Dumfriesshire Historian Claims it was the Cockpit of Southern Scotland

The author of the first complete history of Dumfriesshire will tell audiences at Wigtown Book Festival that the area was once the “cockpit of southern Scotland”.

By that Andrew McCulloch means it was a place where the proud and mighty came to battle for supremacy like the birds set against each other in the ancient blood sport.

This was an area where the Bruces and their native rivals struggled for supremacy in the Wars of Independence and where Scottish and English armies confronted one another.

Before the 1707 Act of Union brought peace, Dumfriesshire was also a place of cattle raids and religious warfare.

McCulloch, a former military serviceman, lawyer and businessman, is a native of south west Scotland with a long and deep love for its history.

He says: “The book goes from the stone age to the modern age. But one of my particular areas of interest is the Wars of Independence, in which this area played such a crucial role, which I feel has never been clearly explained.”

The author also looks at how the land and agricultural improvements that began to reshape the county’s landscape from the 1750s gradually brought benefits to all – though the advantages were initially all to the landowners.

The establishment of peace, improvements in law and order, and a better agricultural infrastructure combined with road and bridge building programmes that helped expand trade and bring greater prosperity to places such as Dumfries.

Adrian Turpin, the festival’s Artistic Director, said:“One of the festival’s important roles is to promote Dumfries and Galloway, its culture and its history.
“Authors like Andrew McCulloch are pivotal to its success as they offer important perspectives on the past and on the forces that have made the region what it is today.
“Dumfriesshire is often seen as a quiet backwater, but it was once a frontier territory that witnessed huge upheavals and struggles. This is a story that deserves to be more widely known.”

Wigtown Book festival takes place in Scotland’s National Book Town from 21 to 30 September and involves a host of events and activities including theatre, film and music.

For full details go to wigtownbookfestival.com.

  • Festivalgoers will also be warmly invited to attend another colourful regional event – The Kirkcudbright Festival of Light, which will be taking place in Scotland’s Artists’ Town from 5 to 14 October – see www.kirkcudbrightlight.com.
  • The festival is supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council, EventScotland (part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate), Creative Scotland and The Holywood Trust.
  • Lovers of crime writing can also enjoy the Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling from 21-23 September. See https://bloodyscotland.com.

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