Ellisland, c 1908

An etching by Francis S Walker of the walk along the banks of the River Nith close to Robert Burns farm.   Robert Burns took on the lease of Ellisland Farm from Patrick Miller of Dalswinton from Whitsunday 1788 for a rent of £50 per year. It was a small unimproved holding of 170 acres situated on the bank of the River Nith about 5 miles north of the town of Dumfries. Miller gave Burns £300 with which to build a farm house and enclose the fields.   As a respite from the demands of the farm, Burns would walk along the banks of the River Nith, often using this time to think over his writing. He wrote to George Thomson, his publisher, "I walk out, sit down now & then, look out for objects in Nature around me that are in unison or harmony with the cogitations of my fancy & workings of my bosom; humming every now & then the air with the verses I have framed".   It is believed that it was here that Burns composed "Tam O'Shanter" in a single day. Burns wrote the poem as a "witch story" to accompany the illustration of Alloway Kirk which was to be published by his friend, Captain Francis Grose in his "Antiquities of Scotland". It is both comic and epic, telling the story of Tam's encounter with a coven of witches on his ride home from a night's drinking at the inn.
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Francis S Walker
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width: 408 mm, length: 264 mm
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Copyright :
Dumfries & Galloway Council
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