Dumfries and Galloway to Celebrate Norwegian Connection

A four-day event is taking place this weekend in Dumfries to celebrate the connections between our region and Norway, established during World War Two.

Organised by the ‘Scottish Norwegian Connection’ (SNC) there will be around 40 visitors from Norway along with Scottish people who have connections with Norwegians. King Harald V of Norway has appointed Captain Pål Hope, Norwegian Defence Attaché to the UK, and Honorary Norwegian Consul General, Prof. Julian Jones, as his representatives for the visit.

There are three public events taking place, and local people are encouraged to come along and support the occasions – as well as enjoying the music and spectacle.
On Friday 15 September at 10am at the Midsteeple, the Norwegian flag will be raised, accompanied by the signing of the Norwegian and British national anthems. The Council Convener, Councillor Malcolm Johnstone, and Depute Lord-Lieutenant of Dumfries, John Henderson, will be participating.

On Saturday 16 September at 4.30pm at the Whitesands beside Devorgilla Bridge, there will be the unveiling of the ‘Norwegian Stone of Friendship’ by Captain Pål Hope, Norwegian Defence Attaché to UK. This will begin with a parade, starting at the Robert Burns Centre, crossing Devorgilla Bridge by the members of the Scottish Norwegian Association led by the Buccleuch and Queensberry Pipe Band. Many of the Norwegian representatives will be in national costume. The Lord-Lieutenant of Dumfries, Fiona Armstrong and the Provost of Dumfries, Maureen Johnstone, will be participating.

On Sunday 17 September, there is a special commemorative service at St Michael’s and South Church at 11.00am, led by Rev Bill Hogg and supported by two Norwegian Deacons. The Lord-Lieutenant Fiona Armstrong will also be participating.

Dumfries and Galloway Council will then host a private lunch for the visitors at the Cairndale Hotel, hosted by the Depute Convener Councillor Gail Macgregor. Following this, at Troqueer Cemetery at 3.00pm, the Lord-Lieutenant of Dumfries Fiona Armstrong, the Depute Convener Councillor Gail Macgregor and Provost of Dumfries Councillor Maureen Johnstone and SNC representatives will lay wreaths during a Service of Remembrance to the Norwegians who lost their lives while stationed in the Dumfries area. Norwegian members of the SNC will then lay wreaths on the 13 war graves and the nearby grave of Captain Stensones. Members of the Royal British Legion will be in attendance.

On Monday 18 September, the SNC party is visiting Duncow Primary School, Newlands House, Maxwellton House, Maxwellton Chapel, Dumfries Museum and Drumlanrig Castle. All of these places have a strong Norwegian connection, and are sure to be of interest to locals and visitors alike.

Councillor Malcolm Johnstone, Convener of Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “Dumfries and Galloway Council is privileged to support this friendship with the Norwegians, and it is with great pleasure that we are contributing to this weekend of celebrations that will undoubtedly cement our links further. We are delighted to welcome especially King Harald’s representatives and the other Norwegians who have made the journey to our region.”
Councillor Gail MacGregor, Depute Convener added: “I am immensely proud of the international links that our region has, and the significant contribution we have made in supporting others. It is testament to the families and friends involved that this link has continued for 83 years and while there will be time to reflect and remember why it was created, I am sure it will be a positive and happy weekend.”
Councillor Maureen Johnstone, Provost of Dumfries said: “I am very conscious of the important role that the townspeople of Dumfries and beyond played during WWII in welcoming and helping the Norwegian Army establish a base here – and that the late King Olav of Norway was a Freeman of our Burgh. The wonderful stone at the Whitesands will serve as a permanent reminder of our friendship and we are most grateful to the Scottish Norwegian Connection for their gift.”
Aslak Wahl, Chairman of SNC added: “Our Scottish representatives, Beverley and Michael Thom of Dumfries, have organised a very full and interesting weekend of events in and around Dumfries. They have both worked closely with Dumfries and Galloway Council to co-ordinate the public events – especially all the detail around placing the ‘Stone of Friendship’ in a suitable position.”
Beverley Thom, Organiser of the Norwegian Visit said: “This is a very important and emotive occasion for our community. Who could have thought that the simple, basic, acts of friendship and kindness, shown by our predecessors, could have led to such long lasting relationships through the generations? To have the town and its people recognised, and honoured, for doing what comes naturally, is praise indeed. My hope is that these links continue and grow as we move forward.”

A summary of the public events is as follows:

Flag Raising Ceremony and visit to ‘Norges Hus’ Unveiling of Memorial Stone Church Service Wreath Laying
Friday 15 September 2023

Midsteeple – Plane Stanes then to plaque at Burns Statue

10.00am -approx 10.30am Saturday 16 September 2023

Whitesands, next to Devorgilla Bridge

4.30pm-approx 5.30pm Sunday 17
September 2023

Church Service at St Michael’s and South Parish Church

11am – approx. 12noon
Sunday 17
September 2023

Troqueer Cemetery

3pm – approx. 3.30pm