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Without the knowledge, endeavour and, in some cases, exceptional bravery of explorers and collectors the museums and academic institutes of the world would be not be able to offer the immense wealth in information and exhibits that people have access to today. The museum collections of the south-west of Scotland have been blessed by the contributions and patronage of many such individuals, who can also be found in our Collectors & Explorers section.  

Under Scottish law all portable antiquities of archaeological, historical or cultural significance, whether made of precious metal or any other material, are subject to claim by the Crown through the Treasure Trove system and must be reported to the Treasure Trove Unit for assessment. The Treasure Act (1996) does not apply in Scotland. In Dumfries and Galloway the archaeology service or local museum can offer you practical advice and help with the procedure. Details may subsequently be included in the Dumfries and Galloway Historic Environment Record (HER). The law applies to all newly discovered finds and to old finds which have not been reported, whether they are found by metal-detecting, by chance, by fieldwork or by archaeological investigation, and is the same whether such objects were: hidden or just lost in buildings in streams, lakes or rivers in natural ground The Crown does not always exercise its claim, but all objects found should be reported, so that a decision can be made. Rewards for those items that are selected for retention by the State are paid to the finders, and are based on the market value of the find. Valuations for reward purposes may be affected by the promptness with which a find is reported, and the care taken by the finder in not destroying important evidence by untrained cleaning or by unskilled digging on the site or by breaking up a group of objects, which may have considerably more value as a group than as individual items. Further information is available from Treasure Trove Scotland. Inland underwater finds are treated legally in the same way as those on land. The HER also provides information and advice for individuals or groups who wish to undertake metal-detecting activity in the region. If you discover human remains you should immediately report this to the local police. Do not touch the remains and avoid disturbing the ground in their vicinity because the evidence from either a modern scene of crime or ancient burial is equally fragile. It might save time if you also report the find to the Local Authority's archaeologist or local museum but the police will consult with the Local Authority's archaeologist if they suspect your discovery is an ancient burial.  Archaeology Service Environmental Planning Newall Terrace Dumfries DG1 1LW Tel: 01387 260154   

Dumfries and Galloway is an area rich in archaeology. From scatters of flints worked by the first settlers in the area, some 8,000 years ago, though to Second World War airfields and Prisoners-Of-War camps, there are over 22,000 known sites in the region. Finds from all over the region are stored, curated and displayed by the Museum Service in four local museums at Annan, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Stranraer. The archaeological collections of the museum are of national importance. Learn more about the following time periods in Dumfries & Galloway by clicking the links below: The Mesolithic  The Neolithic  The Bronze Age The Iron Age The Early Medieval The Vikings The Medieval Era

The Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age covers the four thousand years between the end of the last Ice Age and the arrival into our region of the first farming communities. Archaeology can give us only a few glimpses of how people lived in that distant period. The region's first settlers, probably living in small communities made up of a few extended families,lived in a very different landscape from the one we know today. Much of the country was covered with a mixed woodland of oak, alder, elm and pine which was home to a range of wild animals including wolf, deer, elk, boar and beaver. The coast line was also different. Lower sea levels in the early part of the Mesolithic meant that much of theSolway Firthwas open marsh and scrubland. Sea levels began to rise during the later part of the Mesolithic and by 5,000 BC the shore line was almost 10 m higher than it is today. Cliff lines and raised beaches which formed when the sea was at its maximum height can still be seen along parts of the Wigtownshire coast. Sea levels began to fall again during the fifth millennium BC. Mesolithic people lived by hunting, fishing and gathering wild plants. During much of the year they stayed in camp sites close to the coast where they fished and hunted and foraged in the surrounding woods for the seasonal harvest of nuts and berries. During the summer months hunting parties moved up into the Galloway hills following red deer and wild cattle. Their camp sites were simple, consisting of little more than a few animal hide tents and wind-breaks. The earliest known site in Dumfries and Galloway is at Redkirk Point, Annan, where an excavated hearth has been dated to 6900 BC. The hearth was covered by marine clay which indicates that this camp was in use before the waters of the Solway reached their maximum height. Mesolithic camp sites are particularly common at the southern end of Loch Ryan and on the eastern shore of Luce Bay where they occupy sheltered positions set back from the shore line. Excavations at Barsalloch and Low Clone in Wigtownshire have revealed traces of hearths and clusters of stake and post holes - the remains of simple shelters and tents - plus hundreds of flint flakes, the debris from stone tool making. Barsalloch has been dated to around 4,000 BC, right at the end of the Mesolithic, and many of the other Wigtownshire coastal sites are probably of a similar age. Earlier camps may now lie below the waters of LuceBay. A number of Mesolithic sites have been found alongside some of the region's rivers. Excavations atIrish Street,Dumfriesuncovered a camp used by people fishing the lower reaches of the river Nith and similar sites have been found close to the Tarf Water in Wigtownshire and on the banks of the Annan at Kirkhill in eastern Dumfriesshire. Similar sites have also been discovered in the uplands of Dumfries and Galloway. Mesolithic stone tools were found during forestry operations at Twiglees, Dumfriesshire in the 1950s and other sites have been discovered on the shores of some of the lochs and reservoirs in the Galloway hills. Excavations at Starr Cottage, Loch Doon revealed a camp site dated to 4,300 BC and a similar date has been obtained from another campsite at Smittons near Carsphairn. Some of these upland camps may have been set up next to woodland clearings where the open grazing attracted wild animals. There is even some evidence from pollen cores taken in the Galloway hills that Mesolithic hunters were deliberately burning woodland to create grazing areas. Mesolithic tools Mesolithic people used bone, wood, bark and stone for their tools and weapons but generally it is only the stone implements which have survived. A rare exception is a carved antler harpoon head from the Dee at Cumstoun, Kirkcudbrightshire which has been dated to 4800 BC. Similar bone harpoons have been found in Ayrshire, the Firth of Forth and at cave sites near Oban. They were probably used in seal hunting. Flintcobbles can sometimes be found on local beaches. This type of flint is particularly common in Wigtownshire. It is a poor quality stone but could be worked or knapped to create a range of simple blades and scrapers, useful for cutting and cleaning animal hides. In Dumfriesshire chert was often used instead of flint for stone tool making. Chert has similar properties to flint and is found throughout the Southern Uplands. Tools made from quartz and amethyst have also been found at some Mesolithic sites in Dumfriesshire Mesolithic people in Dumfries and Galloway produced a range of distinctive stone tools. These include: Microliths. These are small, narrow blades which have been blunted along one edge and often at one end. They were attached in series to a wooden haft or handle to create a range of composite cutting tools. They were also mounted as blades on arrow shafts. See:Luce Bay; Blairbuy for examples in the Dumfries and Galloway Museums Service collection. Narrow blade cores. Blocks of flint from which one or more blades have been detached. The small size of the cores and the narrow scars left behind by blade removal are typically Mesolithic. See: Low Clone for examples in theDumfriesand Galloway Museums Service collection. Scrapers. Small flakes, worked along one edge and used for cleaning skins and fish. See: Low Clone; Kilfillan for examples in theDumfriesand Galloway Museums Service collection. Bevel-ended tools. Long, water rolled stone cobbles with signs of wear or hammering at one end. Sometimes called limpet hammers and thought to have been used in shell fish collecting. They may also have been used for softening hides and skins and in flint working. See: Chippermore for examples in the Dumfries and Galloway Museums Service collection.

The Neolithic or New Stone Age covers the period from around 4000 BC to 2300 BC. During the Neolithic the hunting and gathering life style was replaced with one based on subsistence farming. Barley and wheat were grown and a range of domesticated animals including goats, sheep, cattle and pig were kept. The adoption of farming led to permanent settlements and a developing sense of territoriality, land ownership and social hierarchy. Agricultural surplus encouraged contact and exchange between groups and by the end of the Neolithic there were extensive trading networks across much of the British Isles. In south-west Scotland there is little evidence for the permanent farming settlements found in other parts of the country. The local economy may have been essentialy pastoral with family groups following their animals from winter to summer pastures. Marine resources - fish, shell fish, seals - continued to be an important part of the local diet. The best known sites from this period are the massive stone cairns where these first farming communities buried their dead. These were communal tombs used over hundred years for the burial of family groups. They were also memorials to a family's ancestors and a place where the living and dead could come together for religious ceremonies. There are various types of tombs across our region. In Dumfriesshire and eastern Kirkcudbrightshire the most common tomb type was the unchamberd long cairn; one of these has been excavated at Lochill near Castle Douglas and dated to the early years of the 4th millennium BC. Around Newton Stewart and the Cree Valley the preference was for a round cairn covering one or more burial chambers with simple entrance passages; a good example to visit is the White Cairn, Glentrool. .Elsewhere in Galloway, on Arran and in Ayshire huge wedge-shaped cairns, known to archaeologists as Clyde cairns, were built. A burial chamber was set into the broad end of the tomb and the area in front was often marked by a wall of large stone slabs. Some of the best examples of Clyde cairns are at Cairnholy near Newton Stewart and the Giant's Grave, Whiting Bay, Arran. The Clyde cairns are very similar in style and use to chambered tombs in northern Ireland, south Wales and south-west England and show that tomb building in this part of Scotland was belonged to a much wider tradition. Towards the end of the Neolithic, around 2500 Bc, local groups were joining together to build huge ceremonial monuments. One of the most dramatic was at Dunragit near Stranraer where three enormous timber circles were built one with another. The largest circle was over 100m in diameter, five times the size of Stonehenge. Excavation has revealed evidence within the timber circles of feasting, human cremation and the ritual burial of stone axes and exotic pottery. Dunragit was a huge ceremonial centre, the prehistoric equivalent of a modern cathedral. It would have been used by communities from across south-west Scotland. Rock art is another aspect of the later Neolithic. Enigmatic, abstract designs - mainly concentric circles and curving lines - were deliberately carved onto rock outcrops throughout the region. Two of the most dramatic examples are at Balochmyle near Cumnock and at Drumtroddan in the Wigtownshire Machars. No one knows the meaning of these strange stone symbols. Some archaeologists think they were landscape markers, dividing the land of the living from the shadow world of the ancestors and the dead. A range of distinctive objects were made and used in the Neolithic. Pots, normally round bottomed baggy-shaped bowls made from local clay, appear for the first time. Local flint was used to make a range of large heavy knives, multipurpose scrapers and leaf-shaped arrowheads. There is also evidence for long distance trade in high quality tools. Axes and knives made from a beautiful grey flint were imported into the region from the Yorkshire Wolds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of polished stone axes were traded across the Solway from quarries and workshops high in the Cumbrian fells. Polished stone axes were also being made at Cushendall and Rathlin in County Antrim but, despite the relatively short sea crossing, very few of these Irish axes have been found in south-west Scotland.  

The Bronze Age covers the period from 2300 BC to 700 BC. This was a time of social change, illustrated by the emergence of hierarchical tribal societies dominated by an elite of chieftains and warriors. By 1500 BC the climate was some 2 degrees centigrade warmer than it is today. This meant that crops could be grown in areas at a higher altitude than is now possible and many upland areas of south-west Scotland were being farmed. An agricultural surplus, plus control of natural resources like copper or and gold, created a degree of wealth which was used to support the area's elite. These people expressed their personal power through the purchase and display of high status objects such as metal weapons and exotic stone tools. The climate got worse around 1100 BC and the upland margins were abandoned. As people were forced into a smaller area tension and conflict ensued. The period from 1100BC to 200BC saw the development of hilltop forts and defended settlements, as well as the development of specialised weapons, such as the sword. The most common surviving Bronze Age monuments in south-west Scotland are the circular earth mounds and stone cairns where local communities buried their dead. Such mounds and cairns were built to cover a single burial, often placed within a stone box or cist and accompanied with pots and stone and metal tools. This commemoration of the individual is in direct contrast to the communal burial tradition of the preceding Neolithic and demonstrated a degree of social division. Most earth-built burial mounds have long-since been ploughed away but stone burial cairns are still a common feature of the uplands. In some places, such as New Luce area of Wigtownshire Moors, burial cairns can be found close to small settlements - usually circular stone-built houses or 'hut circles' - associated with stock enclosures, field systems and agricultural clearance mounds; in these areas we can see and begin to reconstruct a complete Bronze Age landscape.  Stone circles are another type of Bronze Age monument. Most circles in south-west Scotland are fairly small, typically 20 to 30 meters in diameter, and comprise a single ring of frees-standing stones such as the Machrie Moor circles on Arran or the Girdle Stanes, Eskdalemuir.  Two of the circles in the Galloway hills, Glenquicken and Claughreid have a central stone while the Torhousekie circle near Wigtown has a central setting of recumbent slabs. Stone circles had a ritual function, probably connected with rites of passage, death and burial.  Standing stones are another type of ceremonial monument from this period. Generally sited in dramatic locations, standing stones appear to have marked divisions in the landscape, especially boundaries between the everyday world of the living and the spirit world of the ancestors. Many standing stones are associated with burials. Standing stones are found throughout the region but particularly impressive examples can be seen at Machrie Moor, Arran and at Drumtroddan near Port William.  The Bronze Age is, of course, the period when see the first use of metal. Before 2000 BC most metal tools in our area were made of copper. These tended to be large, flat axes. Most were probably made in Ireland and traded into our area but some may have used local copper resources. Bronze - an alloy of copper and tin - is more common after 1800 BC and a range of tools and weapons were in circulation including knives and razors, axes, spears, rapiers and daggers. A peculiarity of this period is the amount of metalwork found buried in hoards or discovered in bogs and other watery places; these were probably votive offerings made to local gods or ancestor spirits. Large hoards have been found at Kilkerran, Ayrshire and Glentrool, Galloway and votive offerings are known from Dowalton, Wigtownshire and from Colvend in The Stewartry.  Stone and flint continued to be used long after the introduction of bronze tools. Delicately made barbed and tanged flint arrowheads are a hallmark of Bronze Age material culture and are a common find. Another distinctive Bronze Age tool is the battle-axe, a small, ground and polished stone implement with a central perforation or shaft-hole for a handle. A huge amount of time and energy was invested in the production of battle-axes and they were probably high status display objects. Axe-hammers are similar but much simpler shaft-hole tools, probably used for a variety of tasks. Large numbers of axe-hammers have been found in Nithsdale and again in the Wigtownshire Machars but they are less common elsewhere in the south-west. Does this indicate a local preference for this type of multipurpose tool within our region?  There was also a distinctive range of Bronze Age pottery including highly decorated beakers and urns. Most examples have been recovered from burials but similar pots were used for everyday activities. The types of pots used in south-west Scotland belong to a tradition found throughout Britain Ireland and show that our region was in contact with the rest of the country and beyond.  

The Iron Age in South-West Scotland - the period when metalworking technology advanced to allow production of weapons and tools in iron - began around 700 B.C. and includes the brief periods when Scotland was incorporated into Roman Britain in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D.. Archaeologists and historians give an arbitrary end date for the Iron Age at A.D. 400 - the abandonment of Britain by the Romans - but in reality, in Scotland there was little social and economic change between late Iron Age society and Early Historic society which followed from the 5th century. Scotland- like the rest of North-West Europe before the Romans - was a Celtic warrior society with tribal territories in the Lowlands and Highlands. Language was the only common denominator between the Celtic peoples, who shared some aspects of their cultures but differed in others. Ptolemy's Geography, written around 140 A.D. gives the names of the tribes which occupied South-West Scotland. Much of present-day Dumfries and Galloway was occupied by people of the Novantae tribe. To the east in the Borders, but perhaps also in eastern Dumfriesshire, were the Selgovae people. In Ayrshire and north to the Clyde were the Damnonii or Dumnonii. It is believed that all spoke a common P-Celtic or Britonnic language, which is the root of the present-day Welsh, and also Manx, Cornish and Breton. There are a several surviving Britonnic place names in Galloway, such as 'Threave' and 'Terregles' both including the word 'tref', meaning a farmstead. South-West Scotland was largely cleared of forest before the Iron Age, and the people lived in small settlements, and practised a mixed agricultural economy, growing a form of barley and raising cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. The high standard of metal goods found in Galloway indicates a wealthy society, which may have been based on the exploitation of its copper resources. There is possibly an early mining site at Tonderghie, near Whithorn, and mining tools and ingots have been found at Barhullion near Port William. Most families lived in timber, wattle and stone round houses, varying in diameter from 6m - 15m., which might have provided accommodation for an extended family. Round houses might be clustered together and enclosed for example as at Rispain Camp in Wigtownshire. In South-West Scotland in particular, round houses were built on artificial platforms in lochs. These are called 'crannogs', and there are many examples known in Ayrshire and Galloway, for example at Lochlee near Tarbolton, or Dowalton in Wigtownshire. Dating evidence from excavated crannogs suggests that this form of settlement was current throughout the Iron Age period. Lochs and bogs appear to have been of religious or ritual significance during the Iron Age, for high value metal goods have been recovered from them, which appear to have been deposited as an ritual offering. This includes the Carlingwark hoard deposited in a cauldron in Carlingwark Loch near Castle Douglas around A.D. 100 which included a quantity of Roman military and Iron Age native metalwork. The Torrs pony cap, dating to around 200 BC, and found in a bog at Torrs, near Castle Douglas, is another example. Both finds are displayed in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. Hill forts are more common in Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire than in Wigtownshire. Once thought to be the strongholds of a tribal elite, they may be thought of as hill-top villages, containing numbers of round houses. Included in this group are small promontory forts found along the coastline of South-West Scotland. The fort at Burnswark, Dumfriesshire was one of the largest of these. In the west of Galloway are examples of stone built brochs (large towers) and duns (small, substantial stone walled houses or forts). These types of structure are more commonly found in the North and West of Scotland, and therefore indicate the spread of building customs down the west coast and into Galloway. This, and the distribution of certain artefacts, suggests an East-West cultural boundary between the Rivers Cree and Fleet. The Iron Age warrior was armed with a long sword, a shield and a spear. Chariots were also used in warfare, or for ostentatious display. Two near-identical horse harness guides or terrets were found recently but separately in Crossmichael parish, just north of Castle Douglas. When these are considered with other high value Iron Age objects found nearby, for example the Carlingwark hoard, the Torrs pony cap and the mirror from Balmaclellan, it may be suggested that the area of the Dee valley around present day Castle Douglas was of particular social and economic importance. It was perhaps a tribal focus for the Novantae. This may have determined the Roman Army to site a major Roman fort at the river crossing of the Dee at Glenlochar, just north of Castle Douglas. 

After the withdrawal of Roman military forces, some contacts do appear to have been maintained with the Roman Empire. This led to the establishment of the first Christian monastery in Scotland, at Whithorn, by St Ninian in the early fifth century. By the early seventh century the region was being taken over by Anglians, pushing westwards from their base in Northumberland. The Anglians rebuilt Whithorn, and built other monasteries at places like Hoddom and Holywood. Whilst the Anglians may have been in the positions of power, it is quite likely that the majority of the people were still British, speaking a language similar to Welsh. By about 800AD a new presence was being felt in Western Britain, as Vikings plundered monasteries in the Hebrides and Ireland. Within a hundred years they had settled in eastern Ireland, and also overcome the Anglians and settled in northern England. By the early 900s there is evidence of a Viking town being built around the monastery of Whithorn. Galloway appears to have become a Norse earldom, with links to Ireland, the Hebrides and the Isle of Man. Other Vikings, from northern England, seem to have settled in Annandale and Eskdale. Sandwiched between them was the British territory of Strathnith, stretching north from Dumfries and linked to the British kingdom of Strathclyde. Some time after 1018 and before 1071, the kingdom of Strathclyde appears to have been conquered by the Scots, and incorporated into the kingdom of Alba, which stretched right down into modern Cumbria. In 1107 David, the younger brother of the Scottish king, Alexander, is made ruler of Strathclyde, 'Prince of the Cumbrians'.

By the year 800 a new force had appeared on the Scottish scene, giving concern especially to the south west of Scotland. These were the Norsemen or Vikings - the hardiest and most daring seamen the world had ever known, famous for their skill as navigators and dreaded for their pitiless ferocity. The Vikings colonized Iceland and Greenland, discovering America five hundred years before Christopher Columbus. They settled in France and all along the Mediterranean and became known as Normans - the greatest conquering race that Europe had seen since the Romans. The Vikings overran Orkney and Shetland, seized Caithness and Sutherland and swept around Cape Wrath - conquering all the Western Isles as far south as the Isle of Man and Anglesey. It was in this connection that part of their fleet came up the Firth of Clyde and fought their first battle with the Scots in Arran. In 867 a great Viking fleet under Olaf the White - the Norse King of Dublin - entered the Firth of Clyde and conquered Arran and attacked Dumbarton which they captured after four months fighting by land and sea. Arran became a Viking possession and to this day it is full of Norse names - for example, Brodick which is Norse for the broad bay. In 1005 Malcolm II became King of Scotland and by conquest and marriage he returned Caithness and Sutherland, the Lothians, and Strathclyde to Scottish rule. In the year 1100, when Magnus Barefoot was the Norse king, the Western Isles of Scotland rebelled against him and he fitted out a fleet to win them back. This he did in 1102. By the year 1230, under Alexander II, the power of Scotland had increased to such an extent that Haakon (or Haco), the aged King of Norway, sent Ospak with a great fleet to the Firth of Clyde. Using Arran as his base, Ospak attacked and captured Rothesay Castle but he died shortly after and the invasion was halted. Alexander II struck a blow in return, and in 1249 he expelled the Vikings from the islands of the Clyde, but later died in Oban. In 1263, Haakon - who had ruled for 46 years - was determined to settle the matter of supremacy of the Western Isles once and for all with their chiefs as well as with the King of Scotland. To this end he raised a large and powerful fleet - the greatest that had ever left the stores of Norway. The fleet consisted of over 100 full equipped vessels, manned by numerous skilful seamen and gallant soldiers. Some of these vessels would have a length of over 100 feet with as many as 30 oars. The Viking fleet assembled at Bergen before crossing to Shetland and Orkney and sailing down the West Coast of Shetland by Skye - where one by one the chiefs (except Ewan of Argyle) acknowledged Haakon's supremacy and helped to swell his force. Haakon's fleet split when he sent fifty ships to plunder the Mull of Kintyre and five ships to the Isle of Bute where Rothesay Castle again fell to the Viking invasion, but they rejoined his main force which eventually anchored in the Firth of Clyde near Arran. Watchers on the hills above Largs saw the great fleet of 160 ships anchored off Lamlash. The army of Alexander III - a young man aged around 23 - was encamped at Camphill between Largs and Kilbirnie and from the high grounds above Largs closely watched the enemies' movements below. Both sides played a waiting game, hoping for a negotiated peace. The Scots may have been prepared to give up Arran, Bute and the Cumbraes in exchange for peace but Haakon insisted on the unconditional surrender of all the Western Isles (including the Clyde Islands) and the Kintyre peninsula. Haakon's fleet again split up with ships going to Stirlingshire and sixty ships to Loch Long, where the Vikings dragged their light ships overland across the Isthmus of Tarbert to launch attacks on the islets and shores of Loch Lomond. To enforce his demands Haakon moved his main fleet up to the Cumbraes, but Alexander kept on talking and gathering his forces; as winter was approaching he hoped for the weather to break. A storm destroyed ten of the ships in Loch Long and on Monday 1st October 1263 a terrible storm broke over Haakon's main fleet. Five of his great warships were driven ashore and many others lay in Largs Bay more or less disabled. Around one thousand Vikings had landed to safeguard their stranded ships and a force of armed peasants watching from the hills took advantage of this and fell upon the crews of the stranded vessels. However, the Vikings defended well and with assistance from extra men sent by Haakon they succeeded in driving off their assailants. Haakon landed on the morning of Tuesday 2nd October at the head of a strong reinforcement to protect his stranded vessels from plunder by the Scots, and if possible, to tow them off the shore - but soon after the Scottish army, commanded by Alexander, advanced from the high ground above Largs. The Scottish army consisted of numerous foot soldiers, most armed with spears and bows, and 1500 cavalry armed from head to heel and mounted on Spanish horses which were also completely armoured. The Vikings, who had landed about 1100 men, were outnumbered by this force and the Scots also had the advantage of the higher ground. The Vikings - despite having the sandy beach behind them, damaged boats, and the main fleet still lying offshore - put up a strong challenge, forming into a circle of spears which the Scots found hard to break. Haakon had been persuaded by his nobles to return to the fleet, and the Norsemen retreated under the first onslaught of the Scottish army. The weather once again acted against the Vikings and destroyed other vessels which made it impossible to land reinforcements. Eventually, amid the tremendous gale, reinforcements succeeded in landing and these fresh troops helped to drive the Scots back from the shore. After much fighting and bloodshed, with each side taking then losing the upper hand, the Scottish army swept their enemies back to the sea. Haakon was routed. He begged a truce to bury his dead men,set fire to his stranded vessels, collected the remnants of his once nobel fleet and returned to Lamlash. He wished to withdraw to Ireland to renew the attack in the sprng but his men were cowed and Haakon withdrew to Kirkwall where he died later in the year on 15th December 1263. The results of the Battle of Largs were important and permanent; it marked the end of a three century long story. The Viking invasions were never repeated and the whole of the Western Isles returned to Scottish rule, leaving only Orkney and Shetland under Norse rule. These islands too were eventually given to Scotland in the 1460's as part of a dowry in the marriage between James III and Margaret of Denmark, the daughter of Christian I. This marriage was arranged by Lord Robert Boyd of Kilmarnock who was acting as Scottish Regent at the time for the young King James. 

During the medieval period Scotland's story was defined by centuries of feuding between the most powerful families in the land and the constant threat of aggression and occupation from its larger southern neighbour. The people of the south-west suffered as armies advanced and retreated leaving devastation in their wake. They also bred extraordinary heroes who devoted their lives to the struggle which ultimately united the people of Scotland and won their Independence. The lands of Annandale, Eskdale and Strathnith were brought into the emerging kingdom of Scotland in the early 1100s.Galloway followed when it was invaded three times in 1160 by Malcom IV. The Lords of Galloway continued for another century as semi-independent rulers, actively engaged with politics and warfare in the Isle of Man andUlster, with help from both English and Scottish kings. The careless death of Alexander III in 1296 led to the eventual crowning of John Balliol as king of Scotlandin 1292. Balliol was descended from the line of the Lords of Galloway, and his supporters, the Comyns, held the castle at Dalswinton, near Dumfries. Balliol's rivals were the Bruces, who were Lords of Annandale. Robert Bruce murdered Comyn at Greyfriars in Dumfries in 1306, and declared himself king of Scotland. The Wars of Independence continued for another 50 years, and the period became one of the defining moments in the nation's history. At the end of both wars, Scotlandretained its status as an independent nation. The English held on to Annandale until 1383, when they were driven out by Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway and 3rd Earl of Douglas. One of the results of the wars had been the rise of the Douglas family, who were granted the Balliol lands, and who went on to become one of the dominant families in Scottish politics for the next century, with Threave Castle as one of their main strongholds. Their power grew so great that in 1440 the young 6th Earl and his brother were invited to Edinburgh Castle -the so-called 'Black Dinner' which followed saw the two boys beheaded on trumped-up charges, in the presence of the young King James II. James II went on to murder the 8th Earl Douglas in 1452, and his forces defeated those of the rebellious 9th Earl at the Battle of Arkinholm, near Langholm, in 1455. The king's forces were led by local families, such as the Maxwells and Johnstones, who were trying to shake offDouglas domination. Threave, the last Douglas stronghold was beseiged for two months, and only fell when the garrison were bribed and promised safe conduct. Douglas fled toEngland, and was finally captured at theBattle of Lochmaben Fair when he tried to invade again in 1484. The Treaty of Perpetual Peace was signed betweenScotlandandEnglandin 1502, in an attempt to end the border warfare between them which had been going on for two hundred years. It lasted barely ten years before the Scots broke it, only to be defeated at Flodden, where the king and most of the leading Scots nobles were killed or captured. A raid by Lord Dacre in response laid waste all of lower Eskdale and Annandale. In Dumfriesshire the Maxwells were the leading family. They were fierce rivals with the Chrichtons of Sanquhar, who they defeated in battle at Dumfries in 1508,  and also had a longstanding feud with the Johnstones of Lockwood, which came to a head at the Battle of Dryfe Sands, near Lockerbie, in 1593 where the Maxwells were beaten and Lord Maxwell killed. Border warfare and reiving only declined after James VI of Scotland became James I of England, with the Union of the Crowns in 1603.  

Dumfries and Galloway contains a wealth of archaeological sites, showing human activity for the past 10,000 years. Details of around 22,000 sites of archaeological and historical interest are recorded in the Dumfries and Galloway Historic Environment Record (HER), which is maintained by the Council. Some of these are well known as visitor attractions, such as Dundrennan Abbey or Carsluith Castle, but other lesser known features, such as the remains of 18th century farms and prehistoric settlements, enrich the countryside. Many of the region's towns, such as Whithorn, Dumfries, Sanquhar and Annan, also have medieval or earlier origins, reflected in the street plan and property boundaries of the historic town centres. Despite the rural character of the region, there are also well-preserved industrial buildings, such as mines and mills, as well as more recent features like Second World War munitions works and airfields. A quick guide to archaeological and historical sites in the region will soon be available through a map viewer [due August 2012]. The record is available to view by appointment, and requests for data extracts can also be made to the Historic Environment Record Officer. The HER also contains copies of aerial photographs taken of the region by the RAF between 1948 and 1960, slides, and other archive material relating to the recorded sites. Historic maps are available for viewing at the Ewart Library, just around the corner from the HER. Data requests for commercial purposes are charged for on a 'time-taken' basis. The current charge rate is £30 plus VAT per hour, with a minimum charge of £60 (+VAT).  Contact Details Archaeology Service Environmental Planning Newall Terrace Dumfries DG1 1LW Tel: 01387 260154  Email: Visit the HER Website here        


Barri Jones (1936 - 1999) was Professor of Archaeology at Manchester University from 1971 until his death. He was interested in frontier regions, and dug extensively inWales, north-west England and the Pennines. His early work in Apuliain the 1960s had given him great skill at interpreting air photographs, and he developed excellent skills as an aerial photographer. He flew scores of sorties himself and, when flying was too expensive (he funded most of the work himself), he improvised, devising his own radio-controlled camera carried by a kite. In Scotland and Cumbria he concentrated on Roman military sites, charted the westward extension of Hadrian's Wall, investigated settlement on both banks of the Solway and, more controversially, followed the tracks of Agricola's adventures in Scotland, all the way up to the Moray Firth. He photographed sites in Dumfries and Galloway in the 1970s, from Birrens Roman Fort in Annandale in the east, to Rispain Camp at the foot of the Machars in the west, including sites which are only visible as cropmarks and those which are upstanding earthworks. He often followed up his aerial discoveries with targeted trial excavations, and the results transformed our knowledge of settlement in these frontier regions. In 1985 he co-authored a book on Roman Cumbria, 'The Carvetii'.   Aerial photography mostly records variations in vegetation growth, seen as cropmarks, which can give indications of surviving archaeology below ground for which there is no visible evidence on the surface. Cropmarks result from variation in the depth of top soil  and consequently the amount of water in the soil, causing variation in crop growth particularly during periods of dry weather. Buried ditches for example show as dark lines, since the deeper depth of soil in the filled-in ditches retains more moisture than the surrounding soils, and therefore crops above them remain greener longer. Parchmarks are a variant form of cropmark, and indicate areas where walls or other impervious structures survive below ground level, thus reducing the water-retention capacity of the subsoil.  This means that in particularly dry weather these areas will dry up faster, leaving pale lines to indicate the location of the sub-surface features.  Although often visible on the ground, these marks are also visible from the air, where it is often possible to make sense of the forms and patterns, and so produce an interpretation of the buried site.  

The information below was compiled by the Friends of Annandale and Eskdale Museums who visited some 50-60 sites across the Dumfries and Galloway region over the course of 2011-12. Each site is listed with available access conditions, and has been graded with a difficulty rating ranging from easy to difficult.

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