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King Coil's Grave


Nearest Town:Prestwick (10km WSW)
OS Ref (GB):   NS447263 / Sheet: 70
Latitude:55° 30' 20.18" N
Longitude:   4° 27' 33.41" W

Added by Rhiannon

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Speaking of Coylton, on the Water Of Coyle, the Statistical Account Of Scotland (1798) says;

'There is a tradition, though it is believed, very ill-founded', that the village derives its name from a King Coilus who was killed in battle in the neighbourhood and buried in the church here. Fergus Loch, to the west of the church, 'is supposed by some to take its name from King Fergus, who defeated Coel King Of The Britons in the adjacent field'.

According to others, however, the battle was fought in the parish of Tarbolton, and they pointed to the slabs of stone covering a burial mound known as King Coil's Tomb in the grounds of Coilsfield House. The tomb is probably the cairn marked near Coilsfield Mains on modern maps.

The site was investigated in May 1837 by the minister of the parish, the Reverend David Ritchie, whose report went into the New Statistical Account 1845. The excavations unearthed a circular flagstone covering another, smaller stone which itself covered the mouth of an urn filled with white coloured burned bones. Other urns were found nearby, and though no coins, armour or other implements were discovered, Ritchie notes:

An old man remembers that his father, then a tenant on the Coilsfield estate, turned up pieces of ancient armour and fragments of bone when ploughing the 'Dead-Men's-Holm.'

Reverend David Ritchie 1845
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
17th February 2024ce
Edited 17th February 2024ce

..Ayrshire--divided into the three districts of Cuningham, Kyle, and Carrick--seems to have been the main seat of the families of the race of Coel, from whom indeed the district of Coel, now Kyle, is said traditionally to have taken its name. There is every reason to believe that Boece, in filling up the reigns of his phantom kings with imaginary events, used local traditions where he could find them; and he tells us "Kyl dein proxima est vel Coil potius nominata, a Coilo Britannorum rege ibi in pugna c├Žso" and a circular mound at Coilsfield, in the parish of Tarbolton, on the highest point of which are two large stones, and in which sepulchral remains have been found, is pointed out by local tradition as his tomb.
From The Four Ancient Books of Wales by William F. Skene [1868], online at

Lots more here in the 'History of the County of Ayr' v1 by James Paterson (1847).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2006ce
Edited 23rd June 2010ce

When King Fergus defeated and killed Coel, King of the Britons, he was buried in a mound topped with stones - which is now in the grounds of Coilsfield House. There are many different spellings of his name, which presumably all derive from the same figure: Cul, Coel, Coil, Cole... (maybe deriving from the celtic god of war?)

Robert Burns knew this version of the rhyme:

Our auld King Coul was a jolly auld soul
and a jolly auld soul was he
Our auld King Coul fill'd a jolly brown bowl
and he called for his fiddlers three
Fidell didell, fidell didell quo' the fiddlers
There's no lass in a' Scotland like our sweet Marjorie
(from Westwood's 'Albion')
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st April 2004ce
Edited 21st April 2004ce