Knockshinnoch Tower

Knockshinnoch hill
Knockshinnoch hill with Knockshinnoch Farm

The two-storey tower house once stood  on the hill above the modern day farm of Knockshinnoch , close to the large clump of trees at the edge of the footpath that passes by this way.  It was home to the Dunbars of Knockshinnoch, a branch of the family of the Dunbars, Barons of Cumnock, whose ancient seat once stood on the castlehill at the heart of what is now the village of New Cumnock.

Knockshinnoch Tower OS 1892-1905
Knockshinnoch Tower OS 1892-1905

The first of the Dunbars of Knockshinnoch we meet is John Dunbar (fl. 1490-1552) and his son Patrick Dunbar (fl. 1540-1606). Their descendant John Dunbar specified in his will  that “he is to be buried in the dust of St. Conval’s, Cumnock”

Another John was at the Battle of Mauchline Muir in 1642, punishment for which resulted in ‘his house being looted and damaged, his two horses and seven cows and calves stolen’ and although he escaped to Ulster he was ‘pursued there too.’

The last of this family appears to have been Hugh Dunbar, a Covenanter who survived imprisonment in what was the hell-hole of Dunnottar Castle. In 1676, he  granted the lands to Hugh Douglas of Garallane (Old Cumnock), one of his kin through marriage. who married Margaret Craufurd of Camlarg (Dalmellington).

Knockshinnoch datestone
Knockshinnoch datestone

In the gable-end of the Knockshinnoch byre a date-stone that once adorned the tower has been embedded. It carries the couple’s initials ‘HD and MC’, the date of 1691 and their family arms namely a ‘heart and stars’ for Douglas and ‘a stag’s head’ for Craufurd – giving an heraldic pun ‘Heart to Hart’.

Knockshinnoch was later held by the Logan family when the property was defined as the ‘Twenty shilling land of Knockshinnoch of old Extent, with the Tower, Fortalice, Manor Place, House, Biggings, Yards, Parts, Pendicles and Pertinent thereof ‘. John Logan of Knockshinnoch and Laight is well remembered as an acquaintance of Scotland’s bard Robert Burns.


  1. Hi there,
    I am interested in the relationship of Knockshinnoch between the Dunbars and “Duncan Crauford of Knockshinnoch” who was born c1640, and who I think I am directly descended from. Is he a relative of Margaret Crauford perhaps? Any ideas??
    Freya Crawford

    1. Hello Freya,

      Thank you for posting.

      James Paterson “History of the Counties of Ayr & Wigton Scotland: Carrick” refers to the Craufurds of Doonside and in a deed of 1753 metions William Craufurd who was the only son of Captain William Craufurd who in turn was the eldest son of David, eldest son of Duncan Craufurd of Knockshinnoch.

      I think this must be a reference to another Knockshinnoch in Ayrshire that lies between Dalrymple to the west and Rankinston to the east. I have tried linking to a map but not sure if this will work.

      hope this helps,

      1. Hi Bobby – Thank you for you reply. I didn’t click that there were the two Knockshinnochs! I had the information about the Crawfords of Doonside etc already, I just thought that members of the family had moved around the area. How would I tell which Knockshinnoch Duncan was from? – I was starting to wonder if he was Margaret’s father who may have moved in with her and Douglas when he was being called “Duncan Crawford of Knockshinnoch? Kind regards, Freya.

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