Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Dumfries Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, including entrance piers and railings, and excluding 1991-1994 extension to southeast, 40 Buccleuch Street, DumfriesLB26108

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Group Category Details
100000020 - 35, 37
Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
Planning Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
NX 96975 76194
296975, 576194


David Rhind, 1863-1866; some internal alterations, 1991-1994. Large asymmetrical Scots Baronial court house. 1991-1994 extension to rear (southeast) elevation not considered of special interest in listing terms. Predominantly 3-storey main elevation to street with railed basement. Bull-faced red ashlar with polished dressings, moulded reveals, stepped corbel tables between floors, corbelled turrets and bartizans all with conical copper roofs.

Buccleuch Street (principal) elevation consists of an off-centre to right entrance range with a corbelled and pierced parapet, round-headed doorway with cable moulding and a large corbelled turret above with spouts. To the right of this entrance range is a deeply recessed range and raised a storey higher, also with similar parapet. The top floor windows of the 2 bays to the left of the entrance range break eaves and have pedimented dormer heads. Some crowstepped gables and slated roofs.

Predominantly 4-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Grey slates. Wallhead stacks. Cast iron downpipes.

The interior, seen in 2014, has some 1860s woodwork, elaborate ceiling and cornice plasterwork to most rooms and hallways, with some alterations dating to the 1990s. The original room layout has been slightly modified, but much of the 1863-1866 plan remains. There is an open well staircase with decorative iron barley sugar balusters and timber handrail. The main courtroom has an elaborate ribbed and coffered ceiling, consoled cornices to windows and a timber gallery with clock and panelled front. Public seating and other fittings, including the access hatch from the basement cells to the dock, replaced in the 1990s.

Parapeted entrance way oversailing basement area. Spiked cast iron railings, with square red ashlar pyramidal entrance and terminal piers.

Statement of Special Interest

Dumfries Sheriff Court dates to 1863-66 and was designed by the successful architect David Rhind. Among the first wave of purpose built sheriff court houses built after the 1860 Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act, the building is a significant example of civic architecture. The building has a good composition of fortified Scots Baronial features, with a distinctive inset entrance tower, and demonstrates the confident adaptation of this mid-19th century country house style to public architecture. Internally, the building retains most of its mid 19th century courtroom components and decorative features designed by Rhind.

Dumfries Sheriff Court was built in 1863-1866 and is depicted on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1893 as the County Court Buildings. The court house was built to replace an older court house and separate prison, also on Buccleuch Street.

David Rhind (1808-1883) began training as an architect in circa 1828 in the offices of A C Pugin and completed his training in Italy. He was a highly regarded architect of the mid to late 19th century period in Scotland. Working in a variety of styles from Gothic to Baronial to neoclassical, Rhind was a prominent designer of commercial buildings, notably in his role as principal architect to the Commercial Bank of Scotland. He served as an architect to the Prison Board and designed many sheriff court houses such as Kirkcudbright (1867), Oban (1889), and Jedburgh (1861 additions) (see separate listings). His court house designs were stylistically varied, relying on baronial traditions that allowed for bold sculptural effects, and this is demonstrated at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court.

The development of the court house as a building type in Scotland follows the history of the Scottish legal system and wider government reforms. The majority of purpose-built court houses were constructed in the 19th century as by this time there was an increase in the separation of civic, administrative and penal functions into separate civic and institutional buildings, and the resultant surge of public building was promoted by new institutional bodies. The introduction of the Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860 gave a major impetus to the increase and improvement of court accommodation and the provision of central funding was followed by the most active period of sheriff court house construction in the history of the Scottish legal system, and many new court houses were built or reworked after this date.

Court houses constructed after 1860 generally had a solely legal purpose and did not incorporate a prison, other than temporary holding cells. The courts were designed in a variety of architectural styles but often relied heavily on Scots Baronial features to reference the fortified Scottish building tradition. Newly constructed court buildings in the second half of the 19th century dispensed with large public spaces such as county halls and instead provided bespoke office accommodation for the sheriff, judge and clerks, and accommodated the numerous types of court and holding cells, all features which are present at Dumfries Sheriff Court.

The 1980-81 extension to the north and the early 1990s extension to the east were not considered to be of special architectural interest at the time of the review (2014-15).

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as '40 Buccleuch Street, Sheriff Court House and Offices and Piers and Railings'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 159188.

MacDowall, W. (1867) History of the Burgh of Dumfries. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black. p.744-745.

Groome, F. H. (ed.), 1894-5. The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland; a survey of Scottish topography, statistical, biographical, and historical, 2nd ed., Vol II. London: William Mackenzie. p.391.

Dickie, W. (1910) Dumfries (3rd Edition) p.109.

Ordnance Survey (1895) Kirkcudbrightshire, Sheet 030.11. 25 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

The Scottish Civic Trust (1983) Historic Buildings at Work. Glasgow: The Scottish Civic Trust. p.19.

Gifford, J. (1996) The Buildings of Scotland: Dumfries and Galloway. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p.272.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, David Rhind [accessed 03 November 2014].

Historic Scotland (2014) Scottish Courts Preliminary Report at

Further information provided by Scottish Courts Service (2014).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

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Dumfries Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, principal elevation, looking east, during daytime on an overcast day.
: Interior of courtroom 1, Dumfries Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court.

Printed: 28/01/2022 19:43