Guid Nychburris` History
Scottish communities granted Royal Burgh status by the monarch gaurded the honour jealously and with vigour. And Riding the Marches maintains the tradition of an occasion that was, in it's day, of great importance.
Dumfries has been a Royal Burgh since 1186 its charter being granted by King Robert III a move that insured the loyalty of its citizens to the Monarch.
Although far from the centre of power in Scotland, Dumfries had obvious strategic significance sitting as it does on the edge of Galloway and being the centre of control for the south west of Scotland.
With the River Nith on two sides and the Lochar Moss on another, Dumfries was a town with good natural defences. Consequently it was never completely walled. But, a careful eye still had to be kept on the clearly defined boundaries of the burgh, a task that had to be taken each year by the Provost, Baillies, Burgesses and others within the town.
Neighbouring landowners might easily try to encroach on the town boundaries, or the Marches as they were known, Moving them back 100 yards or so to their own benefit. It had to be made clear to anyone thinking of or trying to encroach that they dare not do so.
Nowadays, of course, all matters relating to land and its ownership are clearly registered, But it was clearly different in days gone by. In return for the Royal statusof the town and the favour of the King, the Provost and his council, along with other worthies of the town had to be diligent in ensuring the boundaries were strictly observed.
Although steeped in history, Scotland's burghs remained the foundation of the country's system of local government for centuries. Burgh status confered on its citizens the right to elect their own town councils, run their own affairs and raise their own local taxes or rates.
In 1974 the burghs became part of larger districts and regions. Those boundaries, so jealously and vigorousl garded over so many years, lost the significance they were granted by Royal statute. Ancient titles Ancient titles like Provost and Bailie were discarded or retained only for ceremonial purposes. Robes and chains often found their way into museums as a reminder of the past.
Dumfries remains a centre of local government for a much bigger area than just the town itself. But its people, the Doonhamers still retain a pride in their town and distinctive identity. This is never more so than during the week long Guid Nychburris Festival and its highlight the Riding of the Marches which takes place on the third Saturday in June each year.
The ceremony on Guid Nychburris Day, follows a route and sequence of events laid down in the mists of time. Formal proceedings start at 7.30am with the gathering of upto 250 horses waiting for the courier to arrive and anounce that the Pursuivant is on his way, and at 8.00am leave the Midsteeple and ride out to meet the Pursuivant. They then proceed to Ride the Marches and Stob and Nog (mark the boundary with posts and flags) before returning to the Midsteeple at 12.15pm to meet the Provost and then the Charter is proclaimed to the towns people of Dumfries. This is then followed by the crowning of the Queen of the South.
visit a farm
If you can try and visit a local farm. One of my friends owns the largest one in the area (carruchan farm, to be precise) so I was welcome to go see it: I must say that I was impressed... they're miles ahead the stereotype of your usual farmer. So many pieces of machinery... i could hardly believe it... and then again maybe it's the only way to move on from substantial farming. One thing did not differ, however - the love for their land and their livestoxk
The following are all within easy reach of Dumfries if anything takes your interest
* Solway Coast ("Costa del Solway" in Spanish)
* Sweetheart Abbey in the village of New Abbey
* New Abbey Corn Mill Museum
* Criffel - a hill on the Solway Coast popular with hill walkers for it's magnificent views of the Southern Scottish coastline and across the Solway Firth to the Lake District of Cumbria. Not the highest hill in South West Scotland by a long way (for example Merrick and Broad Law are much higher as are many others) but still very worth a visit if hill walking is your thing.
* Threave Castle in Castle Douglas, home to the Douglas Clan of James Douglas who fought with Robert Bruce
* Moniaive conservation village
* Moffat and the views nearby of The Devil's Beef Tub, The Grey Mare's Tail waterfall and the road once allegedly described by Jimmy Saville as his favourite road (don't quote me on that as someone may have been on the wind up but the A708 from Moffat past the Grey Mare's Tail to St Mary's loch is certainly beautiful). For even better panorama take a circuit from Moffat going out the A708 and then turn left at the sign for Tweedsmuir to eventually come back into Moffat on the A701 past the Devil's Beef Tub
In 1935, the remains of the victims of the Lancaster murderer, Dr Buck Ruxton, were found in a stream near The Devil's Beef Tub. A landmark case in legal history, it was the first in which the murderer was successfully convicted using the type of highly sophisticated forensic techniques which are taken for granted in the 21st century. The bridge at the top is still used to this day - near the very top it is a switchback that is not quite wide enough for two vehicles to pass on.
* Mabie Forest
* Ae - shortest name of anywhere in Europe - in the beauty of the Annan valley and the Ae Forest
* Lochmaben with it's lochs popular with boaters and also it's history with Robert the Bruce
* Wanlockhead - Britain's highest village registered at 1531 feet above sea level and the Lead Mining Museum
* Caerlaverock Castle
* Drumlanrig Castle
* Kagyu Samye Ling was the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre to have been established in the West. It is a centre for wisdom and learning within the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It is in the picturesque village of Eskdalemuir in the Scottish Southern Uplands
* Ecclefechan - Thomas Carlyle's birthplace "The Arched House" is a tourist attraction and has been maintained by the National Trust for Scotland since 1936.
Ecclefechan lies at the foot of the large Roman Fort, Burnswark, which dominates the horizon with its flat top
* At Twynholm for motor sport enthusiasts there is the David Coulthard Museum
* Gretna Green and the Old Blacksmith's Shop famous the world over for runaway marriages
I was brought up in Dumfries but dont think I can consider myself a real "Doonhamer" which is the name for people from this towbn. It may take some time but I hope to build up some interesting tips for this town. Doonhamers were originally called this because many of them needed to go to Glasgow to find work (still the case today, especially with the student population) and at the weekends they would go Doon Hame (down home) to Dumfries!