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Smugglers Ahoy at Dumfries Museum

Free drop in activities will be available 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday each week. These include the Exciseman’s Challenge, new colouring sheets, the opportunity to make paper wherry boats and a hunt to find the smugglers’ haul of rum barrels.

In addition there are two special workshop days. On Thursday 12th you can find out why tea smuggling became widespread in the 17th and 18th centuries and why people had fancy teapots. You can see some of these in the museum collection and in pictures. They come in all shapes from elegant designs to fun houses, heads and cabbages. Participants can make their own design in clay – the wackier the better.

Lanterns were used by smugglers on shore to signal to the wherry boats bringing in smuggled goods. On Thursday 19th there will be the opportunity to make and decorate lanterns in time for Halloween.

To book either of these two activities please telephone Dumfries Museum on 01387 253374 or e-mail There are a range of start times and a choice of workshop length to suit families with children of different ages. All children should be accompanied by an adult. The activities may involve messy materials so wearing old clothes is strongly advised.

Museum Officer Fiona Wilson commented: “Smuggling was widespread during the time when Robert Burns was an exciseman for the port of Dumfries. The current exhibition gives local people the opportunity to find out about the smuggling trade in Dumfries and Galloway. Lots of fun activities during the October holidays will give kids a chance to learn about life during that period in history.”