The now ruinous Alloway Kirk in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland and its associated burial ground provided the setting for Robert Burns’s poem Tam o’ ShanterNarrative poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, first published in 1791. (1791). Burns was born at Alloway in 1759, and as a child one his favourite stories was of a coven of witches who met at the local kirk, the probable inspiration for Tam’s drunken encounter.
William Burnes, the poet’s father, who died in 1784, is buried in the graveyard together with his wife Agnes and Burns’s sister Isabella Burns Begg; Alloway Kirk was already abandoned at the time of William’s death. His present headstone is the third, the previous two having been chipped away by souvenir hunters. The present-day stone differs from the original in wording, memorialising both of Burns’s parents, and including an epitaph the poet wrote for his father. The southwest corner of the graveyard contains the mausoleum of Lt Gen Hughes of Mount Charles, who was buried in 1832. Most of the surviving headstones also date from the 19th century.
The church is a designated scheduled monument, and the churchyard is a Category B listed building.