History of Dumfries

Dumfries has Neolithic and Roman origins and is close to the Scottish border with Enland. As a thoroughfare for traffic and traders from Ireland to Scotland, Scotland to England and with such a long coastline, the history of Dumfriesshire has been very sketchy.

There are various Castles, Neolithic cairns, stone circles in the region as a result.

The River Nith flows through Dumfries towards the Solway Firth and Irish Sea. In earlier centuries the town was known to be a trading port.

With the River Nith on two sides and the Lochar Moss on another, Dumfries was a town with good natural defences. It had an obvious strategic significance being on the edge of Galloway and the Scottish border with England.

Dumfries has been a Royal Burgh since 1186. The charter was granted either by King Robert III or King William the Lion. This was partly to insure the loyalty of Dumfries citizens to the Monarch.

Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce was born in 1274 at the family castle in Lochmaben. His life legacy is characterised by his meditations in a cave at Kirkpatrick Fleming where he studied a spider determinedly trying to spin a web again and again until it succeeded.

This followed a defeat in battle in 1306 which prompted him to go into hiding for 3 months. When he re-emerged he was then to lead his army to victory at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Robert the Bruce murdered the Red Comyn in Greyfriars Church in Dumfries in 1306.

The church had been built by Lady Devorgilla (King John Balliol’s mother) in 1276 and King John Balliol was Red Comyn’s uncle.

John Balliol

John Balliol (King John Balliol’s father) was buried at Sweetheart Abbey, which Lady Devorgilla had built in 1273 as a memorial to him. The story tells that she carried his embalmed heart (“sweet heart”) in a silver casket until she died only to be buried alongside him at the abbey.

William Wallace

Bonnie Prince Charlie

The only triangular castle in the UK is at Caerlaverlock Castle near Dumfries.

Recent history has seen Dumfries and the surrounding area as a popular location for filming including the 1970’s horror film ‘The Wicker Man’.