Making History: Richard Cameron’s Trough at Meadowhead near Sorn
Richard Cameron was killed in the battle of Airds Moss in 1680. He spent the night before the battle at Meadowhead and in the morning washed before departing.
In 1908, James King Hewison recorded in a footnote that ‘at Meadowhead [in Sorn parish], the stone trough wherein Cameron performed his ablutions that morning [of 22 July] is reverently preserved.’ (Hewison, Covenanters, II, 332.)
Does that stone trough still exist?
The story of Cameron that Hewison refers to is found in Patrick Walker’s Life of Richard Cameron and is about where Cameron spent his last night before he was killed.
According to Walker:
‘The last Night that he was in the World [21 to 22 July, 1680], he was in the House of William Mitchel in Meadow-head at the Water of Air. About Fourty Foot and twenty Horse being in the Fields, stayed with him that Week, being in Doubts whether to stay together, and to defend themselves from the Fury of the Enemies, or to disperse, and shift for themselves in Glens and Caves, and not appear, but when going and coming from following and hearing of the Gospel; There is a Fool Story handed down, that that Handful was divided among themselves, which is false; they were of one Heart and Soul, their Company and Converse being so edifying and sweet, and having no certain dwelling Place, they stayed together, waiting for further Light in that non-such Juncture of Time.
There is a Daughter of that William Mitchel’s foresaid, now an old Woman [in the 1720s], living at Edinburgh, who told me (of late) again and again, that she gave him Water to his Hands his last Morning; and when he dried his Face and Hands with a Tool [i.e., towel], he looked to his Hands, and laid them on his Face, and said, This is their last Washing, I have need to make them clean, for there is many to see them. Her Mother wept; he said, Weep not for me, but for your self and yours, and for the Sins of a sinful Land; for ye have many melancholly, sorrowful, weary Days before you.’ (Walker, BP, I, 202-203.)
Tradition connects the story in Walker to the trough at Meadowhead. In 1908, the trough still existed. Does it still exist? Can you find and photograph it?
Meadowhead by the Burn O Need
There are two locations named Meadowhead in Sorn parish, which lie very close to one another. However, both are not ‘at’ the River Ayr the water of Ayr as described by Walker.
The other Meadowhead lies just north of the former.
Meadowhead by Auchmannoch
It is not clear which Meadowhead the tradition of Cameron’s Trough refers to. Can you resolve which one it was by finding the trough? Can you find a piece of lost history?
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