AN archery medal from he 1850s has been discovered and returned to the Kilwinning Archers in a special presentation.

The ‘lost’ medal that had been lodged with Kilwinning Heritage at the Abbey Tower.

As can be seen, it clearly states that it was – ‘Presented by John Crichton, a Captain General of the Society, on the 3rd August 1858’. The medal had been ‘inherited’ along with other artefacts associated with the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers from their predecessor organisation the Kilwinning & District Preservation Society. Whilst most of these artefacts had come from the archers themselves over the years it is believed that this medal had come from a Mr D.J. Mitchell Bolton who had been the Town Clerk of the former Kilwinning Council and also a solicitor in the firm of King Sons & Paterson.

This firm had been involved when John McGavin attempted to revive the Society in 1880 and in fact Hugh King had been the Society’s last treasurer in 1870 when it fell into abeyance. The medal, by now black with age and virtually unreadable, had lain undisturbed with these organisations for many years and, until the society had carried out the exercise of cataloguing all of the medals, and they were unaware that it was a Captains medal. It was known that there were gaps in the sequence of years, but sometimes the Papingo was not hit or not shot for so consequently there would be no medal for that year.

It was only after the medal had been cleaned so that it could be read that they were able to identify that it was won by John Crichton and a subsequent search of the records confirmed that he did win the Papingo in 1857 and that a medal had been fitted to the Silver Arrow the following year in 1858. There was some confusion however since the medal was dated 1858 and not 1857 when he actually won it.

The club explained: “When a member wins the Silver Arrow, becoming the Society’s Captain in the process, he presents a medal, marking the event, and fixes it to the arrow. He would generally do this at the following years meeting, admittedly, but he should date it with the year that he actually won it.

“John Crichton had dated it, following the example of several other winners at that time, with the date of presentation rather than that of winning. The records for 1857 show unequivocally that it was John Crichton who won the Silver Arrow that year. To quote from the Society’s record of 1857:- “ After dinner the Society proceeded to the Tower to shoot for the Silver Arrow, when, after a keen competition it was honourably gained by John Crichton Esq. Of Linn Dalry”.

“The medal count of the following year of 1858 is shown as one hundred and nine an increase of one, confirming that a medal had, in fact, been fitted.

“The medal was then ‘lost’ from the Silver Arrow at some point after this date. This probably occurred around 1869 when the medal count in the Society records, that up until then had been correct, remained at, what was by now, 117 when, with the fitting of William James Smith Neill’s medal of 1869, it should have increased to 118. (One medal being fitted & one being lost at the same time and the count remains the same!)”

The Society fell into abeyance immediately after this in 1870, so possibly it had been removed by John Crichton himself as a keepsake at that point, eventually coming into the hands of King Sons & Paterson, or their predecessors, via Hugh King, when his estate was wound up after his death in 1878.

John Crichton was a landowner from Dalry and owned a corn mill in Kilwinning. His house, now demolished and the site of a housing estate was on the Dalry to Kilwinning Road near the present day Lidl’s supermarket.

Hugh de Morville, the possible benefactor of Kilwinning Abbey, originally gifted the estate to the Linn family. As far as we have been able to ascertain, John Crichton had no offspring and neither did his brother Robert Orr Crichton also being described as ‘of Linn’ in the Society records. Robert was a Major in the Prince Regents Royal Ayrshire and Wigtown rifles. He was also the founder of the Crichton Bursaries at Edinburgh University Faculty of Medicine and appears to have been a surgeon, but that is all the society have been able to find out to date.