History of Ayr

In 1197 a castle was built by the River Ayr. Shortly afterwards, in 1205, King William the Lion created a burgh at Ayr. He laid out streets and set aside plots of land for building houses. William also started a market at Ayr. (In those days there were few shops so if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to a market). Once the market at Ayr was up and running people would come to live in the new town.

William also granted the people of the new town of Ayr a charter (a document granting the townspeople certain rights and privileges). From 1261 Ayr also had an annual fair. (In the Middle Ages fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year and they attracted buyers and sellers from a wide area). The little town of Ayr flourished, although it would seem tiny to us with a population of (at most) 1,500.

In the little town of Ayr there were the same craftsmen you would find in any Scottish town such as skinners and fleshers. There was also a wool industry in Ayr with weavers and dyers. There were also fishermen in Ayr and there was a shipbuilding industry.

Ayr was a busy little port. Skins, hides and wool were exported from Ayr while wine (the drink of the upper class and salt were imported.

In the 13th century friars came to Ayr. Friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world they went out to preach. In 1230 Dominican friars arrived in Ayr. They were called black friars because of the colour costumes.

However not all was peaceful in Ayr. According to legend at the end of the 13th century the English invited some prominent Scots to a meeting at Ayr but they then captured and hanged them. In revenge William Wallace set fire to some barns where English soldiers were staying and burned them to death.

Nevertheless from 1301 to 1312 Ayr was in English hands.

However in 1315 a Scottish parliament met in the Church of St John the Baptist in Ayr to decide who would succeed Robert the Bruce.

During the 14th century Ayr flourished. A new settlement grew up across the River Ayr at Newton.

In the 13th century the houses in Ayr were made of wood but in the 15th century some richer citizens began rebuilding their houses in stone. The Tolbooth was built in the early 15th century and in the late 15th century the Auld Brig was rebuilt.

To Read More Please Click Here (ref: Localhistories.org website)

  • Ayr Beach (ref: happyhaggis.co.uk)
  • Ayr Town (ref: Antiquesperthscotland.co.uk)
  • Ayr Town (ref: happyhaggis.co.uk)