North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

Netherhall, Largs residence of Lord Kelvin

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

Toc H Services Club, Largs

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

Three Sisters with Cock-ma-Lane and Castle Hill

Largs

Prophet's Grave

This is the grave of William Smith who was briefly minister of Largs and has found his place in the town's history solely because of his burial location.

Smith graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1637 and after being a schoolmaster was appointed minister of Largs Parish in 1644. He seems to have been a good preacher, well-liked by his parishioners and approachable.

In 1647, a plague hit Largs and many of the townspeople moved out and into the Noddle Glen making a camp at Outerwards. Smith carried out his duties minister but died of the disease himself at Middleton. He was buried nearby and his grave marked with a memorial stone.

The site became known as the Minister's Grave or the Prophet's Grave. It was popular with the people of Largs to walk to the site on a Sunday evening as this recreation was more religious seeming than walking to St Fillan's or Fairlie Castle.

In 1945, Alex Simpson gave a talk to the Largs Business Club about Old Largs and suggested the site might be restored. The club decided to 'father' the scheme along with St Columba's Parish Church who had already formed a committee and had some money. John Campbell, Auchengarth, who owned the site agreed to give it and ground for access from Brisbane Glen Road to a suitable body.

In June 1947, Simpson offered the site to Largs Burgh free of charge as this was the 300th anniversary of William's death. But the council declined as it was outside the burgh boundary. However, in February 1951 the restoration committee again appealed to the council to take over the site. This time they agreed upon completion of restoration work. Work didn't start on the restoration until 1953 when the path and gate to the grave from Brisbane Glen Road was built. Lack of money slowed the project but by February 1956 the gate, supplied by A H Mackie & CO, and posts, built by Joseph and Alex Campbell, were in place.

The site formally opened on 20 May 1956 complete with gate, path, bridge, inscription plaque and four benches. The grave stone was also restored. Why it became known as Prophet's Grave is uncertain as while Smith was alive there is no official record of him prophesying. There is a tale about Smith on his deathbed, having chosen his grave site, saying that if two holly trees there did not touch each other in the future then the plague wouldn't return. Most likely though is that he had acquired the nickname 'The Prophet' during his ministry.

Useful websites

Postcard view of the grave site.
The gravestone on its four stone pillars.
Bridge on the path to the grave.
The restored grave site.
Gate on Brisbane Glen Road.

Back to the Largs Trail