Steel line engraving on paperby James Tibbetts Wilmore from an original study by William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854). Originally produced for the part-work series Scotland Illustrated (London : 1835-1838). Top
3. Alloway Kirk with Burns Monument. Steel line engraving on paper by James Tibbetts Wilmore from an original study by William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854). Originally produced for the part-work series "Scotland Illustrated" (London : 1835-1838).
4. Entrance to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.
Date: ca 2012
Robert Burns (1759-1796) Birthplace and Museum
Robert Burns was born at Alloway on the 25th January 1759, the eldest of seven children of Agnes and William Burnes. His father was a market gardener who, having acquired a small holding of land, had built this cottage with its whitewashed clay walls and thatched roof with his own hands.
The etching of the cottage was made in the first part of the 20th century when Burns' birthplace had become an established landmark. It shows how the low thatched cottage became incorporated in later developments along the main street of the village.
The 'Auld Cleg Biggin' as the poet himself described his birthplace, was put up by his father, William Burnes, on seven and a half acres of ground purchased from Dr Alexander Campbell of Ayr in 1756. In it, Robert Burns was born on 25th January 1759.
Burns spent the first 7 years of his life in this 'but and ben', which the worthy schoolmaster John Murdoch described as 'with the exception of a little straw, literally a tabernacle of clay', until the family moved to Mount Oliphant in 1766.
Old Burnes thereafter let the cottage to various tenants until 1781, when it and the ground were bought by the Incorporation of Shoemakers in Ayr for £160. That body let both land and the buildings, and shortly before 1800, their first tenant turned the place into an ale house. It remained an ale house until 1881, when it was acquired by the Alloway Burns Monument Trustees, who pulled down the additional buildings added by the Incorporation of Shoemakers, and restored the 'Auld Cley Biggin' to its original proportions.
The celebration of Robert Burns as the so called national bard, has brought increasing interest in Alloway and the structures erected in his memory. The preservation of the birthplace cottage and the building of the Monument leads to the eventual development of the tourist facility at the Land of Burns Centre and, within the past ten years the opening of the Burns' Heritage museum. This latest development is a collaboration between the Robert Burns Trustees and the National Trust for Scotland.
The Burns Museum holds numerous books, illustrations, objects and ephemera relating to the life and works of Robert Burns. The new museum in Alloway mounts regular exhibitions of contemporary art and provides lectures and interpretation of various aspects of Robert Burns 's life. It is both a study centre and a tourist attraction, forming an important dimensions of the tourist strategy for the district.
Facilities in Alloway are, in part, mirrored by developments in Dumfries where Burns spent his later years.
[Text draws on the Burns Encyclopaedia, personal knowledge and familiarity with the purpose and collections held by the Trustees.]