This web-site is devoted to the history of the parish of New Cumnock which is situated in the Southern Uplands of Scotland.
- In 1650 the original parish of Cumnock was divided into the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock. The parish of Old Cumnock was served by the existing parish church whilst a new parish church was built for the parish of New Cumnock.
- The new church, now the Auld Kirk was built on the site of Cumnock Castle, the ancient seat of the Barons of Cumnock, held by the Earls of Dunbar from the late 13th century. Cumnock Castle overlooked the confluence of the River Nith and the Afton Water, a meeting of waters that gave rise to the Gaelic place-name comunn ach ‘place of the confluence’. The town of New Cumnock grew up around the new church at the heart of the large upland parish of New Cumnock.
- Much of the history of the parish is found in the surrounding hills. In the Bronze Age Burial Cairns or on the Roman roads or in the household of William Wallace, the great Scottish patriot at Castle William. The hills are also home to the legend of Robert the Bruce being hunted here, whilst Edward II of England held court at Cumnock Castle. Nearly 400 years later and the same hills would provide refuge for the Covenanters in their battle for spiritual freedom. One of their number Patrick Gemmil was a signatory of the Sanquhar Declaration, an act which ensured his murder and martyrdom.
- The hills, valleys and the fields were also the source of liveliehood for many parishioners and the late 16th century maps ably show the spread of the ferme-tounes, many of which survive in name to this day.
- Robert Burns ensured world-wide celebrity for the parish with ‘Sweet Afton’, his tribute to the Afton Water that flows gently through the glorious Glen Afton past the impressive setting of the Burns’ Cairn.
- In the 20th century coal became king and New Cumnock became ‘a mining community’ with pits and miners-rows now populating the landscape. In 1950 the world held its breath as 129 New Cumnock miners were trapped in the Knockshinnoch Disaster , 116 were rescued in a dramatic fashion, whilst 13 souls lost their lives. Less than half a century later Thatcher’s ‘Plan for Coal’ destroyed the industry nation-wide. Jobs were lost and the the town’s population began to dwindle but thankfully the mining community spirit has endured.
- It was not all doom and gloom and in 1993 the people of New Cumnock’s search for the holy grail was realised as Glenafton Athletic Football Club brought home the Scottish Junior Cup the most coveted trophy in Scottish if not World football ! Happy to report they repeated the feat in Season 2013/14.