Savings Banks Museum

venue representative image

In 1810 Dr. Henry Duncan opened the world's first savings bank based on business principles, paying interest on its investors' modest savings. The original Ruthwell Parish Bank is now home of the Savings Banks Museum. The eighteenth century building houses a collection of early home savings boxes, coins and bank notes from many parts of the world. There are books on the worldwide spread of savings banks. The modest but important archives include documents and letters on the history of savings banks, as well as social, economic and family history records.

The Rev Henry Duncan was minister of the parish church in Ruthwell for nearly 50 years. He became Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and he was a leading light in the Disruption of the Kirk in 1843. Dr Duncan restored the magnificent medieval Ruthwell Cross. The eighth century Cross is one of the finest Anglo-Saxon crosses in Britain and has now been returned to its rightful place in Ruthwell Church. The first scientific paper on fossil footprints found in Corncockle Quarry was presented by Duncan to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1828. A newspaper founder and editor, he also published tracts and papers on parish savings banks, slavery emancipation, education, improving conditions for teachers etc.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

April-Sept 10:00-16:00 Oct-March 10:00-16:00

Admission charges

Please check.

The Museum houses a collection of early home safes, coins and bank notes from many parts of the world, including the first three lock box used in the Ruthwell Parish Bank.

As well as bank memorabilia and records, the collection traces the life of the Rev Henry Duncan, the 'Father' of Savings Banks, demonstrating his many interests and accomplishments. A quarter-size model of the Ruthwell Cross, which he carved from beeswax, is prominently displayed.

Every item in the museum has been donated, either by members of the Duncan family or by visitors to the museum. The collection is constantly growing and is limited only by space restraints.

In addition to books on the history of savings banks in many countries, on savings bank law and on social and economic history, the museum holds records and ledgers of the Ruthwell Parish Bank and other early savings banks. Social and family history records of the nineteenth century are also available to researchers, as are books and papers on the Ruthwell Cross. There is extensive correspondence on the Act for the Protection of Savings Banks in Scotland (1819) as well as letters on some of the many topics which fascinated Henry Duncan, eg: Kirk/Patronage/Poor laws, Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, The Peace Society, Slavery emancipation, A university for Dumfries, Social & economic history and Duncan family correspondence.

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Coins and Medals, Religion, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • Bank memorabilia
  • Coins, banknotes and savings banks
  • Rev Henry Duncan

Savings Banks Museum




01387 870 640

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.