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Ecclefechan is located in Dumfries and Galloway
Ecclefechan shown within Dumfries and Galloway
Population746 [1] (2001 census)
est. 840[2] (2006)
OS grid referenceNY193748
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtDG11
Dialling code01576
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°03′41″N 3°15′51″W / 55.0615°N 3.2642°W / 55.0615; -3.2642Coordinates: 55°03′41″N 3°15′51″W / 55.0615°N 3.2642°W / 55.0615; -3.2642

Ecclefechan (Scottish Gaelic: Eaglais Fheichein) is a small village in the south of Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway, famous for being the birthplace of poet and author Thomas Carlyle. It also has two food types called after it: the ecclefechan tart and ecclefechan whisky.


The name Ecclefechan is derived from the Brythonic for "small church" (cognate with Welsh eglwys meaning church and bychan meaning small, which has the form fechan following a feminine noun). After Gaelic later spread in the area, the belief arose that the name derived from the 7th century St Féchín of Fore. A suggestion that Ecclefechan lay within the early middle age kingdom of Rheged is based on an outdated and now widely rejected idea that Rheged comprised the lands of Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway and also presumes that Ecclefechan existed as a settlement in those times (c.500-600s). The location of Rheged remains a mystery.

The village is known as "Fechan" to the local residents. It has two shops, one of which is no longer a post office, a hairdresser, a doctors' surgery and a primary school "Hoddom Primary School". It also has three hotels: "The Ecclefechan Hotel," with its white-painted frontage, is prominent on the High Street and the main junction in the village; the "Cressfield Hotel," which has an adjoining caravan park; and "Kirkconnel Hall Hotel," which sits to the north.

Geography and administration[edit]

Ecclefechan lies in the valley of the Mein Water, a tributary of the River Annan, 5 miles (8 km) north of Annan and 8 miles (13 km) northwest of the English border.[3] The A74(M) motorway runs immediately north of the village and Junction 19 is just northwest of the village.[3]

The High Street of the village has a burn which runs through a culvert below it. This culvert was constructed in 1875 by Dr George Arnott at his own expense.

Places of interest[edit]

Thomas Carlyle's birthplace

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 a large Roman Fort, Burnswark, whose flat top dominates the horizon. 2 miles (3 km) from the village centre lies Hoddom Castle, a caravan and holiday park.

Notable residents[edit]

Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), the essayist, satirist and historian was born in Ecclefechan on 4 December 1795 at The Arched House. Carlyle left Ecclefechan at the age of thirteen and walked the 84-mile-long (135 km) journey to Edinburgh in order to attend university. In 1828 Carlyle moved to Craigenputtock with his wife Jane. He never forgot his roots and insisted that Ecclefechan should become his final resting place. He was buried in Ecclefechan churchyard on 5 February 1881.

Archibald Arnott (1772–1855),[4] Napoleon's doctor on St Helena, was born in Ecclefechan on 18 April 1772 at Kirconnel Hall. He returned to Ecclefechan in his retirement and he was also buried in the Ecclefechan churchyard.

William Harkness (1837–1903), an astronomer, was born at Ecclefechan.

James Bryson McLachlan (1869–1937) was born in Ecclefechan but emigrated to Nova Scotia, where he became a noted Labour figure, and member of the Communist party.


Robert Burns (1759–1796) composed a song entitled The Lass O' Ecclefechan.

Ecclefechan also has links to the Guinness family, the story of the Whistling Ploughboy of Ecclefechan under the title A Guinness With a Difference was produced by ministries and charts the ploughboy's influence under God on the Guinness family.

"Oor Wullie" of The Sunday Post fame once got a day off school for spelling "Ecclefechan" correctly, and the Jocks and the Geordies of The Dandy once reminisced the Great Battle of Ecclefechan.

Local produce includes Ecclefechan Tart and a blended Scotch whisky called "The Fechan" whose label denotes the Arched House. The Ecclefechan Tart gained national prominence in late 2007 when the supermarket Sainsbury's promoted it as an alternative to mince pies at Christmas, and the tarts sold over 50,000 packs in November 2007.[5] A version made by the Moray confectioner Walkers is now nationally available in the United Kingdom.


  1. ^ "Comparative Population Profile: Ecclefechan Locality". Scotland's Census Results Online. 2001-04-29. Archived from the original on 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  3. ^ a b (Map) (1:50 000 scale (2 cm to 1 km; approximately 1​14 inches to 1 mile))|format= requires |url= (help)Landranger Map. Ordnance Survey (85). ISBN 0-319-22685-9. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Dr. Archibald Arnott: Surgeon to the 20th Foot and Physician to Napoleon". British Medical Journal. 3 (5978): 293–295. 2 August 1975. doi:10.1136/bmj.3.5978.293. PMC 1674241. PMID 1097047.
  5. ^ "Scottish tart proves festive hit". BBC News. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 27 March 2010.