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Dumfriesshire – Queen of the South


Dumfriesshire is one of the most famous registration counties of Scotland. The county town of Dumfriesshire was Dumfries till 1975; now it comes under the Dumfries and Galloway council area. Earlier Dumfries had three subdivisions- Annandale, Eskdale and Nithsdale. Dumfries derives its name from Scottish Gaelic:’ Dùn Phris’, meaning “Fort of the thicket”. It is a commercial town situated near River Nith.

Brief History

Dumfriesshire has been one of the favorite spots for exploration for archeologists. Remains from Neolithic and bronze age are an evidence of human occupation during those eras. The archaeologists have found out stone circles, cairns, sculptured stones and a number of bank barrows which help the researchers to find out more about the civilizations which dwelled in this region. Roman presence is also indicated by many of the remains so far discovered.  

Romans referred the British tribe living in Dumfries as ‘Selgovae’. The hill forts and camps still stand as a proof of their presence here. A number of such remains can be found around the Moffat region. The remains of not just castles and objects but also of the Roman roads which ran through Dalveen Pass, Clydesdale, Tweeddale and Birrens are the most interesting and significant evidences left behind by the Roman camps. The altars, urns, coins etc. extracted from many places emphasize the spread of Roman culture in this land.

Dumfries became a Royal Burgh in 1186, when a charter was granted by William the lion to raise its rank. It held a significant position during the first 50 years as the Royal Burgh. The advancements were rapid and soon it became a popular market town and port for trading and commercialization purposes. Galloway which is now inseparable from the country became a part of Scotland when Alexander II reigned in Scotland in 1234. It was Alexander III who came to Dumfries in 1264 and planned an expedition to conquer the Isle of Man which was under the crown of Norway for 180 years. The era of comfort and peace lasted thereafter for 22 years and came to an abrupt end after Alexander’s sudden death.

During the 13th century a royal castle was built in Dumfriesshire. Though, the castle no longer exists, the same site is glorified by Castledykes Park. It is believed that William Wallace had chased the retreating English force which fled through the Ninth Valley. The gates of Dumfries Castle were closed firmly and the fugitives had to die at the hands of Wallace and his fellow pursuers. The Cockpool on the Solway Coast marked the end of the English force which came as a fugitive there. Wallace rested at Caerlaverock Castle for some time and passed through Dumfries before he returned to Sanguhar. Since Dumfriesshire was a border county, it was a scene of continual feuds and even bloody wars at times.  When Robert Bruce was the Lord of Annandale, Edward I besieged the Caerlaverock Castle which led to more strives. Similarly, other border clans were also constantly fighting over some issue or the other. 

Today, Dumfries and Galloway blessed with an unusual climate and scenic beauty attracts numerous tourists from around the world. The homeland of poet Robert Burns, Dumfries was an inspiration to some of his most passionate works.