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Scots: Kirkcaum
Kirkcolm is located in Dumfries and Galloway
 Kirkcolm shown within Dumfries and Galloway
Council area Dumfries and Galloway
Lieutenancy area Wigtown
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Dumfries and Galloway
Scottish Parliament Galloway and West Dumfries
List of places

Coordinates: 54°57′54″N 5°08′24″W / 54.965°N 5.14°W / 54.965; -5.14

Kirkcolm (Scots: Kirkcaum)[1] is a village and an area about 5-1/2 miles in length and 4 miles in width on the northern tip of the Rhinns of Galloway peninsula, Wigtownshire, in the District Council Region of Dumfries and Galloway, forming a small peninsula, bounded on the north and west by the sea, on the east by the bay of Loch Ryan and on the south by the area of Leswalt. The number of acres under cultivation is between 10,000 and 11,000; there are upwards of 1200 acres waste and pasture, and between 100 and 200 planted.[2][3][4]

It was noted to have the best black Galloway cattle in the Rhinns.[2][5]

There was commercial salmon fishery in the north and herrings and oysters in Loch Ryan.[4]

The Village[edit]

Blue Peter Hotel in Main Street was National Pub of the Year for Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2007. (click on photo below)

Parish History[edit]

Kirkcolm, in Wigtownshire, means the Church of St. Columba, thus leaving no doubt as to the dedication of its place of worship. The parish has a spring known as the Crosswell, or St. Columba's Well. Historically Kirkcolm has seen human activity since ancient times when it was known as Kirkcolm Parish. Sheltered from the rough seas of the North Channel and the North Atlantic the loch was, and is to the present time, an important safe harbour for vessels.

Lady Bay is near Corsewell House. Sir Herbert Maxwell wrote that the farm situated on this bay bore the Erse equivalent in its name — viz., Portencalzie = Portan cailleach = Port of the Nuns.

10th-century Viking Carved Stones are found in Kirkcolm churchyard. The cross originally stood close to St Mary's Chapel, Kilmorie (Cill Marie) which was next to St Mary's Well.[6] It was later moved to the grounds of Corsewall House.[7] The cross was re-erected in the Kirkcolm churchyard in 1989. The designs on the magnificent Christian stone cross combines Christian and pagan Scandinavian images, reflecting Galloway's connections with its Viking and Celtic past. One face of the stone has an elaborately carved cross above a design of intertwined animal bodies, and the snake-like heads of some of the animals. On the reverse-side is a representation of the Crucifixion. Below is a figure of a man with a pair of tongs and a bird on his shoulder; this is most likely Sigurid, a super-hero from Viking mythology. It is thought the carvings on the Kilmorie Stone show the triumph of Christianity over paganism.

In the spring of 1307 at the beginning of Robert the Bruce campaign in the Wars of Independence he sent two forces to attempt to gain control of south-west Scotland. One force, led by his two brothers, consisting of eighteen galleys, landed in Loch Ryan.[8] They were immediately overwhelmed by local forces, led by Dougal MacDougal Clan MacDowall who was a supporter of the Comyns.

The Church[edit]

The Kirkcolm established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. The old Parish Church of Kirkcolm (Kirk Of Kirkcolm), which was in the grounds of Corsewall House, was demolished in 1821 and a new church was built in Kirkcolm, up the hill from the old Kirk, and named Kirkcolm Parish Church. History of Kirkcolm with a map showing sites of churches since the 6th century can be found at the Ervie Kirkcolm church ref [9] The Kirk session, held in the court of the parish, was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish and dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish.

In 1636 sheriff Agnew of Wigtownshire acquired the Kirklands of Kirkcolm from John Gordon.

Places of Interest[edit]

Marian Tower The views from Marian Tower on Craigengerroch Hill above Drumdow are superb. (click on photo below) [10]

Corsewall Lighthouse a listed 'A' building of major national importance, stands on the north-west coast and the light beams a warning for ships and the new ferries approaching the mouth of Loch Ryan. Some of Scotland's most spectacular coastline is found within and near the Corsewall Light House Hotel. The lighthouse galleries and public areas afford fine views of the Kintyre Peninsula, Arran, the Firth of Clyde, Ailsa Craig and even the coast of Ireland. The Iron Age fort of Dunskirkloch is found here. A wide variety of flora, abundant sea life, seals, birds and even deer can be viewed from here. On a clear night, the beams of several Scottish and Irish lighthouses can be seen. The lighthouse was built in 1815 for the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses by Robert Stevenson, engineer father of Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote the novel "Kidnapped" . It was reported in a newspaper that scenes of the film "Kidnapped" were made near this locality.

Corswall Castle (Corsewell Corsewall Krosswell) was owned by Alexander Campbell, a son of Sir Duncan Campbell of Loudoun, whose elder brother Andrew was Sheriff of Ayr. The lands are named from a hill (Cor-siale, " the round hill of the brine ") at the northern extremity of the Rhynns, against which the billows break in a north-western gale in one sweep from Labrador. Corswall Castle lay in a hollow behind it, the lower story vaulted and serving as a cow fort. This oblong keep once rose to three storeys and lay on a mound which was protected by a ditch. Now all that remains are the stumps of the four walls, which do not rise beyond a tunnel-vaulted basement. The wall still contains the lower section of a turnpike stair. A small cannon was discovered here in 1791, while a cache of gold coins, silver-plate and jewellery was uncovered in 1802.[11]

The castle was forsaken in favour of Corsewall House (by Kirkcolm) by the 18th Century. A preposterous story passes current that in the well underneath this was a spring of such power that by raising the lid the owners could at pleasure flood the moat and approaches to the castle ; the origin of which seems a stone lying upon another, and many chisel-shaped stones lay on the beach below it.[12] The ruin of Corsewall (written Corsill) or Corswell Castle is shown on National Library of Scotland, John Ainslie map AD1782 [13] and Krosswell (Corsewall), in this Parish, is on the two 1684 Pont’s maps in the Bleau Atlas.[14]

Ancient Forts[edit]

Rev. George Wilson in Archaeological and Historical Collections relating to Ayrshire and Galloway. vol.V. p. 63 lists forts and possible sites.[15]

  • Plan XIII, opposite p. 65. Fort at Jamieson's Point.
  • Plan XIV, opposite p. 66. Caspin
  • Dundream (little trace remains)
  • Plan XV, opposite p. 67. Dunskirloch fort at Corswall Point.
  • Plan XVI, opposite p. 68. Doonan of Dally.
  • Plan XVII, opposite p. 69. Dunwick or Danwick fort (Castle Butt), north of Dounan of Airies.
  • Fort at Dounan of Airies (possibly Castle Ban Motte)
  • Castle of Craigoch may have been a fort. (May be Craigoch Tor in Leswalt)


In AD1623 Alexander Stewart, 1st Lord Garlies was created Earl of Galloway and in AD1627 he was created Baron of Corsewell, Kirkcolm Wigtownshire.[16] There are three charters in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland dated 12 June 1621, 16 May 1622, 17 July 1623 that mention lands in Kirkcolm.[17] On 17 July 1632, Alexander, Lord Stewart of Garlies (created Earl of Galloway on 19 September following) had a charter of the barony of Corswall, with the castle, etc. which was confirmed by Act of the Scottish Parliament 20 June 1633.[18] Between AD1619-1623 Lord Garlies negotiated with James Stewart, Lord Ochiltrie, for the latter's barony of Corswell. On 17 July 1623 he had a grant of the barony of Corsewell with a grant of burgh of barony to be called the Burgh of Stewarton conveninetly situated for a burgh and spacious and commodious harbour on the coast between Scotland and Ireland.[19] Stewarton was renamed Kircolm Village. Ainslie’s 1782 map showed Lady Galloway (of the Earl of Galloway, Stewart family) at "Fine View", Kirkcolme, and Rev. Andrew Ross at Barsalloch. "Fine View" was probably known as "Corsewell House".[20]

Famous People[edit]

A famous explorer from Kirkcolm was Admiral Sir John Ross (Arctic explorer) (1777 – 1856) of Cairnbrook, south Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire. He was born in Kirkcolm, but later moved to Stranraer.[21] Captain Ross received gold medals from the English and French geographical societies, and various foreign orders, including a knighthood of the Pole Star of Sweden, and in the following year (1834) received a knighthood and a CB in Britain. He married 1stly 1816 to Christian Adair. In 1849 aged about 62years, he had a grant from the Hudson's Bay Company and fitted out the vessel "Felix" which sailed from Stranraer on 23 May 1850. He spent his retirement years at North West Castle his house at the head of Loch Ryan. Another famous explorer was his nephew, Admiral Sir James Clark Ross (1800 - 1862), the Antarctic Explorer who discovered the magnetic south pole, and they were both of Balsharroch / Barsalloch, (Balsarroch, Barony of Corswall / Corswell / Carswell ) Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire. In 1848-49 Sir James Clark Ross was commander of the "Enterprise" in an expedition for the relief of Sir John Franklin [22] and he also accompanied his uncle on Arctic expeditions. The hunt for the North West Passage - the sea route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans - excited explorers for centuries. Admiral Sir John Ross, his nephew Admiral Sir James Clark Ross, and John Richardson were the subjects of a study weekend at North West Castle on ‘The Arctic Scots and the Quest for the North West Passage’. The seminars took place in International Polar Year, focussed on the impact of climate warming. "The voyages in search of the North West Passage seized the imaginations of contemporaries much as space travel does today," said Ted Cowan, Professor of History at Glasgow University who led the study weekend.[23]

Grizel Ross married Alexander Hannay and had a dau Mary Hannay who married Dr. Robert Hannay, and their eldest son Alexander John Hannay, b.1800 d.1846, had a distinguished career as a Doctor of Medicine, Professor of Physics at Anderson`s University, Glasgow, and President of the Royal Medical Society in Edinburgh.

In the AD1684 Parish List for Wigtownshire, Kirkcolm Parish, John Ros, elder and younger, Alexander & Andro Ros were at Karinbrock (Cairnbrook), and others of the Ros family were at Borland.[24]

Some members of the Agnew family were at Kurckeume (Kirkcolm village) including Patrick Aginew, younger, whilst other Aginew and Aginew were at Clanrie (Clonery on 1782 map, Clonary on c.1654 Pont's map in Bleau Atlas) [25]

See also[edit]

The Gallery[edit]


  1. ^ The Online Scots Dictionary
  2. ^ a b A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, by Samuel Lewis. pub. 1846.
  3. ^ Kirkcolm Community Council.
  4. ^ a b Parish: Kirkcolm, Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway, by Andrew Agnew. vol. I, p.218
  13. ^ National Library of Scotland, John Ainslie map AD1782,
  14. ^ two 1684 Pont’s maps in the Bleau Atlas.
  15. ^ Archaeological and Historical Collections relating to Ayrshire and Galloway. vol.V. pp.62-73
  16. ^
  17. ^ Register of the Great Seal of Scotland. 1620-1633 vol.8. pub. 1894. p.56 no.171; p.109 no.322; p.172 no.496
  18. ^ History of the lands and Their Owners in Galloway. by P.H. M'Kerlie. New Edition. volume 1. pub. 1906, p.403
  19. ^ Scots Peerage, vol.IV. pub. 1907. p.160. Stewart, Earl of Galloway. and Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, p.72 no.496
  20. ^ History of Galloway. by William Mackenzie. vol.II. p.83
  21. ^
  22. ^ "The Nauticapedia"
  23. ^ Tribute paid to Scots Arctic trio, BBC Scotland News, 12 October 2007.
  24. ^ Scottish Record Society. pt.72. Parish Lists of Wigtownshire and Minnigaff, 1684. p.20.
  25. ^ Parish Lists of Wigtownshire, pp.19-23 , 6th October 1684.