Verses by Robert Burns about the Afton, which is in the parish:

"Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream."

"Thou stock-dove whose echo resounds thro' the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear,
I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair."

"How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far marked with the courses of clear winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye."

"How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow;
There oft as mild ev'ning weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me."

"Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gathering sweet flow'rets, she stems thy clear wave."

"Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream."

"Afton Water" by Robert Burns (January 1759 - July 1796)

Archives and Libraries

Baird Institute History Centre and Museum
Lugar Street, Old Cumnock
Ayrshire KA18 1AD, Scotland
Telephone & Fax: (01290) 421701.

There are two microfilm readers, and you can book a half-day session in advance. This location houses the main genealogical sources for the local area, as well as local history collections. No charges. The family history section is very helpful to visiting researchers.

Opening times: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 10am-1pm, 1.30pm- 4.30pm.

The local paper is the:
Cumnock Chronicle
49 Ayr Road, Old Cumnock,
Ayrshire KA18 1ED, Scotland.
Telephone: (01290) 423 851

Church History

The original parish church, built during the Commonwealth period in 1657, lies in ruins. Next to it is the disused Arthur Memorial Church, built in 1912. The Martyrs Parish Church, Castle Road, was built in 1833.

Description and Travel

New Cumnock is a large parish to the east of Ayrshire which separated from the older parish of Old Cumnock in 1657. The straggling village of New Cumnock lies at the confluence of the Rivers Nith and Afton and on the A76 road. The higher areas of the parish include the beautiful and largely undiscovered Glen Afton. Like Old Cumnock, the lower area is associated with the former coal mining industry. The parish also includes the villages of Craigbank and Afton Bridgend.

The middle of New Cumnock has long been known as the 'Castle', but there remain few signs of the former castle. Part of the wall round the old graveyard was the castle wall, and it is possible to see the remains of the moat round the back of the Afton Memorial Church.

At the north of the town, the railway station has been re-opened and there are now regular services to Kilmarnock. The town was a mining community for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. Opposite Castlehill lies a memorial to the mining community in the form of a miner's safety lamp on a plinth. As well as coal mining, there were small amounts of lead, copper, graphite and antimony mined in the vicinity.

An 1837 description of New Cumnock, including a listing of the key personalities of the town, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.

To the south of the parish is the county boundary with the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and the Parish of Carsphairn.

View photographs of New Cumnock and the surrounding area.


Historical Geography

Information about boundaries and administrative areas is available from A Vision of Britain through time.


View maps of New Cumnock.