When Robert Bruce met his rival, the Red Coymn, in Dumfries in 1306, a meeting which ended with the deaths of Comyn and his uncle Robert, Dumfries had been a Royal Burgh for more than 120 years. Dumfries was said to be the third most important town in Scotland. It’s 200years-old castle was occupied by English troops until Bruce captured it and destroyed it. The castle site is now a secluded park, known as Castledykes, complete with a statue of Robert Bruce.
By the 1600s, Dumfries was a major seaport and local merchants traded with the Americas. Tobacco from Virginia was imported here to be forwarded all over Britain, and Europe. The harbour area is now called Dock Park.
Over the centuries, Dumfries continued to play an important role in Scottish history. Covenanters, who resisted the attempts to force them into worshipping in a standardised version, were executed in Dumfries. (Monuments in St Michael’s kirkyard and the Whitesands) Jacobites, especially Bonnie Prince Charlie, held the town to ransom on his way North in 1745, only to suffer defeat at Culloden Moor in 1746. In 1787, Dumfries was visited by Robert Burns, a celebrity poet of the day. He was given an honorary Burgess ticket, the freedom of the Burgh. This enticed Burns to make his home here in 1789 and many important works of his were written here before he died in 1796. His mausoleum in St Michael’s Kirkyard and nearby house receive visitors from all over the world.
J.M Barrie, author of Peter Pan, attended school in Dumfries and credited the garden at Moatbrae as the inspiration behind his most famous work. More recently, Robbie Waland, born and educated in Dumfries and working in Arizona, created the telescope which pin-pointed the moon landings in 1969. Robbie retired to Dumfries and is buried here. Calvin Harris, the world-famous DJ, was born here and began his music career in the local music venues.
The list of local people who went on to greater things is too long to be included here. In Dumfries, history is all around us, ready to be re-discovered. All we need to do is look.