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Burns National Memorial Mauchline Ayrshire Scotland.

Burns National Memorial, Mauchline.
by Martin J. Galloway Editor.

Mauchline is oozing with Robert Burns history, and when you first roll into the village from the top of the hill the National Burns Memorial is there to welcome you. First opened in 1898 to commemorate the centenary of Burns' passing, on a glorious sunny cloudless day (how rare is that?) May 2005, it still looked fabulous.

Now, the memorial could never be described as boring. I must admit it does look a bit odd with it's contradicting angles. Against a clear blue sky the Ballochmile sandstone stands out like a red beacon begging attention. Embedded in one corner is a rectangular abuttment with a conventional angled roof. On the opposing side a circular attachment with a conical top. It was explained to me by an Ayrshire architect that a lot of clever work by stone masons went into the National Burns Memorial.

Now the extent of my engineering skills is building a Lego house, but it was good reason to appreciate the memorial even more. The top deck attachments have no right angles to the main platform. Everything is either 45 degrees or circular which involves a considerable amount of calculations in cutting of the stone. To make matters worse, the 67 foot entity gets wider as the height increases. Scots Baronial style it may be, but I am sure a few of the masons were wondering what was going through the mind of Willie Fraser the Glasgow architect who designed it.

Cows near the Burns National Memorial Mauchline Ayrshire.
Photo: Curious young Bulls looking over the fence admiring the National Burns Memorial. Mauchline. May 2005.

The red sandstone memorial sits at the intersection of the roads heading towards Tarbolton and Kilmarnock. It was opened on May 7th 1898 by J.G.A. Baird MP. The funding for the memorial interestingly enough was not borne through a local Ayrshire appeal, but rather a worldwide effort. In fact such was the degree of fervent support for oor Rabbie Burns that they ended up with too much money. Scots with too much money - something doesn't sound right here! The memorial cost about 1500 pounds sterling and the fund gathered considerable more than that. This leads me to the next story, the Cottage Homes behind the monument.

To be honest when I visited the site in May 2005 I was not aware that the houses behind the memorial were very much a part of it's history. Subsequent to this I never took any pictures, and now I am kicking myself. I was too busy fending off wasps after jumping into the bushes to get the shot you see at the top of the page. TCP anyone?

The Cottage Homes were a direct result of the financial success of the memorial fund. The extra money left over after construction of the tower went towards building half a dozen houses. This was to further remind folk that the poet Robert Burns, despite his present day fame, was a very poor man. The cottages were originally offered for free to the elderly, infirm and the poor of the area.

I never counted the number of houses at the site in 2005, but another 10 units were built in 1911. This a generous donation from the estate of James Dick, a Glasgow businessman. More have been added since primarily through donations and this really is an indication of the love and respect folk have around the World for Ayrshire's own Robert Burns. So if you live in Ayrshire - don't take Rabbie for granted.


Martin J. Galloway Editor.
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Burns National Memorial, Mauchline. Click to enlarge.