PLANS to mark the 800th anniversary of Dumbarton will not be commemorated by the Scottish Government, it has been confirmed.

Dumbarton's MSP, Jackie Baillie, has branded the decision a "slap in the face" and called for the town to be given recognition for its historical significance.

Earlier this year the Reporter told how a year of celebration is being launched by West Dunbartonshire Council to celebrate the milestone.

The town’s octocentenary was marked on July 8, 800 years since the foundation charter for the Royal Burgh of Dumbarton was sealed by Alexander II in Jedburgh.

And the council will recognise the occasion by beginning 12 months of celebratory activities that will highlight Dumbarton’s rich history and heritage.

Plans include encouraging community participation, asking residents to submit photographs of their favourite places in the town to the council’s local history collection and the production of a video exploring the town’s story through the eyes of its young people.

However, Dumbarton's MSP has spoken of her deep disappointment in the Scottish Government and Historic Environment Scotland’s decision not to mark the town's anniversary of becoming a Royal Burgh.

Jackie Baillie sent a letter to cabinet secretary for constitution, external affairs and culture, Angus Robertson MSP, to express her frustration and has argued the the area has been snubbed on the eve of an historic occasion.

Earlier this month, Ms Baillie lodged a motion with the Scottish Parliament, congratulating West Dunbartonshire Council on its efforts to mark the anniversary.

'Slap in the face'

Jackie Baillie said: “The neglect of marking the 800th anniversary of Dumbarton becoming a Royal Burgh is a slap in the face to local people and is a clear snub by the Scottish Government and Historic Environment Scotland.

"They have not given the area the respect it deserves and I am extremely disappointed by that. I have made my feelings abundantly clear to the cabinet secretary in my correspondence with him regarding this.

“He believes that an event, the Rock of Ages, which takes place year after year, outwith Covid, with the compere mentioning ‘Dumbarton 800’ a handful of times, is good enough but I completely disagree."

In the correspondence with the cabinet secretary, Ms Baillie also asked for an update on the planned reopening of Dumbarton Castle, which is closed for the foreseeable future due to ongoing maintenance and inspection work. This has continued throughout the summer, costing the area in tourism revenue.

She added: “I have been in dialogue since January regarding Dumbarton Castle and have not had a satisfactory response yet. I desperately want to see the jewel in our crown reopen fully to visitors to enjoy learning more about the rich history of the castle.

“It will also hopefully help draw people into our town, spending money in our local shops to help them during this cost of living crisis. Instead of setting out any definitive timeline or pledging to accelerate works, I have been met with disappointing responses lacking any real action.

“It’s high time that this area is given recognition for its historical significance and I will continue to press for the reopening of Dumbarton Castle as soon as possible and for further events to mark the 800th anniversary of the town becoming a Royal Burgh.”

In the response letter seen by the Reporter Mr Robertson said that HES do not have further events planned, but happy to expore future events with the council.

It read: "There is no doubt that Dumbarton is a unique and important part of Scotland with a rich offering of heritage sites.

"The Scottish Government delivers support for Scotland's heritage through sponsorship of HES. As part of the 800th anniversary celebrations, HES delivered ‘The Rock of Ages’ event on June 11 and 12, 2022 at Dumbarton Castle, with the first arena performance of the day themed towards the 800th anniversary. 

"Colleagues at HES have advised that they currently do not have any further events planned for the anniversary, however HES is more than happy to explore future events with West Dunbartonshire Council."