A Dutch Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast has visited Irvine to uncover the writer’s Scottish roots.

Jean Paul Colin, from Maastricht, carried out his investigation in the town in September with some help from a local historian.

Poe, a 19th century American writer best known for his macabre poems and short stories, was adopted by an Irvine-born tobacco merchant following being orphaned at two-years-old.

In 1815, Poe was brought to the town to visit his adopted aunts and he was sent to study at the now demolished grammar school at Kirkgatehead, next to the parish church.

Jean Paul told the Times: “We can almost be certain Poe himself stood in front of many graves that are still there at Irvine Old Parish Churchyard.

“It is said that students had to record epitaphs of gravestones.

“Some of the touching epitaphs and frightening headstone drawings, such as of ships in stormy weather, must have inspired him to write some of his horror stories.”

Poe also visited his adoptive father’s sister Agnes, known as Nancy, who lived with her husband in Kilmarnock.

Poe’s foster parents took him to other places in Scotland, including Greenock, Newton Stewart, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Jean Paul runs a Dutch website dedicated to American poet and has created a series of videos about his discoveries in Irvine.

He said: “All I had discovered, I wanted to see with my own eyes.

“And I wanted to photograph and film it.

“For Irvine it adds an interesting piece of history to this town and the Irvine Old Parish churchyard.

Jean Paul said he has a special interest in tracing graves, so his main goal was finding all four graves of Poe’s aunts, the Allan-sisters.

Some of the locations were already known, but Jean Paul discovered the grave of Jane Allan, beneath a huge monument with a perfect, legible inscription.

Local historian Billy Kerr has written previously about the historic neglect in Irvine of Poe’s connection with the town.

A local dramatic company, Poetic Justice Productions, founded by actor Steven Duffy and journalist Neil Smith, hope to set up an annual festival in Irvine celebrating the town’s association with the American literary genius, to be called North Ayrshire Edgar Allan Poe-fest.

Neil Smith said: “North Ayrshire has such a rich heritage but a lot of people don’t know about the Poe connection. We formed a production company with a view of staging a legacy festival. What we would ideally like to see in a few years time is maybe a festival.”