Lynn Falls in Summer

Lynn Falls
Courtesy of Stevie Clarke of Irvine, Ayrshire, Photographer


For some outstanding photographs of Scotland and Scottish life, be sure to check out his site!
Photos from our visit to Lynn Glen are below.


        Ayrshire, Scotland was the location of an ancient family of Lynns who dwelt near what Ayrshire historian James Paterson described as a "beautiful natural cascade on the Water of Caaf, near to which stood the ancient castle of Lin".  The cascade of which Paterson wrote is Lynn Falls in the wooded Lynn Glen, part of the former barony of Lynn on the edge of the town of Dalry.

        Some believe that, in their earliest days, the Lynns were vassals of the DeMorvilles.  Others tell that they were related to the English baron Hugh de Morville and in 1204 received the Dalry lands as an inheritance.  The latter view is supported by the 1852 Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland and by the fact that the Lynns bore the title "of that Ilk".  The right to bear that title was granted only by royal charter and indicated that they owned a property with the same name as the name of their family.  Even if the property was eventually sold (as did  happen), the chief of the family had the legal right to retain the title "of that Ilk" but could no longer describe himself as lord or laird.

           Their chiefs being recorded in the family papers of the Hunters of Hunterston as lairds or lords of Lynn, as well as superiors of Highlees, the family had acquired Highlees from John Ross, Lord of Hawkhead and had vassals beneath them.  In 1452, they granted Highlees to the Hunters "for services rendered and to be rendered".

            It is widely reported that the Lynns of that Ilk were an allied family of Clan Boyd.  The only evidence of a Lynn-Boyd association in Ayrshire consists of several land transactions, the earliest of which is the 1532 sale of part of the barony by John Lynn to Thomas Boyd.  There is no record of a Lynn-Boyd marriage in Ayrshire and no evidence that the Lynns were vassals or a sept of the Boyds.  In fact, the Boyds themselves, while a powerful family, historically were not a Scottish clan and only in 1988 were constituted into the House of Boyd Society.  As a result, the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, now recognizes Boyd as a clan, but any association of Lynns with the Society is modern only and has no basis in Scottish history.

             Ancient maps refer to the Lynns' Dalry barony as Linn, and Paterson called its castle Lin.  Both Lin and Linn, along with Lyn, Lyne, Lynn, and Lynne, all were variant spellings of the surname of this family.  Between 1452 and 1669, however, the family's Highlees documents shows their name written with a "y" 14 times and with an "i" only once.  Today, the falls, the glen, and an avenue in Dalry all bear the spelling Lynn.


The Barony of Lynn 

Lynn Glen, heart of the ancient barony, is an enchanting place, described in Ayrshire folklore as the dwelling of elves and fairies.  With scenes such as these, it is easy to see how such tales came to be told, especially if one wanders there in the gloamin' and hears the sounds of approaching night.

On the Banks of the Caaf

     Lynn Falls  

William Robertson, in his 1899 "Tales of Ayrshire," relates the story of "The Wraith of Lord Lyne".  In it, the young Lord's death is foreseen by his mother and his body is later found at the foot of the falls.

Our photo was taken from a poor vantage point and is grainy in appearance.  We are grateful to Stevie Clark for consent to use his stunning photograph above.  Vintage post cards, circa 1915, were imaged by Armour Hamilton and can be seen at


A Stone Column in Lynn Glen , the remains of which are about seven feet tall, is the only structure still standing that may have belonged to the Lords of Lynn.  It stands very near the falls on one side of an old unpaved, unused road that  once led to the location of the Lynn manor, and perhaps to Lynn Castle itself.  Perhaps this stone column once was one of a pair, standing on either side of the road and forming a gate to the manor or perhaps the castle before it.  Both dwellings are gone now, the site of the manor marked only by a mound.  The precise location of the castle is uncertain but was described by George F. Black, Ph.D., in his "Surnames of Scotland," as being near Lynn Falls.



Lynn Glen - Looking south from the glen conveys a sense of the beauty of the ancient barony.




Lynn Bridge spans the Caaf Water at its narrowest point.  It undoubtedly has seen many repairs, or has been rebuilt entirely, since the Lynns owned the barony.



Lynn Avenue - The name of this Dalry street memorializes the Lynns of old.




Highlees Mount

Highlees Farm

A Highlees Field

This lovely property lies just south of the village of Dundonald.  The name has been thought to refer to a nearby religious site, with "highlees" being a corruption of the word "holy."  However, since the word "lea" is the Scots word for grassland or pasture and these fields crest above the surrounding countryside, a much more reasonable view is that the name is a rendering of the descriptive language "high leas."  Highlees was owned by the Lords of Lynn or Lynns of that Ilk for a period of at least 200 years beginning about 1452.  The first Lord of Lynn known to have owned Highlees was Andrew, who in that year chartered Highlees to William Hunter of Arnele.  It appears that Hunter was a vassal of the Lynns, at least in this context, since the charter grants Highlees to him "for services rendered and to be rendered."  From that time until about 1700, whenever chiefship passed in either family, the charter was renewed by the then chief of the Lynns of that Ilk.  Present-day Highlees Farm is situated on the opposite side of Highlees Mount.  The property once included a Loch Highlees, which perhaps has become the reservoir that now lies just east of the Mount.


The Lords of Lynn in the 16th and early 17th centuries also owned an estate called Bourtreehill, now located in the town of Irvine.  We regret not having made it there on our journey, but a few photos can be seen at


History of the Lynns

The history of the Lords of Lynn has heretofore been rather obscure.  Now, a 560-page book about the Lynns, Linns, and Linds of Scotland and Ulster includes 30 pages of history of this particular family compiled from more than a dozen reliable sources; see Book_Description_Lynneage.  Sources for the book as a whole total approximately 300.  The following poem, by the same author, includes references to some of the historical persons and events found in these books and records, as well as references to the old Ayrshire folktale, "The Wraith of Lord Lyne".

Oh Linn of Lynns

["Linn" is the Scots word for waterfall.]

Loretta Lynn Layman


Oh linn of Lynns, thy fair cascade,

Heart of th'enchanted glen,

Refreshes all the land about,

And birds and beasts and men.


The hazel and the rowan tree

So lightly wear thy crown.

The warbler and the grey wagtail

Sing sweetly all around.


Another voice, in harsher days,

Resounded through the trees

As Peden stood upon the Point

That men might bend their knees


To Christ the King instead of Charles,

For Christ doth rule the kirk.

But hushed is Peden’s great voice now,

At rest from all his work.


And men may worship as they choose,

Not fearing monarch's claw,

And peace that fills the wooded glen

May yet rule over all.


Oh linn of Lynns, thy fair cascade,

Heart of th'enchanted glen,

Refreshes all the land about,

And birds and beasts and men.


But something other-worldly once

Inhabited Lynns' wood -

The fairy? elf? or witch perhaps? -

Things little understood.

 Poor Bessie, wife of Andrew Jack,

 Possessed a simple mind,

 But learned she did of nature’s ways

 The healing arts to find.


 She wandered through th’enchanted glen

 And gathered herb and flow’r

 To treat her ailing kith and kin

 With nature’s healing pow’r.


 But called to cruel trial she was,

 A low priest’s dupe, some say,

 And envy tied her to the stake,

 Where burned her life away.


 Oh, linn of Lynns, thy fair cascade,

 Heart of th'enchanted glen,

 Refreshes all the land about,

 And birds and beasts and men.


 The Lynns themselves were said to have

 The gift of second sight.

 Oft’ to them, when some spirit moved,

 Came visions in the night.


 So came the strange and eerie hour

 To the mother of Lord Lynn,

 Wand’ring through th’enchanted glen,

 Some respite there to win.


 A shadowy thing, unseen but felt,

 Was ever at her side,

 It conjured scenes of men and horse

 Upon a ghostly ride.


When evening passed and morning came,

Lord Lynn was still awa’.

A frantic search across the land

Found him dead beneath the fall.


But linn of Lynns, thy fair cascade,

Heart of th'enchanted glen,

Refreshes all the land about,

And birds and beasts and men.


So grievous was the Lady’s loss.

She could no longer stay,

And so the Lynns to Bourtreehill

Got up and moved away.*


And some went even farther off,

To Eire and o’er the sea,

Their land forsook, their line forgot,

Left to obscurity.


Gone now the days of long ago -

Gone Peden, gone “witch,” gone Laird.

Yet still th’enchanted glen remains,

The lovely linn they shared.


While modern life surrounds its stream,

Its charm is sweeter still.

So God, protect the linn of Lynns,

Preserve its rock and rill.


For linn of Lynns, thy fair cascade,

Heart of th'enchanted glen,

Refreshes all the land about,

And birds and beasts and men.


* Poetic license is here admitted in that there is no historic record of the date of the death of this particular Lord Lynn or the reason the Lynns left their barony for Bourtreehill.


For more history and folklore about Lynns and Linns of Scotland, see house-of-lynn.






Copyright 2018 · Loretta Lynn Layman · The House of Lynn