Aims and Overview

Founded in 1862 "The objects of the Society shall be to collect and publish the best information on the natural sciences and antiquities (including history, records, genealogy, customs and heraldry) of the three counties of Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Wigtown; to procure the preservation of objects of natural science and antiquities relative to the district; to encourage local research and field activities in natural science and excavations by private individuals or public bodies and afford them suggestions and co-operation; to prevent as far as possible, any injury to ancient monuments and records, etc.; and to collect photographs, drawings and descriptions and transcripts of the same." (Rule 2)

The Society was founded at a meeting held in the Mechanics' Hall, Dumfries, at 8.00 p.m. on Thursday, 20 November 1862. The meeting had been called at the instigation of Dr James Gilchrist, Dr J Dickson and Mr W G Gibson who had decided to ‘call together local gentlemen interested in the cultivation of Natural History and Antiquarian Research at Dumfries.’ The first President was the eminent natural historian Sir William Jardine, Bart., of Applegarth.

Membership rose quickly and the first volume of the Proceedings and Transactions (for 1862–63) were published the following year. From about 1868 there was a reduction in numbers and the Society fell into a decline during the early to mid 1870s. However, the Society was re-constituted at a meeting held on 3 November 1876 at No 1 Union Street, Dumfries. From that day to the present it has continued strongly in existence providing a focus for interests in all antiquarian, archaeological, historical, genealogical and natural history topics for Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Wigtownshire and the surrounding areas.

The routine business of the Society comprises a series of (usually) eleven Winter evening lecture meetings — one of which is usually a members night. All meetings, unless otherwise indicated, are held in the Cumberland Street Day Centre, Dumfries, at 7.30 p.m. The final meeting of the Winter Session is normally held in Kirkcudbright.

During the course of the summer months a number of excursions usually take place.

The current state of the Society is as outlined within the Report of Council.

The Society publishes an annual volume of Transactions and proceedings — see the Transactions page.

A list of Members, as in May 1998, appeared in Volume 72 of the Transactions and a copy of the current Rules, dated 13 October 1995, appeared in Volume 69.

The attention of members and friends is drawn to the important Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax concessions which are conferred on individuals by the Finance Acts, in as much as bequests, or transfers of shares or cash to the Society are exempt from these taxes.

Limited grants may be available for excavations or other research. Applications should be made prior to 28 February in each year to the Hon. Secretary. Researchers are also reminded of the Mouswald Trust founded by the Society's late President Dr R.C. Reid, which provides grants for work on the Early Iron Age, Roman, Romano-British and early Christian periods. Enquiries and applications for grants should be made to Primrose and Gordon, Solicitors, 1 Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LN.