Open main menu

Langholm /ˈlæŋəm/, also known colloquially as the "Muckle Toon", is a burgh in Dumfries and Galloway in southern Scotland. Langholm lies between four hills in the valley of the River Esk in the Southern Uplands. It is the traditional seat of Clan Armstrong with its most famous descendant being Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon. In 1972 he accepted in person being bestowed the first Freeman and Honorary Burgess of the burgh of Langholm. On accepting the distinction he said, "The most difficult place to be recognised is in one's home town. And I consider this now my home town."[1]

Langholm and the River Esk
Langholm is located in Dumfries and Galloway
Location within Dumfries and Galloway
Population2,311 (2001)
Southern Scots
OS grid referenceNY364847
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtDG13
Dialling code013873
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°09′07″N 2°59′56″W / 55.152°N 2.999°W / 55.152; -2.999Coordinates: 55°09′07″N 2°59′56″W / 55.152°N 2.999°W / 55.152; -2.999


Location and geographyEdit

Whita hill with its obelisk commemorating Sir John Malcolm, Governor of Bombay from 1827-30.

Langholm sits 8 mi (13 km) north of the Anglo-Scottish border on the A7 road running between Edinburgh in east central Scotland and Carlisle in north-west England. Edinburgh is 73 mi (117 km) to the north, Newcastleton is around 10 mi (16 km) to the east and Carlisle 19 mi (31 km) to the south.[2]

Langholm is immediately surrounded by four hills in the River Esk valley within Scotland's wider Southern Uplands. The highest of the four hills is 300m Whita hill on which stands an obelisk (locally known as 'The Monument'). The Monument commemorates the life and achievements of Sir John Malcolm (1769‑1833), former soldier, statesman, and historian. The other three hills are Warblaw (in Langholm it is pronounced Warbla), Meikleholmhill (a knowe of which is known as 'Tinpin') and the Castle Hill.


The Clan Armstrong Trust Centre

Langholm is the traditional seat of Clan Armstrong, which is currently represented globally by the official Clan Armstrong Trust. Home of the Clan Armstrong line is Gilnockie Tower 4.5 mi (7.2 km) south of Langholm and 2.3 km (1.4 mi) north of Canonbie. The Episcopalian church on Castle Holm went into disuse before conversion into the Clan Armstrong museum.

The town was an important centre for the Border Reivers. The town later grew around the textile industry.

Notable visitors and residentsEdit

Neil ArmstrongEdit

In 1972, astronaut Neil Armstrong, was welcomed and made the first freeman and Burgess of the burgh.[3] The depute town clerk at the time later said, “The town council had made the approach because this is Armstrong country and we thought it would be appropriate. It turned out that he was coming to Edinburgh to deliver the Mountbatten lecture so he could accept and come to Langholm.”[4]

The ceremony took place at Langholm's largest building of the time, the parish church. With his manner of modest dignity he stated: [4][1]

The most difficult place to be recognised is in one's home town. And I consider this now my home town.

He also commented:

My pleasure is not only that this is the land of Johnnie Armstrong, rather that my pleasure is in knowing that this is my home town and in the genuine feeling that I have among these hills among these people. [5][6]

He then walked for lunch at Buccleuch Hall. His visit is captured in online video.[7][8][9][10] In coverage by the international press, the Chicago Tribune's front-page story included a map of the British Isles marking only London and Langholm. Armstrong universally known for his humility[11] is remembered as having no interest on his visit of boasting of his achievements. Instead he was absorbed in finding out more of his Armstrong heritage and making a connection with the area.[4]


"Here comes Langholm, birthplace of Hugh Macdiarmid."

Thomas Telford was born nearby and worked in Langholm as an apprentice early in his career.

Christopher Murray Grieve (known as Hugh Macdiarmid) was born in Langholm. The Scottish poet was a leading light in the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th century. Unusually for a communist, he was a committed Scottish nationalist and wrote both in English and in literary Scots. The town is home to a monument in his honour made of COR-TEN(r) steel which takes the form of a large open book depicting images from his writings.

The first female corporate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan, was born and raised in Langholm, daughter of Rev. James Donaldson Buchanan, the longtime minister in Langholm Parish.

David Thomas Richardson, a linguist and officer of the Bengal Army was born in Langholm.


Edinburgh Woollen Mill was founded in Langholm in 1946 by Drew Stevenson, however they recently announced plans to move their HQ from Langholm, to Carlisle.[12] [13].



The X95 cross-border bus service (which is operated by Borders Buses) runs through Langholm, the service largely follows the route of the A7 road between Edinburgh and Carlisle via Hawick in the Scottish Borders..


Langholm railway station opened in April 1864, but closed 100 years later. The last regular passenger train was on 13 June 1964, although a special ran in March 1967 - complete with restaurant car; the freight service continued until September 1967.

The nearest operational railway stations are at Carlisle in England and Lockerbie in Scotland.

Local mediaEdit


The local newspaper is the Eskdale & Liddesdale Advertiser based on Langholm High Street. The Advertiser is owned by the CN Group Ltd.[14] The paper covers news from Langholm and its surrounding areas (notably Canonbie & Newcastleton) and is commonly referred to locally as 'The Squeak'. Established in 1848, the newspaper was the first penny newspaper in Scotland.


Outside of the nationwide services it is possible to receive transmissions by:-


The population in 2001 was 2,311.



In 1858 Langholm Cricket Club was founded. The club play their matches on the picturesque Castleholm Ground. They currently play their matches in the Border League, finishing mid table for the 2009 season. The 2010 season started against Gala at home on 24 April.

In 1871, Langholm RFC was founded, being the oldest Rugby club in the Borders. Langholm RFC play in Scottish National League Division 1 and in the Border League.

Langholm also has a minor football team, Langholm Legion, who also play on the Castleholm

The town also has a karate club, Langholm Shotokan Karate Club, which is part of the JKS Scotland.

Arts & leisureEdit

As well as the Scottish Episcopal Church now used as the Clan Armstrong museum, The Roman Catholic church of St Francis of Assisi closed in 2010[15] and is now a fine art gallery.[16]

The Buccleuch Centre, is a well equipped venue with providing a regular programme of music and theatre.

The town is home to a music and arts festival, a food festival and the Langholm walks. Each year many visitors come for the annual Common Riding, which takes place on the last Friday of July.

Langholm has both a pipe band and a brass band (known as the Town Band - or colloquially as The Toon Ban'). The Town Band is allegedly the oldest surviving brass band in Scotland.

The town is also home to the Eskdale and Liddesdale Archaeological Society.

There is also an active Archive Group with a steadily increasing collection of information, much now on-line.[17]


Industry for a long time was based on textiles with at one time 22 mills in the town. There has been much consolidation and closure since that peak. The High Street retail brand The Edinburgh Woollen Mill was started in Langholm and still has a presence in the town.


The 'Langholm Project' or 'Langholm Study' is a reference to the Joint Raptor Study, a scientific study undertaken in the 1990s on Langholm Moor into the effects of raptors on red grouse populations. This was a large-scale project involving a range of organisations including Game Conservancy Trust, CEH (or ITE as they were then known) and Buccleuch estates. The project was followed by a two-year study on the effects of supplementary feeding of harriers, which ended in 1999. The findings of the study and the effect on the moor have been the subject of much debate. In 2007 the Scottish Government announced a further 10-year project with the following aims:

  • aim to establish a commercially viable driven grouse moor. Within the time frame of the project, it is the intention to sell driven grouse days producing an annual income in excess of £100,000.
  • aim to restore an important site for nature conservation to favourable condition
  • seek to demonstrate whether the needs of an economically viable grouse moor can be met alongside the conservation needs of protected raptors, especially the hen harrier.

This more recent study is officially titled The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, but like its predecessor it is generally known as 'the Langholm Project'. The current project is a joint venture between Buccleuch Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, RSPB and Natural England.


  1. ^ a b "NEIL ARMSTRONG IN LANGHOLM" National Library of Scotland
  2. ^ Langholm Online
  3. ^ "Neil Armstrong's Scots roots celebrated as Moon landing hero makes his final journey"
  4. ^ a b c ] "Mission To… Langholm?" The Scots Magazine 15 June 2015]
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Armstrong's Lantern: Spaceflight Scottish Connections" Scottish Tartans Museum
  7. ^ BBC 31 Aug 2012 "Neil Armstrong remembered by Scottish town Langholm"
  8. ^ BBC Scotland, Watch and listen 1970s
  9. ^ Neil Armstrong in Langholm, Tyne Tees
  10. ^ "Recalling Moon man's 'muckle' leap" BBC, 20 July 2009
  11. ^ "Neil Armstrong: 'We have lost a humble giant, but his legacy is forever'" NASA 27 August 2012
  12. ^
  13. ^ "First minister 'disappointed' by EWM move". 24 May 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018 – via
  14. ^ Eskdale and Liddlesdale Advertiser
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ Langholm Archive Group. Retrieved 21 May 2010.

External linksEdit