Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kirkcudbright, (pronounced ) the county town of Kirkcudbrightshire, is a town in the south of Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway, south of Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie, in the part of Dumfries and Galloway known as the Stewartry, situated at the mouth of the river Dee, some six miles from the sea.
The early rendition of the name of the town was Kilcudbrit, derived from the Gaelic Cii Cudbert, (Chapel of Cuthbert), the Saint whose mortal remains were kept here for seven years between exhumation at Lindisfarne and re-interment at Chester-le-Street.
Spottiswood, in his account of religious houses in Scotland mentions the Franciscans or Grey Friars had been established at Kirkcudbright from the 12th century. No trace of the Greyfriars or Franciscan dwellings remain in the parish of Kirkcudbright.
In 1453, Kirkcudbright became a royal burgh, and about a hundred years later the magistrates of the town obtained permission from Queen Mary to use part of the convent and nunnery as a parish church. From around 1570 Sir Thomas Maclellan of Bombie, (Bomby), 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 built a very fine house on the site.
After the battle of Towton, Henry VI crossed the Solway in the August of 1461, to land at Kirkcudbright in support of the Queen Margaret at Linlithgow. The town also successfully withstood the English siege in 1547 under Sir Thomas Carleton, but after the surrounding countryside had been overrun was compelled to surrender.
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, is part of the collection, as are paintings by the many local artists.
The Tolbooth was built between 1625 and 1629 and served not only as the tollbooth, 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. The building is now used as an Arts Centre.
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 S. J. Peploe and F. C. B. 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 Edward Hornel, George Henry and Jessie M King , and their presence led to Kirkcudbright becoming known as "the artistsí town", although this moniker may have originated more from tourist board publicity rather than local usage. The whodunit The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers involves the artistic community of Kirkcudbright.
The Dumfries & Galloway Standard, November, 1891.
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