This week, items which relate to Robert Burns often unhappy time at Lochlea Farm. Robert was 18 years old when his family moved to Lochlea Farm in 1777. Here he was faced with the prospect of attempting to transform 130 acres of treeless, rain soaked moorland 400 feet above sea level in to fertile agricultural land. The strain of the effort which he was required to exert in pursuing this objective, hastened his death. Around 20 of Lochlea’s 130 acres was occupied by standing water. This took the form of a small loch. It was unremarkable, although during dry periods in the summer when the water level dropped, a small island would emerge some distance from the shore.
The items shown below all were found in and around Lochlea Crannog and reflect the intensive agricultural work that has taken place over many centuries in this area.
The farmland was very mossy and William Burnes had problems paying his rather high rent. Robert and his brother Gilbert worked long hours on the farm and earned a modest wage. Robert took dancing classes and often found himself falling in and out of love with local girls.
William had made an agreement with his landlord David McLure but didn’t have a written contract. William and his landlord disagreed about rents. William took his case to the Court of Session in Edinburgh and won but legal costs took the last of his money. On 13 February 1784, a few days after winning the case, William died. Robert later wrote: ‘When my father died, his all went among the rapacious hell-hounds that growl in the kennel of justice.’
Burns is said to have roofed the barn himself and upon its demolition an engraved lintel from it was incorporated into the new farmhouse that replaced it. Robert and Gilbert leased nearby Mossgiel Farm in spring 1784.