The historic town of Dumfries also goes by the name of ‘Queen of the South’ and is most widely associated with one of Scotland’s national heroes the Bard Robert Burns. The town is located along the banks of the Nith River and has seen a lot of history taking place since it was first founded. The town owes much of its existence to Lady Devorgilla of the Balliol family who had a large share of the power in the area. She paid for the construction of the first bridge across the river and was also behind the building in 1273 of the beautiful Sweetheart Abbey which she ordered built to honour the memory of her late husband. Sweetheart Abbey is now ruined but the walls with their wonderful arches and stonework make a lovely place to visit. It was the Greyfriar’s Monastery that was the sight of a bloody murder in 1306 when Robert Bruce cut down his rival for the Scottish throne John Comyn.
The town of Dumfries can lay claim to having been home to a number of famous people, including the author of Peter Pan; J M Barrie as well as the iconic Robert Burns. As you explore the town you will come across a number of sites that are associated with Burns. The house where he lived is now a museum dedicated to his life and work and you can still enjoy a drink in what was once his favourite ale house the Globe Inn. It was at the Globe that the first Burns night supper was ever held in 1819, a tradition which spread across the country, and later around the world as a night to honour the country’s greatest poet. The Inn has been serving ale to the people of Dumfries since 1610 and over the centuries its appearance has changed little. Burns’ favourite chair remains by the fireplace as though he could return any time and resume his writing by the open fire.
Places to Visit
No visit to Dumfries would be complete without a trip to Robert Burns House, the location where he penned some of his most memorable and famous poems. It has been a place of pilgrimage for many literary people over the years including the likes of Wordsworth, Keats and Coleridge. On view are some of his original manuscripts as well as some of his personal items including his writing desk and chair.
Leave Burns behind for a while and head outside to Castledykes Park and Gardens. This was once the site of a castle belonging to Robert the Bruce; the site where he stood is marked by a plaque. The grounds also contain a wonderful sunken garden.
If you are interested in avionics and flight the aviation museum is the place to go. Based around what was the RAF Dumfries control tower, the museum has a large collection of flying memorabilia and aircraft. The item that the museum is most proud to be able to display is a Supermarine Spitfire MKII which was raised from the bottom of Loch Doon.