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Home » Heritage


See Great Monuments to the Passage of Time …

The stars have watched from above as the ebb and flow of Dumfries & Galloway’s history, by turns enchanting, bloody, inspiring and bold, has shaped the culture and landscape of this inimitable region over time. Fought over and fought upon, influenced by cultures from the west, the east, north and south, Dumfries and Galloway has a truly unique story to tell. Some historians have associated this land with the legends of King Arthur and Tristan and Iseult, and the Iron Age forts, such as the Moat of Mark, near Kippford, that still stand today, suggest that all legends hold more than a grain of truth.


Where the sky meets the land stand the castles of Dumfriesshire and Galloway. At Threave, Black Douglas, kept watch from his island stronghold circled by the wide river Dee. Invaders have come and gone, families found fortune and failure, and time has wrapped melancholy around their monuments. Here is a telling heritage that has inspired artists, writers and visitors alike. Lonely Loch Doon Castle, set amid the Galloway hills and sky, sweetly named Caerlaverock, a marvel of military design, Dunskey Castle, a ruin perched atop a cliff overlooking the Irish Sea. The Kennedys, Douglases, Balliols, great dynasties, Kings of Scotland and its enemies… They came, saw, conquered and the unchanging stars watched as the battle cries fell silent.


The plainchant of monks and nuns echoed among the green valleys and woods as the abbeys of the Cistercian order were constructed with religious zeal during the high Middle-Ages. Today they lie as romantic ruins in the pastoral landscape of what were once their estates. The red sandstone of Sweetheart Abbey founded in 1275 by Devorgilla of Galloway in memory of her husband, John de Balliol, rouges at sunset; the sublime gothic arch of the nave of Dundrennan, still reaches for the stars; the elegant Chapter House of Glenluce Abbey founded in 1190 by Lochlann, Lord of Galloway, silhouettes against the evening sky.


High on a moor overlooking the hills of the Isle of Man far into the Irish Sea, Cairn Holy 1 & 2 are two of the many monuments that bear witness to this region’s distant past. Mighty structures, they have outlived their culture and watched the stars change their positions, so ancient are they. In the Neolithic age the climate was warmer and these monuments, often in remote but accessible parts of landscape, were built by a people with different beliefs and a different understanding of the cosmos. They built chambered cairns, passage graves, long cairns, stone circles, stone rows and raised standing stones – all witness to an era that thrived and lived off the land and sea and gazed in wonder at the sky… like us today.

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