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Ayr, Kirk Port, Auld Kirk Of Ayr

Church (17th Century), Churchyard (Period Unassigned), Friary (15th Century)

Site Name Ayr, Kirk Port, Auld Kirk Of Ayr

Classification Church (17th Century), Churchyard (Period Unassigned), Friary (15th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Kirkport, Old Parish Church; Church Of Scotland

Canmore ID 41840

Site Number NS32SW 7

NGR NS 33900 21920

NGR Description Centred on NS 33900 21920

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NS32SW 7 33900 21920.

(NS 3390 2192) Auld Kirk of Ayr (NAT) (St John the Baptist) (NAT) on site of Friary (NR) (Franciscan - founded AD 1472-4)

OS 25" map (1961)

Though the foundation of this house of Franciscan (Grey) Friars has been attributed to the inhabitants of Ayr in 1472 or 1474, this appears to have been erected by James IV (1488-1513) before 1497/8, when it first appears on record. It was secularised in 1567 (I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976). It is thought that the Auld Kirk, which was built in 1654, was built on the site of the friary of which no trace remained in 1855

(Name Book 1855).

A I Dunlop 1953; H Scott 1920

No vestiges of the friary exist. The church, dated 1654 on a coping stone, is currently being restored, and is in use. A plaque on the wall states 'Site of the Franciscan Monastery of Grey Friars. Founded 1472".

Visited by OS (JLD) 27 November 1955

The refurbished church and the plaque are as described.

Visited by OS (MJF) 27 October 1980

102-108 High Street. Watching brief and excavation at Franciscan Friary. The earliest archaeological deposit encountered was a soil which was cultivated from the 13th till the 15th century when the area was inundated by wind blown sand. Three graves, dating to the second half of the 15th or to the 16th century are almost certainly part of the Franciscan Friary cemetery. Several architectural fragments from the late 15th century friary were recovered. Medieval finds include iron slag, part of a clay mould, a coin, a brooch, mid-13th century painted window glass, roofing tile and pottery.

W J Lindsay 1982

Architecture Notes

NS32SW 7.00 33900 21920.

NS32SW 7.02 3386 2194 Gateway

NS32SW 7.03 3387 2193 Burial-Ground


I G Lindsay Collection, W132


National Library - photographs.

Large T-plan late C17 church with Gothic windows and subtle later alterations and additions by David Bryce in 1836.

Photographed on behalf of the Buildings of Scotland publications.



Publication Account (1977)

The Observant Greyfriars, who in the 1470s reputedly established themselves in Ayr at the invitation of the burgesses (Cowan, 1976, 129), were among the strictest of the mendicant orders. In 1481 the Pope agreed to their building a habitation with altars, a little belfry, cemetery, dormitory, refectory and other relevant buildings (Dunlop, 1953, 99). Greyfriars church was the site on which the Auld Kirk of Ayr was constructed and today no indications of other friary buildings remain above the ground.

Information from ‘Historic Ayr: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1977).


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