Local Information

Our area is exceptionally rich in historical connections. We are proud of our history and feel a responsibility to care for it.


Area History

Dr. Henry Duncan (1774-1846) , minister of Ruthwell Parish Church, established the world’s first commercial savings bank in a small cottage in Ruthwell.

The building is now the Savings Banks Museum. Dr. Duncan was also responsible for the restoration in 1818 of the Ruthwell Cross, one of the finest Anglo-Saxon crosses in the United Kingdom. The cross can be seen in Ruthwell Church.

Just west of Ruthwell is the Brow Well, visited by Robert Burns during his final illness in 1796.

Near Clarencefield there is Comlongon Castle, a fine example of a 15th century border stronghold, which was restored and extended by the Earl of Mansfield in 1880.

Ruthwell Church

For more information on Ruthwell Church, take a look at the website below.

Savings Bank Museum

In 1810 Dr Henry Duncan opened the world’s first savings bank based on business principles, paying interest on its investors’ modest savings.

The original Ruthwell Parish Bank is now the home of the Savings Banks Museum. It houses a collection of savings boxes, original ledgers, and banking artefacts from around the world, together with displays illustrating the remarkable life and achievements of Henry Duncan, local parish minister, social reformer, geologist, and “father” of the savings bank movement.

Ruthwell Walks

The Ruthwell Heritage Trail is a fascinating circular walk linking the Brow Well, the Savings Banks Museum, and the Ruthwell Cross. The walk goes along quiet country roads and tracks, a woodland walk, and a path along the Solway merse. The distance covered is 4 miles (6.4km) and takes around 2 hours.

There are also designated core paths around Comlongon Woods.

The Ruthwell Cross

The ancient Ruthwell Cross, thought to date back to around AD 680, stands some 18 feet high and is one of the most famous and elaborate Anglo-Saxon monumental sculptures – a rare treasure surviving from the Dark Ages in Britain.

Featuring intricate inscriptions in both Latin and, more unusually for a Christian monument, the runic alphabet, the Ruthwell Cross is inscribed with one of the largest figurative inscriptions found on any surviving Anglo-Saxon cross.

Three Ruthwell Parish Ministers played a crucial role in preserving the cross. When ordered to destroy the “idolatrous monument” by the General Assembly in 1664, Rev. Gavin Young courageously hid the cross in the clay floor of the church. In 1818 Rev. Dr. Henry Duncan recognised the relevance of the fragments and painstakingly restored the cross in the Manse grounds., and in 1887 Rev. James McFarlan built an apse in the Church and moved the cross inside the Church, protecting and preserving the sculpture for all to view today.

The Brow Well

The Brow Well , located off the B725 road just west of Ruthwell, is a chalybeate spring , a natural iron-salt source of water from underground.

During the 1700s the well was renowned for the supposed healing qualities of the water. Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns visited the Brow Well in 1796 on the advice of his doctor, to drink the water and sea bathe in the Solway for what we now know was rheumatic fever.

Burns died shortly afterwards and since then the Brow Well has become a place of pilgrimage for Burns enthusiasts. An annual commemoration service is held here in July on the anniversary of the poet’s death.

In 2016 extensive improvement works were carried out at the Brow Well, incorporating some lines of Burns’ poetry.

Local Wildlife

The inner Solway is a great place to view wildlife . Nearby WWT Caelaverock Wetlands Centre attracts large numbers of migratory birds, including barnacle geese, whooper swans and pink footed geese.

Huge flocks of barnacle geese provide a spectacular sight in autumn and winter, landing to feed or flying at dusk back to their roosting grounds.

The protected natterjack toad can be found on the merse along with dragonflies and butterflies. Deer, hares, foxes, badgers, as well as owls, herons and buzzards can all be see around this area.

Clarencefield Post Office

Opening Times:-

Monday 09.00 – 11.00

Tuesday 09.00 – 11.00

Wednesday closed

Thursday 09.00 – 11.00

Friday closed

Helpful links