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St.Michaels Church, Dumfries Scotland.

St. Michaels Church Dumfries.
Where is Dumfries? : More photos of Dumfries.

After an illustrious, short but passionate life, the remains of Scotland's most famous poet Robert Burns is buried here in St Michael's Churchyard Dumfries.

Robert Burns was actually an Army Volunteer, something rarely mentioned about the man in the many books about him. Subsequent to this the folks of Dumfries embarked upon a quest to arrange a military ceremony. The Fencible Infantry of Angus-shire and the Cinque Ports Cavalry were stationed in Dumfries during Roberts death and they offered their services.

On Monday 25th July 1796 what looked like the whole of Dumfries turned out to view the remarkable funeral procession for the Bard. Robert Burns was buried in the north east corner of the churchyard. Incredibly with all this pomp and circumstance surrounding Burns' death, Jean Armour his wife gave birth to another son that same evening.

In an eyebrow-raising twist of irony, Jean Armour named the baby Maxwell after the Doctor whose advice (we now know) ultimately killed her husband.

The appreciation for Robert Burns' work and his veritable genius of the day, was often overlooked. Robert's body was buried in a corner at the back of the Kirk, marked by a plain stone slab. There he lay, a spontaneous poetic genius of a man, a gifted artist of the Scottish word forgotton by his very neighbours and Countrymen laying in a corner of a small graveyard in Dumfries.

19 years would pass before that would all change!

Photo: St Michael's Church. Click to enlarge.


John Syme, a staunch friend of Burns, felt that Burns’ grave marked merely with a plain stone slab, was an inadequate memorial to the poet. Robert's grave was so insignificant that when no less than Dorothy and William Wordsworth visited Dumfries in 1803 they had difficulty finding it. In 1813 John Syme launched an appeal to build a mausoleum. Such was the interest amongst not only the ordinary folk but those from affluent kin including Royalty, that large sums of money were donated to the cause.

If you are a die hard Scots pundit, you will be disappointed to hear that the Mausoleum was designed by an Englishman from London. However before you reach for your Claymore, the man, Mr Thomas Frederick Hunt was so moved by the appeal that he insisted on providing the drawings for free. So there, hopefully that makes up for it. Free being the first word in the Scottish dictionary! On 19th September 1815 more than two years after the appeal was launched, Robert Burns' body was exhumed and placed in a beautiful Grecian style Mausoleum where it can be seen today. The bodies of two of his children Maxwell and Francis Burns were also moved to the Mausoleum at that time.


Martin J. Galloway Editor.
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