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Kirkoswald, Souter Johnnie's Cottage

Cottage (18th Century), Museum (19-20th Century)

Site Name Kirkoswald, Souter Johnnie's Cottage

Classification Cottage (18th Century), Museum (19-20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Souter Johnnie's House

Canmore ID 40842

Site Number NS20NW 18

NGR NS 23997 07530

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Administrative Areas

  • Council South Ayrshire
  • Parish Kirkoswald
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Kyle And Carrick
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS20NW 18 24007 07538

(NS 240 075) Souter Johnnie's House (NAT) NTS

OS 1:50000 map (1976)

The character 'Souter Johnnie' in Burn's poem 'Tam o 'Shanter' was based on John Davidson, the village cobbler of Kirkoswald, who lived in this thatched cottage, built in 1785.

R Prentice 1976

NS 2401 0753. A single storey thatched cottage with a lime-washed exterior.

Visited by OS (JRL), 31 May 1977.

Architecture Notes

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC28590, 1955.


Publication Account (1985)

This typical late 18th century village house was the home of John Davidson, immortalised as Souter Johnnie in Bums' poem Tarn o'Shanter. Davidson was the village cobbler (in Scots, a souter) and he moved into this newly built cottage in 1785. Like Bums' birthplace in Alloway (no. 18), the cottage fronts on to the main road with its long axis parallel to the street, and has a kailyard (now a garden) at the rear. The building is of one storey with a thatched roof and wooden interior partitions. The National Trust for Scotland have restored and furnished the cottage.

While in Kirkoswald visit the ruined church and its fine collection of 18th century tombstones.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

Watching Brief (7 September 2012 - 31 October 2012)

Archaeological monitoring works were carried out in respect to the renewal of drainage at Souter Johnnie's, Kirkoswald. The archaeological works were designed to mitigate the impact on the archaeological remains within their development area. The works failed to identify the presence of any new archaeological features within the drainage trench, although the presence of 19th, and possibly even 20th, century artefacts within the deposit underlying the current ground surface suggests the area has been disturbed at some point since the construction of the cottage in 1785.

Information from Oasis (rathmell1-134019) 26 March 2013

Field Visit (16 June 2014)

NS 23995 07532 Built in 1786, the cottage is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is used as a museum. The three-tiered ridge is made of cedar wood, this type of wooden ridge being traditional in Ayrshire. The wheatstraw thatch has a heather underlay, and the roof was last re-thatched circa 1996. The National Trust intends to re-thatch the roof, as well as the heather Ale House in the back garden, at some point in the next year. When the thatchers were re-thatching the roof at nearby Souter’s Inn in 2013, two repairs were made to the roof of Souter’s Cottage, one directly below each of the chimney stacks. The repair patches are scobed using hazel spars and are also netted. The whole roof was previously netted, however, this was removed during the 2013 repairs. There is some deterioration to the surface of the thatch throughout, particularly to the north elevation where some small plants have begun to grow out of the straw.

Visited by Zoe Herbert (SPAB) 16 June 2014, survey no.203

Watching Brief (4 May 2016)

A programme of archaeological monitoring works was required by the National Trust for Scotland for refurbishment works at Souter Johnnie's Cottage, Kirkoswald, South Ayrshire. These archaeological works were designed to mitigate any adverse impact on the archaeological remains within the development area. The works consisted of a series of four small test pits followed by the reduction of the floor of the cottages rear room by 0.37m. The test pits revealed a number of layers of flooring dating to the twentieth century or later, most likely part of an earlier programme of refurbishment at the cottage. No significant archaeological features or artefacts were identified.

Information from OASIS ID: rathmell1-248866 (L McKinstry) 2016


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