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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 700274

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NS32SW 2 34650 24787

(NS 3465 2478) Kingcase or St Ninian's Hospital (NR).

(NS 3467 2479) Kingcase Well or Bruce's Well (NR).

OS 25" map (1959)

The Kingcase: Fragments remain on a small green of St Ninian's Hospital, a charitably institution founded by Robert I in gratitude for his recovery from sickness after drinking the waters of a well here.

SDD List 1963; NSA 1845 (T Burns)

No traces remain of the cottages or huts where the lepers of this hospital would have been accommodated. However, excavations which have been recently carried out and are continuing have revealed the associated chapel, dedicated to St Ninian. Over half of its length has been uncovered. Evidently of plain style, but solid, it measured 36ft by 17ft with walls 3ft to 4ft thick. Up to 1834, mounds covering graves were visible. The excavations have uncovered 24 bodies and revealed the impressions of many coffins. They were nearly all at the E end of the chapel.

Bruce's Well is sometimes called the "Convent Well".

The Antiquary 1913

Despite the traditional connection of this hospital with Robert I, the terms and date of foundation are unknown. The earliest reference to it appears to be in a character of James II dated 1451/2. Although lepers here are mentioned in 1603, with the disappearance of leprosy this became a hospital for the sick and poor. It was in existence as such till the 18th century.

I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976

The remains of the hospital chapel are exposed and in a restored condition. The height and extent of the walls have been incorporated within a modern wall, but their courses have been defined by inserted tiles. The walls are 1.0m thick and have a maximum height of 2.2m. Only the N, E and S walls remain, the course of the W one being marked by a concrete path. A plaque states: "Ruins of St Ninian's Chapel".

"Bruce's Well" lies some 20.0m NE of the above, it was doubtless associated with the hospital. It consists of a small circular well of rubble masonry, about 1.2m in diameter, lying about 1.0m below ground level. Although enclosed in a modern stone wall the steps leading down to it, the well is open on the NW side. The whole is surrounded by an iron railing. A plaque bears the inscription: "1274-1329. Bruce's Well. Restored by the Town Council in 1912".

Both hospital and well have been long lying below the surrounding ground level, as is apparent from their sunken location, within ornamental gardens.

Visited by OS (JLD) 10 May 1954

St Ninian's Chapel and Bruce's Well (names confirmed) are both as described. A second plaque on the well states that it is thought to have been in existence since the 13th century and that King Robert I benefitted from the waters and endowed the lazar house.

Visited by OS (MJF) 4 November 1980

The consolidated remains of a chapel, formerly associated with the medieval hospital of Kingcase, are situated 21m SW of the Bruce's Well and 55m WSW of the Episcopalian Church of St Ninian. The surviving fragment comprises a portion of the N, S and E walls, but excavation has revealed the outline of the building on the W. It was rectangular on plan, measuring 10.65m by 5m within walls 1.1m thick. A door jamb is preserved at the W end of the N wall, and a weathered sill is incorporated in the make-up of the restored N wall. Before 1834 'mounds over graves were visible', whilst prior to 1913, during the course of excavation, 'the remains of no less than twenty-four of the lipper folk' were exhumed. The hospital dedicated to St Ninian and on record in 1451-2, is said to have been founded by Robert I (1306-29).

OSA 1794; NSA 1845; G Chalmers 1887-1902; The Antiquary 1913; I B Cowan and D E Easson; RCAHMS 1985, visited (IMS) September 1985

NS 347 248 An archaeological watching brief was conducted during the construction of a new church hall for St Ninian's Episcopal Church, Prestwick. This involved the monitoring of the removal of tree boles, rerouting of electricity cables, construction of foundation walls and replacement of drains. During this time no significant archaeological remains were uncovered. (GUARD 670).

Sponsor: South Ayrshire Council.

H James 1999

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