TDGNHAS Series III, Volume 84

Volume PDF (public)
3084.pdf (3.44 MB)

Contents of this volume

Morag Williams

Rosa Gigantea - George Watt, including ‘On the Trail of Two Knights’ by Girija Viraraghavan

Botany, Recent

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The Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser of 14th October 2009 published an article by retired Langholm General Practitioner, Tom Kennedy, which began: ‘A NEW rose with Langholm connections has been cultivated in India and it is hoped that it may one day be planted in the Rosevale Street garden in the future.’ (More of this garden in Langholm later.) He might have added that across Dumfries and Galloway and in Grampian there are other sites which would welcome the opportunity to plant this tender and beautiful rose because of associations with Sir George Watt and involvement in attempts at its propagation in Scotland. The following article appeared in The Indian Rose Annual, XXVI, 2010, the magazine of the Indian Rose Federation, founded in 1979. It appears by kind permission of Girija and Viru Viraraghavan, recognised as celebrated ‘Rosarians of the World’.

M.G. Cavers and A. Crone

Galloway Crannogs: An Interim Report on Work at Dorman’s Island and Cults Loch by the Scottish Wetland Archaeology Programme

Archaeology (General), Iron Age

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 11(3.44 MB)


The Scottish Wetland Archaeology Programme (SWAP) has been undertaking a concerted programme of archaeological survey and excavation on a range of settlements and landscapes in wetland areas across the country. The principal aim of this work is to bring Scotland’s wetland sites into the mainstream of archaeological research, by focussing on their role within their wider landscape contexts. The crannogs of Dumfries and Galloway comprise a particularly dense concentration of these wetland sites, and two key projects at Dorman’s Island, Whitefield Loch and Cults Loch, Castle Kennedy have aimed to investigate their nature and function and, in the case of the flagship project at Cults Loch, their contemporary landscapes. This interim statement summarises some of the main results of these projects up to the end of the 2008 season.

M.G. Cavers and A. Geddes with R. Engl, A. Heald, D. Masson, Scott Timpany and J. Robertson

Homesteads In West Galloway: Excavation at Airyolland, Mochrum, Wigtownshire

Archaeology (General), Iron Age

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Archaeological work began at the site of Airyolland I in 2004 when a detailed topographic survey was carried out by the authors. In 2006, the first season of exploratory excavation began at the site; two trenches were excavated in the interior and over the perimeter rampart. The results of this first season of work were promising, and although material culture was sparse with little in terms of artefactual evidence recovered, the two trenches excavated yielded well preserved evidence of the original construction of the site. A slot across the perimeter earthwork encountered a massive stone wall, around 3m in width and composed of two well-built faces retaining a rubble core. Excavation within the interior encountered ruinous remains of interior structures, incorporating large boulders as well as several pits or postholes relating to a stone walled building in the lower half of the site.

Michael McCarthy, I. Armit, Chris Gaffney and Bobby Friel

The Isle of Whithorn: Towards a Reassessment

Archaeology (General), Iron Age, Early Mediaeval, Mediaeval

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 43(3.44 MB)


One of the characteristic archaeological features of the Machars is the series of promontory forts occupying remote headlands projecting out into Wigtown Bay, Luce Bay and the Irish Sea. They are generally characterized by one or more ramparts and ditches that appear to cut the headland off from its hinterland, but little is known about them. Morphologically they are a class of monument typical of the Iron Age and attributed very broadly to the second half of the 1st millennium BC (Armit 1997, 59; Harding 2004, 144-7).

Stuart McCulloch

Personal Allegiance in South West Scotland: 1286 – 1356

Mediaeval, History

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 57(3.44 MB)


The death of Alexander 3rd in 1286 threw Scotland into tumult and struggle. When, in the same year, the South West was attacked by the forces of Robert Bruce it gave an unpleasant foretaste of what was to come. The strategic position of the region ensured that it became a transit area, traversed by the participating armies at least 13 times during the period. However, through-transit cannot explain the full-scale invasions, almost 30 battles and serious skirmishes and the very frequent harrying of the region throughout a 70 year period of intermittent warfare. Indeed, only 27 of these 70 years were without significant conflict somewhere in the South West. Thus the South West became pivotal in the wars of this period and often exhibited non-conformist and anti-central authority patterns of allegiance and support. The reasons for this persistent local turbulence are complex.

A.J. McCulloch

The Gordons of Earlstoun

Mediaeval, Recent, History, Genealogy

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The Gordons of Earlstoun are interesting in that they, probably more than any other family in Galloway, suffered the most extreme vicissitudes of fortune. Senior cadet branch of the Gordons of Lochinvar (later Viscounts Kenmure), they built up such a large landholding that by the mid-1600s they had become one of the most powerful and influential families in Kirkcudbrightshire, and later they acquired a baronetcy. Yet within a century the family were so reduced that they were compelled to dispose of their estates, and for the next seventy-five years they remained landless. However, in the mid-eighteenth century a younger son emigrated to Jamaica where he became involved in the lucrative sugar trade, and established the foundations for a revival in the family’s fortunes. Building on this, and inheriting the baronetcy, his son was adjudged heir of entail to an estate near Borgue. Consequently the family regained much of its former eminence

Alex Anderson

The ‘Old Edinburgh Road’ in Dumfriesshire and Galloway

Recent, History

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 101(3.44 MB)


The ‘Old Edinburgh Road’ marked on Ordnance Survey maps of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright forms part of a route of great antiquity. A brief summary of its history before the turnpike era was given by the writer in a previous paper.2 The following notes are intended as an amplification of this and its extensions into Dumfriesshire and Wigtownshire, based on observations made in the intervening forty years.

A. E. MacRobert

Were the Wigtown Martyrs Drowned? A Reappraisal

Recent, History

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 121(3.44 MB)


This article explores the vituperative controversy which erupted in the mid 19th century over whether the Wigtown Martyrs were drowned. As the available evidence is neither easily accessible nor widely known, it is explained and evaluated. The conclusion is that they were drowned but there remain several mysteries including what happened to a reprieve from the Privy Council. Some historians have therefore been unable to agree that the drownings took place.

James D. McLay

Observations on an Eighteenth Century Gradient Diagram

Recent, Cartography

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 129(3.44 MB)


In the internet catalogue of the National Archives of Scotland appeared RHP 35867, entitled; ‘A Gradient Diagram of alterations to the military road from Path Brae’, with comments and explanation, dated 1786 and with the signature William Mure. The original document has the accession number STEWM:7405 in the Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright, where the curator, Dr David Devereux, made it available for inspection and offered useful local knowledge.

James Williams

Transactions and Proceedings 1868-75: The Society’s ‘Missing Years’


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The early history of the society was recorded by Sir Hugh Gladstone in his Presidential Address of 19122 – and indicates that the Society, having commenced in 1862, ran ‘in a prosperous condition till May 1875 when its meetings ceased’ . It was‘re-constituted’ in November 1876 and has continued to the present day. The published transactions do not provide any record of proceedings for the period from 1869 to 1875. In spite of two references by Gladstone there is a perception that nothing happened between 1869 and 1875 – and this apparent hiatus is re-inforced by the existence of two separate series of printed Transactions – from 1862-1869 and then 1876 to the present. The information gap from 1867-9 until 1874-5 can, however, be filled out to some extent by examining the various reports which appeared from time to time in the local press. The collating of these extracts is eased by an understanding that at this time in the Society’s history it was organised around having the first, or Annual General Meeting, of each session during the month of December: this was then usually followed by a further five ‘Winter Meetings’ finishing in May. Thereafter, there normally followed five monthly ‘Field Meetings’ until October. Such of these reports that can be found have been collated and the following pages are a summary of the Society’s activities during those ‘missing years’.

David F. Devereux

Two Letters from Joseph Train Relating to His Early Literary Career and Collaboration with (Sir) Walter Scott

Recent (Literature & Art)

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 161(3.44 MB)


A recent review of the archive collections held in The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright has brought to light two letters2 written by Joseph Train to his friend John Stobo, a Sergeant in the Ayrshire Militia. Joseph Train (1779-1852) was an Excise officer from 1808, working in various parts of Scotland until his retirement to Castle Douglas. He was one of south west Scotland’s earliest antiquaries and is particularly known as a correspondent of Sir Walter Scott for whom he collected and supplied traditional and historical information from this area3 . This information inspired and provided the historical basis for several of Scott’s poetical and prose works.

Andrew Breeze

Whithorn’s Renown in the Early Medieval Period: Whithorn, ‘Futerna’ and ‘Magnum Monasterium’, by Fiona Edmonds and St. Ninian and the Earliest Christianity in Scotland: Papers from the Conference held by the Friends of the Whithorn Trust in Whithorn on Se


TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 164(3.44 MB)