Best viewed in
Internet Explorer

Music (PDF)

Music (BMW)

Back to

Updated 05/02/2013


Loudoun's Bonnie Woods and Braes

Loudoun (Scottish Gaelic: Lughdan) is an area of East Ayrshire, Scotland, east of Kilmarnock. The word Loudoun is derivative of the Celtic Pagan God name Lugus. It is a parish and is named after the former village which stood north of Galston. The area is commonly referred to as the "Irvine Valley", for the River Irvine which flows through it.  Loudoun Kirk, the burial place of the Campbells of Loudoun is nearby. The village has vanished, however plans to rebuild the lost village are under consideration by the council.  Brae is the Lowland Scots word for the slope or brow of a hill.

Loudoun's most prominent geographical feature is Loudoun Hill, site of several minor battles during Scotland's history. The area of Loudoun is also home to the famous Loudoun Castle (shown above). 

The shell you see today is of a building created in the early 1800s by Flora Mure-Campbell, Countess of Loudoun in her own right and through marriage Marchioness of Hastings. There were earlier structures on the site of the present castle which itself replaced another castle half a mile to the east - Arclowdun - reputedly sacked by the Kennedys of Culzean in a raid in medieval times. In its heyday, the Castle was known as the ‘Windsor of Scotland’

The earliest part of the building incorporated in the present ruins is thought to have been a four storey keep, probably built by the Craufurds of Loudoun in the 1400s. This keep was some 30 feet by 20 feet with walls at least six feet thick and its foundations lie deep and inaccessible in the present ruins.

The First Earl of Loudoun, Sir John Campbell, Chancellor of Scotland, erected additional buildings to the south of the old keep which were also incorporated in the later rebuilding. It is thought that this work was carried out about the time of the creation of the Earldom of Loudoun in 1601.

One estimate suggests that the "improvements" to Loudoun Castle between 1804 and 1811 cost over £100,000 - over £3,500,000 in today's money.

It is considered that James and Robert Adam and particularly Archibald Elliot were influential in the architectural work. The massive structure, known as The Windsor of Scotland, had over 90 apartments and was dominated by the main tower of which now, one solitary corner remains dramatically in place as an eerie monument to its builders. History has it that drafts of the Treaty of Union of 1707 were discussed under the Auld Yew Tree in the gardens.

On the night of the fire, 1st December 1941, the family comprising the Countess Edith, her daughters and infant granddaughter Sheena, were sleeping in their rooms under the first floor library. Heating was by coal and log fires and it is thought that burning resin came back down the library chimney setting the wooden floor alight.

The family awoke to the frightening sound of the raging fire above them, fled to what is now the Estate House, and since that day no other member of the family has slept in the Castle.

Like all self-respecting castles of antiquity, Loudoun castle has its ghosts. The best known is the Grey Lady who flitted about the castle with such regularity that she was accepted as part of the fittings and did not disturb the smooth running of the castle.

There is also the Phantom Piper and the Benevolent Monk who seems to wander the policies wishing anyone who comes within earshot 'Pax Vobiscum' (Peace be with you).

The castle and grounds are now a theme park.




Loudoun's bonnie woods and braes.
I maun lea' them a,' lassie;
Wha can thole when Britain's faes
Would gi'e Britons law, lassie?
Wha would shun the field of danger?
Wha frae fame would live a stranger?
Now when Freedom bids avenge her,
Wha would shun her ca', lassie?
Loudoun's bonnie woods and braes
Ha'e seen our happy bridal days,
And gentle Hope shall soothe thy waes
When I am far awa', lassie.

Hark! the swelling bugle sings,
Yielding joy to thee, laddie,
But the dolefu' bugle brings
Waefu' thoughts to me, laddie.
Lanely I may climb the mountain,
Lanely stray beside the fountain,
Still the weary moments countin,
Far frae love, and thee, laddie.
O'er the gory fields of war,
When Vengeance drives his crimson car,
Thou'lt maybe fa', frae me afar,
And nane to close thy e'e, laddie.
O resume thy wonted smile!
O suppress thy fears, lassie!
Glorious honour crowns the toil
That the soldier shares, lassie;
Heav'n will shield thy faithful lover,
'Till the vengeful strife is over,
Then we'll meet, nae mair to sever,
'Till the day we die, lassie;
'Midst our bonnie woods and braes
We'll spend our peaceful, happy days,
As blithe's you lightsome lamb that plays
On Loudoun's flow'ry lea, lassie.