Drawing of the Old Bridge at Ayr, Ayrshire - from the...
Drawing of the Old Bridge at Ayr, Ayrshire - from the Hutton Collection
This drawing shows the famous Auld Brig that crosses over the River Ayr in the town of Ayr. The drawing is entitled 'Ayr old Bridge as from the Black Bull - 1789', and is identified as number 24. It is not known who made this drawing.
George Henry Hutton (d. 1827), was a professional soldier and amateur antiquary. English by birth, he had an avid interest in Scottish monastic history, and built up an extensive collection of drawings, writings and artefacts relating mainly to ecclesiastic sites. Hutton himself made sketches of many sites, and also commissioned drawings and architectural plans from friends and professionals. Despite speculation among his contemporaries that he intended to produce a Scottish Monasticon, Hutton always insisted this research was purely for his own interest. The Hutton Collection is now held by the National Library of Scotland, and these drawings date mainly from 1781-92 and 1811-20.
Reputedly built in 1236, the Auld Brig of Ayr is the main subject of Robert Burns's poem, 'The Brigs of Ayr'. Simpson's was the name of a noted tavern at one end of the bridge, and Burns mentions this locally famous pub in his poem. Local legend has it that the money to build the bridge was provided by two maiden sisters who were appalled by the number of people who had drowned at this point of the river, so resolved to have a bridge constructed.