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Kirkcudbright

Kirkcudbright

Towns & Villages
Kirkcudbright is thought to have begun in the 12th century as a naval base for the Lords of Galloway. It was the county town for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
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About Kirkcudbright

The tidal River Dee at Kirkcudbright provides one of the best natural harbours on the Galloway coast. This may have prompted the Lords of Galloway to base their fleet of war galleys here, protecting it by building a wooden castle on a motte, which still survives as the Moat Brae. A community developed along the line of what became the High Street.

In 1455 the town became a royal burgh, which enabled it to conduct its own business under a Provost and Councillors. Provost and Council met in the Tolbooth, built from the 1620s, and one of the earliest buildings of this type remaining in Scotland. From the later 15th century the MacLellan family dominated the town’s affairs. They built MacLellan’s Castle in the 1570s, partly on the site of a 15th-century Franciscan Friary. From the later 18th century the Earls of Selkirk, whose extensive estate surrounded the town, became a major influence in Kirkcudbright’s affairs.

By the later 18th century, as the town’s population began to grow, more housing was needed and this was built on newly planned streets: Castle Street, Union Street, St. Cuthbert Street and St. Mary Street. Many of the houses were financed by two early ‘Building Societies’. In the 19th century the town prospered as a port and county town for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. From the 1880s it also became popular with artists and a resident artistic community grew and flourished for much of the 20th century.

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