North Ayrshire's Heritage


Places of interest in North Ayrshire - Ecclesiastical


Skelmorlie AisleSkelmorlie Aisle, Largs

Remnant of the old Parish Church of Largs and home to the most elaborate tomb in Scotland. The aisle was added to the church in 1636 by Sir Robert Montgomerie of Skelmorlie to contain the burial vault of his wife, Margaret Douglas. Its ceiling, dated 1638, is semi-circular, vaulted with richly painted boards depicting signs of the zodiac, mythical scenes, heraldic devises, biblical text and landscapes. Over the burial vault a stone monument was raised in 1639, carved in the best Renaissance style with columns and arches packed with detail.

Public transport - First ScotRail service from Glasgow Central to Largs, Stagecoach Bus Service 585 (Ayr to Greenock Route)

Map Reference NS 2026 5943

Access Site owned by Historic Scotland. Key obtained from Largs Museum, Kirkgate House, Largs (next to the graveyard gates, at Manse Court, off Main Street).

Contact Telephone - Largs Museum 01475 687 081; Historic Scotland 0131 668 8600


Cathedral of the Isles, Millport

George Boyle, 6th Earl of Glasgow, owner of Cumbrae, employed William Butterfield in 1851 as architect to design the Church and College, opened in 1851, In 1876, the church became the Cathedral of The Isles for the Scottish Episcopalian Church. The Cathedral also houses early Christian Medieval carved stones found on the island

Public transport - CalMac Ferry from Largs Pier to Cumbrae Slip, all ferries are met by a bus service to Millport.

Map References Cathedral of the Isles NS 1658 5524

Access Cathedral of the Isles is open to the public all year round.

Contact Telephone - 01475 530353; Website; Email


Ardrossan Parish Church

Church ruin that can found on Castle Hill, Ardrossan, it is first recorded in 1229 in an agreement between Walter, Bishop of Glasgow, and John, Abbot of Kilwinning. The church remained in use until storm-damaged in 1695 and was then abandoned in favour of new buildings in the more populous Saltcoats. In 1911 the church ruin was cleared of debris and a sarcophagus was exposed for the first time in three hundred years. Now in the North Ayrshire Museum, Saltcoats.

Location South of Glasgow Street, Ardrossan

Public transport - Stagecoach bus 585 (Ayr to Greenock route) First ScotRail Glasgow Central to Ardrossan Town/Harbour Services

Map Reference NS 2329 4242

Access The church site is accessible to the public all year.


Kilbride Parish Church

Kilbride Chapel is first recorded in 1337 when John of Mentieth, lord of Arran, grants it to Kilwinning Abbey. At the start of the 14th century the patronage passed to James, Lord Hamilton when he was created earl of Arran. At the Reformation when the chapel became the Parish Church the Bishops of the Isles held title. Today the ruin stands in Lamlash Cemetery surrounded by many fascinating gravestones. Inside the east chamber of the chapel three massive late mediaeval grave-slabs have been attached to the wall.

Location In Lamlash Cemetery, off the Brodick to Lamlash Road (A841)

Public transport - Stagecoach West Scotland Service 323 from Brodick Pier

Map Reference NS 0322 3227

Access Cemetery open all year.


Kilwinning Abbey

Kilwinning Abbey was founded in 1187 by Richard de Morville, High Constable of Scotland and Lord of Cunninghame, and is counted as one of the best religious structures in Scotland. The Abbey's monks went about their business for nearly 400 years but then Scotland's politics saw the rise of a Reformed Parliament in 1560. A year later the Lords of Secret Council made an Act directing the earls of Arran, Glencairn and Argyle to 'cast down' Kilwinning Much still remains of the Abbey complex. Well worth visiting to see its various chambers, chapter house and beautifully proportioned south transept gable.

Location Off Main Street, Kilwinning

Public transport - Stagecoach buses X34 and X36. First ScotRail Glasgow Central to Ayr/Largs/Ardrossan services.

Map Reference NS 3032 4327

Access Site owned by Historic Scotland. Full access to Abbey all year.

Contact Telephone Historic Scotland - 0131 668 8600; Kilwinning Abbey Tower Heritage Centre - Staffed by the Kilwinning and District Preservation Society. Open mid-May to mid-September and Easter Weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday - 1pm to 3pm; Telephone - 01294 464174; Email


Kilbirnie Auld Kirk

A church full of character with a sumptuous interior and significant graveyard; the present Auld Kirk is built on the site of an early mediaeval chapel dedicated to Saint Brendan and first recorded in 1127. 1470 saw the start of the erection of the new church, with a tower added in 1490. Two aisles were then built in 1597 and 1642 by the Cunninghams of Glengarnock and the Craufurds of Kilbirnie respectively. The Craufurds also added the richly carved laird's loft in 1705. With its elaborate wood carving and mediaeval graves the Auld Kirk is a must visit site.

Location Dalry Road, Kilbirnie

Public Transport - Glengarnock Station First ScotRail Glasgow Central to Largs Service Stagecoach Bus Services X36 and X34

Map Reference NS 3147 5364

Access Church building owned by the Church of Scotland. Open July and August, Tuesday to Thursday, 2pm till 4pm. The graveyard is open all year. Telephone 01505 682348.


Lochlands Hill

On the south side of the Threepwood Road opposite a house called Cauldhame is Saint Inan's Well; a delightful arched stone structure flowing with pure spring water. Facing you is Lochlands Hill where Saint Inan's Chair is sited. Saint Inan's Annual Horse Fair was held at Lochlands Hill until the mid 18th century before transferring to the town of Beith.

Location Threepwood Road, Beith - off the A737

Public transport - None

Map Reference Saint Inan's Well NS 3717 5545 Saint Inan's Chair NS 3718 5538

Access Both sites are on farmland.



Return to the Heritage section