DECEMBER 22, 1666 TWELVE men found guilty of being involved in the so-called Pentland Rising have been sentenced to death.

The men were found guilty at a special court in Ayr.

Eight of the men are to die in the town, while two are to be sent to Irvine and two Dumfries.

General Sir Tom Dalyell has vowed that their deaths will act as a warning to others in the south-west about the dangers of rebelling. He intends to 'settle the country', he said, making it clear that hard times are ahead for Ayrshire and Galloway.

He told the Killing Times: 'I am confident (it) is not possible to do without the inhabitants being removed or destroyed.' The rising began in November in St John"s Town of Dalry when four covenanters, outlawed for their non-adherence to the accepted church, attacked a body of troops allegedly in the process of torturing an old man for non-payment of fines. The rising spread across the southland and a force of men marched to Edinburgh. In the Pentland Hills they clashed with General Dalyell"s troops and were routed.

Prisoners, despite being promised quarter, have already been hanged in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

DECEMBER 27, 1666 SEVEN of the men sentenced to death earlier this month went to the gallows in Ayr today.

However, the executions were no simple thing for the local hangman refused to carry out his duty, fleeing the town to avoid being forced to go against his conscience.

The Irvine executioner, Highlander William Sutherland, also refused to carry out the sentence and found himself jailed. Despite threats of torture and even death he adhered to his position.

Finally, the authorities hit on a novel solution.

They offered one of the eight men due to die his freedom in return for hanging his former comrades.

Ayr tailor Cornelius Anderson eventually agreed and turned the men off while drunk.

The seven men, all from Galloway, are to be buried in the kirkyard at Ayr.

DECEMBER 31, 1666 TWO Covenanters found guilty of taking part in the so-called Penbtland Rising and captured at Rullion Green died today.

Cornelius Anderson, the Ayr tailor who saved his own neck by hanging his seven colleagues, carried out the execution.

Local minister Alexander Nisbet spoke to the condemned men before their death. He said: 'They were ignorant and very much discouraged and damped with the near views of death and eternity.' The men died, according to witnesses, 'full of joy and courage.' They will be buried in Irvine Kirkyard.

It is believed Anderson, much reviled for his handiwork, will leave the country and return to his native Ireland.

JANUARY 2, 1667 The final two men convicted at the Ayr Special court in December were executed today in Dumfries.

In addition to being hung, their heads and right arms were hacked from their bodies and placed on display.

Provost Thomas Irving said: 'The Bridgeport is the fittest place where (these) should be affixed.' The body parts were duly spiked and shown off to the populace as a warning against further unrest.

However, rumours abound that supporters may try to retrieve the heads and arms and the authorities may have them fixed to the top of the tolbooth where such an act of defiance would be impossible.

The two men will rest in St Michael"s Kirkyard.

The executed men were James Smith of Dalry, Alexander MacMillan of Carsphairn, James MacMillan of Marduchat, John Short of St John"s Town of Dalry, George McCartney of Blairkennie, John Graham of Midtoun, John Muirhead of Irongray, James Blackwood of Fenwick, John McCall of Carsphairn, Willian Grierson, or Jon Grier, of Fourmerkland and William Welsh of Carsphairn.