Barns of Ayr

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Barns of Ayr
Barns of Ayr is located in South Ayrshire
Barns of Ayr
Barns of Ayr
Location in South Ayrshire
Coordinates 55°27′39″N 04°37′39″W / 55.46083°N 4.62750°W / 55.46083; -4.62750Coordinates: 55°27′39″N 04°37′39″W / 55.46083°N 4.62750°W / 55.46083; -4.62750
Type Barracks
Site information
Operator Edward I's Army

The Barns of Ayr was, according to Blind Harry in The Wallace, a site located at Ayr, Scotland, which was used as English military barracks.[1] According to Blind Harry, a number of Scottish barons of Ayrshire were killed by hanging, including Sir Ronald Crawford Sheriff of Ayr, Sir Bryce Blair of Blair, Sir Neil Montgomerie of Cassillis, Crystal of Seton, and Sir Hugh Montgomerie.[2] In revenge, William Wallace burned the barracks with the English inside.[1]

This incident is now regarded by historians as unhistorical.[3] No such mass killing of Scots nobles by the English took place around this time, although Edward I of England did become more ruthless very near the end of his life, executing several of Robert the Bruce's supporters.[4] Book 4 of Barbour's epic poem The Bruce, an important near-contemporary source, mentions very briefly that "Sir Ranald of Crauford also, and Sir Bryce the Blair, were hanged in a barn at Ayr", but the context implies that this took place in 1306, the year after Wallace's execution. [5] Whether intentional or not, the purported incident seems to have been a counterfactual reorganization of plagiarized, inflated, roughly contemporary events.[3]

Some accounts describe Ronald Crawford as father of Reginald Crawford, a minor but known historical figure in the Wars of Scottish Independence. However, Reginald Crawford was made Sheriff of Ayr in 1296,[6] which is difficult to reconcile with the traditional story.

A version of this incident appears in the film Braveheart, where Wallace is shown as witnessing the mass hanging as a boy. This is even further wide of the mark as Scotland was not under English occupation during Wallace's boyhood.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Barns of Ayr". CANMORE. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. 
  2. ^ Crome, p.47
  3. ^ a b Unmapping the Territory: Blind Hary's Wallace, Felicity Riddy's chapter in Edward Cowan's The Wallace Book (2007, ISBN 978-0-85976-652-4)
  4. ^ John Prebble The Lion in the North
  5. ^ Translation into modern English by George Eyre-Todd, p. 54
  6. ^ Michael Penman, Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots
  7. ^ Peter Traquair Freedom's Sword