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New book explores history of Scotland’s national book town

29 April 2014

Ahead of Wigtown’s annual Spring Book Weekend, a new book has been published detailing the history and archaeology of Scotland’s national book town.

Historic Wigtown: Archaeology and Development is the final book in the third series of Scottish Burgh Surveys, and offers a vivid account of the archaeological and historical environment of Wigtown.

Funded by Historic Scotland and Dumfries & Galloway Council and published by the Council for British Archaeology, the book maps the development of the town from its ancient beginnings.

It details its emergence as a trading centre and burgh in the mid-13th century, the turmoil of the 17th century, when it wrestled with Whithorn for local supremacy, and developments in local trade and society in the 18th and 19th centuries when many of the buildings that are still visible were built.

It is the last in the current series of burgh survey publications, which are funded by Historic Scotland. The Scottish Burgh Survey project was established in the 1970s and has since produced detailed surveys of 78 of Scotland’s towns and cities.

The books are intended both as guides to the history and archaeology of Scotland’s burghs and to furnish local authorities and communities with reliable information to help protect and manage the archaeology and historic environment of our urban centres.

Martin Brann, Senior Heritage Management Officer (Ancient Monuments)  at Historic Scotland said: “The final volume in the third series of Scottish Burgh Surveys, Historic Wigtown: Archaeology and Development offers a fascinating insight into the history of the town. Originally intended to be utilised by planners, the burgh survey publications have developed over the decades, becoming an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history of specific burghs in Scotland.”

Richard Oram, co-author of Historic Wigtown: Archaeology and Development said: “It was a wonderful experience to study a town which some of us thought we had known for almost 50 years only to discover that we had completely misunderstood it.

“It was refreshing, too, to see a town where many of the historic buildings at the heart of the burgh’s historic core and which give so much character to it had been rescued from dereliction and disuse to play a key role in community regeneration.  It is a splendid high note on which to finish the series, illustrating how sensitive restoration driven by a combination of individual private initiative and sympathetic local planning can produce a vibrant, living community.”

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • As part of its World Heritage Status, UNESCO guidelines require management plans to be drawn up every five years.


  • The Council for British Archaeology is an independent charity whose aim is to open up the UK’s rich heritage for all and safeguard it for future generations. For details of other CBA publications, including other titles in the Burgh Survey series, visit: www.archaeologyuk.org/books-and-publications

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For further information


Alice Wyllie
Historic Scotland Media Office
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096
alice.wyllie@scotland.gsi.gov.uk