Sharon Frew reports on the restoration of the old Alloway Kirk, work that was completed in 2008 after having been carried out in conjunction with the Homecoming project.
First Minister Alex Salmond discusses the restoration, and quotes the opening lines of Tam o’ Shanter, part of which is set in the kirkyard: “When chapman billies leave the street, / And drouthy neebors, neebors meet; / As market-days are wearing late, / An folk begin to tak the gate; / While we sit bousing at the nappy, / An getting fou and unco happy.”
The Reverend Neil McNaught, minister of Alloway parish kirk, describes the old kirk as “a place of inspiration rather than haunting”.
While restoring 68 headstones in the graveyard, workers discovered a considerable number of bones that had been disturbed. “We know that there had been a building on this site in the eleventh century,” says Winifred Sloan, provost of South Ayrshire Council, “so how long the bones have been here, no one knows. We don’t know who there are. I know the First Minister suggested that it might belong to a witch.”
A group of genealogical tourists from South Carolina are among those enthusiastic about the restoration.