The remnants of the old manor house or Castle of Kersland lie about 1.5 miles to the north-east of Dalry in the old Barony of Kersland. The barony was once extensive, however after the days of the Kers the land was parcelled out and the superiority purchased by John Smith of Swindridgemuir, having been held by the Ker family for upwards of 500 years.
The Kerslands proper sat on a bank shelving down towards the River Garnock, comprising the properties of Kersehead, Coalheugh-glen, Tod-hills, Brown-hills, Davids-hills, and Auchengree, amounting to about 700 acres of arable land.
The ancient mansion or Castle of Kersland stood on Easter (now East) Kersland Farm. The remains of the tower have been built into the farmhouse. The barmkin wall survives as has a surviving strong defensive corner tower. The building was almost entirely pulled down by Robert Ker. The remaining two barrel vaulted chambers, later used as a dairy and stable, with walls 8ft thick, form part of the offices attached to East Kersland. Over the door of the house is a stone removed from the old manor house bearing the arms of the Ker family, with an inscription "Daniel Ker Kersland - 1604". The property was once surrounded by trees and had an orchard of considerable extent.
Baronys had a water mill which was under the control of the laird or lord and to which the tenants were obliged to go to have their grain ground into flour. A proportion of the grain was taken as payment. Kersland Mill on the Powgree Glen lies just downstream of the Tianna Falls and is recorded on Timothy Pont's map circa 1604. Robert Spier of Spier's School, writer and bank agent in Beith was descended from the Spier's of Kersland Mill which he purchased from his elder brother. In 1852 Captain John Russell of Maulside acquired Kersland Mill and the mill lands. A mill also existed at East Kersland with associated mill ponds and sluices, originally fed by water from the old Kersland Loch near Kerselochmuir and later by the moorland that replaced it. The mill had several dams and three mill ponds which have now been in filled.
The old Barony of Kersland was held by the Ker family and the name of the barony derives from them. The Kers of Kersland appear to be the oldest representatives of this family in Scotland. The arms of the Kers of Kersland were a chevron with three stars. The motto was 'Praise God.' A local tradition suggests that two sons of Kersland were found guilty of, or at least, were concerned in the slaughter of a Laird of the Blair. A William de Ker is recorded in 1205 as holding land in the area and his son William, was one of the Scottish barons who submitted to the rule of Edward I. Finlaio de Kerr, succeeded in 1362, followed by Willielmi Ker in 1421. Robert Ker, was slain at Flodden in 1513, leaving 2 sons. John Ker succeeded his father at Kersland. John Ker of Kersland succeeded his father and married Lady Agnes Montgomerie, the daughter of Hugh Montgomerie, the first Earl of Eglinton, and Helen Campbell of Argyle.
Robert Ker of Kersland, succeeded his father and married Agnes Montgomerie, daughter of Hugh of Hessilhead in 1556. The couple had no sons, but three daughters, Janet, Margaret and Jean. Margaret married Patrick Maxwell of Dargavel and Jean married Gavin Ralston of Ralston. Janet Ker married the famous Captain Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill who captured Dumbarton Castle from Mary Queen of Scots supporters during the minority of James VI. The couple had two sons, Daniel and Hugh, the latter inheriting the lands of Jordanhill. Crawford died on 3 January 1603 and is entombed at Kilbirnie Auld Kirk with Janet. Daniel adopted the name and arms of Ker of Kersland and married first Annabella Campbell, daughter of Sir Matthew Campbell of Loudoun, Sheriff of Ayr, and second Isobel Drummond, in about 1568 at Loudoun. Annabella was born at Loudoun Castle and the couple had seven children.
Hugh Crawfurd Ker succeeded his father in 1625 and married Jean Blair, daughter of Blair of that Ilk in 1640, having three children, Robert, Margaret and Annabella. Margaret married William Scott of Cambeith. Annabella married William Dunlop of Bloak. Robert Ker married Barbara Montgomerie, daughter of Robert Montgomerie of Hessilhead. They had six children. Robert, the first son, had no offspring. Daniel succeeded his father. Margaret married Rev. Thomas Linning of Lesmahagow. Jean married Major William Borthwick. Elizabeth married Alexander Porterfield, a surgeon in Glasgow. Anna married John Crawfurd of Fergushill. Robert lost his estates as a leading covenanter and died in Holland in 1680.
Robert Ker was indicted with treason and his lands were given to General Drummond. The forfeiture was later rescinded and the estates were restored. Daniel Crawfurd also took the name and arms of the Ker family and inherited the lands of Kersland within the extensive Barony of Kersland. He was a made a major in the Earl of Angus’ (Cameronian) regiment, and was killed at the Battle of Steinkirk. He was unmarried and his sister, Jean Ker, married Major William Borthwick of Johnstonburn, and inherited Kersland. In 1697, they sold the estate to her sister Anna, wife of John Crawfurd of Fergushill. John Crawfurd was born in 1673 at Craufurdland and married Anna circa 1703 at Kersland. He assumed the name and title John Ker of Kersland, dying in 1726 in Debtor’s Prison, London.
John Ker was survived by three daughters of whom, Anna and Jean died apparently unmarried. His daughter Elizabeth married John Campbell of Ellengreig in Argyllshire. Elizabeth and John Campbell had no children. Elizabeth was the last to take the title 'Lady Kersland' and died impoverished at the house of John Ker, a Beith merchant, where she had lived for many years, being buried in the Hessilhead tomb, Beith. Anna and Jean, sisters to Elizabeth, sold the barony and property to William Scot of Bavelaw in 1736. They had been forced to sell to pay off their father's many creditors.
William Scot of Bavelaw purchased the barony and his son Lawrence divided the Mains of Kersland into two farms, Easter and Wester Kersland, feuing Easter to Robert Ker and Wester to James Kirkwood. Lawrence had a son Charles who borrowed so much money against the feu-duties that upon his death the barony in 1801 was sold. At this time John Smith of Swindridgemuir purchased the mid-superiority.
The Church of Scotland Kersland Barony school at Barkip aka The Den was named for the old barony. Several ironstone pits were located in the area, such as the Kersland Pit which was rail connected, together with sandstone quarries and coal mines, including the Kersland Colliery above Highfield. A miner's row was located near the Kersland pit.