Lynn Falls 2006 ~ photographed by Stevie Clarke of Irvine, Ayrshire
Used by Permission


        Ayrshire was the location of an old family of Lynns who dwelt near what Paterson described as a "beautiful natural cascade on the Water of Caaf, near to which stood the ancient castle of Lin".  The Caaf emerges from a reservoir in northern Ayrshire and flows for three miles to the River Garnock, just south of the village of Dalry.  The cascade of which Paterson wrote is Lynn Falls in the wooded Lynn Glen in 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.

       Recorded in the Hunter family papers 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 Highless 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, including the 1532 sale of part of the barony from 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.  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 has 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 name Lynn.  (For a larger discussion, see Lynn_of_that_Ilk.)

      See, also, Book_Description_Lynneage.



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 which the young Lord Lynn's death was foreseen by his mother, Lady Lynn, and his body was later found at the foot of the falls.

Our photo was taken from a poor vantage point and is grainy in appearance.  We are forever grateful to Steven Clark for his consent to using his stunning photograph above.  Circa 1915 views were imaged by Armour Hamilton and can be seen here:


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 in Dalry.  It stands on one side of an old unpaved and unused road that  once led to the location of the Lynn manor, and likely to Lynn Castle itself since new manor houses were often built on the spot where their predecessors had stood.  Doubtless this stone column was once one of a pair, standing on either side of the road and forming a gate to the manor and perhaps the castle before it.  Both dwellings are gone now, the site of  the manor marked only by a mound. The exact 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 - This view, looking south from Lynn Glen, conveys a sense of the beauty of the ancient barony.




Lynn Bridge - The 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.  Its name, nevertheless, recalls the family of old.             



Lynn Avenue - This Dalry street memorializes the Lynns of that Ilk, who were Lords of Lynn and Superiors of Highlees.





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, also known as the Lynns of that Ilk, for a period of at least 200 years beginning about 1452.  The first Lord of Lynn of record was Andrew, who in that year chartered Highlees to William Hunter of Arnele.  It appears that Hunter was a vassal of the Lynns 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.  The present-day 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 here:


History of the Lynns

The history of the Lords of Lynn has heretofore been rather obscure.  However, a 560-page book on the Lynns, Linns, and Linds of Scotland and Ulster, including 30 pages of the history of this particular family compiled from a dozen or more reliable sources, has recently been published - see Book_Description_Lynneage Sources for the book as a whole total nearly 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 to an old Ayrshire folktale called "The Wraith of Lord Lyne."

Oh Linn1/ of Lynns

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 beasts

 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.2/


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.


1/  The title is a play on words, "linn" being the Scots word for waterfall.

2/  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, see house-of-lynn.





Copyright 2007, 2015 Loretta Lynn Layman / The House of Lynn