The village of Maidens lies at the south end of Ayrshire's Maidenhead Bay some six miles west of Maybole and a similar distance north east of Girvan. Some will tell you that the name comes from The Maidens of Turnberry, a series of rocks in Maidenhead Bay which have long provided shelter to this end of the bay and some of which more recently became incorporated into the Maidens harbour wall.
Others, however, suggest that the Maidens of Turnberry were actually a pair of iron age forts built a mile south west of today's village, close to Turnberry Point. Either way, it seems there has been a village here for a very long time indeed.
By the end of the dark ages, Turnberry Point had become home to a significant castle, Turnberry Castle. This was the seat of the ancient Earls of Carrick and was probably the birthplace, on 11 July 1274, of Robert the Bruce, or Robert I of Scotland. In February 1307, it was at Maidens that Robert the Bruce landed en route to his eventual reconquest of Scotland after his time in hiding on Rathlin Island.
Although Maidens Castle may have had its own inbuilt boat haven, Maidens would have been the nearest secure harbour in bad weather. By the time the castle was slighted, never to be rebuilt, in 1310, Maidens had established itself as a viable settlement. And by the end of the 1300s it was helping supply "Coif Castle", a tower house built during that century on sea cliffs two miles north east of the village.
Over time, Coif Castle became Culzean Castle, and as the castle grew in importance, Maidens continued to be its closest village. Today Culzean Castle and the Culzean Country Park are in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, and together form one of the most popular visitor attractions in south west Scotland. This in turn helps draw a steady stream of visitors to and through Maidens.
But the growth of Maidens was aided still more by another local development. Golf arrived on the scene with the building of a course at Turnberry a little over a mile south of Maidens, in 1903.
The following year the Glasgow and South Western Railway began building a large luxury golfing hotel at Turnberry and serviced it with a new railway line built between Ayr and Girvan; on which Maidens also gained a station. A second golf course was added at Turnberry in 1912.
Turnberry is now recognised as offering one of the world's great golf courses. It is also home to the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy. But its development has not always been smooth. During the first world war the golf course were used as a training airfield by the military. And in World War 2, things went further, with the laying of a triangle of concrete runways effectively covering the land between Turnberry Point, Turnberry and Maidens.
After the war, Turnberry reclaimed its golf courses: and Maidens reclaimed much of the material used for airfield construction and buildings, which went to form the material for a much improved breakwater and harbour, projecting from the southern end of Maidenhead Bay.
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