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THE STORY OF THE TOWER OF ST. JOHN'S IN AYR.

 

Were it possible for the ghosts to revisit the glimpses of the moon, and to haunt the scenes with which they were familiar upon earth, what a varied group might he seen ever and anon around the square tower of St. John's, which stands, as it has stood these seven centuries and more, a prominent feature in the landscape of Ayr!. Could we even recall them in imagination and set them in procession, what a motley aspect, in garb, in tongue, in creed, in faith, they would assume! First in the long procession would come the builders who toiled and laboured with the old red sandstone, and who saw grow under their patient hands the square built pile that was to remain many centuries after they had crossed the mortal barrier; after them, the shaven preaching Friars, with their long loose robes, with candle and book, with matins and vespers, rung in by, the solemn toned bell that was wont to bang in the belfrey, and to ring out over the sandy hillocks amid which St. John's stood open to the four winds of the heavens; mayhap an armour-clad Norseman with his helmet on his head, his short sword by his side, and his shield upon his arm, fresh from the raid or the flay ; Sir William Wallace, noble of aspect, bold in speech, in daring, in deed, filled high with purpose and. with patriotism ; the Earl of Carrick, Robert the Bruce, the hero of many a tussle, and of national independence ; behind him a long long succession of friars who ministered it the altars of St. John's while the centuries rolled on, and who prayed for the repose of the souls of the burghers of Ayr; quaint burgesses and their dames who, Sabbath after Sabbath, heard the word from the Catholic fathers in the long ago disappeared church, which the Tower dominated, and where gospel light was kept aflame when the surrounding country was given up to feudal strife, and raid, and murder; the fathers of the Reformation, Willock and Welsh, and him who never feared the face of man ; the stern protector of the common weal, who desecrated the fanes of St. John's, and converted the holy places into a tabernacle for his soldiery ; the labourers who toiled to prevent the wind swept sands of ruin mounting high against the walls of the edifice; the toilers who were wont to climb the steep steps of the tower to descry whether their home-freighted barks had escaped the perils of the deep and entered the bay, and the many, many, who were laid to sleep under the shadow of the pile.

It cannot now be told when St. John's was built; but that it is the oldest building in Ayr is undisputed. In all probability it was a century old when the "Auld Brig" was thrown across the river. It was contemporary with the Castle of Ayr and the Castle of Newton, with the oldest of the Tolbooths. It was there, getting grey by this time, when Haco, in his warships, swept up the Clyde under oar and expanded sail, to be crushed on the field of Largs. It shone out in the glare that was reflected around when Wallace set fire to the Barns of Ayr. These are far away days and olden stories; but though seven round centuries have rolled their course since the copestone was put upon the thick walled tower, and though dynasties have crumbled away and disappeared under the touch of time, it stands today calm and serene amid the scene which it has adorned since reliable Scottish history began. When the foundation stone was laid, the site was open to the sea and to the river Ayr, and there was nothing to break the blast of the west wind from the Atlantic. To-day it is encircled by houses, latter day companions on the scene; but there is no room to doubt that when decay's effacing fingers have touched the modern dwellings which St. John's overtops, the Tower itself will remain to tell the architects and the builders of the nineteenth century that they are but of yesterday and know nothing.

To tell all that St. John's has seen would be to tell the history of Ayr during the last seven hundred years or thereby. All that we can do, therefore, is to note one or two events with whose transactions it was connected, and to indicate one or two of the more important changes and epochs to which it has been a silent, but an ever-present, witness. It was built before Ayr was a royal burgh, at the cost of the king who, like many another monarch, atoned for his sins or purchased salvation by the erection and the endowment of places of worship. Though the town had not received its charter, it was a place of very considerable note and was occasionally the seat of the Scottish Court. Probably the first monarch on whom the spirit of St. John's looked was William, the Lyon, and him it must have seen as he went to and fro from his new castle not far distant. At that period, to the reflective friar who toiled up the long steep steps to the summit of the tower, and who may have occasionally forgotten his; spiritual exercises as he gazed on the fair prospect stretched all around him, the chief objects of interest in the immediate vicinity were in all probability the religious houses of other societies, the Castle of Ayr, and the Castle of Newton. Between Ayr and Newton ran, as; runs to-day, the river, unspanned by bridge lapping, not rude, prosaic quay walls, but sandy knowes overgrown with their long sea grass and merging back into green fields whereon the herd watched his cattle or tended his white flocks of fleecy sheep. About a mile to the south-west the Doon sought the Firth of Clyde; for it had not then withdrawn its waters to their present estuary, nearly two miles distant; and all the way from the one river to the other stretched a series of undulating sand hills from which, across the town, swept the sand clouds, blocking the thoroughfares open to the south and south-west, and calling into being the energies of the townsmen to resist the encroachments of the drift. Ayr itself was small as compared with its present extent, but it was not by any means insignificant when compared with the other towns of Scotland, and it was, besides, venerable in point of antiquity. The Romans knew it, the ancient Britons had dwelt in it, and the red-haired Pict and haughty Scot had stood by its river and had fought on the level ground between the Ayr and the Doon. The new town was then in existence, a fact which goes to indicate the age of the old. Ayr had extensive privileges and broad acres. There were long miles of country that it could call its own, and it had the exclusive right of buying and selling, not only over the whole district of Kyle but across Cuninghame itself, to the very verge of the confines of Renfrew. The Castle of Ayr was a strong keep, fit for the times. These were unsettled. Not only did the Norwegian sea kings sweep the coast and descend upon it, spreading terror among the lieges and laying heavy tribute upon their goods and gear, but from the south came roving bands of fierce Galwegians, to whom Kyle and Cuninghame were fertile fields of plunder; and the friars of St. John's must many a time have sat cowering, or kneeled prayerful, in their cells when they heard that the redoubtable Rory Gill, the noted freebooter and the terror of the country-side, was abroad at the head of his hordes of rapine and plunder.

When the walls of the town were erected, cannot be said; but there is no mention made of them until the sixteenth century. At the same time, it is a tolerably reliable assumption that, when in 1197 William gave Ayr her charter, the town was enclosed. Perhaps the walls were permitted to fall into decay ; at all events in 1585 the ports were ordered to be rebuilt, in order to keep out a plague and to prevent infected persons, or people from infected districts, entering the town. To those who are unacquainted with Ayr it would serve no purpose to indicate in detail its exact dimensions in those early days of its story; it will, therefore, be sufficient to say that only what is now the very heart of the town was within the ports. The guardian spirit of St. John's would wonder to-day were he to leave the confines of the tower. What he knew as waste lands are now the busy haunts of traffic; and the sandy hillock's on which his mortal gaze was wont to rest, are studded with villas, or stretch away in streets or terraces.

For many years of the thirteenth century the inhabitants lived in terror of the Scandinavian rovers, and they had good cause to dread the visits of the long galleys of the Norsemen. Great was the commotion in the August of 1263 when the watchman from the high church tower descried in mid-channel the fleet of the gallant Haco. The inhabitants had heard the Norsemen were coming. All the summer they had been cruising round the Hebrides; and occasionally a small detachment from their navy had rounded the Mull of Kintyre and passed up the Clyde under the lee of Arran but now, instead of keeping clear of the Ayrshire coast, the ships were heading right for the river's mouth. There was no Scottish army to beat them back, and the men of Ayr were not of themselves sufficient adequately to contend with the veterans, half soldier, half sailor, of the Scandinavian monarch. The Castle of Ayr had been built for just such an emergency as this; and as the galleys swung to in the river and the Norsemen landed on its banks, those who could fight went within the Castle, and those who could not sought refuge in the surrounding country. The Norwegians delivered one ineffectual assault upon the stronghold, but as they were bound on a higher and more important errand, they retired to their ships, and swept onward up the Clyde to meet disaster from the winds of heaven by sea, and from the forces of the Scottish monarch by land, on the shore of Largs. And when next the watchman saw the fleet of the invader, reduced sadly in number, from the summit of his watch tower, he was barely able to descry them against the dark sides of Arran ; and when, like specks against the blue, he beheld them round the Mull of Kintyre, he witnessed the passing away, from the Scottish coast for the last time and for ever, of those terrors of the western main.

But with the departure of the Scandinavians home troubles sprang up. Edward I. usurped the Scottish throne, and the Castle of Ayr was ceded to him and taken possession of by the English soldiery. For long years the friars of St. John's were compelled, therefore, to be the near neighbours of the invaders ; and, patriots as they no doubt were, they must have seen with pain the fluttering pennant of England, token of virtual subjection, hard by. The Southern soldiers passed and repassed. They levied tribute on the townsmen. Fearful of the always threatened rising, they trod the streets heavily, and with heavy hand they kept down the inhabitants. The proud Lord de Percie ruled with high hand, and, fret and fume as the burghers might, they were low, weary years that elapsed ere the deliverer came. But he did come at length. The spirit moved him in the camp of the people, and his deeds of prowess and of daring excited an ardour and an enthusiasm which never went to sleep until they culminated on the glorious field of Bannockburn. The deliverer was Sir William Wallace. St. John's knew him well. It heard of his deeds by the water of Irvine and on the streets of Ayr. The friars told one another how he had slain the insulting Englishman with his sword, and broken the back of the braggart with one fell blow of his staff, and they trembled lest the men of the garrison should secure him and quench the faintly-dawning hopes begotten of the genesis of the deliverer. With the alternating fortunes of their hero, their spirits rose and fell. There was one night that reddened the sky above their heads. From the top of the tower they saw first the rising smoke, and then the forked flames darting from the barns, which stood within easy ken over against them on the banks of the river. It was a night of excitement such as few men who ever lived in Ayr had seen. On the midnight air arose the crackling of the burning timbers, and, strange medley of sounds, the roar of the conflagration, the yells of the dying, the groans of those who were undergoing suffocation, the clashing of swords, the appeals for mercy, the answering of the stern patriots who watched, every man with his weapon unsheathed, by the burning pile. It lit up the surroundings, and St. John's cast long, dancing, shadows as the infernal furnace rose and fell and flickered in the night wind. A calm succeeded, the calm of desolation and of death. Gradually the flames died away, the sky became black again, and nothing remained of the, vengeance of Sir William Wallace but the blackened, smouldering ruins, and the charred bodies of the hapless victims. The friars went fearful to their beds that night, or if perchance even in the, breast there awoke the stern joy of accomplished retribution, there rose to check it at the same time the fear that there would be, a bloody price to pay for the deed done. When they awoke, if ever they slept at all that night, the following morning the standard of Scotland, the lion rampant, flew from the castle over against them, and they heard how the fort was won, and justice done upon the English soldiery.

The news sped fast to England. Edward heard it, and his wrath was kindled. A strong force of troops was despatched to Ayr, and another series of excitements passed over the friars as the four thousand Southrons, armed and resolute, and burning to avenge insult and loss, sat down in front of the castle. The Scottish garrison were unequally matched, and, though they held out while they could, it was not long ere the sounds of the onset and the charge reached the ears of the friars, and told them that the defenders were selling their lives as dearly as they could. Again they saw the banner of England from the summit of the keep and there it flew while tidings came in from the surrounding country that the hero of Elderslie was on the war path. He was not to be denied. From their strongholds he routed the Southrons until he had driven them from the westland. The garrison of Ayr did not wait the onslaught. Nor did they stand upon the order of their going, for they retreated precipitately, and left the men of Ayr to enter into possession of their three-towered vantage once again. But its history, and the excitement of the friars, were not yet at a close. Many a time they saw Robert the Bruce enter the castle and depart, on his roving wandering expeditions. Many a time they followed him with their hopes and their fears, and their prayers for his weal, and it was with sad hearts that, after the battle of Falkirk they saw the torch put to the castle and the red flames lap its strong walls.

The glory was surly departed then! But it was a dour, heavy fortress, and it refused to go down before the flames. They gutted it, they cleared it out, but its solid masonry was proof against them, and when, in the revolving cycle of events, the English came they repaired its shattered casements, they rebuilt what had fallen down, they restored its ports and its buttresses, and once again entered into possession. It was Ralph de Morthemer who held it, and there he sat entrenched while the war of independence raged, nor did he leave it until the Southern host had melted like the snowflakes at Bannockburn. Then there was joy all over the land, and the friars, with harts full of gratitude for victory and relief, said or sung their masses for the souls of their countrymen that had gone out into the future.

Sabbath, the 26th of April, 1215, was a day of feasting and of gladness in St. John's. Never in its history did such a gathering take place under the shadow of its red sandstone tower. The town was filled with nobles and with men-at-arms, and with the heroes who had conquered by the banks of the Bannockburn. They strode down in their armour across the sandy hillocks which intervened between the church and the town, and their firm tread awoke echoes unaccustomed to aught save praise and prayer and the preaching of the word. From north and south they had come, and from the east country; and as they passed along the crooked High Street, or urged their horses along the bridge, not then the old, the burghers felt the elation of men who rest from labour, and who have contributed their share to the cause whose success is an accomplished fact. The nobles and knights, the archbishops and abbots, who thronged St. John's, were met as a Parliament. In a company as sacred as it was secular, the religious duties of the day could not be forgotten, and never perhaps during all the centuries of its existence did the somewhat unromantic church echo to more or grateful praise, and certainly never was it sung by so courtly a choir. Amid high state and ceremony the Scottish crown was settled upon Robert the Bruce, and allegiance sworn to him by the very steps of the altar. Yet twice more, within the lifetime of that generation, the English soldiers occupied the castle, and once at least they were put to the sword by the angry burghers.

These were indeed the stormy days of St. John's. They had their periods of sunshine, when everything seemed the brighter because of the gloom which had preceded it; but no sooner was the sky clear and blue and unclouded, than from the south arose the storm clouds to darken it anew. Many were the tales which the fathers of the Church had to tell. If those of St. John's were not themselves militant, they could at least point to their brothers of the Convent of Black: Friars, who, on the memorable night when the Barns were fired, set valiantly upon a number of English soldiers who were resident in the convent, and, incanonically, but patriotically, put them to the sword. As they recalled the scene they jocularly talked of the "Friar of Ayr's blessing," and the saying passed into the lore of the town which they helped to safeguard.

One generation after another of friars came and went and one generation of burghers after another was laid to sleep in the quiet churchyard. Gradually, if slowly, the country advanced from one degree of prosperity to another, though ever and anon, internal dissension broke up the public peace, or external quarrelling checked the march of progress and kept alive a feeling of uncertainty and insecurity. Amid it all the priests kept at their work and service. The townsmen ere they died-those of them who were of good report and who looked forward, after they were gone, to the celebration of prayers and masses for the repose of their souls-left grants to the church conditionally on their instructions being carried out. They took care that the preaching friars ,should not be unmindful of their duty.

They specified the number of times the bell was to rung the number of priests who were to pray, and of choristers who were to sing, and they stipulated that in the event of neglect of duty the funds bequeathed to the church should go to the poor of the town. Some of these wills were exceptionally tightly drawn, and we may be pardoned if, as a sample of the mingled piety and scrupulousness of our ancestors, we extract from the Obit Book of St. John's the Obit or Foundation of Sir Andrew M'Corinyll, the vicar of Straiton.

"The OBIT, or Foundation, Of Sir Andrew M'Cormyll, vicar of Stratone, who died on the 3rd day of the month of April, in the year of our Lord 1587, who gave to God, the psalter and choristers of the burgh of Ayr, and poor, twenty shillings of annual revenue, namely, from his tenement, with pertinents, lying near the Bridge of Ayr, between the Bridge on the one, and tenement of Patrick Ker on the other parts, sixteen shillings ; and from his other tenement, with pertinents, lying in the said burgh between the tenement of John Chapell, on the one, and the tenement of the late Michael Masone, on the other parts, four shillings of annual revenue, to be annually levied; which same annual revenue shall be thus distributed in perpetuity, namely, fourpence to the bellman, who shall go through the streets, with a loud voice, that the poor may come to the obit mass to receive their dins, and to pray for the founder; to which poor at, the same time shall be given, in food and drink, and money, eight shillings from the said sum of twenty shillings, to be distributed at the discretion of the principal priest of the choir, with consent of the Dean of Guild, if present, Whoever cometh to scrutinize the distribution, after this manner, shall have twelve pieces of money for his trouble from the foresaid sum of twenty shillings. If, however, the distributer shall take nothing for his trouble he shall have a share, with the half which falls to the other priests annually. Likewise sixpence shall be given for the light of the altar. Also twelvepence to the clerk, or sacristan, for three times ringing the great bell at placebo and dirige and three times, at the obit mass. Otherwise, only sixpence. Which same obit, with nine lessons shall be performed in the afternoon of the nativity of St. Andrew, and an obit mass with the other foresaid, in all time coming, at the altar of the holy blood. From those absent from the whole mass, fourpenee to be with-drawn; to the absentees from both, nothing shall be given. And that six priests, at least, be present at the obsequies after this mode; and because delay brings danger, I wish that threepence be withdrawn from each present and not performing on the day of the obit ; which same money, from the absence of the Dean or priests aforesaid, or from the failure of the clerk or sacristan, or non -celebration, shall be divided into two parts, of which one half to be added to the portion of the poor, and the other half to go to the use of the priests present in celebrating; and if it happen that anniversaries of this sort shall not be performed at the proper time, as above, hence it shall be lawful for the Dean of Guild, for the time being, and my nearest friends, to uplift the foresaid annual revenue of twenty shillings, and to lay out thirteen shillings on their poor. The remaining part of this foundation to be kept in the common chapel, for the use of the church, as shall to them seem expedient. Sir Patrick Law, notary to the premises."

While the friars thus diligent in duly there came rumours to their ears of the birth of a new order of things. To them it was upheaval, not order. They know that there were in Kyle certain people known as Lollards who were not of their way of thinking, who disregarded the mass, and who had no credence in the efficacy of the supplications of the Virgin ; but they, had never dreamt in their most fearful visions that the old Catholic faith was to be put upon its trial end virtually to pass away from the Scene of their labours. The tidings they heard they at first discredited ; but the new creed kept on growing and expanding. It spread from the Lollards to the common people, and even the families of Ayrshire which had from time immemorial clung to the faith of the fathers, became indoctrinated with the new religious leaven. There was an outcry against images and altars and masses. St. John's had four altars and all the paraphernalia of the Church of Rome ; and well might the Friars fear when they heard the cries of the angry mob for the demolition of their shrines. It was not, however, till 1533 that their long continuity of worship was broken in upon. In that year there came to Ayr an iconoclast, Walter Stewart by name, a brother to the Lord of Ochiltree. He had drank deeply at the waters of the new well, and his spirit was stirred within him as he saw the images of the saints in the Church of Ayr. He could not restrain his fiery zeal, and in active protest he cast down one of the images to the floor. As it fell from its pedestal, the father Abbot might well have exclaimed, "There goes the Catholic Faith in Ayr," for its fall was the forerunner of that which was to follow. But the old faith was as yet supported by the temporal power. Complaint was made of the heretical deed to the Bishop of Glasgow who had long dealings with the over-zealous reformer. The result of these was that Stewart was persuaded to recant his faith. But his recantation, and his life, were alike brief. On the way home he fell from the horse on which he rode, as he was crossing a stream. The water ran in angry flood, copious from the spring rains ; and those who accompanied him could but stand on the banks of the water and see him drown. He clutched hold of a stone ; and ere he let go and was swept away, he recanted his recantation exhorted his friends to take warning by him not to redeem life by renouncing the truth, protested he was there to die in the new faith which he professed, and that, being sorry for his recantation, he was assured of the mercy of God in Christ. Finally, he bade them remember this judgment upon him to their own profit, after which lie let go his hold of the stone and was drowned. Had Stewart tried to save his life and not exhausted himself preaching to his friends on the banks of the stream, he might possibly have lived to be of some further use in the world; but without a doubt, when the tidings of his unhappy end reached the friars of St. John's, they recognized ill his fate a just judgment for the heinous offence he had committed against the faith of their mother Church.

His fate, however, had no effect on the new growth. The Reformation was in the air. In 1559 there came to the royal burgh one whom the inmates of the Church of St. John's recognized as a pervert from the Romish faith. John Willock had himself been a friar of Ayr. He knew their ways and their doings; and when the spirit of regeneration caught him up and converted him into all enemy of the doctrines which he had in early life espoused, and which had promulgated from the altar, there was none more earnest or more energetic than he in the Reformation crusade. Almost within hearing of the tenants of the old church, he proclaimed the new birth and hurled his anathemas against the faith which it still represented, nor did he cease until the strong secular arm laid hold of him and drove him forth from the town, to the bettering of his own personal fortune. Persecution has ever been a poor weapon when confronted with a religious crusade inspired with the first enthusiasm of its genesis. And so it was in this case. Willock went, but the new faith remained; and as it grew, the friars began to realize that the end of their long tenure was approaching. Under what circumstances they girded up their loins and fled, whither they had time to chant their Nunc Dimittis and then sadly yet gracefully retire, shaking off the dust from their feet in protest against the stern men and the stern doctrines of the Reformation, or whether they had to flee before the fury of an angry populace and were glad to escape with their lives-cannot now be said. But they went out into the world, for ever the chain which had stretched along through four centuries, and whose sundered links were not again destined to be reunited. In their place came men of a different type. No more were heard the lattin and the vesper hymns; no more were seen the processions of the friars and the choristers ; the candles went out oil the altar; the altars themselves were displaced; the swinging censers with their odorous incense were cast aside ; and in their place rose the oaken pulpit, severe in its plainness, the unadorned services of Calvinism, and the Presbyterian minister. The bell that had tolled for mass rang in the people to hear the Word at the lips of Porterfield. There are few, if any, details to be had of this, the first reformed minister of St. John's. he was no ascetic. A Presbyterian he was, of course, but his ideas of regenerating the masses were not such as to stir the latent sympathies of those who clung, to the old faith. After he had finished his sermon in the forenoon of the Sabbath, he was wont to resort to the bow-butts and the archery ground, and the people who formed his Congregation had thus all opportunity of avenging themselves upon him, by defeating him in the sport, for the "dreich" or laboured discourse with which he had them in the earlier hours of the day.

But occasionally the quiet begottn of the ministrations and the hilarity incidental to the sporting proclivities of Porterfield, were broken in upon, and the congregation. of St. John's were not always permitted to dwell at ease in Zion. From the east country there came the greatest of all the Scottish Reformers, the most unbending champion whom the faith evolved, and across the intervening space which lay between the church and the town. trooped the burghers to hear his denunciation of Popery and all its belongings.

There was a quickening and a stimulating of the spiritual life John Knox was in the pulpit, and if the ghosts of the long dead friars haunted the sacred edifice they must have made haste to quit it for ever when they heard their faith derided and their beliefs contemned. Knox passed on, and so did the years, until Porterfield was grown old ; and the man who came to act with him in the ministry of St. John's, and who, of all its pastors, was destined to be most closely connected with the early Reformation work in Ayr, arrived to take up his functions. That was John Welsh. It was not that his years in the town were many. He came in 1602, and he was driven from it in 1605 ; and the following year he left Scotland never again to see it. His memory is blessed rather for the good he did, his earnest ministry, his practical Christianity, his services to humanity while the plague raged in Ayr, and his wonderful prescience in tracing out results from their initiatory causes.

After Welsh came George Dunbar, and Robert Blair, and John Fergushill, and these carried on the succession, with various interruptions, till the bishops drove them out, and Prelacy became the order of the day. St. John's was restored to something like its former ritualistic glory. Again was heard the voice of the choristers; again the Prayer Book and the Litany, though of another Church than the Roman Catholic, were reinstated. Where Knox had thundered and Welsh wrestled, comparative calm succeeded. But the calm was only on the surface. Underneath the waters of Presbytery ran strong as ever; and the burghers came to the church as before, their hearts were with the "outed" men hiding in the Ayrshire uplands. The time was one of unrest. To-day the one party were in the ascendant, to-morrow the other boasted of their triumphs. The spirit of the tower of St. John's, if he still remained in his sanctuary, must have been a veritable Vicar of Bray if he succeeded in harmonizing with the recurrent changes. These went on intermittently until 1638, the year of the second Reformation, when Episcopacy in Scotland was dethroned, and when the parish church of Ayr fell for the last time into the hands of the Reformers.

But it was not destined to remain a church for ever; for after the battle of Dunbar, when the king's forces were swept away before the ironsides of the Commonwealth, Oliver Cromwell came into the westland, and turned St. John's into a shelter for his forces. Then around the castle, and enclosing the graveyard, where lay many generations of the dead, he built a powerful wall, a great part of which remains to this day. The old sanctuary thus became the centre of the Fort of Ayr; and even in the course of time it came to be erroneously designated the Fort Castle. As a solatium to the wounded feelings of the burghers, Cromwell gave them a thousand merks Scots with which to erect another church; and this they did on the Friars' yards by the banks of the river.

Here endeth the history of St. John's. Since the heavy handed Protector left it, it has stood a solitary monument to the times that have passed away. The burgesses utilized the summit of the tower for many years in order to descry the incoming or the outgoing of their ships, but with the march of events they ceased to avail themselves of its advantages. The church disappeared, the graveyard went to decay, the Friars' Well was filled up, and all that remains to-day to tell of the long-buried past is the square, heavy-walled edifice.

Still stands the tower four-square to the winds that blow, under the bending heavens. The sun has shone on it these seven centuries, and the moon cast its dark shadows upon the ground beneath. It has been beaten upon by many an equinoctial gale ; and many a snow storm has swirled round its sharp corners. If it could only speak, what a tale it could tell of the byegone! Nothing within its ken to-day, no handiwork of man, was visible when first it was upreared ; only the everlasting hills, the boundless main, the undulating landscape, and the blue sky overhead.

 

Source:- HISTORICAL TALES AND LEGENDS OF AYRSHIRE BY WILLIAM ROBERTSON - LONDON: HAMILTON, ADAMS, & CO - GLASGOW: THOMAS D. MORISON 1889

 

 

   

 

 

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