a small village, situated about 13 miles
south of Ayr, on the main A77 road.
The most popular attraction in the
village, is the old cottage of Souter
Johnnie that is now a museum. This is
where the poet Robert Burns was inspired
to write his classic poem, Tam O Shanter.
Burns spent a summer in Kirkoswald in
1775, when he was about 16, said to be
with his grandparents to learn
mathematics at a school in the village.
Burns mother, Agnes Broun, was born and
raised in Kirkoswald.
Burns time in the village, saw him
observe some of the local characters, and
turn them into an interesting story.
Douglas Graham, who rented a farm named
Shanter, became Tam O Shanter, John
Davidson, owner of the cottage and the
local shoemaker, or souter as it was
known then, became Souter Johnnie, and
Jean Kennedy, who ran a small inn with
her sister, named Kirkton, became Kirkton
The Old Church in Kirkoswald was built
around 1244, said to be by monks from
Crossraguel Abbey, two miles
north. The Old Church graveyard contains
the resting places of Burns Relations,
Tam O Shanter, Souter Johnnie, Kirkton
Jean, and his teacher Hugh Rodger. There
is a plaque on the Auld Kirk gate that
shows where each historic grave is
Kirkoswald, along with other small
towns down this coast, were well known
for smuggling when Burns stayed there.
The Government had imposed heavy taxes on
imported goods around that time, such as
gin, tea, brandy, and textiles. Smuggling
was the way to avoid taxation. Douglas
Graham/Tam O Shanter was said to be a
The new church at Kirkoswald was built
in 1777, designed by Robert Adam. The new
church sits high above the the old
church, about 200 yards to the east.
Large trees now block the views between
the two churches.
The Kirkton Inn and Shanter Inn, were
rebuilt in about 2007 to serve as a
tearoom, diner, and cake and ice cream
parlour. The Kirkton was Peggies Tearoom
but is now a shop. The Shanter is now
named Souter’s Inn, owned by Costley and Costley
Experience opened in Kirkoswald in
about 2010, offering a wide range of rare
whiskies, tasting sessions, and you can
fill your own bottle straight from a
cask, strong stuff.
Ronert Burns places with the graves in
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Kirkoswald Auld Kirk . Large Image