The ruins of Turnberry Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland, where, in 1274, Robert Bruce was bom to Marjorie, countess of Carrick. Robert Bruce, the hero king of Scotland, has been traditionally and often truthfully associated with many different regions of Scotland, but of all the districts of Scotland, Carrick, of which he was earl from 1292 to 1313, has the strongest claim to be regarded as Bruce's own.
The chief castle of the earldom was at Turnberry, its ruins are beside the famous golf links, and it was here that Bruce was born on 11th June 1274. His mother Marjorie was the only child of Neil, earl of Carrick. who had died in 1256, and in accordance with Scottish custom she was countess of Carrick in her own right. Her second husband, Robert Bruce, was heir to the rich lordship of Annandale, to which he succeeded on his father's death in 1295.
Young Robert, who succeeded his mother in the earldom of Carrick in 1292, was brought up in this country of wild hills and wooded glens, learning to sail and ride, to use the weapons deemed proper to the nobility, the sword and lance, and to hunt deer and bring down game birds with falcons. He was fond of the beautiful Loch Doon, at whose southern end the earls had built for themselves a miniature castle, polygonal in plan, to fit exactly the tiny island on which it stood. Today it still stands on the loch, but is now situated on the southwestern shore, where it was carefully rebuilt to save it from flooding when Loch Doon became a reservoir.
One of the earliest official documents to bear Robert Bruce's name, he would have been 12 at the time, was a contract drawn up at Turnberry Castle in September 1286, involving the future king's father and his friend and supporter James the Stewart of Scotland. Another contract was issued about this time by the lord of Islay, Alasdair Macdonald, and he, like the Stewart and their two sons and heirs, Walter and Angus respectively, proved to be among Bruce's staunchest allies. Carrick gave Bruce his standing in the realm and also provided him with an 'army', for the country's fighting strength of able-bodied males aged between 16 and 60 was mustered and controlled earldom by earldom. These tough hillmen proved invaluable when Bruce led the independence struggle from 1297 to 1302 and they helped to shelter him in the perilous times that followed his coronation in 1306.
Above all, it was to Carrick that Bruce chose to return in 1307 to reconquer his own kingdom, and it was on the eastern borders of Carrick that Bruce and his men scored their electrifying success by ambushing and destroying an English force in Glen Trool, a major
turning point in the long war. It comes as no surprise to learn that Robert Bruce intended Carrick to remain with his own family and bestowed the earldom on his son and heir David.
To Tour Ayr and Kilmarnock