Waterhead Castle stood on the banks of the upper reaches of the River Nith, between the now abandoned Waterhead Farm and the Castle hill, upon which may have stood an older wooden fortification.
In the late 15th century Lord Alan de Cathcart pledged many lands in his barony of Dalmellington to Roger de Craufurd of Dalleagles including Beoch, Marshallmark, Knockburnie and Lanehead in the vicinity of Waterhead. [See Appendix].
The Beoch lands, including a tower, passed to the Craufurds of Lefnoreis while by the early 16th century Waterhead appears to have been back in the hands of the Cathcart family.
- Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.
A stone saved from the ruins of the Waterhead Castle was embedded in the walls of the buildings of Waterhead Farm upon which were carved the initials “AC and AD”, those of
Allan Cathcart and his spouse Agnes Dunbar (fl. 1602 -1630). Their daughter Marion later married her neighbour Daniel Mitchell of Craigman. Thankfully the stone was saved when the farm was demolished and is now in safe-keeping.
The extent of the Waterhead estate at the beginning of the 20th century included Meiklehill, Maneight, Knockburnie, Craighouse, Lanehead, Sunnyside, Blackfarding, House of Water, Marshallmark, Little Rigend, Waterhead, Riggend, High Riggend, Forerigg – those in bold now gone. [Valuation Rolls, New Cumnock]
New Cumnock Local and Natural History Club
In the late 1970’s the New Cumnock local history club under the leadership of the incomparable Donald McIver carried out their own Time-Team exercise (before Time-team existed) and uncovered considerable parts of the castle’s foundations – a fantastic experience. One of the finds included a graphite marker probably hewn from the nearby Craigman graphite mine.
The RCAHMS Canmore entry (under Little Rigend Castle) includes the following text
The amorphous earth and stone mound, which is up to 0.5m high, was partially excavated in 1978-9. The main exposed feature is a 12.0m long, 1.0m wide and up to 1.4m high wall which is oriented NE-SW. Central to this and at right angles there is a 3.2m length of similar walling. A fragment of curvilinear walling adjacent to this wall may be part of a stair tower.
[Visited by OS (MJF) 24 September 1980.]
- Check out full Canmore entry here
- RCAHMS Canmore http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/canmore.html
- National Library Scotland http://maps.nls.uk/index.html
- Stuart Clarkson
- kindly translated by Stuart Clarkson, Guelph, Ontario