Planet Suffolk: Bringing together the Suffolks of the world

Suffolk Hill, Maxwelltown, Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

Suffolk Hill is situated at 55° 04’ 00” N 3° 37’ 60” W about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) southwest of the centre of Maxwelltown, a suburb of Dumfries, in Scotland.  It is approximately 77 miles (124 km) from Glasgow and 80 miles (129 km) from Edinburgh.

Population:- No figures available for Suffolkhill Avenue or the houses on Dalbeattie Road & Castle Douglas Road on Suffolk Hill. The 2001 figure for the population of Dumfries was 43,600.

How to get there:-

By road: From Glasgow, take the M74 southbound, which then becomes the A74(M). Turn onto A701 towards Dumfries, then take the A75 westbound, before turning left onto the A780/Castle Douglas Road.

From Edinburgh, take the A702 southbound until it merges with the A74(M). From there follow directions as above.

From England, take the M6 northbound to Gretna, then head west on the A75. Circle in an anti-clockwise direction around Dumfries until you come to the junction with the A780.

By rail: Dumfries is on the Glasgow South Western Line, which runs south from Glasgow Central Station to Carlisle, where it joins the West Coast Main Line. Dumfries Station is approximately 1.5 miles away from Suffolk Hill.

The nearest international airport is Glasgow Prestwick International, around 60 miles northwest of Dumfries. Carlisle Airport is around 40 miles to the southeast.

Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time.   Daylight saving time in summer +1 hr.

Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)

History & Derivation of Name 

The Town of Dumfries, & Dumfries & Galloway 

For more photos see the Suffolk Hill, Dumfries album in the Photo Gallery

History & Derivation of Name

Suffolk Hill or Suffolkhill is definitely recorded in a deed of sale dated 31 May 1654.  It is described as “a portion of land extending to 8 acres with meadows and pertinents called Suffolkhill alias Gourlay’s Croft”.  It was sold to a John Williamson, merchant of Dumfries, and is said to have been “then possessed by William Howat at Bridgend of Dumfries and formerly belonging to John Maxwell of Cowhill.”  The lord of these lands was Robert Maxwell, Earl of Nithsdale.  Since 1810 “Bridgend of Dumfries” has been called Maxwelltown.



                Dumfries & Galloway Golf Course on Suffolk Hill                                           

It is unusual for a location in Scotland to have had such a name for over 300 years, particularly as there is no obvious connection with Suffolk.  The Howat family in Dumfries can be traced back to 1610 (Historical Families of Dumfriesshire by C L Johnstone).  Their surname is a variant spelling of the name Howard.  Thomas Howard was created the Earl of Suffolk in 1603 and he was a favourite of King James I, the king who came from Scotland.  It is unlikely that the Howat family is connected to the famous Howard family in England, but they may have considered it prudent to give this impression.  The similarity of the surnames would be emphasised by naming the hill on their property “Suffolk Hill”.  The association between the first recorded name of the hill and that of the title taken by the Howard family is only 51 years, and it would have borne this name for a period long before 1654 to have become an instantly recognisable landmark. 

There is another possible explanation, however. In a radio interview with Graham Roberts of the Dumfries & Galloway Council about Suffolk Hill (BBC Radio Suffolk, 4th February 2014), he put forward another possible derivation of the name. He suggested that “Suffolk” could be a misspelling of “Fuffock”.  He claimed that fuffock is a Gaelic word meaning ‘a lochan’ or ‘small loch’*.  Indeed, the name is used elsewhere in place-names of Dumfries & Galloway.  There is a cliff face named “Kiln o’ the Fuffock” on the northern arm of the Rhins of Galloway peninsula.  Just 2.5 miles from Gatehouse of Fleet are Fuffock Burn and Fuffock Hill (1,056 feet) in Glengap Forest.  These last two are less than 30 miles from Suffolk Hill, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the name was once in more general use in this part of Scotland. Graham Roberts was quick to point out that this was only speculation, and there is no written or oral evidence to support this derivation, but it is certainly worth consideration.
*The most comprehensive Gaelic source of reference, Dwelly’s Illustrated Gaelic to English Dictionary, lists no words beginning in ‘Fuf’, and the letter ‘k’ doesn’t exist in the Gaelic alphabet.  However, this part of Scotland was subject to the Norse-Gaelic kingdom of Galloway and many place-names are hybrids of the Norse and Gaelic languages, the ruling Norse elite changing Gaelic ‘c’ to ‘k’ as in Killiegowan (Gaelic ‘coile-gobhain’).

This farmland was southwest of the small hamlet that became Maxwelltown and is clearly marked on the Ordnance Survey Maps of the 19th and 20th centuries as “Suffolk Hill”, or sometimes “Suffolkhill”.  It is still shown as Suffolk Hill and is now part of the Dumfries & Galloway Golf Course.  This golf club was established in 1890 but it did not acquire the ground between Castle Douglas Road (A780) and Dalbeattie Road (A711) until 1930.  It was not until the 1950s that the urban spread reached this area.  Some time later the land was developed and a cul-de-sac was built for 21 houses.  This takes its name from the hill on which it is built and is called Suffolkhill Avenue.                                    Junction of Dalbeattie Road & Castle Douglas Road

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The Town of Dumfries, & Dumfries & Galloway

The town of Dumfries in southern Scotland is located on the River Nith which empties into the Solway Firth.

In 1069, Malcolm III of Scotland (Malcolm Canmore) & William the Conqueror are known to have had a meeting at a place called Abernithi, which translates from the early British language (akin of modern Welsh) as “mouth of the Nith”, & is thought by some to be an early reference to the town. The name Dumfries, however, is thought to derive from the Scottish Gaelic Dún Phris meaning Fort of the Thicket.  The town was made a Royal Burgh in 1186 by King of the Scots, William the Lion. A royal castle was built in the 13th century on the site of the present Castledykes Park.  

In the late thirteenth century, William Wallace (c 1272 – 1305), one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence, chased the fleeing English army down the Nith Valley, finally defeating them on the Solway Firth. Wallace was later immortalized in the fifteenth century epic poem The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie, by Blind Harry, & more recently in the film Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson.

It was at Greyfriars Kirk in the town in 1306 that Robert the Bruce killed his rival John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch , also known as Red Comyn. Soon after this Robert became King of Scotland & began his campaign for independence, which culminated in the Battle of Bannockburn. The modern day Greyfriars Church was built in 1868, close to the site of the original kirk.

One of the oldest standing bridges in Scotland, Devorgilla Bridge, was built over the River Nith in 1432, & is named after the mother of King John Balliol, founder of Balliol College, Oxford. Rebuilt several times, it is still in use as a pedestrian bridge today.

From 1791, until his death five years later, the poet Robert Burns lived in Dumfries. His house (on Burns Street) still stands, whilst the Burns Mausoleum can be seen in St. Michael's churchyard, & his statue (see photo, right), sculpted in 1882, stands close to Greyfriars Church.

One of the founders of St. Joseph's College, Dumfries  in 1875 was Brother Walfrid (born Andrew Kerins in County Sligo, Ireland), a Marist Brother more famous as the founder of Celtic Football Club in Glasgow in 1888.

The town of Dumfries is nicknamed Queen of the South, which is also the name of the town’s football club. People from Dumfries are known colloquially as Doonhamers.

Dumfries was formerly the county town of Dumfrieshire. In 1975 the county was absorbed into the administrative region of Dumfries & Galloway, along with the former counties of Wigtownshire & Kirkcudbrightshire. The regions were abolished in 1994, at which time Dumfries & Galloway became one of 32 unitary council areas of Scotland. The area borders South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire & South Lanarkshire to the north, the Scottish Borders to the east, & the English county of Cumbria to the south.

Tourist attractions within the area include Galloway Forest Park, the Southern Upland Way footpath, the RSPB operated Mull of Galloway reserve (the southernmost point of Scotland), & a host of historic castles such as Threave, Caerlaverock, Cardoness & Drumlanrig.

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