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History The Glenkens in Galloway, comprises the parishes of Carsphairn, Dalry, Kells (which includes New Galloway), Parton and Balmaclellan. This area and its people have, throughout the centuries, contributed much to the history of Scotland.
The Glenkens is situated in the heart of Galloway midway along the western section of the Southern Upland way, which plays a large part in the history of Scotland, and it's legend and culture. Celts, Picts, Romans and Vikings have all left their mark on a landscape both the backdrop to violent bloody battles and later to thriving industrial fortune.
The topography of the parishes provides natural habitat for wildlife including the recently re-introduced Red Kite, adding to the scenic beauty are the moorlands, hills and the waters of the Deugh and Ken.
There were scattered settlements in the area from at least the 13thC (when the nearby Kenmure Castle was first built), but the village was formally founded in the 1600s by the Viscount of Kenmure and granted Royal Burgh status in 1630 - this was to enable it to serve as a market town. However, Kirkcudbright, only 19 miles to the south, was larger and drew more traders. New Galloway thus grew very slowly and is the smallest Royal Burgh in Scotland. The Ken Bridge, which links the village with the main road on the east side of the valley, was built in 1822 by the Scottish engineer, John Rennie, who also built the second London Bridge.
In 1793, Burns stayed at Kenmure Castle as a guest of John Gordon, who later became the eighth viscount Kenmure. The poet’s friend from Dumfries, John Syme, accompanied him on his tour of Galloway, of which this was a part, and is quoted as saying that: “…I can scarcely conceive a scene more terribly romantic than the castle of Kenmure. Burns thinks so highly of it, that he meditates a description of it in poetry.” Syme goes on to say that Burns had a great interest in the spot a few miles from the castle on the bank of the Ken where Lowe had composed Mary’s Dream.