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Fergus Loch Monastery?

From Audrey Scott, 7 May 2006: I live in Coylton and have an old map circa 1930 which details that there was a monastery near a loch on the back road from Coylton to Boghall. Does anyone know any details?

From Wallace Hay, 14 September 2006: The Old Monastery that Audrey Scott is looking for is on the Island in the middle of Loch Fergus (see attached map). I'm told it could be reached in ancient times by a causeway which was on the side of the Loch nearest to Loch Fergus Farm,sadly this is long gone. As the Loch is very deep and dangerous the Island is not accessable and the ruins are mostly invisible in the trees and undergrowth that has established itself over the years.South Ayrshire Council has marked the Island as a provisional wildlife site. National grid reference for Fergus Loch NS 391182.

From David McClure: The possible monastery is listed in the RCAHMS Canmore database. The later Archaeology Notes (see below) treat the existence of a monastery with some sceptism. The map below is from the first Ordnance Survey and dated 1860.

Archaeology Notes © RCAHMS

NS31NE 1 3932 1823.

(NS 3932 1823) Monastery (NR) (Site of)
(Pecked outline of a small rectangular area shown on OS 6" 1860).
OS 6" map (1908)

The island in Loch Fergus was the seat of a monastery (Summary of Chronicles of Scotland 1624). There are certainly stones and other appearances in the place from which imagination might easily conclude that at some distant time, there was such a building at this spot. Tradition states that this lake derived its name from Fergus, one of the Scottish kings who defeated Coilus, king of the Britons, in the adjoining fields. However, the writer of Ayr parish states that 'there were till lately, the remains of an old ruined castle near its (loch) margin...'
NSA 1845

The ONB refers to the NSA writings, but goes on to state that although traditions exist for both structures from the scatter of stones on the site, 'there is nothing to indicate that it was either a castle or monastery - more likely the remains of a decoy for wild duck...'
Name Book 1856

Loch, and island, are situated in low marshy ground, the latter being densely covered in vegetation. Close investigation was not possible due to inaccessibility, but the local farmer does confirm that there are some stones lying on the island, but he does not know whether they represent the remains of a building.
Visited by OS (JLD) 12 May 1954

No change. Still inaccessible.
Visited by OS (WDJ) 11 September 1968

There are two totally formless low mounds of boulders on the island which are presumably the remains of a building. A club-house was constructed in 1976 ten metres from the ruins, which were not disturbed. Information from J Hunter, Dick Institute, Kilmarnock, 10 October 1980.

This site could not be visited as there is no boat on Loch Fergus. Cowan and Easson (1976) make no mention of any monastery here. No further information.
Visited by OS (MJF) 17 October 1980

A monastery is said to have stood on the island in Fergus Loch; the island is now densely wooded.
NSA 1845; Name Book 1856; RCAHMS 1985, visited (IMS) April 1985.


Cowan and Easson, I B and D E (1976 )
'Medieval religious houses, Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man',
London, 2nd
NSA (1845 )
The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy,
15v, Edinburgh, Vol.5, 6, 656,
Name Book (County) ( )
Original Name Books of the Ordnance Survey
Book No.4, 49,
RCAHMS (1985 b)
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of North Kyle, Kyle and Carrick District, Strathclyde Region,
The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 25, Edinburgh, 16, No.75,


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