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Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phris[1]
Dumfries looking east.jpg
Dumfries looking east
Dumfries is located in Dumfries and Galloway
 Dumfries shown within Dumfries and Galloway
Population 43,270 (2011 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 Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
Scottish Parliament Dumfriesshire
List of places

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Dumfries (Listeni/dʌmˈfrs/ 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.[2] Dumfries is nicknamed Queen of the South.[3] People from Dumfries are known colloquially as Doonhamers.


There are at least two 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". According to another theory, the name is a corruption of two 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.[4]


Early history

No positive information has been obtained of the era and circumstances in which the town of Dumfries was founded.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

Medieval period

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,[4] although the River Nith is tidal and navigable all the way into the town itself.

Lincluden Collegiate Church, also known as Lincluden Abbey, c.1789

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.[5]

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.[4]

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.[citation needed]

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.[4]

The killing of John Comyn in the Greyfriars church in Dumfries, as seen by Felix Philippoteaux, a 19th-century illustrator.

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.

Burns statue and Greyfriars Church currently under development

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, strangled at stakes and their bodies burnt to ashes.[6]

Eighteenth century

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.[7]

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.[8] Today, it features on the 2007 series of £5 notes issued by the Bank of Scotland, alongside the Brig o' Doon.[9]

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 12 miles (2.4 km) short of the Dumfries runway.[10]

In World War II the bulk of the Norwegian Army during their years in exile in Britain consisted of a brigade in Dumfries.[11] 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)[12] and 2006 (centred in the Dumfries locality measuring 3.6 ML).[13] There were no serious consequences of either. There was also an earthquake on 16 February 1984[14] and a further earthquake on 7 June 2010.[15]

Notable people

Robert Burns's previous home in Dumfries.

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.

Plaque of Notable Students at Dumfries 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,[16] James Matthew Barrie, author of Peter Pan, musician John Law Hume of the Titanic orchestra, Jane Haining, international diplomat Alexander Knox Helm, John Laurie, actor (Private Fraser in Dad's Army), artist Chris J Fergusson (1876-1957), artist Sir Robin Philipson, artist Nan S Fergusson (1910-1984), (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.[17][18] Roger White, CEO of soft drinks group A G Barr is a local lad who went to Dumfries Academy. Following William A. F. Browne's 1838 appointment as Superintendent of the Crichton hospital, his son, James Crichton-Browne, was educated at the 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.

International 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.[19] Emma's Imagination singer Emma Gillespie is from Dumfries. 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 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,[20] Ian Dickson,[20] Bobby Ancell, Billy Houliston,[20] Jimmy McIntosh,[21] Willie McNaught and Ted McMinn.[20] Halliday, Dickson, Houliston and McMinn played for home town club, Queen of the South during their careers. Dominic Matteo[22][23] 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[24] against the team he supported as a boy.[23] Ancell, Houliston, McNaught and Nicholson have represented Scotland and were joined in having done so in season 2010/11 by Cammy Bell and Grant Hanley. Matteo gained 6 full caps for Scotland[23] after having represented England at under-21 level. Halliday was overlooked by Scotland in favour of Hughie Gallacher.[20] 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[25] before joining Woolwich Arsenal as Arsenal F.C. were then named.

Dumfries is also the hometown of three-times 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Allan McNish,[26] as it was to David Leslie (racing driver).[26] Another racing driver, David Coulthard was born in Dumfries and raised in nearby Twynholm.[26] Scotland rugby union internationalists Duncan Hodge, Nick De Luca, Craig Hamilton and Alex Dunbar were born in Dumfries as were professional golfers Andrew Coltart[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] 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 William ("Bill") Nelson (ADFP) who was also with the ANZ (formerly AXA, AMP and Westpac) and also father of the great Alice Nelson, now CEO of Centurion Wealth Advisers. 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.


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.[30]

Climate data for Dumfries 49m asl, 1961–1990, extremes 1951–1980
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.3
Average high °C (°F) 6.0
Average low °C (°F) 0.7
Record low °C (°F) −13.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 110
Mean monthly sunshine hours 44.7 68.7 98.4 145.0 180.1 176.7 162.2 156.7 110.8 89.8 61.5 37.9 1,333.5
Source #1: Met Office[31]
Source #2: ScotClim[32]


Devorgilla Bridge with Old Bridge House Museum at the end of the furthest span from the camera
The 'Caul' and Devorgilla Bridge
The fountain and midsteeple on Dumfries High St
Whitesands, from Buccleuch Street

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.


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. Dumfries is contained within two separate constituencies within the Scottish parliament – Dumfriesshire and Galloway, and Upper Nithsdale. Dumfriesshire is represented by Elaine Murray MSP while Galloway and Upper Nithsdale is represented by Alex Fergusson MSP.

Dumfries is centre to Scotland’s smallest police force.[33] It took part in one of 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.


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.[34] This was started in the 1980s with the building of the Dumfries bypass. The immediate effect of this was as intended the diversion of transiting traffic away from the town centre. This brought with it an accompanying reduction in economic input to the town centre. The second effect of this has been more pronounced. Sites close to the bypass have attracted development to utilise the bypass as a high speed urban highway without the bottlenecks of the town centre and without the constraining limited town centre parking.

In a bid to re-stimulate development in Dumfries town centre, both economically and in a social context, several strategies have been proposed by the controlling authorities.[35]


Dumfries got its nickname 'Queen of the South' from David Dunbar, a local poet,[36] 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.[24][37]

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.[38]

The Doonhamers is also the nickname of Queen of the South who represent Dumfries and the surrounding area in the Scottish Football League.[24]

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').[24][39]

Construction of DG One centre in 2007

The Loreburn Hall (sometimes known colloquially as The Drill Hall)[40] has hosted concerts by performers such as Black Sabbath,[41] Big Country,[42] The Proclaimers and Scottish Opera.[40] The hall has hosted sporting events such as wrestling.[43] The new DG One sport, fitness and entertainment centre has now become the principal indoor event venue in Dumfries.[44]

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.


Dumfries Museum and camera obscura

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.[39]

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.[45] 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.[10]

Theatre and cinema

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 1961[46] 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.[47]

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.[48]

Visual arts

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.[49]


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.[50]


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

Queen of the South represent Dumfries and the surrounding area in the second level of the country's professional football system, the Scottish Championship. 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 2008 Scottish Cup Final, losing 3–2 to Rangers.[24]

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".[51]

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 Dumfriesshire Golf Centre and Pines Golf Club

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.

The opening stage of the 2011 Tour of Britain started in Peebles and finished 105.8 miles (170.3 km) later in Dumfries. The stage was won by sprint specialist and reigning Tour de France green jersey champion, Mark Cavendish, with his team mate lead out man, Mark Renshaw finishing second. Cavendish had been scheduled to be racing in the 2011 Vuelta a España. However Cavendish was one a number of riders to withdraw having suffered in the searing Spanish heat. This allowed Cavendish to be a late addition to the Tour of Britain line up in his preparation for what was to be a successful bid two weeks later in the 2011 UCI Road World Championships – Men's road race. Cavendish in a smiling post race TV interview in Dumfries described the wet and windy race conditions through the Southern Scottish stage as 'horrible'.[52]

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

The David Keswick Athletic Centre is the principle facility in Dumfries for athletics.[53]

Dumfries is home to Nithsdale Amateur Rowing Club.[54][55] The rowers share their clubhouse with Dumfries Sub-Aqua Club.[56]

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 recognised 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 Zoetermeer, the Netherlands. 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:[57]

Dumfries hosts cycling organisations and cycling holidays.[58][59][60]


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 2013 plans for a 'super school' were announced. These plans were later dismissed in favour of renovating existing schools.[61]

In 1999 Scotland's first multi-institutional university campus was established in Dumfries, in the 85-acre (340,000 m2) 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.[62][63] 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.[64]


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.


Maxwelltown Railway Path, Dumfries (looking towards Hardthorn Road bridge)
Dumfries Railway Station

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


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

West Sound FM, part of Bauer Media Group, broadcasts from Dumfries.

Christianity-based community radio station Alive Radio 107.3 broadcasts on FM for Dumfries and online.[65]

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 Locharbriggs dates from the 18th century, and the quarry has been worked continuously since 1890.[68]

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.[68]

Surrounding places of interest

As the largest settlement in Southern Scotland, Dumfries is recognised as a centre for visiting surrounding points of interest.[69] The following are all within easy reach:

Other places subsequently named Dumfries

Twin towns

See also


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External links