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My Dumfries Story

From Jimmy Russell

Jimmy Russell has been working as part of the Our Norwegian Story (ONS) project since the beginning of this year, researching and compiling stories and histories of Dumfries’ Norwegian Connection. Following a recent call out, Jimmy is also closing the ONS Trail Launch this weekend, with his performance, My Dumfries Story at 6pm this Saturday, 15th April.

‘The research I have been doing for Our Norwegian Story has been surprisingly broad, bringing together stories of Norwegian soldiers’ military, sporting or romantic exploits and the legacy of each. Between scanning photographs from Dumfries Museum’s collection and scouring the Ewart Library archives, I have interviewed Doonhamers with memories or memorabilia from the 1940s. These folk have lent some personality to what could otherwise have been an interesting yet passionless exercise.

King Haakon reviews forces, troqueer Holm Field march past 1940

One of my favourite discoveries was tracing, through use of old photos and digital maps, the route that Norwegian arm recruits marched from their training ground at Troqueer Holm field to their base at the old mills in 1940 during King Haakon’s visit. At the intersection of Rosefield Road and Pleasance Avenue the king was photographed standing by a tree as his troops went by, and that spot hasn’t changed much in the past 77 years! Another special moment for me was finding images of a football match between Norwegian and Polish soldiers, probably during 1941-42 Inter-Allied tournament, which took place on the playing field of St Joseph’s College – my old secondary school!

While writing the website content for ONS I have been inspired by personal stories I have heard as much as learning about the broader situation of Norwegians fleeing to Britain. With My Dumfries Story I want to create an accessible and emotive link between those fading individual memories and the official history. By sharing the journal entries of an imaginary Norwegian living in wartime Dumfries I want to draw a composite sketch of the exile experience. Part of this process has been retracing the steps of Norwegians between various points on the trail and wider map, trying to walk in the boots of those welcome foreigners and capture what might have been felt in writing and drawing.

My background includes a degree in Scottish history and philosophy, museum and art gallery work, as well as creative writing and performance. I am also well travelled and interested in issues of migration. Hence the experience of working on Our Norwegian Story and My Dumfries Story in parallel has been both professionally and personally rewarding. I hope the results generate a greater interest in the rich, surprising history of Dumfries, but also in oor toon’s place within international contexts.’

Find our more about the Our Norwegian Story project here, and for details of the Trail Launch this weekend please find out more here, or join our Facebook Event. All events are free to attend, and no booking is required!

News Project Updates

Journey through our town – ONS

September brought Our Norwegian Trail to life with the most recent Mapping Event.  We scribbled, played, discussed and stitched Our Story into creation on a beautiful sunny day despite half of our team being struck down by one of those Autumn bugs.

The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries

Large chalk drawings are always fun!  We had lots of young helpers join in our antics outside on the pavement as well as a few inquisitive chats and walks down memory lane.


Artist Deirdre Nelson joined us over the two days with large printed squares of Dumfries.  Embroidery silks at the ready she helped passers by stitch significant places in Dumfries’ Norwegian history as well as other personnel significance onto our maps.  We are looking forward to welcoming her back to continue – and maybe tidy up slightly some of our own attempts – for the next ONS event STORY on the 10th, 11th and 12th of November, come join us!

The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries
The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries
The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries

If you have a place or a memory that relates to Dumfries’ Norwegian Story please do get in touch, we are keen to make this story truly Dumfries’.

[email protected]

News Project Updates

Our Scottish/Norwegian Skill Share

Back to “Our Norwegian Story” so far – July brought us a two day event sharing skills and learning about our common love of making.  We made boats, oars, whistles, rope and nets while also exploring the knitting of Sanquhar patterns and their Norwegian counterparts.  Our friends from Galgael Trust up in Glasgow, Alyne Jones of Moniaive, Simon Lidwell of local group Clauran Haven and Wordsmithcrafts helped us explore the beauty of skilled craft and our intertwined history within it.

The Stove ‘Our Norwegian Story’
Rowing instruction from Cluaran
A different kind of street market
Whistle Making with Nora from Forest Schools
Oar making with the Galgael Trust
Knitting with Alyne Jones of Vanishing Scotland
News Project Updates

ONS Market & Recipe Swap

Looking over the next few weeks on Our Norwegian Story so far – The project kicked off on June 17th the with a wonderful array of specialities from Norway as well as this side of the ocean for our Recipe Swap and Market. Those who turned up shared stories over warm waffles with Norwegian blueberries, Kransekake and some scotch favourites like Chranachan, writing down some recipes for you to enjoy at home.

All of the Recipes have now been up-loaded to our project page here:

Saturday the 17th June saw us join Dumfries’ annual Guid Nychburris celebrations with more waffles, cinnamon buns and a special Norwegian Market kindly put on by Alex of Edinburgh based Nordic Affar – – where you can buy all the Norwegian classics from Brown Cheese to Salted Liquorice.

More food to come at Septembers Scottish/Norwegian film Shorts and Pot Luck night on September 15th at 7pm, information to follow.

Norwegian food swap at the Stove , Dumfries
Recipe Swap gathering
Norwegian food swap at the Stove , Dumfries
Sharing our Recipes
Norwegian food swap at the Stove , Dumfries
Enjoying Norwegian stew
Norwegian food swap at the Stove , Dumfries
Norwegian food swap at the Stove , Dumfries
Norwegian food swap at the Stove , Dumfries
Waffles and blueberries
The stove
Norge Hus at The Stove
Cinnamon buns!
Our Norwegian Market
Nordic Affar joins us at The Stove
Sharing Stories
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