Plans to establish a tourist attraction detailing the legend of Merlin and its connection to Dumfriesshire have taken a step forward.

Clyde (Dumfries & Galloway) Community Fund, administered by Foundation Scotland, has announced a £10,000 grant to the Arthur Trail Association. 

Together with grants from the Minnygap Community Fund and Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company completes a total budget of £30,000 for a feasibility study for a multi-million pound Dark Age Centre at Beattock and Moffat. 

The proposed centre will be sited to attract traffic off the M74 for an immersive experience using next generation technology. 

It will "reveal a forgotten heritage of one of the most dramatic and dynamic times of our history when the elements which formed Scotland were beginning to come together".

READ MORE: Glasgow Museums acquires Alasdair Gray’s ‘most significant’ painting

It will have as its interpretive theme the world-wide fascination with Merlin.

Satellite developments in small rural communities with distinctive themes north and south of the centre are planned to be the subject of a separate study next year.

The hope is that the facility will be a must-see attraction for a pan-generational, international audience, attracting 200,000 visitors a year.  

The feasibility team is being led by heritage consultant Rob Robinson, Designer/Architect Ben Tyndall, and Producer/Director Robin Crichton.  They will be supported by a steering group representing community know-how and stakeholder interests.  

Robin Crichton said: “This is an off-the-wall approach; an immersive time travel back to a lost world. Tourism has been in steady decline for decades as traffic rushes past to the Central Belt and the Highlands. Currently only 2% of visitors are from overseas.   

“This study will examine and assess the potential of attracting visitors to discover a beautiful but unknown area currently off the international map. It will not be more of the same and our funders are to be congratulated on their vision. It is local community-based but international in outlook.”