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Maraige Stones Waterhead Farm/Waterhead Castle, New Cumnock

Hi Robert,
I’m not sure if you remember me but our paths have crossed on a few occasions mostly via the web , facebook and suchlike.

I was looking through the New Cumnock web site and was particularly interested in the “marriage stones” recently re-discovered in Knockshinnock. I was raised at Smithfield Cottage, Connelburn and Knockshinnock was my playground and later I worked there.

I have always had a keen interest in Local History and in fact started writing an article in the early eighties about the History OF Knockshinnock and the Dunbar’s of Cumnock and Mochrum. I worked in the Baird Institute in some capacity from 1982 to 1992 and in fact the index of surnames of tombstones is my work, having been employed by the council to complete New Cumnock Kirkyard.

Anyway I digress. I am contacting you today to ask if you ever knew the late Donald McIvor ? I met Donald through my local history work and we became good friends and have often tramped the area between Daleagles and Cumnock in connection with industrial and human history in those areas.

When I read about the marriage stones of Knockshinnock it reminded me of an episode that Donald and I were involved in concerning a similar set of stones from Waterhead Farm. This farm was scheduled for demolition to make way for the opencast mine and Donald and I resolved to “rescue” the stones before they were lost. They were set into the stone barn of the house , not the main building and I think they came from Waterhead Castle that was situated a few hundred yards across the Nith. . I am sure they were from the 1600’s and involved members of the Chalmers family. I know this as I did some research while working at the Baird Institute and that family occupied the castle at the same date as the dates on the stones.

This we did by chiseling them out one night and we stored them in Donalds back garden in Nithsdale Avenue, New Cumock for safe keeping, they were turned face down to protect the carvings and formed part of a garden feature.

I believe that Donald was re-housed in Catrine until his death and I have often wondered if the stones are still there and if they could be rescued again.

I Hope this tale is of interest to you.

Where are you from ? New Cumnock

Re: Maraige Stones Waterhead Farm/Waterhead Castle, New Cumnock

Hello Tom,

Sorry for the delay in replying. My dad was brought up in Connel Park but later worked at Fauldhead Pit in Kirkconnel, so I grew up Kelloholm before we four sisters moved to New Cumnock in 1965 and stayed in Dalhanna Drive. My dad passed away an my mum Mary later married again - Jim Morrison ( a cousin of Donald McIver) . The Mary Morrison garden at the mural's named after her. Jim's still in Dalhanna Dr but I lived in Barrhead for over 20 years now and Glasgow area for a few years before that.

Yes, I knew Donald well, he visited our church youth club way back in 1974 and the following week a bunch of us joined the History Club and I have been hooked ever since. I manage to give a presentation to the History club most years.

We worked on the 'dig' at Waterhead Castle and I have sat in the summer seat at Castlemains Avenue with the Waterhead date stone below. I am not sure if it is still there, but it would be good to save it. I heard that Hall of Auchincross was recently demolished and I wonder if the Craufurd stone has been saved.

I am currently rebuilding this web-site on my wordpress site and I may put a wee bit about the Waterhead and Auchincross stanes on that one.

I recall some article about the Chalmers (was it Jonet) and Waterhead. The intials were AC and AD and there was an Alan Cathcart and Agnes Dunbar in Wattirheid (1602-1630) . Their daughter Marion married neighbour Daniel Mitchell (in the original Craigman).

The graveyard inscriptions is a fantastic resource especially when you see the state of some of the stones since you carried out that monumental task (excuse the pun).

I am doon hame on a regular basis so hopefully we can meet up some day.

all the best