Retired police superintendent David Kirkwood was guest speaker at the November meeting of the Galloway Preservations Society (GPS) on Saturday 7 November 2015, when he related the history of the Stewart family, the Earls of Galloway and their residence at Galloway House, Garlieston. His talk was based on the book he published through the Stranraer and District History Trust and he spoke in complementary terms aboutthe good work the trust does in providing funding from the book sales for history related projects throughout Wigtownshire. David explained the origin of the Stewart family from Alan Fitzflaad, the Breton knight who settled in England after the Norman Conquest. Within a few generations, his descendants, who by this time had relocated to Scotland, became the High Stewards of Scotland, hence the origin of the surname (Steward to Stewart). One of the hereditary Stewart stewards, Walter Stewart, married Marjory Bruce, daughter of King Robert 1, and founded the Royal House of Stuart, beginning with their son, King Robert II. In addition to the Royal House of Stuart, various branches of the Stewart family became Scottish peers, including one holding the Earldom of Galloway. It was in 1263 that the lands of Garlies and Glasserton were conferred upon the Family. In 1607 when Sir Alexander Stewart was created Baron Stewart of Garlies and, in 1623, was raised to the dignity of 1st Earl of Galloway. The earl's summer residence at Glasserton was burned down in 1730 and the replacement residence on the lands of Pouton, on the southern fringes of Carswell Village, was constructed under the supervision of Lord Garlies, to become the 6th Earlof Galloway, and occupied by him in 1743. Later that century Carswell was renamed Garliestown to perpetuate the title 'Lord Garlies' bestowed upon the earl's elddest son. David related stories about the earls who had been associated with Galloway Houseup to and including Randolph Henry Stewart the 11th Earl. He explained that all of them contributed much to the village and surrounding area but at a price. From thelate 18th Century the demise of the estate was evident and in early 1904 it was let to Sir George Bullough, proprietor of the magnificent island of Rum. A decision waseventually taken to sell the house and adjacent lands in December 1907. By 1909 the properties were purchased by Sir Malcolm McEachern who was involved in theshipping business in Ayr. Sir Malcolm died the following year and in due course his son Neil had fallen heir to the estate. Neil sold the estate in 1930 and settled in Italywhere he purchased an estate and established gardens overlooking Lake Maggiore. He established beautiful gardens based on the skills he had learned at Galloway House. The house and curtilage has been sold several times since the departure of McEachernand was run as a residential school by Glasgow Corporation between 1947 and 1977, and is currently a private residence.
April 2015, AGM and Lecture - Gatehouse 100 Years Ago as Shown in the McMurray Photography Collection Over 40 members of the GPS gathered in Carsluith village hall on the 11th of April for their AGM, which was followed by a talk by local historian Dr David Steel on the photographs taken by the Gatehouse photographer William McMurray in the first decades of the 20th Century.The illustrated talk used these to show how photographs taken a hundred years ago can extend our memory of the local area and can be of great value in demonstrating how individual buildings and street scenes have changed over the last century. Gatehouse postman William McMurray took his photographs in the first decades of the twentieth century, and some 800 glass plates were discovered in his former house when his daughter died in 2012.  These photographs are also invaluable in helping us to understand the social background of the early years of the twentieth century, when William McMurray was recording people and places around Gatehouse of Fleet. David described the techniques William McMurray used for capturing his subjects and how he photographed all classes of people in the Gatehouse area from workmen sitting on a bench to stylish ladies riding side saddle on Cally drive.  A number of photographs showed Gatehouse in the First World War with plates showing the Ayrshire Yeomanry in Anne Street, a soldier posing by a gate and a young James McMurray who was killed in the war.  A photograph of the staff at Ardwall shortly before the First World War depicted a life style which was lost for ever with the war.  A wedding photograph was used to show how much wedding clothes had changed since the 1920s.  The photograph  chosen, showed the family of Dr Craig, who was the general practitioner in Gatehouse for many years, and whose son Billy is the President of the Galloway Preservation Society and was able to tell the audience who the people were including his own parents and grandparents.  David used his talk to show how individual buildings such as the Angel Hotel or Cally House and landscape features such as Bush Bridge had changed over time, how some buildings had been demolished  or destroyed by fire,  and how these old photographs might be helpful if building details were to be restored. He also illustrated how the McMurray photographs could be combined with other photographs and drawings to show how much a building such as Cally house has changed over time.  David concluded his talk with a number of photographs of as yet unknown people and places, and asked members of the Society to help him identify them.  (For more information on the McMurray photographs see the web site www.gatehouse-folk.org.uk)
At a well-attended meeting of the Galloway Preservation Society (GPS) on the 7th March Wendi Cuffe, economic development officer with D&G council, gave a lively and informative overview of the Stranraer Townscape Heritage Project and the general plans for the economic regeneration of Stranraer. The background to the need to revitalise Stranraer town centre was presented, especially in the light of the decline of the area of George Street around the Lewis Street junction and, in the wake of the loss of the Stena terminal on the East Pier. She described the conservation area with the aid of a plan showing the large number of listed buildings in the core of the town extending from Agnew Park to Port Rodie along the seafront and extending south to include the town centre as far as Charlotte Street and much of Lewis Street. A key focus for the regeneration of the built environment is the part of George Street comprising the Old Town Hall (now the town museum), the Golden Cross public house and the former George Hotel. While support for the first two will be forthcoming, there still remains the problem of finding a use for the former George Hotel, without which it will be difficult to make a proposal likely to obtain financial support. The general plans for regeneration were also presented especially with regard to the seafront where the old West Pier has already been given a significant facelift in conjunction with plans for the extension and upgrading of the existing marina facilities. A plan for the full development of the east pier has to be concluded, and discussions are ongoing with possible developers. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session with an assortment of suggestions for the possible uses of the sites and buildings. It was also confirmed that following the loss of the sandy beach on Agnew Crescent to make the former Seacat terminal, there were no other sites where a traditional seaside beach could be re-established and maintained. An enthusiastic vote of thanks on behalf of the audience was given to Wendi by Dr David Hannay.
April 2014 Lecture - Galloway Picts Project- an Excavation of Trusty’s Hill Near Gatehouse
March 2016 Lecture - The Galloway Association of Glasgow The first talk of 2016 to the Galloway Preservation Society was given by the President of The Galloway Association of Glasgow, Angus Rex. Angus, who is a native of Portpatrick and former pupil of Stranraer High School, gave an overview of the history of the Association and described how, 225 years since its foundation, it continues to support activities undertaken by residents of Galloway. The Association was formed in 1791 as the Galloway Brotherly Society by twelve native  Gallovidians living and  working in Glasgow. Its objective was to provide mutual insurance for members in Glasgow and their families  back in Galloway, to cover loss of income as the result of illness, or in the worst eventuality, to go towards funeral expenses. Membership was open to males between the ages of 14 and 45 who were of good moral character, were free from bodily trouble, had visible means of support, and had been born in or were connected with Galloway; members in return paid a joining fee and one shilling and one pence quarterly subscriptions. The fact that the membership criteria favoured the section of the community least likely to need to claim substantially, resulted in a surplus soon accumulating and this being invested in the purchase of land and properties on the South Side of Glasgow. The income from these investments formed the basis of a benevolent fund which was used to fund scholarships and bursaries for deserving Gallovidians. Similar charitable activities are the basis of the Association’s main benevolent activities to the present day, with  support being given to individuals, groups and projects from Galloway (Wigtownshire, and  the Stewartry defined by the old boundary of the river Nith to the east). Recent recipients have included the young traditional singer Robyn Stapleton, the young opera singer Lauren McQuistin and the athlete Robert Tossnie; organisations benefitting have included Lochryan Pipe band and the  Newton Stewart flood appeal; projects have included the Catstrand, and Wigtown and Kirkcudbright for development of their book town and artists’ town projects respectively. Angus pointed out that such support tends to be of a one-off nature rather than ongoing commitments. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session focussing on the criteria for current support by  the Association, and the meeting was concluded by a warm vote of thanks given by Dr David Hannay.
November 2015 Lecture - The Earls of Galloway and Galloway House
March 2015 Lecture - The Stranraer Townscape Heritage Project
On 6th November 2016 the Galloway Preservation Society held a meeting in Penninghame Parish Hall, where a talk was given by David  Collin, long time Kirkcudbright resident and local historian. 
November 2016 Lecture - Little Ross Lighthouse On 6th November 2016 the Galloway Preservation Society held a meeting in Penninghame Parish Hall, where a talk was given by David  Collin, long time Kirkcudbright resident and local historian.  A good sized audience heard David’s account of the Little Ross Lighthouse in Kirkcudbright Bay. In the eighteenth century the Solway Firth was a busy shipping lane with cargoes heading for the Cumbrian and the Galloway ports.  The seas were often stormy, and the Galloway shoreline rocky, resulting in frequent shipwrecks along the coast, and loss of life.  When, following one such disaster, a cabin boy reached land in Kirkcudbright Bay, only to expire on the shore, local feelings were raised, much as surround refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean today.  It was decided that something must be done.  Efforts were made to persuade the Northern Lighthouse Board that a lighthouse should be built to warn ships of the dangers.  Local landowners were unwilling to provide a site, and eventually it was decided to build on Little Ross Island at the mouth of Kirkcudbright Bay. David gave a full account of the design and construction of the lighthouse, built by the well known Stevenson family of lighthouse builders.  Sheltering walls for gardens, and cottages were also built on the island.  The lighthouse is now automatic, but it, and some of the other buildings, are in use by holiday visitors. David concluded with an account of the day that he, as a teenager, and his father were sailing in the bay, when their attention was drawn to the sound of the telephone ringing continuously at the lighthouse.  They landed on the island and discovered the keeper dead in his bed, with stab wounds.  While his father went for the police, David kept watch.   It did not take long for the assistant lighthouse keeper to be apprehended and eventually convicted of murder.  A sad tale.
The   result   of   excavations   carried   out   in   2012   at   the   vitrified   fort   on   Trusty’s   Hill   near    Gatehouse   of   Fleet, were   presented      by   Ronan   Toolis   to   the   Galloway   Preservation   Society   at   the   Mill   on   the   Fleet   on   Saturday 5   April.   Trusty’s   Hill   is   notable   for   the   Pictish   Symbols   carved   into   a   natural   rock   outcrop   at   the   fort’s entrance,    which    are    unique    in    Galloway.    The    Galloway    Picts    Project    was    a    community    research excavation,   organised   by   the   Dumfriesshire   and   Galloway   Natural   History   and   Antiquarian   Society   to   mark their   150th   anniversary,   to   try   to   find   an   explanation   of   what   Pictish   carvings   are   doing   in   Galloway,   so   far from where Pictish Carvings are normally found, in North-East Scotland. lThe     excavation,     which     was     undertaken     by     65     volunteers     supervised     by professional     archaeologists     from     GUARD     Archaeology     Ltd,     recovered     an abundance   of   domestic   debris   from   organically   rich   'dark   soils'   within   the   site, including   animal   bones,   tools   and   a   spindle   whorl,   which   demonstrate   that   Trusty's Hill   was   once   the   home   of   a   small   community.      But   there   was   also   clear   evidence that   this   was   no   ordinary   settlement.   The   excavators   found   lots   of   crucibles,   clay mould   fragments   and   slag,   proof   that   metalworking   was   being   carried   out   in   part   of the   site.   Post-excavation   analysis   of   the   crucible   fragments   demonstrates   that   gold,   silver   and   leaded bronze   was   being   crafted   at   Trusty's   Hill   into   jewellery.   Lead   recovered   from   the   site   has   also   been   proven to   come   from   lead   sources   in   Galloway.      The   range   of   evidence   suggests   that   Trusty's   Hill   was   not   just   a settlement    but    was    also    an    important    metalworking    centre    with    access    to    significant    resources    and craftworkers for the production of high status jewellery. The   Galloway   Picts   team   are   confident   that   they   have   not   only   discovered   that   the   Pictish   Carvings   at Trusty's   Hill   are   genuine   but   may   be   connected   with   a   royal   stronghold   of   the   lost   Dark   Age   Kingdom   of Rheged.        The    only    two    other    sites    outside    Pictland    where    Pictish Carvings    are    found    are    the    known    capitals    of    early    medieval kingdoms:   Dunadd,   the   capital   of   the   early   Scots   kingdom   of   Dalriada, and   Edinburgh   Castle   Rock,   once   called   Din   Eidyn,   the   capital   of   the British   kingdom   of   the   Gododdin.   The   layout   of   Trusty’s   Hillfort,   with   an upper   citadel   where   a   great   hall   may   have   stood,   and   lower   precincts where    activities    like    metalworking    may    have    been    undertaken,    is comparable   to   Dunadd.   The   finds   from   the   recent   dig   at   Trusty's   Hill shows   that   the   Britons   here   were   of   the   same   social   status   as   the people    who    ruled    from    these    royal    capitals.        Furthermore,    the excavation     revealed     a     rock-cut     basin.     As     well     as     containing waterlogged    deposits,    from    which    worked    wood    and    other    organic remains   were   recovered,   the   location   of   this   feature,   outside   the   rampart   and   on   the   opposite   site   of   the entrance   to   the   Pictish   Carvings,   suggests   a   ritualised   entranceway   as   the   immediate   context   of   the   Pictish Carvings   at   Trusty's   Hill,   remarkably   similar   to   the   surrounding   context   of   the   inauguration   stone   at Dunadd.   If   the   artefacts   and   Pictish   symbols   point   to   the   status   of   the   site's   inhabitants,   the    vitrified   ramparts   shows they   had   their   enemies   too.      The   fort   was   clearly   attacked,   and   the   excavations   have revealed   that   its   ramparts   were   then   destroyed   in   a   spectacular   show   of   force   and   power.     The   stone   ramparts   were   anchored   with   large   upright   wooden   posts   and   each   of   these was   purposely   set   alight   and   stoked   to   the   point   where   the   stone   rubble   packed   around them   began   to   melt,   or   vitrify.      Vitrification   only   occurs   at   extremely   high   temperatures   and requires   sufficient   fuel   and   oxygen.      The   destruction   of   the   ramparts   may   have   taken   days, even   weeks,   to   complete.   Over   this   time,   the   fiery   glow   of   the   burning   rampart   would   have been visible from all around the Fleet Valley as the fort was slowly destroyed. A warm vote of thanks to Ronan was proposed by Michael Brown. An exhibition about Trusty's Hill is about to open at the Mill of the Fleet in Gatehouse. For more information about the Galloway Picts Project, visit: www.gallowaypicts.com
March 2014 Lecture - Galloway Castles in Danger On the 8th of March In the  Gordon Memorial Hall, Castle Douglas, members of the Galloway Preservation Society were given an entertaining and informative lecture entitled “Galloway Castles in Danger”. The speaker, Dr Janet Brennan, has hands on experience of the subject through her restoration, with her husband, of the ruin of Barholm Castle near Gatehouse of Fleet, as well as being the author of the forthcoming book “Scottish Castles Rescued, Rebuilt and Reoccupied”. Janet began by comparing the current condition of ruined castles in Galloway with their reported state in 1895, when they were surveyed by the Victorian architects MacGibbon and Ross. She explained that over a quarter are now in a worse condition and  then went on to look at over 20 examples of castles which are continuing to deteriorate today. Many are under threat from ivy and other vegetation which are progressively weakening the structures and leading to further collapse. While some are suitable candidates for restoration into dwellings (such as Dunskey and Plunton), others are either too close to houses or agricultural buildings or in too much in a state of collapse. Also, many have been acquired, sometimes even unknowingly, by landowners for whom the ruin is incidental to the use for which the land has been purchased. She ended by reminding the Society of the need to ensure that these historically significant Galloway castles are preserved and do not fall into terminal decline. After a number of questions from the audience, a fulsome vote of thanks was proposed by Dr David Hannay.
Activity Reports The Galloway Preservation Society February 2014 - Galloway Preservation Society 50TH Anniversary The Galloway Preservation Society has been operating for fifty years and the joint  Presidents, Billy Craig and Antony Wolffe decided to have a celebration in the British Legion Hall in Castle Douglas on Friday February 28th (photo l.-r. present chairman Janet Hannay, Antony Wolffe and Billy Craig). This was where about 40 people attended the inaugural meeting on January 27thi  in 1964. About 10 people had started the Parton Village Trust earlier. This was set up to improve the houses in Parton and the Village got an award from the Association of the Preservation of Rural Scotland (APRS). The meeting on Feb 28th this year was  attended  by  Mr and Mrs Turnbull and Lindsey Clark who had connections with Parton. Three officials came from the APRS joined the present and past committees of the Galloway Preservation Society.   In the 1960s and 1970s the nuclear threat became a local issue with the possibility of nuclear waste being buried in the Galloway hills. This issue caused considerable division but the society continued and has been involved as a local amenity society to promote the protection and preservation of our environment, both natural and built. At one time there was an award scheme for the renovation of small houses. Today the society has over 200 members and we are linked to both the Scottish Civic Trust and the APRS to which we put in projects for their award schemes.