Sir William Wallace

Sir William Wallace and New Cumnock

At the head of Glen Afton, just beyond the lands of Blackcraig, stands a majestic rocky outcrop long known to the people of New Cumnock as Castle William.

Armstrong’s Map of Ayrshire | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Oral tradition tells us that the William in Castle William is none other the patriot Sir William Wallace through his association with the nearby lands of Blackcraig as told by Blind Hary in his epic ‘The Wallace’. In one of several references to William Wallace and the lands of New Cumnock he proclaims –

‘And Wallace past in Cumno with blith will,
At the Black Rok, quhar he was wont to be,
Apon that sted a ryall hous held he.’

Bolt Burn Brig and Blackcraig Hill (Robert Guthrie)

In 1990 Hary’s words took on a new significance with the re-discovery of the ‘Wallace Seal’  which identified Sir William Wallace as the son of Alan Wallace, a name which also appears in the Ragman Roll (1296), where Alan is described as a crown tenant in Ayrshire.

The tenous link between Sir William Wallace and lands in Renfrewshire evaporates as does the belief that Wallace was a vassal of the Stewarts (Steward). His father Alan was a crown-tenant in Ayrshire and the search for the Wallace lands must now seriously consider that part of the shire retained directly by the crown and known as King’s Kyle.

The lands of New Cumnock lie in King’s Kyle with Blackraig hill its highest peak and here at the Blak Rok (Blackcraig) Hary reveals that Wallace was a crown tenant for ‘apon that sted a ryall-house held he’ .

Castle William (on the left) , New Cumnock (Robert Guthrie)

These words of Blind Hary not only make a strong case for putting New Cumnock firmly on the ‘Wallace Map’ of Scotland have an added significance. For it is from his home at Blackcraig that Hary has Wallace leaving to head for Glasgow to meet with Robert the Bruce but instead he is betrayed, captured and taken to London where on 23rd August 1305 our patriot would be executed.

For a detailed analysis of Hary’s writings on Wallace and New Cumnock please visit here.