Historic Interest

Dumfries and Galloway has a wealth of historic locations to visit and enjoy

Dumfries and Galloway has a large number of historic sites to visit - from castles to ancient cairns and lighthouses to abbeys. Living at Mossband Residential Park provides not only a luxury lifestyle, but the opportunity to explore all that's on offer in this wonderful Scottish region.

Caerlaverock Castle 

Caerlaverock Castle, just under 7 miles south of Dumfries, is a moated triangular castle first built in the 13th century. It was a stronghold of the Maxwell family from the 13th century until the 17th century when the castle was abandoned. It was besieged by the English during the Wars of Scottish Independence and underwent several partial demolitions and reconstructions over the 14th and 15th centuries. Despite this, the castle retains the distinctive triangular plan first laid out in the 13th century and is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

Image: Simon Ledingham

Cardoness Castle

Cardoness Castle is a well-preserved 15th-century tower house sitting south west of Gatehouse-of-Fleet. It was originally owned by the McCullochs of Myreton who abandoned the castle in the late 17th Century, following the execution of Sir Godfrey McCulloch for the murder of a Clan Gordon neighbour. It is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland and is a scheduled monument.

Image: Otter

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

An active lighthouse on Scotland’s most southerly point, the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse was built in 1830 by engineer Robert Stevenson. The white-painted round tower is 26 metres (85ft) high and the light is 99 metres (325 ft) above sea level with a range a range of 28 nautical miles (52 km). The lighthouse is now automatic and an old outhouse has been converted into a visitor centre, run by the South Rhins Community Development Trust.

Image: Krzysztof Hryniewski

Orchardton Tower House

A ruined tower, Orchardton Tower House is located 4 miles (6.1km) south of Dalbeattie and 1 mile (1.7km) south of the tiny harbour village of Palnackie. It is remarkable as the only cylindrical tower house in Scotland. Orchardton Tower is in the care of Historic Scotland.

Image: Mike Palmer

Corsewall Lighthouse

Corsewall Lighthouse is a lighthouse at Corsewall Point, Kirkcolm near Stranraer, at the entrance to Lochryan. The light is automated, but the rest of the building is now an upmarket hotel.

Image: Mary and Angus Hogg

Carsluith Castle

Carsluith Castle is a ruined tower house dating largely from the 16th century. It is located beside Wigtown Bay on the Galloway coast of south-west Scotland, around 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) south east of Creetown. Image: Alison Stamp

Thomas Carlyle’s Birthplace

The essayist, satirist and historian, Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) was born in Ecclefechan in 1795 at The Arched House. Carlyle left Ecclefechan at the age of 13 and walked the 84-mile-long journey to Edinburgh in order to attend university. In 1828, Carlyle moved to Craigenputtock with his wife Jane. He is buried in Ecclefechan churchyard.

Image: DeFacto

Drumtroddan Carvings

Drumtroddan Prehistoric Rock Carvings are three groups of well-defined cup and ring marks on bedrock, probably carved in the Bronze Age.

Image: Roger W Haworth

Devorgilla Bridge

The orginal bridge was built, probably in timber, by Lady Devorgilla around 1270, but the name ‘Devorgilla Bridge’ has been attributed to all successive stone bridges on that site including the one which stands today. Its construction began in the 1620s after its predecessor was swept away during major floods. Maintenance tolls were imposed in 1681 and the Toll House is now a museum.

Drumlanrig Castle

The Category A Listed Drumlanrig Castle is situated on the Queensberry Estate in Dumfriesshire and is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The castle is open to the public at set times and is home to the annual Galloway Country Fair.

Image: Lynne Kirton

Camera Obscura, Dumfries

Camera Obscura is located at Dumfries Museum and is the world's oldest working Camera Obscura. Originally built as a four-storey windmill in 1798, the site was purchased by Dumfries and Maxwellton Astronomical Society in 1834. Over a two-year period, the tower was converted into an Observatory and was used in this role until 1872.

Image: FutureMuseumSW

New Abbey Cornmill

The New Abbey Cornmill is an 18th-century water-powered mill which is still put to work during the summer months to demonstrate how oatmeal is made. The mill is in the care of Historic Scotland.

Image: John Lord

Torhouse Stone Circle

The stone circle has not yet been archaeologically excavated, but probably dates to the Neolithic period or the Bronze Age. The Torhouse Stones are in the care of Historic Scotland as a scheduled monument.

Image: Billy McCrorie.

Dundrennan Abbey

Dundrennan Abbey near Kirkcudbright was a Cistercian monastery in the Romanesque architectural style, established in 1142 by Fergus of Galloway, King David I of Scotland (1124–53) and monks from Rievaulx Abbey. Dundrennan is noted for the purity and restraint of its architecture, reflecting the austere Cistercian ideal. It is also built from very hard-weathering grey sandstone, so the original architectural forms and mouldings are well preserved. Mary, Queen of Scots, after the Battle of Langside, spent her final night in Scotland here, in 1568. Historic Scotland maintains the Abbey today.

Image: Lorna M Campbell

MacLellan’s Castle

MacLellan's Castle in Kirkcudbright dates from the late 16th century and stands in the centre of the town on the south side of the River Dee. The L-plan castle was the residence of the MacLellan family who sold it in 1752. From 1782 to 1912, it was held by the Earls of Selkirk. Today, the site is cared for by Historic Scotland.

Morton Castle

Morton Castle is located by an artificial loch in the hills above Nithsdale and lies 4kms (2.5 miles) north-east of Thornhill. It once formed part of a chain of castles along the strategically important Nith Valley which runs from the Solway Firth north to the Clyde Valley.

Image: Bubobubo2

Lochmaben Castle

Lochmaben Castle is a ruined castle in the town of Lochmaben in the feudal Lordship of Annandale. It was built by Edward I in the 13th and 14th centuries and later rebuilt during the reign of James IV of Scotland. An earlier motte-and-bailey castle was built south of the current castle in c. 1160 by the Bruce family, Lords of Annandale.

Image: Otter

Old Blacksmith’s Shop

The Old Blacksmith's Shop Gretna Green was built around 1712 and became the focal point for eloping English couples who could marry without parental consent in Scotland, but not England. Many of the marriages were carried out over the anvil of The Old Blacksmith's Shop which opened to the public as a visitor attraction as early as 1887 and still performs weddings today.

Image: Niki Odolphie

Robert Burns House

This is the simple sandstone house in Dumfries where Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, spent the last years of his life and where he wrote some of his best known poems. It is now a museum to Burns.

Image: DeFacto

Killantringan Lighthouse

Killantringan Lighthouse near Portpatrick came into operation in 1900 and served as a waypoint in the North Channel of the Irish Sea. The lighthouse is protected as a category B listed building.

Image: David Dixon

Whithorn Priory

The priory was founded about the middle of the 12th century by Fergus, the Lord of Galloway (died 1161), during the reign of King David I of Scotland (died 1153), for a community of Premonstratensian canons regular, referred to colloquially in Britain as the White Canons. Whithorn was a noted place of pilgrimage owing to its connection with the venerated memory of Saint Ninian. Many Scottish sovereigns, among them Margaret (Queen of James III), James IV and James V, made repeated pilgrimages to the saint's shrine.

Image: Otter

Kirkmadrine Stones

Monogram Stones of Kirkmadrine date from about AD450 which makes them the earliest inscribed Christian gravestones in Scotland and the oldest Christian monuments.

Glenluce Abbey

Glenluce Abbey near the village of the same name was a Cistercian monastery, also known as the Abbey of Luce or Vallis Lucis and founded around 1190 by Rolland or Lochlann, Lord of Galloway and Constable of Scotland. Following the Scottish Reformation in 1560, the abbey fell into disuse.

Image: Alison Stamp

Sweetheart Abbey

The abbey was founded by Dervorguilla of Galloway, daughter of Alan, Lord of Galloway, in memory of her husband, Baron John de Balliol. After his death, she kept his embalmed heart, contained in a casket of ivory and silver, with her for the rest of her life and it was buried alongside her when she died. In line with this devotion to her late husband, she named the abbey Dulce Cor (Latin for Sweet Heart).

Threave Castle

Built in the 1370s by Archibald the Grim, Threave Castle is situated on an island in the River Dee, 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) west of Castle Douglas. It was a stronghold of the "Black Douglases", Earls of Douglas and Lords of Galloway, until their fall in 1455.

Image: Lorna M Campbell

Drumcoltran Tower

Drumcoltran Tower is a late-16th-century tower house situated near Dalbeattie and was built by a branch of the Maxwell family around 1570. It later passed with the estate to the Irvings in 1668. The Maxwells, however, constructed the existing farm steading and made alterations to the interior of the tower in the 18th century.

Image: Alison Stamp

Ruthwell Cross

The Ruthwell Cross is a stone Anglo-Saxon cross probably dating from the 8th century when the village of Ruthwell, now in Scotland, was part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. It is both the most famous and elaborate Anglo-Saxon monumental sculpture and possibly the oldest surviving "text" of Scots poetry, predating any manuscripts containing Old English poetry.

Image: Lairich Rig

Cairnholy Chambered Cairns

The Cairnholy tombs are situated on a hillside overlooking Wigtown Bay next to Cairnholy Farm. The site can be accessed at the end of a minor road about 1 kilometre from the A75.

Southerness Lighthouse

Southerness lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in Scotland, built in 1749 to assist in the safe passage though the Solway Firth of ships heading to the Nith Estuary. With a sparse road network in the area at the time, the bulk of trade, even between local villages, was carried out by sea. Dumfries was a major port and there were regular connections with Liverpool and Ireland.
In 1805, the lighthouse was greatly improved under the guidance of the famous lighthouse engineer Robert Stevenson and was decommissioned in 1936.

Image: Terry Whalebone

Portpatrick Harbour

Portpatrick was founded on fishing, operating from the sandy, crescent-shaped harbour that remains the focal point of the village today.

Image:  Gordon McKee