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robert burns picture photograph

One of the main problems of an attraction such as this is that Robert Burns has been dead for over two hundred years and the likelihood of finding fresh exhibits is not high. However, if you think that the Burns National Heritage Park, which is located in Alloway, will be old and boring then you are in for a pleasant surprise

For those who don't know, Robert Burns was regarded by many as being Scotlan's greatest poet. His birthday is celebrated around the world and his life is well documented both on this site and hundreds of others across the net. Particularly well travelled for the times his story includes Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as Dumfries and Ayrshire.

The attraction consists of five distinct parts. The cottage where Burns was born, which was built by his father, has been set up to look as realistic as possible. Small details such as the cows which lived next door to the living room (as was the norm in the 18th century) are still there (OK they are merely models), but it sets the scene early, for recreating what life was like in those days. The gloomy interior of the cottage contributes also in giving a good impression of what it would have been like in the days of Burns. This museum is clearly quite small but certainly is interesting but the comparison with the main part, which is a short ten-minute walk away, could not be more acute. The Tam O' Shanter experience is a modern building and attraction, built in the 1990's, displaying all the modern attributes of a museum. It has two audio visual theatres, one giving an introduction to the Bard, the other telling the story of Tam O' Shanter, one of Burns' best known tales.

After you have visited both the buildings then it is time to have a wander outside. The Alloway Kirk is just across the road from the Tam O'Shanter experience and whilst now a ruin is still of interest. Burns father is buried here and it is the setting for Tam O'Shanter, where Satan played and the witches and warlocks danced.

The final two aspects to the Heritage Park are probably only enjoyed to their fullest extent on a nice dry day. If you are lucky enough to get this, then take the short walk down to the Burns Monument and Gardens and after to the Brig O'Doon. This Grecian style monument opened in 1823, is an extremely conspicuous landmark and the gardens are superbly well tended (ideal for some great photographs). The statue house can also be entered and contains figures of well known characters from Burns' work. The final piece of the Heritage trail, the Brig O'Doon is interesting up to a point in a historical context. Bear in mind though that it is a stone arch bridge so there isn't a lot to do and certainly isn't a "Disney style" attraction. In its favour again is the lovely setting.

If you are in the area it is certainly worth a visit for young and old alike. If you weren't planning on being in the area it is worth making the trip which can be combined with one of the other attractions in the area such as Culzean Castle or the town of Ayr itself.

For further details:

Burns National Heritage Park
Murdoch's Lone
Ayr KA7 4PQ
Tel: 011 44 (0)1292 443 700
Fax: 011 44 (0)1292 441 750
Opening times: Easter to September
Daily 9.00 till 6.00PM
Opening times: September till Easter
Daily 9.00 till 5.00PM

Burns Crossword

Life and Times of Burns