|The A to Z of Scottish Places: Gazetteer D|
The A to Z of Scottish Places: D
D is for...
The modern Dunbarton has whisky as its main industry although in recent times glass and shipbuilding were important too. The Cutty Sark was launched here in 1869. Dumbarton's name means "fort of the Britons" referring to the unassailable rock on which Dumbarton Castle stands which was the capital of the 6th century kingdom of Strathclyde which stretched from Loch Lomond to Lancashire. Rebuilt many times the present castle is of 18th century design Mary Queen of Scots lived there as a child and the garrison was loyal to her in later life. The view from the top is both memorable and windy. In the town several 19th century buildings remain including the Burgh Hall, Sheriff Court and Old Parish Church. Dumbarton is the alleged birthplace of St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.
Built on one side of the river Nith, Dumfries became a royal burgh in the 12th century. It was here that Robert the Bruce stabbed his cousin the Red Comyn in 1306. Poet Robert Burns came to the town to work as an exciseman (tax collector) in 1791 and his house in what is now called Burns Street is a museum to the bard. He worshipped at the Church of St Michael and is buried in the graveyard. In 1929 Dumfries incorporated Maxwelltown, which was on the other side of the Nith. Today Dumfries is a lively centre with many attractions although the pedestrian shopping centre looks a little tired in places.
Once Scotland's second city, Dundee, at the mouth of the River Tay, is now 4th in rank of population. The settlement here can be traced back to prehistoric times. The first historic reference of note is the granting of the city's royal charter by King William the Lion in the 12th century. Textiles and fishing were major economies and at one time all the Royal Navy's sails were made there. Later the production of jute and whale-fishing became important as did ship-building and today one of Dundee's slogans describes it as the City of Discovery because the Royal Navy frigate The Unicorn and Captain Scott's Discovery have permanent berths in the harbour. Little of the city's historic past remains although the town centre has many fine 18th and 19th century buildings. Two bridges span the wide River Tay at Dundee, one road and one rail. The second was rebuilt after the tragic collapse in 1879 when 71 passengers and the crew of 4 were killed as a locomotive and its carriages were plunged into the waters during a storm. Famous Dundee folk include Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein and William McGonagall, the world's worst poet.
The capital of Scotland for over 200 years, Dunfermline's present stature lies in its industrial and commercial activities. King Robert the Bruce is interred in the town's rebuilt Abbey Church which was founded in 1070. The slight remains of a Royal Palace are nearby. A weaver's cottage converted into a museum celebrates the town's commercial past but it is as the birthplace of Dunfermline's most famous son that marks the building as of significance. Andrew Carnegie, born in 1835, became one of the world's leading capitalists when he emigrated to America and became a steel and railway magnate. He used his wealth to set up a fund that allowed his town to enjoy the lands of the Pittencrieff Estate. He also helped raise the literacy rate of Scotland and beyond by donating monies towards the building of public libraries in many of the towns and cities.