As part of the Carrick Community Heritage Trail, the people of Barr village have come together to produce a fantastic human sundial for visitors and locals to enjoy.
The project began in March 2013 and was completed just before Christmas of that year. Although there was a core team of around 24 people, the project saw around half of all the villagers get involved in one way or another; an enthusiastic response from all ages, from nine to ninety.
The sundial was created by making a mosaic of broken tiles and the project co-ordinator was not shy when scavenging for materials and sourced tiles from B & Q, Topps Tiles, Peinn Mor Pottery in Pinmore, the Wave Craft Gallery & Community Garden in Girvan. Barr villagers were all giving away their old china so that they too could be included in the finished sundial; one local even gave wedding china which she never liked and was looking forward to walking all over it.
As so many villagers were wanting to contribute, the project team announced that as it is an outdoor display, they could only use vitreous or porcelain china: they were soon offered a donation of white porcelain in the form of a toilet from one local, unfortunately too thick for use, but caused a few giggles.
Barr Villagers of all ages helping to map out the positions of the Sundial
Core team member helping to create the mosaic
The inspiration for the design of the human sundial comes from a Barr legend; ‘The Laird of Changue’ which is depicted below. As the user stands in situ on glassy footprints, they take the place of Laird Changue as he faced the Devil, whose tail is represented by the Celtic knot the user faces at the head of the sundial.
The sundial pays homage to many other stories and features of Barr, including its salmon fishing, many walking and cycling trails, clock tower, blooming ‘Open Gardens’, and even the story of Rev. John Angus and his Jam Factory.
Why not try to see how many different things you can spot when you visit the human sundial.
'Sheepy Sundial' 'Wee Sheep Plate'
The Jam Factory
Between the two World Wars, Barr experienced significant problems with its levels of employment. As a result, the young people of the village were leaving in high numbers to find work elsewhere. Concerned about this new trend, the entrepreneurial Rev. John Angus planted hundreds of raspberry bushes. He then employed the young people of Barr to pick the raspberries and cart them to Girvan to sell them at the market.
However, it soon became apparent that the raspberries were arriving in Girvan quite bruised and in rather poor condition due to being bumped and bashed on the infamous ‘screws’ road. They were commercially unviable, as nobody wanted to buy the bruised fruit. However, the reverend, as always, was undeterred and came up with the brilliant idea of making jam. The cottage they used to make the jam is still know by locals as the 'jam factory’
The Laird of Changue
As the story goes, the ‘The Laird of Changue’ was a noted smuggler who lived in the hills surrounding Barr where he distilled liquor. It was said he had no care for any man and was feared by many due to his own physical strength and courage. He was also not shy about sampling his own produce.
There is no record of exactly when he was around but as the story goes, he frequented the annual ‘Kirkdandy Fair’ when it was at its height. This market brought travelling merchants from miles around to trade in legal and illegal goods such as alcohol.
The Laird was more than capable when it came to making money, however he was even more capable at spending it, and so found himself in the constant alternate between rich and poor. It was known that there was only one way any man could definitely secure a constant supply of riches and that was to sell his soul to the Devil.
It was on one of the Laird’s very low financial dips when the Devil appeared before him to offer this pact. Undaunted by the appearance of Satan and with no qualm about the cost of the arrangement the Laird made the deal.
The bargain struck, the devil went on his way, and a new chapter opened out in the history of the Laird. Everything was going his way; his smuggling expeditions were always successful and never found out; he started to make more money than he could spend and he began to add more houses and fields growing his enterprise vastly from his original one small still hidden in the hills. As his wealth grew, the gruff smuggler he used to be, was replaced by a well-favoured Laird. As the years went on his memory of the meeting with the Devil began to fade, and, as he had not seen the Devil since, the Laird reasoned that he never would come.
But, the Devil had not forgotten their pact, he was merely biding his time. The day finally came when the Devil thought he had given the Laird a long enough life of wealth and so, he appeared to the Laird once more. The Devil told the Laird his time had come, which the Laird defiantly refused. The Devil informed the Laird that if he would not come willingly, he must take him by force. "By force then be it," was the response he received from the Laird.
The Laird drew his sword, marked a circle in the ground around them both and invited the Devil to mortal combat. Satan knew what that ring was for; if he could put the Laird out of this circle then he would win and take his soul to the darkest depths of Hell. However, if he failed then he must return himself without his man.
As their fight began, the Devil tried with all his might to kick the Laird out of the circle. But the Laird was quick with his blade and struck Satan’s hoof infuriating the Devil. In a second attempt at victory, the Devil introduced his pointed tail and its deadly sting into the fight. As he brought it down upon his opponent, the Laird, quick with his blade once again, slashed at the Devil’s tail and dismembered the sting. The Laird grew in confidence and Satan became more enraged coming at the Laird for a third time. This time with his mighty horns thundering towards the Laird, on route to finishing him once and for all. But once again, the Laird came out on top after a lighting flash with his blade separated the horns from Satan’s head.
There was a moments rest in the fight as the Laird and Devil stared each other in the eye and caught their breath. With more ferocity than before, the Devil spread his wings, took to the sky with fire coming from his mouth and advanced to crush his foe. For the first time the Laird felt a tremble of fear, but his steely reserve helped him recover his courage for the final show down. Satan went for him, as he went for Satan, and, with one powerful sweep the Laird’s sword descended on the very joints of the Devil’s wings, where they were connected to Satan’s shoulders.
Satan crashed to the ground roaring in pain. In one last futile effort, he attempted to spring at the Laird again, only to be met for a final time by the Laird’s sword that landed squarely on his chin. So strong was the blow, that it sent the Devil to the outside of the circle and to defeat. The battle was won and the Devil made his escape.
How the Laird’s life was after this encounter is unknown, but it may be foolish to think the Devil did not return to trouble him again.
All Images courtesy of Merlin Currie, Barr