Robert Burns in Dumfries: Six Sights Saturday

‘Dumfries and Galloway is a region at the South western corner of Scotland, and is very famous as the home of Scottish poet, Robert Burns…’

The Scots are understandably very proud Robert Burns, much in the same way that the English are of Shakespeare, and the Irish with James JoyceWe have carefully conserved his various residences and have much in the town dedicated to the memory of our greatest son.

Burns Sandstone, Dumfries
Dumfries is full of tributes to their most famous resident.

Dumfries is synonymous with Burns’ life and work in the same way that Ayrshire is. Burns lived in the town centre, as well as owned a cottage in the countryside, and his remains lie in a local graveyard. Even the pubs he frequented here wisely choose to remember him. His long-suffering wife has also managed to find herself the subject of a beautiful statue which, after putting up with his inability to be faithful, can’t really be denied her.

Robert Burns worked as a modern-day equivalent of our deeply beloved HMRC Tax/VAT Inspector. He would ride around on his trusty steed, making sure the local were paying the correct amount of tax. In short; he’s far more popular now than he was then. Scotland holds a national day of celebration every January 25th. We celebrate by eating haggis, drinking whisky and reciting poetry. We’re very good at all of these things.

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Robert Burns House

Conveniently located on Burns Street (what were the chances??), smack in the middle of town.  This is the 18th Century building where Scotland’s national poet spent the last years of his life. The chair he used to write, plus the famous Kilmarnock Edition of his work, are prominently displayed here. One of the best features of the property is the carving of Burns’ name, which he inscribed into an upstairs window.

If you venture just outside the house, there’s also a beautiful garden, filled with flowers and stone carvings with excerpts of his most famous works. Entry to Burns House is free of charge.

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Robert Burns Grave

After his death in July 1796, Robert Burns was laid to rest in St Michael’s Churchyard. His original grade was completely unremarkable and not that easy to locate. It has since been moved to a beautiful Mausoleum in the corner of the same graveyard, which is far more fitting for a man of his stature. You can visit the outside of the grave on your own, but if you link up with a staff member from Burns’ House (just a short walk away), they provide free tours of the Mausoleum and can allow you to enter inside.

Burns Mausoleum, Dumfries
The interior of Burns’ mausoleum

Ellisland Farm

Situated around 7 miles North of Dumfries is the country home of Robert Burns, on the banks of the River Nith. The peaceful surroundings give you a sense of what it might have been like to find inspiration beyond the walls of the whitewashed cottage and well-tended grounds. Many of Burns’ possessions remain in the property and there are several walks and trails stretching along the riverbank. Robert Burns moved to Ellisland with his family when he was 29 years old and it was here he wrote ‘Red, Red Rose’. He also wrote the New Year staple ‘Auld Lang Syne’ here.

The Globe Inn

The Globe stands proudly on the High Street and has been there since 1610. The bar was the preferred watering hole of Robert Burns when living at Ellisland as well as when he moved to the town centre. It must have been so much easier to stagger home in later years.

The Globe has kept Robert Burns’ favourite drinking seat (all Scots have one of these). Visitors can choose to have a wee dram from the comfort of it. I’m actually not sure it’s that comfortable as it’s *really* old. However, after you’ve had a few whiskies, your backside will be numb and you probably won’t care. The pub also has a small museum and gift shop on site to fulfil all your Robert Burns related needs.

Statue of Jean Armour, Dumfries
Bonnie Jean.

Statue of Jean Armour

Jean was the long-suffering wife of Burns and, if they were living today, I daresay she’d have ditched him. However, despite her husband’s infidelity, his love for Armour was clearly strong and the couple remained together. Armour bore nine children with the poet and that, as far as I’m concerned, is deserving of a statue in itself.

Jean’s influence on Robert’s writing cannot be underestimated. He wrote many love poems about her over the years. One of these is ‘O Were I On Parnassus Hill’, which was penned at Ellisland Farm. Although Robert Burns’ wrote poems for his other lovers over the years, he always returned to Armour. Jean outlived her husband long enough to see his work achieve global fame. She was buried with him in the family Mausoleum at St Michael’s after her death in 1834.

Robert Burns Centre

The Centre is located next to the old bridge on the bank of the Nith at Mill Street.The Robert Burns Centre takes you through the eight of so years that the poet spent living in the middle of town. As with many of the attractions that bear his name, this small museum is run by a team of dedicated volunteers who have a genuine love for the poet. This stunning old water-mill features an audio guide as well as original papers and manuscripts.. There’s also a gift shop and Cafe, and no entrance fee is payable.

Suzanne x

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