Ayr - 'The Prospect of the Town of Air from the East'

Seen from a hill above farmland, the approach to the town of Ayr – or 'Air' in an older spelling - is on the left by the Auld Brig ('old bridge') built in 1470. The Tolbooth spire stands out above the rooftops near the centre. The building on the right with a tower is St John's Church. Small boats and larger ships line the River Ayr – probably 'clip art' type illustrations by a different artist.

On the east bank in this scene are two horsemen accompanied by armed men. Possibly they are on their way to the Cromwellian fortifications, built in 1652, which guard the harbour on the far right on the opposite side.

Slezer added a rural touch by having a shepherd seated in the foreground, watching his flock.

Image from Theatrum Scotiae by John Slezer, 1693.

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  Read what Robert Sibbald wrote in Theatrum Scotiae about Ayr


To the Right Honourable John Maister of Stairs, One of the Lords of their Majesties Most Honourable Privy Council; and Principal Secretary of Sate for the Kingdom of Scotland.

Aire or Airth

Aire, an ancient Town, and the Chief Market-Place of the West of Scotland. In it the Sheriff Courts are kept, it being the head Town of that Sheriffdom, which bears the same Name. It was of old called St. John's Town; but now that Name is antiquated.

This Town though it be situated in a sandy Plain, yet it hath pleasant and fruitful Fields, and Greens equally pleasant both Summer and Winter. It hath a stately Church; and a Bridge with Four Arches joins it to the New Town, which is situated on the North side the Water, where is to be seen the Castle of the Laird of Craigwallace.

A Mile North of the Town, not far from the Sea-Shore, there is a Lazer-House, commonly called the King's Chapel, which King Robert de Bruce set apart for maintaining Lepers.

This Town by the King's Patent is the Sheriff's Seat, and hath Thirty and Two Miles to the South and North within its Jurisdiction.

Who was Robert Sibbald?

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