Dumfries facts for kids
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Dumfries looking east
|Population||32,914 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Dumfries and Galloway|
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Dumfries (i// dum-FREESS; possibly from Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phris) is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland. It is near the mouth of the River Nith into the Solway Firth. Dumfries was a civil parish and became the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire. Dumfries is nicknamed Queen of the South. People from Dumfries are known colloquially as Doonhamers.
- Local journalism
- Architectural geology
- Surrounding places of interest
- Other places subsequently named Dumfries
- Twin towns
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There are at least three theories on the etymology of the name. One is that the name Dumfries originates from the Scottish Gaelic name Dún Phris which means "Fort of the Thicket". Another is that it comes from a Brythonic cognate of the alleged Gaelic derivation (c.f. Welsh Din Prys). According to a third theory, the name is a corruption of two Old English or Old Norse words which mean the Friars’ Hill; those who favour this idea allege the formation of a religious house near the head of what is now the Friars’ Vennel.
No positive information has been obtained of the era and circumstances in which the town of Dumfries was founded.
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. Dumfries was once within the borders of the Kingdom of Northumbria. 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 civilisation from their conquerors. Late in the fourth century, the Romans bade farewell to the country.
According to another theory, the name is a corruption of two words which mean the Friars’ Hill; those who favour this idea allege 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.
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, Anglo-Saxons, Scots and Norse culminating in a decisive victory for Gregory, King of Scots at what is now Lochmaben over the native Britons in 890.
When, in 1069, Malcolm Canmore and William the Conqueror held a conference regarding the claims of Edgar 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 characterised 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 (14 km) distant from the sea, although the River Nith is tidal and navigable all the way into the town itself.
Although at the time 1 mile (1.6 km) 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.
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.
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.
In the invasion of 1300, Edward I of England 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 for 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.
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.
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 at the site of what is now St Mary's Church.
In 1659 ten women were accused of diverse acts of witchcraft by Dumfries Kirk Session although the Kirk Session minutes itself records nine witches. The Justiciary Court found them guilty of the several articles of witchcraft and on 13 April between 2 pm and 4 pm they were taken to the Whitesands and burnt at the stake.
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.
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. Today, it features on the 2007 series of £5 notes issued by the Bank of Scotland, alongside the Brig o' Doon.
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 14 October 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.
20th century and beyond
The first official intimation that RAF Dumfries was to be built was made in late 1938. The site chosen had accommodated light aircraft since about 1914. Work progressed quickly, and on 17 June 1940, the 18 Maintenance Unit was opened at Dumfries. The role of the base during the war also encompassed training. RAF Dumfries had a moment of danger on 25 March 1943, when a German aircraft shot up the airfield beacon, but crashed shortly afterwards. The pilot, Oberleutnant Martin Piscke was later interred in Troqueer Cemetery in Dumfries town, with full military honours. On the night of 3/4 August 1943 a Wellington bomber with engine problems diverted to but crashed 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) short of the Dumfries runway.
In World War II the bulk of the Norwegian Army during their 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 1,500 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 (measuring 4.7 ML centred near Longtown) and 2006 (centred in the Dumfries locality measuring 3.6 ML). There were no serious consequences of either. There was also an earthquake on 16 February 1984 and a further earthquake on 7 June 2010.
As with the rest of the British Isles and Scotland, Dumfries experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. It is one of the less snowy locations in Scotland owing to its sheltered, low lying position in the South West of the country. From 2 July 1908 the town held the record for the highest temperature reading in Scotland, 32.8 °C (91.0 °F) until being surpassed in Greycrook on 9 August 2003.
|Climate data for Dumfries 49m asl, 1961–1990, extremes 1951–1980|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.3
|Average high °C (°F)||6.0
|Average low °C (°F)||0.7
|Record low °C (°F)||−13.9
|Precipitation mm (inches)||110
|Source #1: Met Office|
|Source #2: ScotClim|
Like the rest of Dumfries and Galloway, of Scotland's three major geographical areas Dumfries lies in the Southern Uplands.
The river Nith runs through Dumfries toward the Solway Firth in a southwards direction splitting the town into East and West. At low tide, the sea recedes to such an extent on the shallow sloping sands of the Solway that the length of the Nith is extended by 13 km to 113.8 km (70.7 mi). This makes the Nith Scotland's seventh longest river. There are several bridges across the river within the town. In between the Devorgilla (also known as 'The Old Bridge') and the suspension bridge is a weir colloquially known as 'The Caul'. In wetter months of the year the Nith can flood the surrounding streets.
Dumfries has numerous 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; Summerhill, Troqueer, 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.
Queensberry Square and High Street are the central focal points of the town and this area hosts many of the historical, social and commercial enterprises and events of Dumfries. During the 1990s, these areas enjoyed various aesthetic recognitions from organisations including Britain in Bloom.
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.
The term doonhamer comes from the way that natives of Dumfries over the years have referred to the area when working away from home, specifically 19th century railway workers from Dumfries who worked in Glasgow. The town is often referred to as doon hame (down home). The term doonhamer followed, to describe those that originate from Dumfries.
The Doonhamers is also the nickname of Queen of the South who represent Dumfries and the surrounding area in the Scottish Football League.
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').
The Loreburn Hall (sometimes known colloquially as The Drill Hall) has hosted concerts by performers such as Black Sabbath, Big Country, The Proclaimers and Scottish Opera. The hall has hosted sporting events such as wrestling. The new DG One sport, fitness and entertainment centre became the principal indoor event venue in Dumfries, but as of October 2014 has been closed since major defects were discovered in the building. Repairs are expected to take a long time: meanwhile, a temporary swimming pool has been erected in the grounds of the Ice Bowl, and gym facilities installed in Loreburn Hall. The Theatre Royal has also reopened following renovation work.
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.
Located on top of a small hill, Dumfries Museum is centred on 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 and stone carvings of Scotland's first Christians. On the top floor of the museum is a camera obscura.
Based in the control tower near 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. RAF 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. 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.
Theatre and cinema
The Theatre Royal, Dumfries was built in 1792 and is the oldest working theatre in Scotland.
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.
There are two cinemas in Dumfries. The Odeon typically shows mainstream films. The Robert Burns Centre is the art house cinema in Dumfries.
With 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.
There are a number of festivals which take place throughout the year, mostly based on traditional values.
Guid Nychburris (Middle Scots, meaning Good Neighbours) 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 7.30 am 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 8.00 am 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 12.15 pm 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.
Since 2013, Dumfries has seen the annual Nithraid, a small boat race up the Nith from Carsethorn, celebrating the town's historical relationship with the river.
The region is also home to a number of thriving music festivals such as the Wickerman Festival (in Dundrennan), Eden Festival (at St Ann's near Moffat), the Moniaive Folk Festival, Thornhill Music Festival and Electric Fields (at Drumlanrig Castle).
Dumfries is linked to the Northbound A74(M) motorway at Beattock via the A701 road. The A75 road eastbound links Dumfries to the southbound A74(M), leading to the M6 motorway and Carlisle. 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. It was awarded Best Station Awards by British Rail in 1986 and 1987. The train service is now operated by private company Abellio ScotRail which provides services to Glasgow and Carlisle, and less frequent services direct to Newcastle. The nearest station to Dumfries on the West Coast Mainline is 14 miles (23 km) 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
The two local newspapers that specifically cover Dumfries and the surrounding are:-
- Dumfries and Galloway Standard (established 1843) publishing on Wednesdays and Fridays
- Dumfries Courier publishing on Fridays
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 Locharbriggs dates from the 18th century, and the quarry has been worked continuously since 1890.
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.
Surrounding places of interest
As the largest settlement in Southern Scotland, Dumfries is recognised as a centre for visiting surrounding points of interest. The following are all within easy reach:
- John Paul Jones Cottage Museum – The traditional Scottish cottage in which John Paul Jones was born in 1747.
- Solway Coast
- Sweetheart Abbey in the village of New Abbey
- New Abbey Corn Mill Museum
- Criffel – a hill on the Solway Coast popular with hill walkers for its magnificent views of the Southern Scottish coastline and across the Solway Firth to the Lake District of Cumbria
- Threave Castle in Castle Douglas, home to the Douglas Clan of James Douglas who fought with Robert the Bruce
- Moniaive conservation village
- Moffat and the views nearby of The Devil's Beef Tub, The Grey Mare's Tail waterfall and the A708 from Moffat past the Grey Mare's Tail to St Mary's Loch.
- Mabie Forest - popular destinations for outdoor recreation such as mountain bike and walking.
- Ae village and forest
- Lochmaben with its lochs popular with boaters and also its history with Robert the Bruce
- Wanlockhead – Britain's highest village registered at 1,531 feet (467 m) above sea level and the Lead Mining Museum
- Caerlaverock Castle
- Drumlanrig Castle
- Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre was the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre to have been established in the West. It is a centre within the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It is in the village of Eskdalemuir in the Scottish Southern Uplands
- Ecclefechan – Thomas Carlyle's birthplace "The Arched House" is a tourist attraction and has been maintained by the National Trust for Scotland since 1936. Ecclefechan lies at the foot of the large Roman Fort, Burnswark, which dominates the horizon with its flat top.
- Bridge house museum at the foot of the old bridge within Dumfries
- Burns' house & mausoleum in St Micheals graveyard
- the Robert Burns centre on the mill sands dumfries
- At Twynholm is the David Coulthard Museum.
- Gretna Green and the Old Blacksmith's Shop famous for runaway marriages.
- Tharpaland – International Buddhist Retreat Centre under the auspices of the New Kadampa Tradition. Kelsang Gyatso completed a three-year retreat at Tharpaland.
Other places subsequently named Dumfries
- Dumfries, Virginia in the US was formally established on land at the head of the harbour of Quantico Creek, provided by John Graham. He named the town after his birthplace, Dumfries in Scotland.
- Dumfries, New Brunswick in Canada
- South Dumfries Township, Ontario, Canada
- North Dumfries, Ontario, Canada
- Dumfries, Grenada
- Dumfries, Minnesota, USA
- Dumfries, Iowa, USA
- Dumfries, Cat Island, Bahamas
– Annapolis, Maryland, United States
Template:Country data DE – Passau, Germany
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