Robert Burns and the Brow Well
|Below is a picture of the Brow Well taken (looking south) from the road which runs from Bankend to Ruthwell. At the right hand side of the picture you can see the Solway Firth in the distance. At the bottom of the flagpole there is a bronze plague set onto a block of red sandstone. This tells the story of Robert Burns' connection with Ruthwell. A transcription of this story is given at the bottom of the page.|
|Looking into the well, below, you can see that nowadays this water is definitely not for drinking. The red "ATTENTION" notice says "Please note that this water is not suitable for drinking"|
Burns was sent to Brow on the advice of his doctor, to drink the water of
Brow Well (a chalybeate spring) and to bathe in the Solway. Brow at that
time was a hamlet of about 12 cottages, one of which was an Inn, used
mainly by cattle drovers and by invalids seeking the assumed medicinal
properties of the well water. (The Inn was destroyed in 1863, no-one at
that time thinking it of any great importance).
The poet went to Brow, on July 4th, 1796, wrote a note to John Clark of
Locharwoods requesting the loan of a gig for his return journey to
Dumfries because "getting wet is perdition" and arrived back in Dumfries
on the 18th and died on the 21st.
During his stay at Brow, Burns met his old friend, Mrs Walter Riddell,
who was also in the vicinity for the sake of her health and who later
recalled that his greeting to her was, "Well madam, have you any
commands for the other world?"
From an invitation to tea at Ruthwell Manse comes another well
remembered incident. Agnes Craig, daughter of the minister, tells of
Burns calling himself, "A poor plucked pidgeon" and of how, when she
went to pull down a blind to keep the glare of the sun from Robert Burns
face, he said "Let the sun shine in upon us, my dear young lady, he has
not long to shine upon me". That scene was captured in a painting by
Duncan McKellar, now held in the Dick Institute Kilmarnock.
Agnes Craig late married her father's successor, the Rev. Henry Duncan D.D.
who became widely known as the founder of the Savings Bank movement.
Ruthwell Manse is now a Country House Hotel.
Another event during that fortnight, happened when Burns was unable to
purchase port wine at the Brow Inn and walked to Clarencefield, about a
mile away, to the Inn run by Mr and Mrs Burney. Having no money with
him he offered his watch-seal (of which he was very fond) as a pledge but
was given his bottle of wine without "either money or pledge". He is quoted
as having said "the muckle deil had got into his pouch"