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Robert Burns


19th Century

A steel plate engraving from a painting by D O Hill RSA of the romantic ruins of Lincluden Abbey near Dumfries.


When Robert Burns exchanged the role of farmer for that of Exciseman he moved with his family from Ellisland Farm into a tenement flat in Bank Street, Dumfries. He developed the habit of taking walks along the banks of the River Nith, perhaps to replace the outdoor life he had previously led.


Lincluden Abbey was a picturesque mediaeval ruin which captured the poet's imagination. It is situated on rising ground above the Cluden Water, a tributary which joins the west bank of the River Nith. It was here that Burns wrote the song, "Ca the Yowes to the Knowes", which features the Cluden and Lincluden Abbey. In September 1794 he wrote to George Thomson, his publisher, "In a solitary stroll which I took today, I tried my hand on a few pastoral lines. Here it is."


This view of Lincluden Abbey  was published in "The Land of Burns - A series of Landscapes and Portraits, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of the Scottish Poet". This was  published in 1846 by  Blackie and Son of Glasgow. At this time the development of steel plate engraving made  it possible for images to be reproduced in much greater numbers than previous printing technology had allowed. Books such as this one,  illustrated by engravings of works by eminent artists, became popular, although they were still  expensive and beyond the pocket of most people.

width: 145 mm, length: 96 mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:0199.72 [Land of Burns, Volume II]
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
Dumfries & Galloway Council