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‘Shanter Farm and Bay, Carrick’ by David Octavius Hill, from the 1840 publication ‘The Land of Burns’.

This image encapsulates the themes of all of the talks at the 2016 South Ayrshire History & Family History Fair at the Walker Halls, Troon on Saturday 4th June.

In one of his illustrations for the 1840 publication ‘The Land of Burns’, the artist and pioneer photographer David Octavius Hill imagined the farmer and smuggler Douglas Graham and his companions about to set off from the coast of Carrick. Their horses carry casks of smuggled brandy. The Fair’s first talk at 10am will be ‘The Smuggling Coast from Stranraer to Girvan’ by Frances Wilkins, a leading authority on this subject.

The scene is located at the ancient standing stone now on the edge of Turnberry Golf Course, with Maidens Bay in the background, and two of the day’s talks are about early human activity – ‘Ayrshire before History’, about the county’s early sites and their archaeology, by Tom Barclay of South Ayrshire Council Libraries at 11am, and ‘A Founder’s Workshop from the Bronze Age? Excavations from the shadow of Hunterston’ by archaeologist Thomas Rees at 3pm.

On foot and speaking with the smugglers is the teenage Robert Burns, taking time off from his school classes at Kirkoswald. (He is unlikely to have been so well-dressed at that time.) It is claimed that he later based his best-known character Tam o’Shanter on Douglas Graham. The 2pm talk is by Professor Chris Whatley and is ‘Men at War: securing Burns’ memory in the West of Scotland c.1859 – c. 1896’, about the race between towns in the region to have a statue of Burns.

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The ancient standing stone overlooking Maidens Bay.

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Thank you to all – public and stallholders – who attended the South Ayrshire History Fair on Saturday at Troon. It was a most successful day despite the weather.

We are especially grateful to Neil Fraser from SCRAN, who very kindly agreed to come from his stall to give a presentation when our second speaker, Alistair McEwan, was unable to attend, having unfortunately been taken ill. Remote access to the amazing resources of the SCRAN website has just been arranged for all members of South Ayrshire Libraries.

Councillor Peter Convery having opened the event, the programme of talks was presided over with cheerful authority by eminent historian Professor Dauvit Broun.

With the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War approaching, our own local history librarian Tom Barclay covered many aspects of Ayrshire’s involvement in the war, including the auxiliary hospitals run by the Red Cross and the many war memorials erected after the end of the conflict.

Kilmarnock’s Dick Institute library and museum became a Red Cross auxiliary hospital for wounded soldiers during the First World War, one of many around Ayrshire

Kilmarnock’s Dick Institute library and museum became a Red Cross auxiliary hospital for wounded soldiers during the First World War, one of many around Ayrshire

Thomas Clancy of the University of Glasgow looked at the place-names mentioned in the earliest Ayrshire charters of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, placed them in the context of the complex linguistic history of the area in the early Middle Ages, and explained what can be learned, and guessed at, from their distribution.

Archaeologist Derek Alexander of the National Trust for Scotland described the alterations and explorations which have taken place in recent centuries in the vicinity of the Bannockburn Visitor Centre, culminating in the recent extensive survey and excavation work leading up to the 700th anniversary of the battle.

The war memorial at Largs is topped by an impressive group of figures

The war memorial at Largs is topped by an impressive group of figures

We hope you can join us for next year’s Fair will take place on Saturday the 6th of June at the usual venue of the Walker Halls, Troon.

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Arrangements for our 2013 South Ayrshire History & Family History Fair on Saturday 1st June are well underway with three of the four speakers already booked.

They are:

Professor Dauvit Brown of the University of Glasgow, whose talk will feature new information about William Wallace, and a previously unknown letter of Robert the Bruce which he found just before Christmas in the British Library.

Tom Barclay, our local history librarian, who will be speaking about the 1263 war with Norway which culminated in the Battle of Largs, and its significance for Ayrshire and Scottish history. (This year is the 750th anniversary.)

Chris Paton, the well known and respected genealogist, who will be explaining how to research Irish Family History on the Internet. His new book on this matter will be published in March.

As usual, the Fair will be held in the Walker Halls, Troon, from 10am until 4pm. Further details will be appearing on the Blog in due course.

History Fair Enquiries

If you have any enquiries that you have about the History Fair or would like to make a booking please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jean Inness
South Ayrshire History Fair,
Library HQ, John Pollock Centre, Mainholm Road,
Ayr KA8 0QD

Tel: (01292) 294320 or 294303 Fax: (01292) 619019

Email: localhistory@south-ayrshire.gov.uk or jean.inness@south-ayrshire.gov.uk

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Image of Old Ayr

This year’s annual history fair which took place on Saturday 2nd June was a great success, so much so that we are already making plans for next year’s event!

We are busy organising an interesting line up of speakers for the talks, and there will be the usual range of stalls to browse.  We will have a variety of local and national history organisations as well as family history societies attending.  We really hope you can join us next year, so save the date for Saturday 1st June, 2013 at the Walker Halls in Troon.

Keep following our History Blog to be the first to know exactly
what we have in store!

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