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Kirkcudbright painted houses.jpg
Grid reference: NX685505
Location: 54°49’55"N, 4°2’53"W
Population: 3,447  (2001)
Post town: Kirkcudbright
Postcode: DG6
Dialling code: 01557
Local Government
Council: Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway

Kirkcudbright, (pronounced kərˈkuːbriː) is the county town of Kirkcudbrightshire. It is a small town, built around a sheltered harbour on the Dee estuary, behind which are pretty streets of historic buildings.

The town lies south of Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie, at the mouth of the River Dee, as it broadens into its estuary, some six miles from the open sea.


The town derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon Saint Cuthbert, whose mortal remains were kept here for seven years between exhumation at Lindisfarne and re-interment at Chester-le-Street.

Spottiswood, in his account of religious houses in Scotland, mentions that the Franciscans or Grey Friars had been established at Kirkcudbright from the 12th century. No traces of the Greyfriars or Franciscan dwellings remain in the parish of Kirkcudbright.

In 1453, Kirkcudbright became a royal burgh[1]

After his defeat at the Battle of Towton, Henry VI of England crossed the Solway Firth in August 1461 to land at Kirkcudbright in support of Queen Margaret at Linlithgow. The town also successfully withstood a siege in 1547 from the English commander Sir Thomas Carleton, but after the surrounding countryside had been overrun was compelled to surrender.

In the sixteenth century, the magistrates of the town obtained permission from Mary Queen of Scots, to use part of the convent and nunnery as a parish church. From around 1570, Sir Thomas Maclellan of Bombie, the chief magistrate, received a charter for the site, its grounds, and gardens. Maclellan dismantled the church in order to obtain material for his proposed castle and proceeded to have a very fine house, MacLellan's Castle, built on the site.

The Tolbooth was built between 1625 and 1629 and served not only as the tollbooth, but also the council offices, the Burgh and Sheriff courts, the criminal prison, and the debtors' prison. One of its most famous prisoners was John Paul Jones, founder of the American navy, who was born in nearby Kirkbean.

The town's war memorial is particularly poignant for its type. It was designed in 1922 by George Henry Paulin.



Kirkcudbright Close - - 219815.jpg

Kirkcudbright's picturesque buildings and comfy feel have long attracted both amateur painters and renowned artists. Kirkcudbright has had a long association with the Glasgow art movement, which started when a colony of artists, including the Glasgow Boys and the famed Scottish Colourists, such as Samuel Peploe and F C B Cadell, moved to the area and worked form there over a 30-year period from 1880 to 1910.

Many of these artists moved to the town from Glasgow, amongst them E A Hornel, George Henry and Jessie M King, and their presence led to Kirkcudbright's becoming known as "the artists’ town". Certainly the tourist promoters called it such..[2] rather than local usage.


The Stewartry Museum was founded in 1879 and was at first based in the Town Hall until it became too small. The collection moved to a purpose-built site and contains the local and natural history of Kirkcudbrightshire. Britain's earliest surviving sporting trophy, the Siller Gun [3], is part of the collection, as are paintings by many local artists.

The Tolbooth building is now used as an Arts Centre. [4]


Outside links

Picture gallery