that little was done about it. However in Dunure Castle’s favour it is recorded that Mary Queen of Scots was an honoured guest at the castle in 1563 where it is known that it is one of the only castles where she was a happy and voluntary guest The poor Queen had a difficult life but found some peace at Dunure Castle, no doubt at the hands of a more pleasant Kennedy than Gilbert. Hope you enjoyed this tale even though a lot of the facts are known to you.

See you next week.