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Culture Minister visits Burns landmark to view preparations for Burns homecoming 2009

24 January 2006

Patricia Ferguson, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport visited the Auld Kirk today 24 January 2006 to hear about the works to be funded by Historic Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund and South Ayrshire Council.

The Auld Kirk was made famous by Robert Burns’s poem Tam O’Shanter, as the setting for the Witches’ Dance.

Highlighting the importance of the work Patricia Ferguson said:

“I am pleased to see so many examples of public and private organisations working together to ensure we are ready to celebrate the Burns Homecoming in 2009. The Auld Kirk at Alloway is key to the story told in Tam O’Shanter:

“When, glimmering thro the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seem’d in a bleeze,
Thro ilka bore the beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

It is vital that this site scheduled as an ancient monument of national importance, survives in good condition.”

The Culture Minister went on to say:

“It is through such partnership working that our extraordinary historic places will be enhanced, appreciated and cared for so that they can continue to be enjoyed by generations of visitors and residents.”

Dating from 1516 the church was rebuilt in 1653 and records show there was a church on this site back in 1236 AD. The parish of Alloway was annexed back to Ayr in 1690 and the church became ruinous after that date. Robert Burns’s father William Burnes is buried in the churchyard, his gravestone giving a date of 1784.

The works to repair the historic church and churchyard should start this year and will see the walls of the church and boundary walls repaired and re-pointed. The church also has vegetation growing from the walls and wall heads and this needs to be removed to prevent damage to the mortar and stonework.

Notes to editors

  • Historic Scotland has committed to fund £27,500 towards the costs of repairing the historic kirk and churchyard. Other funders will include Heritage Lottery Fund and South Ayrshire Council.

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Executive and is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers.

For further information

Isla Macleod
Communications and Media Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852