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Port Logan fish pond nx0941 - - 22631.jpg
Port Logan fish pond
Grid reference: NX1236
Location: 54°41’35"N, 4°54’40"W
Population: 685  (2001)
Post town: Stranraer
Postcode: DG9
Dialling code: 01776
Local Government
Council: Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway

Kirkmaiden, is a village in Wigtownshire, in the west of the county on the Rhinns of Galloway. This, the most southerly parish in the county, embraces an area about ten miles in length and from a mile and a half to nearly four miles in breadth of 13,000 acres, of which 4,000 are arable, 6,000 meadow and pasture, 300 woodland and plantations.

The village is also known as Maidenkirk, and it is named after the mediæval Saint Medan.

Kirkmaiden is 16 miles southeast of Stranraer and the parish contains the villages of Port Logan, and Drummore at Drummore Harbour.

Kirkmaiden is bounded on the east by the Bay of Luce and on the south and west by the North Channel. The harbours (the two main villages in the Kirkmaiden parish) are, Port Logan in the bay of Portnessock, and Drummore. At both of these, commodious quays have been erected, where vessels of any burthen may land and take in their cargoes, and find safe anchorage in the bays; but the former cannot be entered at low water by vessels of great size[1]

The Chapel and Churches

The ruins of St Medan's chapel and cave are halfway down to the sea shore, at NX1431. The parish kirk was originally some five miles south of Drummore, at a site on the Kirkburn, near Portankill and not far from the Mull of Galloway at NX139324.

On 15 July 1393 Pope Clement VII authorised Finlay, Abbot of Soulseat, to annex Kirkmaiden parish church in 'le Rynnis' to augment the income of the abbey.[2]

In 1638 the parishioners, citing the inconvenience of the journey to church, secured the building of the "Newer" church, on the southern outskirts of Kirkmaiden Village.

The patron of ther living after about 1700 was the Earl of Stair. The population of the parish was 1,051 in 1755, 1,380 in the 1790s and 1,613 in 1801.[3] A number of endowments for the poor of the parish are mentioned, including £100 from Andrew McMurray a merchant in London, £100 from Andrew McDowal (Lord Bankton, one of the judges of the Court of Session: the McDowal family were lairds of Logan), and £400 from William Adair of Flixton, Suffolk (d.1783) who was the Secretary of Virginia, America, based in London. William Adair was the brother of Dr John Adair of London of Quebec fame, and also brother of Mrs Anderson, wife of the Minister at Kirkmaiden, and they were children of Rev. Patrick Adair of Belfast.[4][5] Rev. Patrick Adair was son of William Adair of Corgie, Kirkmaiden, and his wife Ann McDowell, dau of McDowell, Laird of Logan.

Following the Disruption of 1843, a "New" Saint Medan's church was built in Stair Street, Drummore, for worshippers in the Free Church of Scotland and early in the 1900s the two congregations were reunited.[6]

Largest Iron Age stronghold in Britain

A substantial earthwork measuring 450 yards long, cuts off an area of about 141 acres at the eastern end of the Mull of Galloway. In most places it comprises three ditches with medial banks, the inner bank being the larger, measuring between 10 feet and 13 feet in thickness with an external height of up to 7 feet. It is believed the ramparts make this the largest Iron Age stronghold in Britain.[7] This fort may be found 360 yards south-southeast of the earthwork at the Tarbet.

About 360 yards north-northwest of the above earthwork, and situated at the narrow isthmus between the bays of East and West Tarbet, an earthwork cuts across the neck of the Mull of Galloway south of the enclosed fields of the Mull farm. The bank is 7½ feet wide and 1½ feet high with possible facing stones exposed.

Other archaeology

Archaeological sites in the parish beyond the fort on the Mull and the earthworks described include:

  • Two earthworks across the isthmus
  • One north-west of West Tarbert
  • Dunora or Dunorrich
  • Three forts with only traces of ditch
  • Dunman, a large fort
  • Crummag Head, a circular stone fort
  • An earthwork between Clanyard and Logan Bay.
  • Dunichinie, large circular fort north of Mull of Logan
  • Moat Hill at Drummore.[8]

Dunman Fort is an early Iron Age fort on the western shore of the Rhinns. The defences along the inner crests of the natural gullies on the north-east and south-east consisted of a wall originally 8'-12' thick. The internal measurement is about 110m north-west by 100m south-east, but no structures were visible in the interior. There are entrances on the north to north-east and south, with a possible third on the north where a natural terrace provides access to the interior immediately beyond the end of the wall.

Walling is visible on the north, east and south sides and some on the east, consisting of an inner wall face and heather-covered rubble about 10 feet wide. The wall which follows the crest of a scarp over 23 feet high around the north, east and south sides of the summit. The wall peters out on the north and south to south-west, and there are no visible defences on the west where the ground falls away steeply to the sea 500 feet below.

There are four approaches to the fort, but only one, in the north-east is faced as an entrance. A shallow hollow descends the scarp at the north to north-east entrance, which is blocked with three large boulders. At the south entrance a natural terrace drops obliquely down the scarp into a hollow 8 feet broad with a bank up to 10 feet thick and 2 feet high on its outer lip.

Crammag Head on the western shore of the Rhinns was circular dun or broch with outworks about 19.5m in diameter over all, but its wall has been reduced to little more than the basal course of the outer face around the west. The granite facing-stones measure up to 43 feet in length.

The interior on the west, which is now occupied by Crammag Head Light, has been raised up to 6 feet above the outer face with material from a ditch immediately east of the dun.

Core Hill Fort is an Iron Age or Dark Age fort on the summit of Core Hill, immediately south of Kirkmaiden churchyard. A stone axe was found in the interior.

High Drummore Motte and Bailey in the mid-eastern side of the Rhinns. The mound is 10 feet high, but is 23 feet high to the east and protected on the west by a rampart and ditch. The top is about 40 feet in diameter, and has a hollow about 18 feet across and 3 to 4 feet deep, with an entrance from the east. A rampart goes down the slope towards the east with an interspace of 60 feet.

5th - 6th century grave covered by a stone slab bearing a badly weathered Latin inscription. The original description of the stone (which is now lost) records that the name Ventidius was legible together with another, which translated as "sub-deacon". It is thought that this could be the 5th stone from Kirkmadrine. The grave being of a much later date. A standing stone is situated 460m NNW of Low Curghie.

Cairngaan, on the southern tip of the Rhinns, is possibly Bronze-Age.

Castles & Tower Houses

The Gordons of Clanyard Castle were powerful men in the area, and their daughters married into Kirkmaiden families.[9] Alexander Gordon of Castle Clanyard received a bell cast in AD1534 for Kirkmaiden Church.[10] A very interesting Castle Clanyard Reconstruction in Sketchup is on YouTube.

Killumpha Tower[11]

In culture

Until the union with England, Scotland's equivalent of the phrase "Land's End to John o' Groats" was often "John o' Groats to Maidenkirk", as Maidenkirk was traditionally considered the southernmost part of that country. It can be found in the song, The Lady of Kenmure:

From John O' Groats to Maidenkirk
You'll never find a truer
For loyal faith and dauntless deeds,
Than the Lady of Kenmure.

Big society

The Kirkmaiden Natural History Group is based in Drummore and holds monthly indoor meetings and conducts field outings throughout the year. It has a very interesting website with photos etc.[12]


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Kirkmaiden)



  • History of the Lands and Their Owners In Galloway - P H M'Kerlie. New Edition. Volume 1. 1906
  • Richard D Oram (2000), The Lordship of Galloway, John Donald.
  • John MacQueen (2002), Place-Names in the Rhinns of Galloway and Luce Valley, Stranraer and District Local History Trust.
  • W F H Nicolaisen (1976), Scottish Place-Names, Batsford, London