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Coordinates: 55°04′12″N 3°36′11″W / 55.070°N 3.603°W / 55.070; -3.603

Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phris
Dumfries looking east.jpg
A view over Dumfries
Dumfries is located in Scotland

 Dumfries shown within Scotland
Population 31,146 [1] (2001 census)
OS grid reference NX976762
Council area Dumfries and Galloway
Lieutenancy area Dumfries
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DUMFRIES
Postcode district DG1/2
Dialling code 01387
Police Dumfries and Galloway
Fire Dumfries and Galloway
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
Scottish Parliament Dumfries South of Scotland
List of places: UK • Scotland •

Dumfries (pronounced /dəmˈfriːs/ dəm-FREES) (from the Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phris) is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland and is situated close to the Solway Firth, near the mouth of the River Nith. Dumfries was the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire. The name Dumfries originates from the Scottish Gaelic name Dún Phris which means "Fort of the Thicket". People from Dumfries are known colloquially as Doonhamers.



Located on the east side of the lowest crossing point of the River Nith, no positive information has been obtained of the era and circumstances in which the town of Dumfries was founded.[2]

Some writers hold that Dumfries flourished as a place of distinction during the Roman occupation of North Great Britain. The Selgovae inhabited Nithsdale at the time and may have raised some military works of a defensive nature on or near the site of Dumfries; and it is more than probable that a castle of some kind formed the nucleus of the town. This is inferred from the etymology of the name, which, according to one theory, is resolvable into two Gaelic terms signifying a castle or fort in the copse or brushwood. The district around Dumfries was for several centuries ruled over and deemed of much importance by the invading Romans. Many traces of Roman presence in Dumfriesshire are still to be found; coins, weapons, sepulchral remains, military earthworks, and roads being among the relics left by their lengthened sojourn in this part of Scotland. The apostle Paul claimed rank and privilege as a Roman citizen on account of his birth at Tarsus; the Caledonian tribes in the south of Scotland were invested with the same rights by an edict of Antoninus Pius. The Romanized natives received freedom (the burrows, cairns, and remains of stone temples still to be seen in the district tell of a time when Druidism was the prevailing religion) as well as civilization from their conquerors. Late in the fourth century, the Romans took farewell of the country.[2]

According to another theory, the name is a corruption of two words which mean the Friars’ Hill; those who favour this idea alleging that St. Ninian, by planting a religious house near the head of what is now the Friars’ Vennel, at the close of the fourth century, became the virtual founder of the Burgh; however Ninian, so far as is known, did not originate any monastic establishments anywhere and was simply a missionary. In the list of British towns given by the ancient historian Nennius, the name Caer Peris occurs, which some modern antiquarians suppose to have been transmuted, by a change of dialect, into Dumfries.[2]

Twelve of King Arthur's battles were recorded by Nennius in Historia Brittonum. The Battle of Tribruit (the 10th battle), has been suggested as having possibly been near Dumfries or near the mouth of the river Avon near Bo'ness.

After the Roman departure the area around Dumfries had various forms of visit by Picts, Saxons, Scots and Danes culminating in a decisive victory for Gregory, King of Scots at what is now Lochmaben over the native Britons in 890.[2]

When, in 1069, Malcolm Canmore and William the Conqueror held a conference respecting the claims of Edward Atheling to the English Crown, they met at Abernithi – a term which in the old British tongue means a port at the mouth of the Nith. It has been argued, the town thus characterized must have been Dumfries; and therefore it must have existed as a port in the Kingdom of Strathclyde, if not in the Roman days. However, against this argument is that the town is situated eight to nine miles distant from the sea.[2]

Although at the time a mile upstream and on the opposite bank of the Nith from Dumfries, Lincluden Abbey was founded circa 1160. The abbey ruins are on the site of the Bailey of the very early Lincluden Castle, as are those of the later Lincluden Tower. This religious house was used for various purposes, until its abandonment around 1700. Lincluden Abbey and its grounds are now within the Dumfries urban conurbation boundary.

William the Lion granted the charter to raise Dumfries to the rank of a Royal Burgh in 1186. Dumfries was very much on the frontier during its first 50 years as a burgh and it grew rapidly as a market town and port.[3] The land west of the Nith, Galloway, only securely became part of Scotland during Alexander II's reign in 1234:

Alexander III visited Dumfries in 1264 to plan an expedition against the Isle of Man, previously Scots but for 180 years subjected by the crown of Norway. Identified with the conquest of Man, Dumfries shared in the well being of Scotland for the next 22 years until Alexander's accidental death brought an Augustan era in the town's history to an abrupt finish.[2]

A royal castle, which no longer exists, was built in the 13th century on the site of the present Castledykes Park. In the latter part of the century William Wallace chased a fleeing English force southward through the Nith valley. The English fugitives met the gates of Dumfries Castle that remained firmly closed in their presence. With a body of the town's people joining Wallace and his fellow pursuers when they arrived, the fleeing English met their end at Cockpool on the Solway Coast. After resting at Caerlaverock Castle a few miles away from the bloodletting, Wallace again passed through Dumfries the day after as he returned north to Sanquhar.

It was not from Galloway but from England that most of Dumfries' problems came during its first 500 years. English armies variously sacked, plundered or occupied the town in 1300, 1448, 1536, 1542, 1547, 1570: and it suffered again during the strife of the 1640s.[3] In the invasion of 1300, Edward I lodged for a few days in June with the Minorite Friars of the Vennel, before at the head of the then greatest invasion force to attack Scotland he laid siege to Caerlaverock Castle. After Caerlaverock eventually succumbed, Edward passed through Dumfries again as he crossed the Nith to take his invasion into Galloway. With the Scottish nobility having requested Vatican support of their cause, Edward on his return to Caerlaverock was presented with a missive directed to him by Pope Boniface VII. Edward held court in Dumfries at which he grudgingly agreed to an armistice. On 30 October, the truce solicited by Pope Boniface was signed by Edward at Dumfries. Letters from Edward, dated at Dumfries, were sent to his subordinates throughout Scotland, ordering them to give effect to the treaty. The peace was to last till Whitsunday in the following year.[2]

The plaque commemorating the killing by Robert Bruce of John Comyn.

Before becoming King of Scots, Robert the Bruce slew his rival the Red Comyn at Greyfriars Kirk in the town on 10 February 1306. His uncertainty about the fatality of his stabbing caused one of his followers, Roger de Kirkpatrick, to utter the famous, "I mak siccar" ("I make sure") and finish the Comyn off. Bruce was subsequently excommunicated as a result, less for the murder than for its location. Regardless, for Bruce the die was cast at the moment in Greyfriars and so began his campaign by force for the independence of Scotland. Swords were drawn by supporters of both sides, the burial ground of the Monastery becoming the theatre of battle. Bruce and his party then attacked Dumfries Castle. The English garrison surrendered and for the third time in the day Bruce and his supporters were victorious. He was crowned King of Scots barely seven weeks after. Bruce later triumphed at the Battle of Bannockburn and led Scotland to freedom. Today's Greyfriars Church was built in 1868, overlooking the site of the murder on the opposite side of Castle Street, marked by a plaque on a shop wall.[3]

Once Edward received word of the revolution that had started in Dumfries, he again raised an army and invaded Scotland. Dumfries was again subjected to the control of Bruce's enemies. Sir Christopher Seton (Bruce's brother in law) had been captured at Loch Doon and was hurried to Dumfries to be tried for treason in general and more specifically for being present at Comyn's killing. Still in 1306 and along with two companions, Seton was condemned and executed by hanging and then beheading.

The first bridge over the Nith, Devorgilla Bridge, named after Devorgilla, the mother of King John Balliol, was built here in 1432. Rebuilt more than once and shortened from the east in the 19th century, this is still used by pedestrians and is one of Scotland's oldest standing bridges.[3]

Not all of Dumfries' bloody reputation was externally inflicted. Nine women were burned to death for witchcraft in the town in 1659, and two centuries later in 1868, Dumfries was the site of Scotland's last public hanging.[3]

Burns statue and Greyfriars Church

Opposite the fountain in Dumfries High Street, adjacent to the present Marks and Spencer, was the Commercial and later the County Hotel. Although the latter was demolished in the 1980s, the original facade of the building was retained and incorporated into new retail premises. Room No. 6 of the hotel was known as Bonnie Prince Charlie's Room and appropriately carpeted in the Royal Stuart tartan. The Young Pretender had his headquarters here during a 3-day sojourn in Dumfries towards the end of 1745. £2,000 was demanded by the Prince, together with 1,000 pairs of brogues for his kilted Jacobite rebel army, which was camping in a field not one hundred yards distant. A rumour that the Duke of Cumberland was approaching, made Bonnie Prince Charlie decide to leave with his army, with only £1,000 and 255 pairs of shoes having been handed over.[4]

Robert Burns moved to Dumfriesshire in 1788 and Dumfries itself in 1791, living there until his death on 21 July 1796. Today's Greyfriars Church overlooks the location of a statue of Burns, which was designed by Amelia Paton Hill, sculpted in Carrara, Italy in 1882, and was unveiled by future Prime Minister, Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery on 6 April 1882.[5] Today, it features on the 2007 series of £5 notes issued by the Bank of Scotland, alongside the Brig o' Doon.[6]

The statue is just one of a series of associations with Scotland's most famous poet to be found in the town. Heading south past the Mid Steeple on the High Street, once the town tolbooth and prison, you come to a tiny vennel leading to the Globe Inn, his favourite drinking place. There is also Robert Burns' house at 24 Burns Street, South of the High Street, and his mausoleum in St Michael's Churchyard. On the west side of the River Nith is the Robert Burns Centre, housed in what was once the Dumfries Mill.[3] In the suburb of Summerhill the majority of streets are named with Burns connotations.

After working with Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, inventor William Symington intended to carry out a trial in order to show than an engine would work on a boat without the boat catching fire. The trial finally took place on Dalswinton Loch near Dumfries on October 14, 1788. The experiment demonstrated that a steam engine would work on a boat. Symington went on to become the builder of the first practical steamboat.

In World War II the bulk of the Norwegian Army during the years in exile in Britain consisted of a Brigade in Dumfries. When the army High Command took over, there were 70 officers and about 760 privates in the camp. The camp was established in June 1940 and named Norwegian Reception Camp, consisting of some 500 men and women, mainly foreign-Norwegian who had volunteered for war duty in Norway during the Nazi occupation in early 1940. Through the summer the number was built up to around 1500 under the command of General Carl Gustav Fleischer. Within a few miles of Dumfries are the villages of Tinwald, Torthorwald and Mouswald all of which were settled by vikings.

Dumfries has experienced two Boxing Day earthquakes. These were in 1979 and 2006. There were no serious consequences of either.

Notable people

Dumfries was the hometown of Robert Burns from 1791 until his death in 1796. The poet is now buried in St. Michael’s Churchyard in the Burns Mausoleum. Burns was born in Ayrshire and spent many years there before moving to Dumfriesshire.

01 Academy.JPG

A number of well-known people were educated at Dumfries Academy, among them Henry Duncan, founder of the world's first commercial savings bank, Sir James Anderson, who captained the SS Great Eastern on the Transatlantic telegraph cable laying voyages in 1865 and 1866,[7] James Matthew Barrie, author of Peter Pan, missionary Jane Haining, international diplomat Alexander Knox Helm, John Laurie, actor (Private Fraser in Dad's Army), artist Robin Philipson, singer John Hanson, Alex Graham, cartoonist best known for the Fred Basset series and Jock Wishart, who in 1998 set a new world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powered vessel.[8][9]. Roger White, CEO of soft drinks group A G Barr is a local lad who went to Dumfries Academy. Stephen Halliday, as CEO of international energy consultancy outfit is another alumni of the Dumfries Academy.

William Charles Wells, predecessor to Charles Darwin on the theory of natural selection was another schooled in Dumfries. Geologist Robert Harkness was schooled in Dumfries and subsequently resided in the town. Sir Frank Williams of F1 motor racing fame was educated at St Joseph's College, Dumfries as was Charles Forte, Baron Forte. St Joseph's was founded by Brother Walfrid, the founder of Celtic F.C.

Chart-topping record producer Calvin Harris is from Dumfries. Ray Wilson, lead singer of Stiltskin and later Genesis was born in Dumfries as were fellow musicians Geoffrey Kelly and Ian Carr. While Bill Drummond of KLF is from Newton Stewart he is one of the Queen of the South fans included here.[10] Opera singer Nicky Spence was born in Dumfries as was Britain's Got Talent singer Andrew Johnston. Nigel Sinclair CBE is a Hollywood film producer. Michael Carter's acting career has seen him appear in a variety or productions ranging from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi to Rebus.

Dumfries has produced a steady stream of professional footballers and managers. The best known footballers of their eras to come from Dumfries are probably Dave Halliday[11], Ian Dickson[11], Bobby Ancell, Billy Houliston[11], Jimmy McIntosh, Willie McNaught and Ted McMinn[11]. Halliday, Dickson, Houliston and McMinn played for home town club, Queen of the South during their careers. Dominic Matteo[12] was born in Dumfries but moved to England while still a young boy. Barry Nicholson lost 4 - 3 to Queens playing for Aberdeen in the 2008 Scottish Cup semi-finals despite scoring[13] against the team he supported as a boy.[12] Ancell, Houliston, McNaught and Nicholson have represented Scotland. Matteo gained 6 full caps for Scotland[12] after having represented England at under-21 level. Halliday was overlooked by Scotland in favour of Hughie Gallacher.[11] Gallacher played for Queens but was not from Dumfries. It was as a manager rather than a player that Thomas Mitchell made his name as a multiple F.A. Cup winner at Blackburn Rovers[14] before joining Woolwich Arsenal as Arsenal F.C. were then named.

Dumfries is also the hometown of twice 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Allan McNish[15], as it was to David Leslie (racing driver)[15]. Another racing driver, David Coulthard was born in Dumfries and raised in nearby Twynholm.[15] Scotland rugby union internationalists Duncan Hodge, Nick De Luca and Craig Hamilton were born in Dumfries as were professional golfers Andrew Coltart[16] and Robert Dinwiddie. Curling world champions David Murdoch, Euan Byers and Craig Wilson were all born in Dumfries. Former darts champion Rab Smith is another Doonhamer.

BBC Broadcaster Kirsty Wark was born in the town as was fellow broadcaster Stephen Jardine[17]. Neil Oliver (archaeologist, historian, author and broadcaster), grew up in Ayr and Dumfries. Author and earth scientist Dougal Dixon is from Dumfries. Hunter Davies (author, journalist and broadcaster) lived in Dumfries for four years as a boy[18]. James Hannay as well as being a novelist and journalist spent the last five years of his life as the British consul in Barcelona. John Mayne was born in Dumfries in 1759 and contributed in the field of poetry. World War I poet William Hamilton was another born in Dumfries.

Archibald Gracie, shipping magnate and business tycoon in USA, was from Dumfries. John McFarlane, CEO of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) originates from the town, as does Bill Nelson (DFP) who was also with the ANZ (formerly AMP, Westpac and now with AXA). The architect George Corson who worked mainly in Leeds, England, was born in Dumfries and articled to Walter Newall in the town.

Politician David Mundell was born in Dumfries as were William Dickson, William Pattison Telford, Sr. and Ambrose Blacklock all of whom made their mark politically in Canada. Malcolm H. Wright was also born in Dumfries, father of Sophie B. Wright – New Orleans' educator and pioneer for women and children's rights. Suffragette and feminist campaigner Dora Marsden spent the last 25 years of her life being cared for in Dumfries after her psychological breakdown. Dr Ian Gibson is another to leave his mark on politics.

James Edward Tait was a Dumfries-born recipient of the Victoria Cross. William Robertson and Edward Spence are other Victoria Cross recipients. Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, UK Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827, was quartered in Dumfries in 1796 during his military service.

John Richardson, naturalist, explorer and naval surgeon was born in Dumfries as was John Craig, mathematician, and polymath James Crichton. Benjamin Bell after being born in Dumfries went on to become considered the first Scottish scientific surgeon. His great grandson was Joseph Bell who Arthur Conan Doyle has credited Sherlock Holmes as being loosely based on from Bell's observant manner. Doyle's father, artist Charles Altamont Doyle, died in Dumfries. Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart left Dumfries to go on and found the University of Sydney Medical School. John Allan Broun's contribution to science were his discoveries around magnetism and meteorology. James Braid, surgeon and pioneer of hypnotism and hypnotherapy, practised in Dumfries from 1825 to 1828 in partnership with William Maxwell. Ian Callum is eminent in the world of motor engineer.

A Church of Scotland minister of Troqueer in Dumfries produced eleven children of whom some have made a notable mark. Peter Ewart was an engineer who was influential in developing the technologies of turbines and theories of thermodynamics. His brother Joseph Ewart became British ambassador to Prussia. John, a doctor, became Chief Inspector of East India Company hospitals in India. William, father of William Ewart, was business partner of Sir John Gladstones (sic), father of four times Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. Gladstone junior was named after Ewart, his godfather.

Internationally renowned Buddhist monk Geshe Kelsang Gyatso did a three-year retreat at Tharpaland in Dumfries.


Scottish communities granted Royal Burgh status by the monarch guarded the honour jealously and with vigour. Riding the Marches maintains the tradition of an occasion that was, in its day, of great importance. Dumfries has been a Royal Burgh since 1186, its charter being granted by King William the Lion in a move that ensured the loyalty of its citizens to the Monarch.

Although far from the centre of power in Scotland, Dumfries had obvious strategic significance sitting as it does on the edge of Galloway and being the centre of control for the south west of Scotland.

With the River Nith on two sides and the Lochar Moss on another, Dumfries was a town with good natural defences. Consequently it was never completely walled. A careful eye still had to be kept on the clearly defined boundaries of the burgh, a task that had to be taken each year by the Provost, Baillies, Burgesses and others within the town.

Neighbouring landowners might try to encroach on the town boundaries, or the Marches as they were known, moving them back 100 yards or so to their own benefit. It had to be made clear to anyone thinking of or trying to encroach that they dare not do so.

In return for the Royal status of the town and the favour of the King, the Provost and his council, along with other worthies of the town had to be diligent in ensuring the boundaries were strictly observed. Although steeped in history, Scotland's burghs remained the foundation of the country's system of local government for centuries. Burgh status conferred on its citizens the right to elect their own town councils, run their own affairs and raise their own local taxes or rates.

In 1974 the burghs became part of larger districts and regions. Those boundaries lost the significance they were granted by Royal statute. Ancient titles like Provost and Bailie were discarded or retained only for ceremonial purposes. Robes and chains often found their way into museums as a reminder of the past.

Dumfries remains a centre of local government for a much bigger area than just the town itself. But its people, the Doonhamers still retain a pride in their town and distinctive identity. This is never more so than during the week long Guid Nychburris Festival and its highlight the Riding of the Marches which takes place on the third Saturday in June each year.

Dumfries hosts the headquarters of Dumfries and Galloway Council. The name Dumfries and Galloway is given to one of Scotland's 32 council areas comprising the former (1975-96) districts of Nithsdale, Annandale and Eskdale, the Stewartry of Kirkcudbrightshire, the Machars and Wigtownshire. Dumfries also lends its name to the Lieutenancy Area of Dumfries, which is similar in boundaries to the former Dumfriesshire county.

Dumfries and Galloway is represented in Westminster by Russell Brown MP and Dumfries constituency is represented in the Scottish Parliament by Elaine Murray MSP.

Dumfries is centre to Scotland’s smallest police force.[19] It took part in one the largest criminal investigations in modern history when neighbouring town, Lockerbie, was devastated by the events that took place on board Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988.


Whitesands, from Buccleuch Street
The fountain and midsteeple on Dumfries High St
Devorgilla Bridge
The Old Bridge House
The 'Caul' and Devorgilla Bridge

Like the rest of Dumfries and Galloway, of Scotland's three major geographical areas Dumfries lies in the Southern Uplands.

Scotland's seventh longest river, the Nith, runs through Dumfries in a southwards direction. There are several bridges across the river in the town. In between the Devorgilla (also known as 'The Old Bridge') and the suspension bridges is a weir colloquially known as 'The Caul'. In wetter months of the year the Nith can still flood the surrounding streets in the town centre.

Dumfries High Street hosts many of the historical, social and commercial centres of the town. During the 1990s, these areas enjoyed various aesthetic recognitions from organisations including Britain in Bloom.

Towards the end of 2005, the Bell Tower of the town's Midsteeple was dismantled conceding to safety concerns of its structural integrity. This event caused much controversy within the town on the council’s capability to maintain key features. The landmark is now in the final stages of renovation, the costs of which are estimated to be around £1.6m.[20]

Dumfries has several suburbs including Summerhill, Summerville, Troqueer, Georgetown, Larchfield, Calside, Lochside, Lincluden, Newbridge Drive, Sandside, Heathhall, Locharbriggs, Noblehill and Marchmount. Maxwelltown to the west of the river Nith, was formerly a Burgh in its own right within The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright (also known as Kirkcudbrightshire) until its incorporation into Dumfries in 1928; Troqueer, a settlement situated to the south west of Dumfries was part of the Burgh of Maxwelltown. Summerhill, Lochside, Lincluden, Sandside are among other suburbs located on the Maxwelltown side of the river. Palmerston Park, home to the town's senior football team Queen of the South, is on Terregles Street, also on the Maxwelltown side of the river.


Dumfries has a long history as a county town and as the market town of a surrounding rural hinterland. Dumfries is a relatively prosperous community but the town centre has been exposed to the centrifugal forces that have seen retail, business, educational, residential and other uses gravitate towards the town's urban fringe.[21] In a bid to stimulate development in Dumfries town centre, both economically and in a social context, several strategies have been proposed by the controlling authorities.[22]


Dumfries got its nickname 'Queen of the South' from David Dunbar, a local poet, who in 1857 stood in the general election. In one of his addresses he called Dumfries "Queen of the South" and this became synonymous with the town.[13]

People from Dumfries are nicknamed Doonhamers. This is because when in towns in Scotland further north (most places as Dumfries is near the south coast of Scotland) they would refer to Dumfries as 'Doon hame'; 'Doon hame' being Scots for 'Down home'.[13]

The Doonhamers is also the nickname of Queen of the South representing Dumfries and the surrounding area in the Scottish Football League.[13]

The crest of Dumfries contains the words, "A Lore Burne". In the history of Dumfries close to the town was the marsh through which ran the Loreburn whose name became the rallying cry of the town in times of attack - A Lore Burne (meaning 'to the muddy stream').[13][23]

Construction of DG One centre in 2007

The Loreburn Hall (sometimes known colloquially as The Drill Hall)[24] has hosted concerts by performers such as Black Sabbath,[25] Big Country,[26] The Proclaimers and Scottish Opera.[24] The hall has hosted sporting events such as wrestling.[27] The new DG One sport, fitness and entertainment centre has now become the principal indoor event venue in Dumfries.[28]

Dumfries Museum and camera obscura

Located on top of a small hill, Dumfries Museum is centred around the 18th century windmill which stands above the town. Included are fossil footprints left by prehistoric reptiles, the wildlife of the Solway marshes, tools and weapons of the earliest peoples of the region, stone carvings of Scotland's first Christians and everyday things of the Victorian farm, workshop and home. On the top floor of the museum is a camera obscura.[23]

Based in the control tower of RAF Tinwald Downs, the aviation museum has an extensive indoor display of memorabilia which strives to preserve aviation heritage, much of which has come via various recovery activities. During the second world war, aerial navigation was taught at Dumfries also at Wigtown and nearby Annan was a fighter training unit. R.A.F Dumfries doubled as an important maintenance unit and aircraft storage unit. The museum is run by the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Group and is the only private aviation museum in Scotland. It has considerably increased in size in recent years making room for a new shop display area, picnic area etc. The control tower has been re-roofed, the pathways given metalled surfaces and much other work has been done.[29]

The restored control tower of the former World War II airfield is now a listed building. The museum is run by volunteers and houses a large and ever expanding aircraft collection, aero engines and a display of artefacts and personal histories relating to aviation, past and present. Both civil aviation and military aviation are represented. There is also a small collection of memorabilia honouring airborne forces, a new display representing aviation in Scotland and a mock-up of a World War II living room are now complete.[30]

The Theatre Royal in Dumfries. In the background can be seen the spire of the old St Andrew's Cathedral: the rest of the building burned down in 1962 and was replaced with a new church on the same site.

The Theatre Royal, Dumfries was built in 1792 and is the oldest working theatre in Scotland.[31]

The theatre is owned by the Guild of Players who bought it in 1959, thereby saving it from demolition, and is run on a voluntary basis by the members of the Guild of Players. It is funded entirely by Guild membership subscriptions, and by box office receipts. It does not currently receive any grant aid towards running costs.

In recent years the theatre has been re-roofed and the outside refurbished. It is the venue for the Guild of Players' own productions and for performances from visiting companies. These include: Scottish Opera, TAG, the Borderline and 7:84.

In addition it is extensively used for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, Dumfries Music Festival, the Dumfries Musical and Operatic Society.

The Guild of Players was founded as an amateur dramatic company in 1913. It has put on a season of plays for all but six of the 94 years since then. There were no productions between 1915 and 1919, and none in 1944. Nowadays the Guild puts on a season of five plays (each running for a week) and a pantomime (running for a fortnight) every year. Every job, from directing the plays to serving the coffee in the intervals, is undertaken voluntarily by the Guild members. There are no paid staff in the Theatre.

The plays are open to the public but taking out membership of the Guild brings entitlement to priority ticket booking at half price.

There are two cinemas in Dumfries. The Odeon shows typically mainstream films. The Robert Burns Centre shows mainstream productions and also independent films.

A collection of over 400 Scottish paintings, Gracefield Arts Centre hosts a changing programme of exhibitions featuring regional, national and international artists and craft-makers. Facilities include darkroom, pottery, studios, bar/cafe, craft shop, and car parking. Studios and ground floor galleries accessible to wheelchair users.[32]

The Burns Howff Club was formed in the Globe Inn, Dumfries, South West Scotland in 1889, and meets on 25 January each year to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns in 1759 with a Burns Supper. The Club takes its name from a reference by Robert Burns to the Globe Inn being his favourite "Howff", an old Scottish term for a meeting place.

The Howff Club has an extensive library of Burns works and the works of other Scottish poets and literary figures. Members are always pleased to welcome visitors to the Globe Inn and Dumfries, and to host Burns Suppers at The Globe Inn or other venues.

The club runs Robert Burns walking tours Dumfries.

There are a number of festivals which take place throughout the year, mostly based on traditional values.

Good Neighbours (Guid Nychburris in Middle Scots) is the main festival of the year, a ceremony which is largely based on the theme of a positive community spirit.

The ceremony on Guid Nychburris Day, follows a route and sequence of events laid down in the mists of time. Formal proceedings start at 7.30am with the gathering of up to 250 horses waiting for the courier to arrive and announce that the Pursuivant is on his way, and at 8.00am leave the Midsteeple and ride out to meet the Pursuivant. They then proceed to Ride the Marches and Stob and Nog (mark the boundary with posts and flags) before returning to the Midsteeple at 12.15pm to meet the Provost and then the Charter is proclaimed to the towns people of Dumfries. This is then followed by the crowning of the Queen of the South.[33]


2008 Scottish Cup semi final result on the scoreboard at Hampden Park

Queen of the South represent Dumfries and the surrounding area in the Scottish Football League First Division. Palmerston Park on Terregles Street is the home ground of the team. This is on the Maxwelltown side of the River Nith. They reached the Scottish Cup final in May 2008, losing to Rangers 3-2.[13]

Dumfries Saints Rugby Club is one of Scotland's oldest rugby clubs having been admitted to the Scottish Rugby Union in 1876-77 as "Dumfries Rangers".[34]

Dumfries is also home to a number of golf courses:-

  • The Crichton Golf Club
  • The Dumfries and County Golf Club
  • The Dumfries and Galloway Golf Club
  • The Pines Golf Centre

Of those is listed only the Dumfries and Galloway Golf Club is on the Maxwelltown side of the River Nith. This course is also bisected into 2 halves of 9 holes each by the town's Castle Douglas Road. The club house and holes 1 to 7 and 17 and 18 are on the side nearest to Summerhill, Dumfries. Holes 8 to 16 are on the side nearest to Janefield.

DG One complex includes a national event sized competition swimming pool.

The David Keswick Athletic Centre is the principle facility in Dumfries for athletics.[35]

Dumfries is home to Nithsdale Amateur Rowing Club.[36][37] The rowers share their clubhouse with Dumfries Sub-Aqua Club.[38]

The town is also home to Solway Sharks ice hockey team. The team are current Northern Premier League winners. The team's home rink is Dumfries Ice Bowl. Dumfries Ice bowl is also recognized as Scotland's only centre of ice hockey excellence, and trials for the Scottish Jr national team are carried out at this venu.

Dumfries Ice Bowl is also home to two synchronised skating teams, Solway Stars and Solway Eclipse. In addition, Dumfries Ice Bowl is also home to several curling teams, competitions and leagues. Junior curling teams from Dumfries, consisting of curlers under the age of 21, regularly compete in the Dutch Junior Open based in Zoetemeer, Holland. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 a Dumfries based team have been the winners of the competition's Hogline Trophy.

Dumfries hosts three outdoor bowls clubs[39]:-

  • Dumfries Bowls Club
  • Marchmount Bowls Club
  • Maxwelltown Bowls Club

Dumfries hosts cycling organisations and cycling holidays.[40][41][42]


Dumfries has several primary schools, approximately one per key district, and four main secondary schools. All of these institutions are governed by Dumfries and Galloway council. The secondary schools are:

Dumfries Academy was a grammar school until adopting a comprehensive format in 1983.

In 1999 Scotland's first multi-institutional university campus was established in Dumfries, in the 85-acre Crichton estate. In order of campus presence it is host to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) (formerly known as University of Paisley & Bell College), Dumfries & Galloway College, and, the University of Glasgow. Still in its infancy, the campus offers a range of degree courses in initial teacher education, business, computing, environmental studies, tourism, heritage, social work, health, social studies, nursing, liberal arts and humanities[43].[44] Despite the short-lived threat of closure to the University of Glasgow part of the campus in 2006, a campaign by students, academics and local supporters ensured that the University of Glasgow remained open in Dumfries. The University of Glasgow, since maintaining its provision in Dumfries, has launched a new undergraduate programme in primary teaching [45].


Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary is the principal secondary care referral centre for Dumfries and Galloway region. It now includes a maternity wing which replaced the old Cresswell Maternity Hospital.

The Crichton Royal Hospital is part of the Royal Infirmary complex and provides a regional psychiatric, psychological and specialist addicitions service within Dumfries and Galloway. In 1838 William A. F. Browne accepted the position of Physician Superintendent at the newly created Crichton. It is at the Crichton where Ursula Fleming gained much of her education and experience.


Dumfries Railway Station

Dumfries is linked to the A74(M) motorway at Lockerbie via 14 miles on the A701 road. The A75 road eastbound links Dumfries to the southbound A74(M). The A75 road west links Dumfries with the ferry port of Stranraer. The A76 road connects to Kilmarnock in Ayrshire.

Dumfries railway station lies on the Glasgow South Western Line. The train service is operated by private company FirstScotrail which provides services to Glasgow and Carlisle, and less frequent services connect Dumfries with Stranraer via Kilmarnock. The nearest station to Dumfries on the West Coast Mainline is 14 miles east along the A709 road at Lockerbie, and the nearest West Coast Mainline station linking directly to Dumfries by rail is Carlisle.

Maxwelltown station in the Summerhill district of the town was closed along with the direct line to Stranraer via Castle Douglas as part of the Beeching Axe in 1965. Part of the disused railway track in Dumfries was later converted to a cycle path.


The most significant of the parks in Dumfries are all within walking distance of the town centre:-

  • Dock Park - located on the East bank of the Nith just to the South of St Michael's Bridge
  • Castledykes Park - as the name suggests on the site of a former castle
  • Mill Green (also known as deer park, although the deer formerly accommodated there have since been relocated) - on the West bank of the Nith opposite Whitesands


Dumfries is home to one of the 11 BBC studios in Scotland.

West Sound FM, part of the Big City Network, broadcasts from Dumfries.

Local journalism

The two local newspapers that specifically cover Dumfries and the surrounding are:-

Architectural geology

Sandstone buildings in Buccleuch Street

There are many buildings in Dumfries made from sandstone of the local Locharbriggs quarry.

The quarry is situated off the A701 on the north of Dumfries at Locharbriggs close to the nearby aggregates quarry. This dimension stone quarry is a large quarry. Quarry working at Lochabriggs dates from the 18th century, and the quarry has been worked continuously since 1890.[48]

There are good reserves of stone that can be extracted at several locations. On average the stone is available at depths of 1m on bed although some larger blocks are obtainable. The average length of a block is 1.5m but 2.6m blocks can be obtained.

Locharbriggs is from the New Red Sandstone of the Permian age. It is a medium-grained stone ranging in colour from dull red to pink. It is the sandstone used in the Queen Alexandra Bridge in Sunderland, the Manchester International Convention Centre and the base of the Statue of Liberty.[48]

Surrounding places of interest

Dumfries is recognised as a good centre for visiting the surrounding area.[49] The following are all within easy reach:-

Other places subsequently named Dumfries

Twin towns

See also


  1. ^ "Comparative Population Profile: Dumfries Locality". Scotland's Census Results Online. 2001-04-29. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g
  3. ^ a b c d e f Dumfries Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland
  4. ^ Walks in Burns Country - Town Centre
  5. ^ "Burns Statue, Dumfries with Tam O'Shanter and Souter Johnnie statues "on tour", c 1900". National Burns Collection. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  6. ^ "Current Banknotes : Bank of Scotland". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  7. ^ History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy - Great Eastern
  8. ^ Cable And Wireless Adventurer Trimaran Diesel Powered Jock Wishart Jules Verne Trophy Record Nigel Irens Boat Design
  9. ^ MiniWeb: Schools Services - Secondary Schools - Dumfries Academy
  10. ^ Bill Drummond interview for the Queen of the South website
  11. ^ a b c d e "Queens legends" on the official Queen of the South FC website
  12. ^ a b c Barry Nicholson interview on
  13. ^ a b c d e f Queen of the South club history
  14. ^ Connections between Dumfries and Blackburn Rovers in the Queen of the South profile on Jackie Oakes
  15. ^ a b c
  16. ^ Andrew Coltart interview on
  17. ^ Stephen Jardine interview
  18. ^ Hunter Davies memories of Dumfries in the profile on Billy Houliston
  19. ^
  20. ^ BBC NEWS Scotland | Further funds sought for steeple
  21. ^ DGC -Document: Dumfries Town Centre Urban Design Strategy - Part 1
  22. ^ MiniWeb: Regeneration & Europe - Dumfries Town Centre
  23. ^ a b Dumfries and Galloway Museums and Galleries on-line
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dumfries and Galloway Museums
  30. ^ Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum
  31. ^ Guild of Players - Home
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ icDumfries - Dumfries & Galloway Standard News
  47. ^ Dumfries Courier - Regionwide news from your weekly newspaper
  48. ^ a b 'Talk to us about Locharbriggs Red Sandstone', 9 August 2006
  49. ^ Dumfries Travel Guide
  50. ^ John Paul Jones a brief biography
  51. ^ Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre ::
  52. ^ Tharpaland International Retreat Centre

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Dumfries is the principal town in Dumfries and Galloway. A more traditional administrative status is principal town of Dumfriesshire, but this changed in 1974. Further back, it was two towns, Dumfries and Maxwelltown; this changed in 1929 for administrative purposes, although the name is still sometimes used to describe the area west of the River Nith. Maxwelltown was not part of Dumfriesshire, so the two towns were then quite separate. In 1997, the town was deemed "best place to live in Britain", an accolade still sometimes used in describing the town.

sign listing attractions and "best_place" accolade in Dumfries
sign listing attractions and "best_place" accolade in Dumfries

Get in

By road

Dumfries is linked by the A75, A701 and A709 to the M74 north-south route, the A76 to the Nith Valley and the continuing A75 to the west of the region. All these roads are reasonably good, although they can be busy and dangerous at times, and drivers should expect to find themselves in rolling queues at busy times. A railway runs through the town, following a similar route to the A75 east and the A76 north, with reasonably frequent and reliable services but on ageing trains. Travel times are usually quoted as 90 minutes to Glasgow and 45 to Carlisle by road.

By rail

By rail the former journey is slower and the latter quicker, due to the long route of the railway through Ayrshire.

By bus

Stagecoach [1] operate the majority of the local buses in the area, as well as services to Carlisle and Ayr. Check the website for more details.

By cycle

For more adventurous travellers, the town forms a key stopping point on National Cycle Route 7, with another route heading north via Ae Forest.

Get around

Dumfries is small enough for most tourist destinations within the town to be reachable on foot. Buses run from three points in the town centre - the Loreburn (shopping) Centre, Great King Street and Burns' Statue - to most parts of the town and surroundings, with longer-distance services leaving from the Whitesands. Traffic and parking are sometimes problems in the town, although not any more than in many others. Parking discs are required in most parking on and off-street, with the exceptions of parts of the Brooms Road, Whitesands, Newall Terrace car parks and the whole of that on Burns Street. A few taxi firms operate, offering a fairly inexpensive way of getting around given the short distances within the town.


Dumfries's main claim to fame is as the last residence of the Scottish national poet Robert Burns, and there are various sites around the town ranging including a museum in his house, his grave, the nearby Brow Well that he drank from whilst ill, Ellisland Farm, where he worked for some time, and a few sites noted for having been frequented by him. Other attractions include the (free, but seasonal) Bridge House Museum and the Camera Obscura museum, which features various historical artefacts as well as the chance to view the surrounding area using that instrument. There is also the Ice Bowl, which includes a skating rink and bowling facilties, and, after some delay, the swimming pool and sports/exhibition hall "DG One"[]. As well as well and dry exercise opportunities, it has also hosted both Roy Chubby Brown and the Scottish Ballet in its short history. There are also two cinemas, both single screen: the Odeon, near DG one, which is often insulted by locals but is probably no worse than anywhere else, and the council run Robert Burns Film Theatre, which recently begin to describe itself as an “art house” and plays a mix of films, including some independent ones and major but slightly post-release ones. There is also the Ottersburn Gallery, near the old swimming pool and the Gracefield Arts Centre, on the Edinburgh Road.


Dumfries has gained a reputation for lacking shops, with many empty windows at different times, and at one time many of the shops that did open were at the lower end of the market, such as one-pound and charity shops. This is often attributed to Carlisle, Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Metro Centure providing alternatives for shopping trips, as well as the wider issue of Tesco's prominence. Dumfries was also second to Exeter among those most criticised in a New Economics Foundation report on "clone towns", with the shops that do exist often being the same as everywhere else. However, this picture is not really accurate, with the Loreburne Shopping Centre now having very few empty units and numerous independent shops just off High Street on English Street, Queensbury Street, and to a lesser extent Friar's Vennel, which has some independent and bargain shops, but also some covered with quaint illustrations on boards to avoid seeming derelict. The street was recently resurfaced as a way of combating its dingy reputation. Also notable is Barbour's department store on Buccleuch Street. Electrical and DIY stores have gravitated towards two retail parks, located on the A76, one of which also includes the large Tesco Extra store; there is also a third on the A709 containing cheaper shops such as Matalan, and this is also the site of the third Tesco for the town.


This list is not exhaustive, and as elsewhere restaurants can close and open from time to time, but some of the most notable ones in the town include as of mid-2008:

- Jewel in the Crown, Indian, St Michael's Street

- Hullabaloo, general, near Robert Burns Centre just to the west of the river in the centre

- Linen Room, general, upmarket, St Michael's Street

- Marchills, contemporary, Moffat Road

- Casa Mia (formerly Casa Tuscana), European, Edinburgh Road

- Lucky Star, Chinese, English Street

- Pizzeria Il Fiume, Italian, Dock Park

- Bella Roma, Italian, Eastfield Road

More information, including some about the surrounding area, can be read here:


Dumfries has a reputation for having many pubs of various sorts, partly due to its status as a hub for the surrounding region. The most prominent is the Robert the Bruce, part of the Wetherspoons chain, located at the north end of High Street, and named after the king who slew his opponent The Red Comyn at a now destroyed church nearby. Like Tesco, its arrival was worried about by independent rivals, and there have been a limited number of closures since then, including Mulligan's and Souter Johnny's. Others in the centre include Baker Street, the White Hart (pub/club/venue), The Yard (late night pub with music), Dink's (music bar), Ma-Donnas (lively bar/bristo), Slipstream, The New Bazzar, The Globe, The Hole i' the Wall, The Stag, Dickie's and the Flesher's Arms. As well as those mentioned above, Dumfries has three venues clearly in the nightclub category:

- Jumpin' Jak's, part of a national chain. This has one large room and a wide selection of music. Generally friendly and good atmosphere with crowd members welcomed to dance on stage. This replaced the slightly seedy Junction with a gap between closing and opening in 2002.

- The Venue. Founded as The Loft then closed and re-invented after a drug-related closure, this was at one time the definitive nightspot in Dumfries for young people (often suspiciously young) but has come under pressure from Jak's, and moved into live events to maintain a distinct image. On weekend nights, it still provides strong competition for its corporate neighbour, with two rooms, one with dance music and the other covering pop, rock, hip-hop and anything else.

- Chancers. This is the longest-established of the three, and aims for an older crowd. Split into two rooms and open all nights of the week.


Some of Dumfries's longer-established hotels are no more, including the County, now Waterstone’s bookshop. The smartest and biggest hotel is the Cairndale, although it only gets a 3-star rating. B+Bs and rooms above some pubs are common around the town, as well as some hotels including the Huntingdon House and Birkhill on the A709 slighly out of the centre. On the edge of town there are two motels, Travel Inn and Travel Lodge, both close by near the split between bypass and non-bypass traffic on the east of town. Further out of town, there are a few country house hotels and camp/caravan sites.

  • Dumfries Villa Bed and Breakfast (bed and breakfast Dumfries), 33 Lovers Walk, Dumfries DG1 1LR, 01387 248609, [2]. A lovely homely victorian town house offering B & B accommodation in Dumfries town Centre and near to Dumfries Railway Station. We provide a "home from home" atmosphere for all our guests. 5 Large spacious accommodation rooms available, with full facilities and decorated to the highest standard.  edit
  • Torbay Lodge Guest House (bed and breakfast Lockerbie), 31 Lovers Walk, Dumfries, Scotland, 01387 253922, [3]. Our 4 star bed and breakfast Dumfries offers the convenience of ample off-road parking and is ideally situated, being less than a five minute walk to Dumfries shopping centre. We are situated within the quiet conservation area of Dumfries town centre town near other bed and breakfasts in Dumfries and only 150 yards from Dumfries railway station (no train traffic can be heard within the guest house).  edit
  • Queensbury Hotel (Above John Smiths Pub), 12 English Street (Near Boots the chemist, town centre), 01387 739913, [4]. Small hotel consisting of 15 recently renovated rooms above the John Smiths Pub. There is a complimentary continental breakfast and free Wifi access in the bar downstairs. £40 per night (with a Smith & Jones card).  edit

Get out

Most of the Dumfries and Galloway area is rural and seen as a getaway rather than being full of tourist attractions. Nonetheless, there are various sights around the region, including:

- Cream o' Galloway ice cream centre, to the west.

- Seven Stanes set of mountain bike courses set around dumfries & Galloway, the closest to Dumfries being Mabie Forest.

- The David Coulthard museum in his hometown of Twynholm, described as "the world’s most comprehensive collection of Formula 1 memorabilia for any driver".

- Mabie Farm park, Mabie forest.

- Carelaverock Castle, once a fort against the English, which is near the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre.

- Castle Douglas, Scotland's food town, is the next town along the A75.

- Shambellie House Museum of Costume, Sweetheart Abbey and the New Abbey Corn Mill, at nearby New Abbey.

- Past New Abbey is the John Paul Jones birthplace museum.

- Criffel, the highest local hill and a moderate walk to the top.

- The ever-threatened Museum of Lead Mining in Wanlockhead, Scotland's highest village, in the Lowther Hills.

- Nearby Moniaive, deemed one of Britain's "coolest" villages by The Times in 2004, and home of the "Green Handbook for South-west Scotland". It was once the home of the artist James Paterson and a member of Franz Ferdinand has a house there.

- Ellisland Farm, a one-time residence of Robert Burns, to the north.

- The Savings Banks Museum, in nearby Ruthwell.

- Some of the most notable place names in the area include Little Cocklick, Cocklicks Farm and Twathats, the latter two close together near Ruthwell. Little Cocklick was once the home of Jean Maxwell, the Galloway sorceress, one of the last witches to be tried.

- The Devil’s Porridge war museum, to the east near Annan.

- Drumlamrig Castle, home of the recently deceased Duke of Buccleuch and soon be be again the home of the stolen painting Madonna with Yarnwinder.

- The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, Gretna Green; an old spot for runaway weddings.

Stay safe

Safety is not usually a problem in Dumfries, despite occasional concern about the scale of its hard drug problem. Generally crime is rare and most likely to occur after something like leaving valuables in view in a car. Walking down the streets is seldom dangerous, even though there are less pleasant areas. Violence that occurs will tend to be unrelated to anything concerning tourists, but the Rangers-Celtic rivalry can have some impact in the town.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

Dumfries, meaning either fort or ridge of the thicket, is a former royal burgh and town within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland and is situated close to the Solway Firth, near the mouth of the River Nith. Dumfries was the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire. Its nickname is Queen of the South, which is also the name of its local football team Queen of the South F.C..

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