Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Google Map of Dalmellington



Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago  

Dalmellington Parish 

South-east of Dalrymple. The town of Dalmellington stands a good half-mile east of the Doon River, with the pretty Moik Water streaming through its centre, 15 miles south-east of Ayr. It appears to have had some shape of existance as early as 1003, and has risen to modern importance through cloth manufacture, and latterly through extensive mining and ironworks. Though only a small place, it has a regular town aspect, with a nice lot of shops, a Clydesdale Bank, a Royal Bank, a post office with telegraph, money order and savings bank departments; Established, Free, and Evangelical Union Churches; a Roman Catholic Chapel, a large public school, two hotels and a terminal railway station. Population in 1871, 1514; in 1881, 1437. It is environed by a few plantations; overlooking it on the south side is an ancient moat, amd immediately behind that is the site of an ancient castle. Dalmellington has produced a number of eminent men, but the best natural genius seems to have been Robert Hetrick, the blacksmith poet; and the district is not without its tales of the sufferings of the Covenanters.

The village of CRAIGMARK stands one mile north of the town, at the flowing together of several "bonnie we burns" that come dancing down Craigmark Hill. Population 383.

The village of WATERSIDE stands on the right bank of the Doon, at the foot of Green Hill - which rises to 450 feet above the river - three miles north-west of Dalmellington. It was founded, along with the extensive Dalmellington Ironworks adjacent to it, in 1847; consists of long, uniform streets or rows; and has a public school, a railway station, and a post office with telegraph, money order and savings bank departments, styled DUNASKIN. Population in 1871, 1473; in 1881, 1681. Less than a mile east of it, on Dunaskin Burn, is the site of Laight Castle, where Alpine, King of the Scots, was defeated and killed in a battle fought A.D. 837.

The village of BURNFOOTHILL lies a mile to the north-west. Population in 1871, 1421; 1881, 1690.

The village of BENQUHAT has a population of 772.

Going north-east from the town of Dalmellington, the New Cumnock Road shortly turns eastward, up Cummock Burn, beautifully wooded for some distance, and flanked with lofty hills. On its north side is the precipitous Benbeoch, 1521 feet high, affording a grand view of New Cumnock vale and hills. Going south of the town, the banks of Doon River become richly adorned with plantations up to Loch Doon, three miles. The loch lies between high moors, is six miles in length from north to south, and three-quarters of a mile broad near its middle, but its general breadth is less than half-a-mile. It contains several small islands, and on one of them, at the south end, the ruins of an old castle. It is the largest lake in Ayrshire, and far the most famous for trout angling. Its east shore, as far as the widest part, is in Dalmellington parish, and south of that is in Carsphairn parish, Kirkcudbright. Though Loch Doon and the mansion of Barbeth, a mile north of it, belong to the environs of Dalmellington, they are in the parish of Straiton. The main feeders of the loch are Gala Lane and Carrick Lane, rising seven miles to the south, in Kirkcudbrightshire. The river Doon, issuing from the north end of Loch Doon, descends at once into the bosom of Glen Ness, an amazingly narrow and deep ravine-a few yards wide, 200 feet deep, and nearly a mile in length. There is a footpath along its bottom, hewn out of the rock, a few feet above the current. The rugged, perpendicular, rocky walls of each side, which are only the length of a fishing rod apart, are beautifully variegated with a rich diffusion of tangled botanic greenary, sprinkled with flowers, the slender leafy branches of trees interlacing overhead, away up, up, and up among the love-throated birds, to a glimmering streak of sky. It is almost frightful, and exceedingly beautiful. Emerging from Glen Ness and Berbeth Woods, the river gradually veers from a north to a north-west direction, through bogs and meadows for some miles, especially fine on sunny days in the hay-making season, its brows becoming again graced with woods past Patna and Carnochan, and so continuing, with few breaks, to the sea. Its length from Loch Doon is about 22 miles. 

The mineral wealth of the parish lies in its north-west half. The coal seams in descending order are:- Sillyhole coal, 6 feet; splint coal, 4 feet; Minvey coal, 3 feet 6 inches; Sloanston coal, 3 feet; Camlarg coal, 4 to 6 feet; new coal, 3 feet. Below these arc three seams at Patna, having an aggregate thickness of 21 feet.

The length of the parish, from the Doon at Polnessan Burn, south-east to Small Burn Bridge, behind Cairn Cunock-- i.e., Cairn Cumnock - the quondam land-mark between Cumnock, now called New Cumnock, Carrick, and Kirkcudbright, is nine miles; and its widest part, from Prickeny Hill in New Cumnock to Loch Doon, is four and a half miles. Area, 17,783 acres. Population in 1871, 6165; in 1881, 6383.


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


  Births, Marriages and Deaths in Dalmellington 1882 - 1929

By Kenny Monaghan kennymonaghan@btinternet.com contact him here


  Listing of Dalmellington Gravestones

By Kenny Monaghan kennymonaghan@btinternet.com contact him here


King Alpin slain in the Glen of Dunaskin

The dawn of Ayrshire history is, if the metaphor may, be allowed, amid the war-clouds. You require to go back, not to the days of Bruce and Wallace, not to the thousand years ago when Alpin fell in conflict with the men of the shire, not to the era made memorable by the struggles of Pict and Scot with Briton, but back to the days of the Romans with their early military civilization


1851 Census for Dalmellington (2% of Total Census only)

The 2 per cent extract of the 1851 census was done by taking every 50th enumeration book, and transcribing that entire book; NOT every 50th page. As a result, you get full data for all those persons in those books which were taken (Not randomly selected - just every 50th book in the sequence throughout the UK was transcribed). The result is that you might find all the household of interest to you, but the odds are 50 to 1 against!


GenUKI Loch Doon

"Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae weary fu' o' care?


Map of Dalmellinton today

This Link takes you to the MULTIMAP website where you will find a map of the town and the surrounding area as it is today. You can zoom in and out and move around in all directions.


StreetMap of Dalmellington

This Link takes you to the STREET website where you will find a street map of the town as it is today. You can zoom in and out and move around in all directions.


Old Maps of Ayrshire Place Names

This link goes directly to the OLD MAPS website for an Ayrshire Index to detailed old maps of most Ayrshire Towns around 1860. You can explore out to all sides by using the arrows at the top of the page. These maps are ideal for finding the locations of areas such as farms.



The church of Dalmellington was formerly a prebend of the chapel royal of Stirling, and during its connection therewith, the patronage belonged to the king. The church of pre-Reformation times was superseded by a new church built in 1766. This church proved too small, and was uncomfortable owing to dampness. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, it continued in use as a sacred edifice until the erection of a more commodious and comfortable church in 1846, after which the old one was converted into dwelling houses, but has in later times been used as a hall for Sunday School, church, and public purposes......>




Dalmellington Web Sites

  Donald L Reid's Website

Donald's Books and wonderful pictures

NEW Donald's sites on the lost villages



A scenic and immensely historic area on the Ayrshire/Stewarty border near
DALMELLINGTON http://lochdoon.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/

The aim of this small site is to allow surfers a pictorial visit to this special corner of Ayrshire's Doon Valley.

Donald L Reid has a large number of photos he has taken of Loch Doon over the years. If anyone wishes copies, please send a CD and SAE and he will happily forward copies which can be freely used



    Robert Taylor's Website



George's Dalmellington Web Site  


Dalmellington Books & Maps




The Lost Villages of Doon Valley

This book was published on 24 February 2005 and covers Lethanhill/Burnfoothill; Benwhat; Corbie Craigs; Craigmark; Beoch (also known as North Beoch); Kerse; Tongue Row and Cairntable. The story is told largely from the personal reminiscences of former villagers. The book runs to 18 short chapters and is illustrated with over 100 photos and drawings. It is available from the author to whom cheques should be made payable: Donald L Reid, 7 Manuel Avenue, Beith, North Ayrshire KA15 1BJ. It costs 11-50 including p & p in UK: 12-50 in EEC and 13-50 in USA, Canada, Aus & NZ. All cheques must be drawn on UK Banks or International Money Order. The book is limited to 900 numbered signed copies ONLY. It will be of interest to anyone with roots leading back to Ayrshire's Doon Valley. Forthcoming book in November 2005: Robert Burns' Valley of Doon by Donald L Reid. Visit his web site at:





Landranger Map 0077: Dalmellington & New Galloway, Galloway Forest Park
Ordnance Survey

To Order or More Information 

Pathfinder Map 0492 (NS40/50): Dalmellington
Ordnance Survey

To Order or More Information 


hartech, Ordnance Survey

To Order or More Information



Help needed to source old pictures, postcards or photographs, interesting articles or the history of Dalmellington. If you would like to help please contact me at email address below.






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