Robert Burns and The Eglinton Estate - Irvine and The Drukken Steps - The Route of The Old Toll Road

The Route of The Old Toll Road

  • The old 1774 toll road up to The Higgins from the old Long Drive

  • The old 1774 Toll Road looking towards the Drukken Steps from the old Long Drive

  • The Red burn in 2009 near the site of the Drukken Steps

  • Gravel Cottage (now Morven Lodge) on the old 1774 toll road close to Higgins House

The Drukken Steps in the old Eglinton Woods near Stanecastle at NS 329 404, was a favourite haunt of Burns and Richard Brown whilst the two were in Irvine in 1781–82 and a commemorative cairn off Bank Street at MacKinnon Terrace, next to the expressway, is erroneously said to stand a few hundred yards from the site of the Drukken stepping stones across the Red Burn, also said to be the site of Saint Bryde's or Bride's well. Until recently, therefore, the Drukken Steps were thought to have been buried beneath the road surface.

Richard Brown was Burns' closest friend in Irvine. Burns said of him : This gentleman's mind was fraught with courage, independence, magnanimity, and every noble manly virtue. I loved him, I admired him to a degree of enthusiasm; and I strove to imitate him. In some measure I succeeded: I had the pride before, but he taught it to flow in proper channels. His knowledge of the world was vastly superior to mine, and I was all attention to learn.

Others view of Richard Brown was less charitable, such as:That moral leper who spoke of illicit love with all the levity of a sailor. Gilbert Burns says of Robert's days in Irvine that he here contracted some acquaintances of a freer manner of thinking and living than he had been used to, whose society prepared him for overleaping the bounds of rigid virtue, which had hitherto restrained him. Robert himself stated that Brown's views on illicit love did me a mischief. When Brown heard of Burns's comments he exclaimed Illicit love! Levity of a sailor! When I first knew Burns he had nothing to learn in that respect.

The name 'Drukken' steps name derives from a person's gait as they stepped from stone to stone whilst crossing the burn. The Drukken Steps therefore were on the course of the old Toll Road in 1774, which ran from the west end of Irvine through the Eglinton policies to Kilwinning via Milnburn or Millburn; crossing the Red burn near Knadgerhill (previously Knadgar and pronounced 'Nygerhill' as in the country.) and running passed 'The Higgin's cottage, the 'Hygenhouse' of 1774, now demolished.55°37.902′N 004°39.355′W / 55.631700°N 4.655917°W / 55.631700; -4.655917

In 1799, the Earl closed the road beyond the Drukken steps to 'protect' his new policies, providing a new road instead which ran via Knadgerhill.

Steps Road in Irvine commemorates the Drukken steps.

Read more about this topic:  Robert Burns And The Eglinton Estate, Irvine and The Drukken Steps

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