10 June 2020
Follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s national bard with our guide to the places associated with the life and work of Robert Burns. ...
A guide to the places associated with the life and work of Rabbie Burns, including museums, houses and Scottish beauty spots.
MAYBOLE, SOUTH AYRSHIRE
The town in which Robert Burns’s mother Agnes Brown grew up and later met and married Burns’s father, William Burnes, in 1757. Agnes was the daughter of William Rennie, a baker in Maybole who moved to the town from Ayr. After being wed, the couple moved to the nearby town of Alloway, where Robbie would be born. The family retained their connections with Maybole, which was home to Rabbie’s good friend William Niven.
ALLOWAY, BIRTHPLACE OF RABBIE BURNS
Rabbie Burns was born on 25 January, 1759 in a thatched cottage which is now part of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. The museum complex comprises the birthplace cottage, gardens, a Burns monument and a modern museum which houses a world-class collection on the life and works of Burns. Also within the Burns Heritage Park site is Auld Kirk, the final resting place of Burns’s father, and the inspiration for Tam O’Shanter.
Burns worked on several farms around Alloway, including Mossigel, where he wrote To A Mouse and The Briggs of Ayr. Brig O’Doon is a hump-backed bridge over the River Doon, featured in Tam O’Shanter, over which Tam flees for his life on the back of his horse, Meg.
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Murdoch’s Lane, Alloway KA7 4PQ; tel: 0844 493 2601; website.
The village of Tarbolton in Ayrshire, where the Burns family lived from 1777, is home to a small inn where the young Burns and six of his friends created a debating society named the Bachelor’s Club. The group met in the upstairs room of the pub each month and visitors can enter this thatched building with its period furniture and Burns memorabilia.
Bachelor's Club, 1 Sandgate Street, Tarbolton KA5 5RB; tel: 0844 493 2146; website.
SOUTER JOHNNIE'S COTTAGE
The former home of the shoemaker who was immortalised in Burns’s tale of Tam O’Shanter, now a restored thatched cottage open to the public, with domestic interior and period features.
Souter Johnnie’s Cottage, Main Road, Kirkoswald KA19 8HY; tel: 0845 493 2147; website.
BURNS HOUSE, MAUCHLINE
A traditional cottage in a cobbled backstreet in Mauchline, which is the house where Burns lived and worked between 1785 and 1788. It was whilst living here that Burns met and married Jean Armour. Visitors can see Burns’s manuscripts, poems and letters and a first edition of his poems.
Burns House, Castle Street, Mauchline KA5 5BZ; tel: 01290 550045; website.
PARISH OF DUNS, SCOTTISH BORDERS
Burns visited Duns as part of a tour of the Scottish borders in 1787. He stayed with the Ainslie family whilst in the area and wrote a short poem to Rachel Ainslie, the daughter of the house.
IRVINE BURNS CLUB
Robert Burns worked in Irvine in 1781 and it was here that Captain Richard Brown persuaded him to try to have his poetry published. Today, the museum holds regular readers’ days and displays books, manuscripts and an audio-visual exhibition. There is also a Burns statue.
Irvine Burns Club, Wellwood, 28 Eglington Street, Irvine KA12 8AS; website.
HADDINGTON, EAST LOTHIAN
The Burns family had connections to the village of Haddington and Bolton Church has family gravestones with an inscribed well at Grant Braes, where Burns’s mother lived for a time.
The town to which Burns and family moved in 1791, living firstly in Bank Street and then a house in Mill Street, where Burns died in 1796, in a bedroom next to the room he used as a study. Burns Walk beside the nearby River Nith is where Burns often walked and the route can still be followed today. His mausoleum is also in the town, at the churchyard of St Michael's, where many of his friend are also buried, including collector John Mitchell and poet Thomas Wilson. The town also has a Burns statue, on the High Street.