Burns Heritage Trail: How much do you really know about Robert Burns?
Exploring the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
To A Haggis, Auld Lang Syne, Scots Wha Hae, To A Louse, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose…..
Robert Burns has one of the most famous faces in Scotland to this day, he’s on £5 notes for a reason you know! The legendary poet left us way back in 1796 yet his words will live on forever. I still remember at school where as kids we all competed against each other to determine which of us could best recite his poems. Hours of practice went into getting his various works word-perfect and throwing in as much character as possible. For this still to be going on in schools across Scotland centuries after his death shows the impact he has had on our culture.
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is the best place to start on the Heritage Trail. Located in the picturesque Alloway, the museum shows a modern perspective of Burns’ life. A top class collection of artefacts awaits. Even for those who have little or no interest in poetry, there’s no better place to get immersed in his work.
Dotted around in the vicinity of the museum are various other points of interest including the Alloway Auld Kirk and Burns Cottage. The kirk was the setting for the famous Tam o’Shanter poem, where Tam gapes in astonishment at a band of witches dancing to the bagpipes in the church grounds. Of course there is also Burns Cottage itself which is well known to all fans of The Bard. He was born and raised here under the thatched eaves until he was seven years old. The home is a cozy and pretty spacious reminder of life in centuries past…sharing your house with horses and other such normalities.
For those still keen on more, jump back in the car and head further south still to Dumfries for the chance to see Burns’ home as an adult. He spent the final years of his life here (he died aged just 37) and it is hard to believe the house has changed much since 1796. There is even an inscription in one of the upstairs rooms that he signed into the window glass! Also in Dumfries is the Robert Burns Centre which takes visitors on a journey through Burns’ life, analysing his relationships, his various travels and, ultimately, his death and legacy.
Every New Year people around the world sing his work, every January 25th people delve into Scotland’s national dish to salute his tribute to the haggis and in 2009 he was voted in a TV poll as the greatest Scot of all time. Not bad, not bad at all.