The Town of Dumfries

           
St. Michael's Bridge          

The River Nith


The Robert Burns Center

          
                 A New Bridge

The Nith rises and falls with the Solway tide and flows through the town of Dumfries, about forty miles east of the Cree.  There are plaques on the side of St. Michael's Bridge bearing the arms of Dumfries and Maxwelltown.  Dumfries was Robert Burns's home later in his too brief life.  An 18th-century watermill houses a museum dedicated to his last years.  A walk from there to St. Michael's Kirk took us to his home church.

Rev. Patrick Linn

 

The Kirkyard

St. Michael's Kirk

 

 

The Kirk

 

Linn Inscription


 

Original Burns Gravesite

 

For over 1,300 years, a Christian church has stood on this spot.  In 1715, Rev. Patrick Linn was made Minister of Dumfries, in which service he remained until his death in 1731.  When the present edifice was built in 1746, his tombstone was moved from its original location and placed in an outside wall of the building. It reads in part that he preached “in publick with uncommon eloquence, undaunted courage and impartial freedom to the edification of many” and was “faithfull in every relation, of a truely Christian spirit ...”

Robert Burns' remains have been moved from his original gravesite to a prominent corner of the kirkyard and placed in a mausoleum, which unfortunately we failed to photograph.

 

From St. Michael's Kirk, we strolled down Burns Street.  My attention was caught by a large white house with the words "Burns House" on its side.  I immediately took a photo.  Turning around, we both noticed an elderly man sitting on a bench across the street, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  I couldn't imagine what was so amusing.  Then I noticed that on the building I'd just photographed, beneath the words "Burns House," was an arrow pointing across the street.  There was the real home of the Bard, plaques and all.

The Burns House

Robert Burns died in that home on 21 July 1796, a heart ailment claiming his life at the age of thirty-seven.  After a few moments, we left the charming town of Dumfries and drove north through the River Nith valley. A mere seventeen miles brought us to the Queensberry Estate and its famous castle.

Drumlanrig

Aptly described as "the Versailles of Scotland," this castle's name means "fort on the long ridge."  Built between 1679 and 1691 on the site of an earlier Douglas stronghold, its grand architecture and stately grounds put it in league with the famous French palace.  The surrounding 120,000-acre estate includes a country park, Victorian gardens, and tenant farms.  Inside the castle, the emblem of a heart is seen in the structure of a number of rooms, associating the clan with Robert the Bruce.  In the 14th century, according to legend, Sir James Douglas honored his dear friend and sovereign's dying request by carrying his embalmed heart in a casket on a crusade to the Holy Land.  Stricken on the way by an enemy's  arrow,  Douglas hurled the casket onto the field ahead of him and shouted, "Forward, brave heart!"

     

The next four centuries proved the loyalty of the Douglas clan to the Stewart kings until, finally, one room at Drumlanrig became an overnight respite for Prince Charles Edward Stuart.  It was 22 December 1745, and Bonnie Prince Charlie was retreating northward from England with 2,000 of his Highlanders.

One of several Clan Douglas castles, Drumlanrig serves in part as the Dumfriesshire residence of the clan chief ~ the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry.  For that reason, no photographs of the interior are allowed.  However, the architecture, history, and gardens of Drumlanrig provide a full day of enjoyment.  If you visit, be sure to also enjoy the Tea Room!  We did, and then resumed our travels.  Just a mile or two farther north, we arrived at a grey stone church which seemed picturesque, but we learned it also had a bit of history.  Well, no surprise that.

 

Durisdeer Kirk

Daniel McMichaels' Grave

In the village of Durisdeer, on the western edge of the Lowther Hills in Dumfriesshire, is this fine stone kirk built by the first Duke of Queensberry in the late 17th century.  The Duke and Duchess both are buried at the kirk, but the grave pictured here is that of a martyred Covenanter.  His epitaph consists of two parts on a single stone, the first inscribed in one direction and the second perpendicular to the first. The first records the place, cause, and year of his death, along with a Bible reference.  The second delivers a striking message:

 

DANIEL McMICHAEL, MARTYR SHOT DEAD AT DALVEEN BY SIR JOHN DALYEL FOR HIS ADHEREING TO THE ~ WORD OF GOD CHRIST'S KINGLY GOVERNMENT IN HIS HOUSE: AND THE COVENANTED WORK OF THE REFORMATION AGAINST TYRANNY PERJURY AND PRELACY. 1685. REV:12·1_

AS DANIEL CAST WAS IN LYONS DEN FOR PRAYING UNTO GOD AND NOT TO MEN SO LYONS THUS CRUELLY DEVOURED ME FOR BEARING WITNESS TO TRUTH'S TESTIMONY. I REST IN PEACE TILL JESUS REND THE CLOUD AND JUDGE TWIXT ME AND THOSE WHO SHED MY BLOOD.

 

Set behind the original flat stone is an upright commemorating a memorial service held 57 years after McMichael's death.  More images of Durisdeer can be seen at: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/durisdeer/durisdeer/index.html.

Finally, we continued on our way back to Craigadam, stopping to pick up fish and chips at a local pub.

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