Stewarton (Scottish Gaelic:Baile nan Stiùbhartach) is a town located in East Ayrshire, Scotland. In comparison to other towns in the region it is comparatively large - bigger than the surrounding towns of Kilmaurs, Fenwick, Dunlop and Lugton, with a population of over 10,000. It is 300 feet above sea level.
The town is served by Stewarton railway station.
Another reference to Stewarton, this time a historical recorded version, is that one Wernebald was given the Cunninghame lands by his superior, Hugo de Morville, the builder of Kilwinning Abbey who lived at this time in Tour near Kirkland in Kilmaurs. The family were originally from Morville in Normandy (Wernebald was from Flanders) and had been established in Scotland for at least twenty years when one of the family was involved in the murder of Thomas Becket. Dervorguilla of Galloway, mother of John Balliol, was a daughter of the Morvilles on her mother's side, and when Robert the Bruce won the crown the family of Balliol lost their lands in Cunninghame. The Red Comyn, whom Bruce murdered, was a nephew of Balliol. William Cunninghame de Lamberton was Archbishop of St. Andrews and a supporter of Bruce.
Pont in 1604 - 08 records that so thickly was the district about Stewarton and along the banks of the Irvine populated for a space of three or four miles "that well traveled men in divers parts of Europe (affirm) that they have seen walled cities not so well or near planted with houses so near each other as they are here, wherethrough it is so populous that, at the ringing of a bell in the night for a few hours, there have seen convene 3000 able men, well-horsed and armed."
Another significant event from Stewarton's history involves the Cunninghame family. In the 16th century Ayrshire was divided into three regions or bailiaries - Kyle, Carrick and Cunninghame. The two powerful families residing in Cunninghame - the Cunninghame's and the Montgomeries - had been involved in a dispute over landholdings which came to a head in 1586 when Hugh 4th the Earl of Eglinton was attacked at the ford on the river Annick (which flows through Stewarton) by 30 or so members of the Cunninghame family and shot dead by John Cunninghame of Clonbeith. Hugh was on his way to attend the court of King James VI at Stirling when he decided to stop off at Langshaw house (now Lainshaw house which was for a long time a home for the elderly) to dine with his associates. The lady of the house Lady Montgomery - told several of her Cunninghame associates who lived in the area of the Earl's planned visit. As a response to the killing the Montgomery family declared they would kill every Cunninghame who had been at the river that day and a series of 'tit for tat' killings were carried out between the two families. John Cunninghame of Clonbeith was eventually slain in Hamilton, Scotland, but several of those responsible for the murder fled to Denmark and were eventually granted a pardon by King James upon his marriage to Anne of Denmark.
Lady Montgomery, who was alleged to have signaled the murderers by placing a white 'napkin' on a window sill, is said to have escaped and lived with her retainer Robert Kerr at Pearce Bank (now High Peacockbank) for several years until the 'hue and cry' died down at which point she returned to the castle and was not molested on the understanding that she did not 'show her face' outside of the grounds. A path known as the 'Weeping or Mourning Path' runs upstream from the Annick (previously Annack or Annock Water) ford and this is where the Earl's widow is said to have wept as she later followed the trail of blood left behind as his panicked horse took him away. The Earl's body was placed in Lainshaw Castle until arrangements were made to remove it to Eglintoun Castle.
The 1860 OS map does record the site of Templehouse which had a small fortalice associated with it and its site was at Darlington, the village which lay just beyond Stewarton on the Kingsford road before the East Burn. Corsehill castle is shown in one old print of 1691 by Gross as Corsehill House and substantial remains existed until the railway was constructed and most of the ruins were used to build the embankment. It is recorded that an avenue of trees ran down from the well planted Corsehill into Stewarton. The single tower that remains today (2006) of Ravenscraig / Corsehill was repaired to stabilise it.
It seems that Ravenscraig and Corsehill Castles were separate entities, and that a vague memory of Templehouse and its fortalice at Darlington on the lands of Corsehill farm, may have caused some extra confusion as in the King’s Kitchen tale of the location of the Baronial residence. An area opposite the site of Templehouses was known as 'The Castle' and this may reflect the existence of the castle or fortalice here (Hewitt 2006).
Archibald Adamson in his 'Rambles Round Kilmarnock' of 1875 only records three castles, these being Robertland, Auchenharvie and Corsehill. He makes no mention of the name Ravenscraig, calling the site he visited Corsehill. Aitken only marks Crosshill Castle in 1829 on the west side of the Corsehill Burn. The first OS maps show only the existing castle site, so the new survey has not perpetuate the error.
To sum up, the map in Pont's 'Cuninghame' of 1604-8 shows two buildings, "Reuincraige" and "Corshill", at approximately NS 417 467 and NS 422 465 respectively, and Dobie (1876) comments that the two have often been confused, but that "Reuincraig" stood on the W of the Corsehill Burn and "Corsehill Mansion" on its E. "Reuincraig", he says, was so modernised about 1840 that it was difficult to realise that it had been ruined in 1608, while the ruins of "Corsehill" were removed about the beginning of the 19th century and only foundations could be traced when he wrote. He also thought that "Reuincraig" (i.e. Ruin Craig) was not an original name. If Dobie is correct, the ruins published as "Corsehill Castle" on the OS 6", must be those of "Reuincraig", both because they are standing remains, and because they are on the W bank of the burn. Macgibbon and Ross, describing "Corsehill Castle" at the end of the 19th century as a very ruinous mansion, evidently of late date and apparently of the L-plan, and ascribe it to the period 1542-1700, must be referring to "Reuincraig". Grose, in 1791, published an illustration of "Corshill House", but does not give it a close siting. As, however, he mentions that "at a small distance from this ruin are some small remains of a more ancient building belonging to the same family", he is also probably referring to "Reuincraig", the "small remains" being those of "Corsehill". (Grose 1791); (MacGibbon) and (Ross 1889).
General Roy's Military Survey of Scotland (1745 - 55) marks 'Ravenscraig' as 'Old Corsehill' and also marks the 'new' Corsehill on the other side of the burn, thereby apparently confirming that they both had the same name and one replaced the other, although only 'Old Corsehill' is still in anyway visible, just the foundations of 'new' Coresehill being apparent in 2007. The same map shows buildings named 'Temple' in the area of 'Templehouse'.
The Stewarton Flower, so named due to its local abundance and recorded as such by the Kilmarnock Glenfield Ramblers, is otherwise known as Pink Purslane (Claytonia sibirica) is found in damp areas. This plant was introduced from North America, quite possibly at the Robertland Estate.
In 1915 it was stated to have been in the area for over 60 years and was abundant on the Corsehill Burn below Robertland in 1915. As far away as Dalgarven Mill the white flowered variety still dominates. The plant is very adept at reproducing by asexual plantlets and this maintains the white gene pool around Stewarton. The pink variety has not been able to predominate here, unlike almost everywhere else in the lowlands of Scotland, England and Wales.
Stewarton, like many other Scottish towns, holds a gala festival annually at the beginning of summer. Dating back to the days when Stewarton had a prosperous trade in bonnet-making, the 'Bonnet Guild' organises activities for the local residents and proclaims a 'Corsehill Queen', the most academically successful girl in 2nd year at Stewarton Academy.
The Cadgers’ Fair was an annual event unique to Stewarton in the 18th Century. "Our annual fair took place on Monday last. In the morning there was a large turnout of cattle. . . . Our Cadgers’ procession was a slight improvement on some former occasions, and headed by a brass band they marched through the town, thence to a field on the farm of Robertland where the races took place". Horses were traded and much of the 'action' took place in the Avenue Square.
One of the most exciting growing events in Stewarton is the 'Live Traid' music event. Run by the 'Stewarton Fair Trade Group', it gathers unsigned (and now signed) musical acts from the West of Scotland together bi-annually to raise money and attention for fair trade charities.
Over the years, Live Traid events in Stewarton have raised over £5000. The latest Live Traid was to be held on 30th June 2006. Previous acts to play Live Traid include:
Drive-by Argument, Chris Gorman Band, All My Logic, Mummy Short Arms, Gregor James (formerly of Rolla), After Christmas, My Final Wish, Daedalian, What the Dead Know, Airstrip Won, One Life Lived, Voodoo Blue, Regis, Dave McArthur Band, Kinky Wizards, G to the power 1D, Punkture, DJ FAD, Chester Says and The Fools, The Passions, Spandau Ballet, The Black and White Minstrel Band, Robert Mugabe (motivational speaker), John Deacon, The Gammon Rolls, Nightcloud, Larry David, Stratchlyde Police Nose Flute band, Chris Akabusi and The False Starts, Hear'say, The Swingle Singers, Pual Simon, The Milfs, Jenna Jameson, Sally Traffic, Cheesybean (now married), Rab and Ryan (Of Consolevania), Rednex, Glen Campbell, Richard O'Brien, Leslie Waters, Brian Blessed (formerly Gordon's Alive), Nestle, Michael Barrymore and The Floaters, Stig.
Each year Stewarton holds a small orange parade to mark the anniversary of The Battle of the Boyne. The parade is made up of Stewarton's Annick Crown Loyal Defenders (LOL 253), Kilmarnock Purple Heroes (LOL 289) and the Spirit of Stewarton Flute Band.
Stewarton is located on the Annick Water in a rural part of North Ayrshire (though it is technically a part of the county of East Ayrshire) 6 miles to the North of Kilmarnock and to the East of Irvine. In the past Stewarton served as a waypoint between the traditional routes from Kilmarnock, Irvine and Ayr to the city of Glasgow, though in recent times a new motorway has bypassed the town. The old road is known as the "auld glasgae road" and still used by Stewarton residents.
Stewarton now holds their own Yuletide, where the Main Street and High Street shops stay open. This usually happens in December near Christmas. Dunlop, Fenwick, Lugton and other district towns are also included.
Geocaching is a popular outdoor sport (36,500 caches in the UK) which encourages people to go out and explore their surroundings. Three Geocaches (sealed plastic boxes with a notebook and swap) are to be found within easy reach of the Lainshaw woodlands paths network. You will need a GPS or OS map and information from the Geocaching website to find them.
The War Memorial used to stand outside the front of the library in the avenue square and was moved to provide a more suitable setting near Standalane house above Lainshaw primary school.
Rabbie Burns's uncle is known to have helped guard the Stewarton Laigh Church graveyard against the activities of body snatchers.
Stewarton's cricket club had its ground located between Lochridge and Ward Park house.