Ruinous castle beside the A77 to the west of Maybole. Rumour has it that it is for sale and has planning permission. You get a splendid view from the road.
Baltersan is about 1.4 miles from Maybole on the road to Kirkoswald. An armorial shield above the entrance door tells us that it was built in 1584. There is likewise a faded inscription informing us that it was "begun the first day of March, 158-, by John Kennedy of Pennyglcn and Margaret Cathcart his spouse;" while the text of Scripture which the builder has piously inscribed on the lintel, still preaches to us its lesson:
"THE NAME OF THE LORD IS A STRONG TOWER: THE RIGHTEOUS RUNNETH INTO IT."
Two hundred years ago, Baltersan was a "stately, fine house, with gardens, orchards, parks, and woods about it;" but now it is roofless, and the orchards and woods have given place to corn and pasture fields. It is described in M'Gibbon and Ross's Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland as "a good example of a thoroughly Scottish mansion of the fourth period."
Originally, this site was occupied by Baltersan House, the residence of the good Lady Row who died in 1530, and whose tombstone may still be seen in the nave of Crossraguel Abbey. After her death, the house seems to have been demolished, arid the present castle erected in its place, by the same laird who owned Greenan Castle, near Ayr. He probably occupied them alternately as an inland, Baltersan castle and a sea coast residence. The estate, after passing through various hands, has recently came into the possession of Peter Sturrock, Esq., of Kilmarnock, who purposes shortly to make the old building habitable again.
The latter-will of the above Lady Row of Baltersan was found some years ago in an old chest. It was written in Latin, and some translated fragments may be interesting, as casting light on those early days. "Seeing nothing is more certain than death, or more uncertain than the hour of death, therefore it is that I, Giles Blair, Lady Row, although weak in body, yet sound in mind, blessed be God, make my testament as follows:
In the first place, I give and bequeath my soul to God Almighty, and the blessed Virgin Mary, and to all saints, and my body to be buried in the Monastery of Crossraguel, in the blessed Virgin's aisle. And I appoint and ordain for my executors, David Kennedy of Pennyglen, Sir John Kennedy, Prebendary of Maybole, and the Reverend Father in Christ, William, by Divine permission, Abbot and Superior of the Monastery of Crossraguel. Legacies-Imprimis, I leave and bequeath to the Convent of Crossraguel, twenty pounds. Item, to the Minim Friars of Ayr, forty pounds. Item, to the Dominican Friars of Ayr, five merks. Item, to the Friars of Irvine, five merks. Item, to my executors, forty pounds, to be divided equally amongst them. . . . Item, for building an altar in the Church of Saint Oswald, twenty merks. Item, to James Kennedy, Bailie of Carrick, twenty marks, conditionally, that he assist and defend my executors, and do not suffer them to be disturbed, or molested, by himself or any other person: otherwise, I do not leave him the said twenty merks. Item, to Thomas Fergusson, Dominican Chaplain of Kirkoswald, one boll of meal! Item, to the Curate of Kirkoswald, one boll of meal! Item, to the poor woman, the cripple of Maybole, two firlots of meal. Item, to the Chaplains and Friars, on the day of my burial, twenty merks. Item, to the poor upon the said day, forty shillings in drink, and a chalder of meal, and tea stones of cheese! Item, I bequeath the residue and remainder of all my goods, for repairing my part of the bridge upon the water of Girvan, formerly built by me; and if anything remains over and above, I bequeath the same to the poor, to be laid out at the discretion of my executors." Good, kindly old lady, we hail her memory across these centuries, and repeat to ourselves the epitaph at Flodden Well:
"Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and pray
For the kind soul of Sybil Gray,
Who built this cross and well."