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Wigtownshire - Small, but Full of Character, Beauty and Tradition


Located at the southern extreme of Scotland, Wigtownshire is one of the registration counties of the Scottish territory. It is bounded by Ayshire to the north, by the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright to the east and to the south and west by the Irish Sea. This Stewartry, together with Wigtownshire are referred as Galloway as a whole. In fact, until the late 19th century, Wigtownshire was referred as West Galloway.

The county consists of seventeen parishes, three royal burghs and many other small ports and fishing villages thanks to its vast coastline.

Differently from other counties of Scotland, Wigtownshire’s main town is not the same as its administrative capital. In this case, these roles fall upon the town of Wigtown (which used to be the county’s main town in the past) and the town of Stranraer (the biggest town of the county) respectively. This separation of roles occurred in the year 1890 on the establishment of a county council.

Short History

There are many forts and lake dwelling in the region that represent clear evidence of the existence of small communities that date as far back as the Iron Age.

In the 6th century, the region now known as Wigtownshire was a part of the kingdom of Strathclyde. Then, after a couple of hundred years passed, the county was occupied by the Romans, who claimed the region until the 9th century, after which it fell into possession of the Northumbrian Kings. However, shortly after that, the province fell into the power of the Picts, who exercised their authority over the region even after Kenneth II united the two kingdoms.

Nonetheless, even after having their land changing rulers and cultures, the original inhabitants of the region, the Celtics, kept their customs of old. They also developed a strong character which earned them the title of “Wild Scots of Galloway” among the inhabitants of the surrounding regions.

In the year 1120 AD, the ruler of the whole Galloway region reconstituted a bishopric are in the region, which was then passed by his descendants until the year 1372. In this year the Douglases purchased the land, which will bring one of the most important changes the region will ever experiment. This is due mainly because under their possession, the land stopped being managed by its own set of rules and came under the general law of Scotland in the year 1426.

In the year 1455 the Kennedy family took possession of the region after the fall of the Douglases on that year. From that period and for around two hundred years, many castles were built which ruins can still be found nowadays. From that past period onwards, the region remained largely unchanged, a fact that many thought would change with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution. However, the country remained largely pastoral and just started developing its tourism industry at the beginning of the 20th century.

Nowadays, besides tourism, many other activities have become characteristic of the region. Fishing and farming have become especially strong in the county’s economy. Wigtownshire also possesses rich lands and coastlines, as well as paying considerable attention to the cattle and the commerce of live-stock and wool.