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Scottish Gaelic: Cille Chuithbeirt [1]
Kirkcudbright is located in Dumfries and Galloway
 Kirkcudbright shown within Dumfries and Galloway
Population 3,447 (2001)
OS grid reference NX685505
Council area Dumfries and Galloway
Lieutenancy area The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district DG6
Dialling code 01557
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Dumfries and Galloway
Scottish Parliament Galloway and West Dumfries
List of places

Coordinates: 54°49′55″N 4°02′53″W / 54.832°N 4.048°W / 54.832; -4.048

Kirkcudbright as illustrated in "A Late Snowfall, Galloway" by Charles Oppenheimer

Kirkcudbright, (/kərˈkbr/ kirr-KOO-bree; Scottish Gaelic: Cille Chuithbeirt) is a town and parish in Kirkcudbrightshire, of which it is traditionally the county town, within the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.

The town lies southwest of Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie at the mouth of the River Dee, some six miles (10 km) from the sea.


An early rendition of the name of the town was Kilcudbrit,[citation needed] derived from the Scottish Gaelic "Cille Chuithbeirt" (Chapel of Cuthbert), the Anglo-Saxon saint whose mortal remains were kept here for seven years between exhumation at Lindisfarne and re-interment at Chester-le-Street.[citation needed]

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,[2] and about a century later 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.

After defeat at the Battle of Towton, Henry VI of England crossed the Solway 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.[3]

The Tolbooth was built between 1625 and 1629 and served not only as the tolbooth, 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, hero of the American navy, who was born in nearby Kirkbean.[4][5]

The Kirkcudbright Railway opened in 1864, but the railway line and station closed in 1965.

The war memorial dates from 1922 and is by George Henry Paulin.

Kirkcudbright was also the seat of one of the lesser Scottish border riding clans, Clan Heron.

Kirkcudbright Training Area [edit]

Like many other remote areas during World War II, a 4,700-acre (19 km2) area to the southeast of the town and extending to the coast of the Solway Firth, was acquired by the Army in 1942, as a training area for the D Day invasion.[6][7] The area remains in active use for live-firing exercises to this day. Part of the training area is the Dundrennan Range, a weapons development and testing range. The use of this range for the testing of depleted uranium shells has been controversial.[8][9]


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 the eastern part of Galloway, formerly known as Kirkcudbrightshire and now known as the Stewartry. Britain's earliest surviving sporting trophy, the Siller Gun,[10] is part of the collection, as are paintings by many local artists.

The Tolbooth building is now used as an Arts Centre.[11]

Notable people[edit]

Jessie M. King's house, the Greengate

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 Francis Cadell, based themselves in the area over a 30-year period from 1880 to 1910.

Many of them moved to the town from Glasgow, including E A Hornel, George Henry, and Jessie M. King, and their presence led to Kirkcudbright becoming known as "the artists' town", although town residents see the town as a "fishing town": as the town has a harbour, this soubriquet may have originated more from tourist-board publicity[12] rather than local usage.

Landscape and figure painter William Hanna Clarke lived in Kirkcudbright and many of his works featured Kirkcudbright. He is buried in the town's churchyard and his tombstone was carved by friend, Glasgow sculptor, Alexander Proudfoot.[13]

Kirkcudbright has been home to some professional footballers, most notably Bob McDougall, George Cloy and David Mathieson.

David MacMyn, Scottish rugby international, was from Kirkcudbright as was Ellis Cooper-Frater's family.

Composer Cecil Coles was born in Kirkcudbright.


Kirkcudbright is represented in the South of Scotland Football League by St. Cuthbert Wanderers F.C.. The club's best-known ex-players are Bob McDougall, Billy Halliday and David Mathieson.

Cinema and literature[edit]

Kirkcudbright Harbour

The whodunit Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers involves the artistic community of Kirkcudbright.[14] In 1975, the book was made into a film shot in the town, with Ian Carmichael playing the lead role of Lord Peter Wimsey.

The town also provided locations for the cult 1973 horror film The Wicker Man. Several parts of the town can be easily recognised in the film.


  1. ^;Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba ~ Gaelic Place-names of Scotland'']. Retrieved on 26 March 2015.
  2. ^ Old Kirkcudbright history. Retrieved on 22 June 2011.
  3. ^ Account of Sir Thomas Carleton. Retrieved on 14 November 2012.
  4. ^ Slaving and a Murder Trial. Retrieved on 14 November 2012.
  5. ^ 1770 Extract of Warrant for the arrest of John Paul (Jones). Retrieved on 14 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Kirkcudbright Training Area". Ministry of Defence. 
  7. ^ "Kirkcudbright Training Area". 
  8. ^ "Call to stop uranium shell tests". BBC News. 7 February 2001. 
  9. ^ "Weapon test move comes under fire". BBC News. 11 March 2008. 
  10. ^ Siller Gun. Retrieved on 22 June 2011.
  11. ^ Tolbooth Arts Centre. Retrieved on 22 June 2011.
  12. ^ Artists' Town official website. Kirkcudbright. Retrieved on 22 June 2011.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Five Red Herrings

External links[edit]