We have had North Ayrshire Heritage Centre in Saltcoats in touch with us suggesting that The William Wallace Visitor Centre house the “Ardrossan Sarcophagus”.
This stone coffin measuring 223cm x 88cm x 68cm was discovered in 1911 by Council workers who were landscaping the remains of old Ardrossan Church, on Castle Hill.
It is one of the finest known examples of lowland Scottish medieval sculpture.
There has been much speculation as to who was buried in the coffin. The ornate floriate cross, sheathed sword and fleur-de-lys and trefoil ornamentation carved on the lid suggest that it contained one of the Barons or Lords of Ardrossan from the 13th or 14th centuries (around the same time as William Wallace). The lower section of the sarcophagus is hollowed out in the shape of a man with a raised ‘pillow” for the head.
Apparently, it has been a bone of contention that The Ardrossan Sarcophagus is now sited in Saltcoats and there is much local support to have it returned to Ardrossan.
It also seems fitting that the sarcophagus is re-sited in the former Barony St. John Church as it was originally put on display here from 9th October 1950 until some point in 1958 when it was moved to the newly opened North Ayrshire Heritage Centre.
Now, add this to the other items we hope to display in The William Wallace Visitor Centre – the magnificent Spirit of Wallace statue, a replica of his sword and the two letters of provenance taken from him when he was captured – and you begin to realise what a wonderful visitor centre this make for enthusiasts of Wallace, the 13th Century and tourists alike. 🙂