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Caerlaverock Stories

This year at the Stove, we are looking at the towns connection to Caerlaverock Castle, exploring the routes there from the town centre, the heritage and history of the site and it’s importance in the history of our region, drawing new connections and opening up the site to new audiences.

What are your connections with Caerlaverock Castle? What do you know about it, what are you memories of time spent there? What local myths and legends are connected with the site?
We are looking at stories: stories of history, environment and communities, trade routes and pathways, ways of living then and now.

To kick things off we’ve been meeting with local partners, gathering creative projects and looking at how we can be part of expanding the narrative of Caerlaverock.
The core theme of the project is Living on the Edge, exploring ideas of Peace, War, the Living Landscape and the Wolves at the Door – Caerlaverock is more than just a castle at siege but has a long and winding history – how much of it do you know? Caerlaverock is more than just a castle.

To launch this new conversation, we are mapping some of these histories, routes and pathways to and from the Castle in the Stove café. Pop in between the 6th and 28th of March to add some of your own, and help us build a bigger picture of Caerlaverock’s past – and future.

Do you remember your earliest visits to the castle? Do you have any great images of the castle or grounds that you could share? What does Caerlaverock mean to you? Get in touch, or let us know using #LivingCaerlaverock.

We will also be hosting a conversation between project lead Katharine Wheeler and Sally Hinchcliffe of Cycling Dumfries about routes to and from the castle, slow travel and alternative transport options. This will be a free event on Friday, 13th March from 5pm – come and join in the discussion! Full details here

A performance of Solway to Svalbard, led by musician and composer Stuart Macpherson in Caerlaverock Castle in 2019

The Stove is working with Historic Environment Scotland as part of their work to develop Caerlaverock Castle as a significant place in our region, specifically around what this place means to our communities to develop skills and learning opportunities.

For more information, contact [email protected]


Nithraid: Cargo and International Links

Did you know? Each boat that takes part in the Nithraid is given a small cargo to bring upriver, and the race is only completed with the safe delivery of these cargoes to the finishing point on the central pontoon! The cargo’s have been inspired by Dumfries’ historical role as a trading point and port receiving goods from around the world at one point for distribution around the region. The trading route was dependant on the river’s tides to allow boats upriver to points at Carsethorn, the Kingholm Quay and Dock Park.

Image Credit: Andy Jardine

The Nithraid Cargoes are:

Tropical goods from the Carribean: Rum, sugar, cocoa/chocolate, coffee

Southern USA: Cotton, Tobacco.

Northern USA & Canada: Timber, Fur.

Baltic: Timber

France: Wine, Brandy.

Mediterranean: Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Sherry, olives, Fish

England: Manufactured Goods, Slate, Coal

Wales: Slate

Indian ocean: Cinamon, (Sri Lanka), Peppar (India), other spices,

China: Tea, silk.

Scotland: Salt.

These goods would have come by a number of routes. Anything from the colonies before the end of the 18th century was subject to the Navigation acts and had to pass through a British port (English before the act of union) which meant that for instance spices etc. would have come via Liverpool or London, and coastal shipping from there on. But Tobacco and other goods of the triangular trade may have come direct because Whitehaven was a regional centre where they had quays called, the Sugar Tongue Quay, The Fish Quay and the Lime Tongue Quay.

And then there was the Free Trade, smuggling, which was a major factor of this region for a while at the end of the 18th Century. Dumfries as a port would not officially have been involved but with a shortage of customs men and huge profits to be shared, unofficially it’s reasonable to assume that many thousands of tons of tobacco, for instance, arrived at Carsethorn and disappeared.

News Project Updates

Stove is Norway Bound

‘Our Norwegian Story’ catch-up – Instalment II.

Part of this project took us to Norway to start to make some friends across the water.  We visited some of the former whaling towns that are directly connected to Dumfries as the home of those first arriving into Dumfries Station in the summer of 1941 – Tonsberg (our former twinning town), Sandeford and Bergen.

The enthusiasm and sense of shared connection to Dumfries with the people we met was quite overwhelming.  We spoke about the project in the Forsmannsenteret Centre for elderly residents in Sandefjord, children of those relationships and marriages made during the time of so many Norwegians in our town.  Met with local officials and other arts organisations to talk about future collaborations and tried to capture a tiny part of Norway’s side of our story.  There is still much to find out but we have made a start at least….we even made the local Sandefjord Press!

Norway:Scotland Flag copy

And it begins…

Norway Sandefjord copy

Sandfjord’s beautiful moving water sculpture

Norway Tonsberg2 copy

Making boats in Tonsberg

Norway Bergen copy

The World Heritage site of Bergen

Photo 01-10-2016, 11 08 51

Meeting Jenny of North Sea Traffic Museum

Norway Sandefjord Press copy

and the Sandefjord Press

News Project Updates

Football in Our Street – ONS Rematch

In August we reclaimed the High Street of Dumfries town centre with football (albeit in a cage – next time we can try without!).  Celebrating the long standing friendship of local football club Greystone Rovers with Norway started in a 1940 match between Dumfries locals and Norwegian exiles resulting in a draw.  A rematch was called and eventually played in Bergen in 1951 beginning a series of exchange visits over the years since.  With Greystone Rovers 80th anniversary upcoming in 2018 they are keen to resume their friendship and exchange opportunities for their club members.  Graham Muir, club manager, has supported The Stove’s Our Norwegian Story project as an important recognition of how beneficial these friendships can be.

This event tied in with the Our Land festival of events across Scotland looking at land use and the importance of community ownership of these spaces.  The Stove wrote an article to highlight how our events can reach out to tackle wider national issues which can be found here on The Common Space website:

Our Norwegian Story continues to develop, with the depth of stories bubbling up from under the surface, with personnel memories knitting together these more historical events.

Stay tuned for more next week – Films, food, drawing big maps and stitching our story into existence!

Football in our Streets
Activity outside The Stove
The Greystone Rovers youth team
The Greystone Rovers youth team
Screen printing T-shirts with Sarah Keast
Memorabilia from the 70 year relationship between Greystone Rovers and SK Brann was on display in The Stove
Time for Subbuteo


Our Norwegian Story – exploring cultural connections at The Stove

As Scotland continues its fascination with Nordic culture, The Stove Network in Dumfries has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for their project, Our Norwegian Story, which will map a trail through Dumfries’ town centre celebrating its links with Norway during WWII. This is another example of a local arts project being successful in bringing national investment to the area to create activity in the town centre for the benefit of local people and businesses. The Stove has been awarded funding by Heritage Lottery Fund for a series of public events highlighting ‘Our Norwegian Story’
During WWII Dumfries’ population was nearly 20% Norwegian harbouring the headquarters for Norwegians in exile and as a result became the birthplace of the Scottish Norwegian Society we know today.

075 Major Myrseth
Norway House, or Norges Hus in Dumfries. Note the shot down German tail fin attached to the front of the building.

The project comprises of a series of imaginative public events, led by the artists of The Stove Network, that create opportunities for Dumfries to tell its Norwegian Story. Work begins with participation in Dumfries Museum’s Viking event Summer Wandering on Saturday May 14th when The Stove building becomes Norway for the day. June will see a Norwegian Market as part of the town’s Guid Nychburris celebrations. Other events planned to highlight this important relationship include football in the town square hosted by local club Greystone Rovers, Norwegian skill-share and story-telling events, musical composition workshops, performance, creative mapping, as well as the launch of the Norwegian Trail itself in March 2017.
Working with research and design collective Lateral North the project will use this important part of Scotland’s history for people to learn about the stories of our past in a way that can also help re-imagine our future and connect to the wider Nordic Scottish Connection.

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Project Leader Katharine Wheeler says, “We are very excited to have received funding for this project and be able to start our programme of events. It allows us to record, preserve and learn about this part of Dumfries’s story in a contemporary context as well help to re-establish connections with Norway providing exciting new cultural opportunities”
Stories and memorabilia gathered during the life of the project will be included in an online archive to provide a lasting legacy for future generations to access and share. The trail itself will be an interactive app that guides local residents and visitors around places of particular significance, learning about this part of history in a fun and contemporary context.


The Stove Network are currently seeking a creative practitioner to work on Our Norwegian Story on a ‘Research-Led Residency Commission’ – details on how to apply available here
Anyone wishes to find out more about the project and its calendar of events should contact Katharine Wheeler at [email protected] or call 01387 252435.

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