Dundonald Free Kirk .... by Robert Kirk 1980
A Brief History of Dundonald Parish Church
Dundonald has a long history of Christian worship going back to around 500 AD when a Church was founded here by Monenna*, possibly sited on the Castle Hill which was, at the time, occupied by a Dark Age fort.
The site of the present Church at the top of the Main Street seems to have come into use about 1221 when Walter Stewart, High Steward of Scotland and occupier of Dundonald Castle, granted permission to the Gilbertine house at Dalmilling to found a Church. The granting of a Church was subsequently re-granted to Paisley Abbey. Dedicated to St Giles, it is said to have been built in 1485 and to have been cruciform on plan. The church bell, bearing the date 1495, is now in the Royal Museum of Scotland. The present 1803 Church is probably the third to occupy the site.
Originally the parish of Dundonald extended from its boundary with Symington all the way to the river Irvine in the north and included the land now occupied by Troon which 200 years ago was merely a few houses around the harbour. As Troon and Irvine grew they split off as Parishes in their own right and, with the help of Dundonald Parish churches were established there. They still survive as Troon Old and Irvine Fullarton Churches.
Dundonald Church possesses one of the most complete sets of Session Minutes in the West of Scotland. They start in 1602 and continue to the present day with breaks of only about 70 years.
*Monenna founded 7 churches in Scotland, with one said to be on the summit of the hill at Dunduenel (Dundonald). Monenna is said to be the first woman known to form a community of Christian women in Britain. She lived to be well over a hundred and died in Angus around 518.