Ayr’s Auld Kirk, dedicated to St John the Baptist, dates to 1654 and was built with compensation money received from Oliver Cromwell, paid for the loss of the Church of St John the Baptist which had been turned into a fortress by Parliamentary troops and was situated near Ayr shorefront.
Robert Burns is said to have been baptised in this church.
There aren’t many churches that can boast owning an iron mortsafe – let alone have it hanging proudly on the walls of an 1656 Lychgate for you to see as you enter the kirkyard. Used during the 19th century in an attempt to keep the bodies of your loved ones safe from the stealing grasp of the resurrection men, this particular example bears the date 1816. Parishioners would sometimes pay a subscription in order ensure a mortsafe would protect their mortal remains. A plate was placed over the coffin and rods with heads were pushed through holes in it. These rods were locked in place by locking a second plate over the first to form extremely heavy protection. It could be removed by two keys. They were kept in place for about 6 weeks, then removed to be used again as the body inside would be sufficiently decayed by then. There are many spectacular and very old gravestones in this yard.