Tongland Abbey Excavations – Recent Findings

Dr. David Devereux from the Kirkcudbright History Society is providing a talk at Kirkcudbright Parish Church, Kirkcudbright, Wednesday 13th February 2019 at 7.30pm on the recent findings from the Tongland Abbey Excavations.

Tongland Abbey was established by Alan, Lord of Galloway, for the Premonstratensian order in 1218. It was a daughter house of Cockersand Abbey near Lancaster. Very little physical evidence of the abbey now survives; only a short length of wall and a doorway in the ruin of the old parish church. From earlier accounts it is known that more extensive ruins of abbey buildings survived up until around 1790, including its tower, said to be the tallest in Galloway. The abbey was extensively quarried in the 18th century for building materials for nearby structures, including a bridge and mills on the River Dee. The only depiction of the abbey appears on a local plan of 1794, where it is shown as a formless heap of stones.

The garden of Mansewood (the former parish manse) lies immediately south of the old parish church. Following a geophysical survey of the lawn area of the garden in 2015, trial trenches have been excavated in the garden over the last three years. The primary objective of the survey and trial excavations has been to establish more precisely the location and general layout of the abbey. Excavations in 2017 revealed structural evidence in the form of wall foundations, which may relate to the west range of the abbey cloister.

A further season of trial excavations was carried out in 2018 from mid April to mid December, primarily to investigate further the possible west range foundation. Six new trenches were excavated, and the talk will present the most recent findings as well as outlining the known history of the abbey with reference to other monastic houses in Galloway and elsewhere.

For further information please contact the Kirkcudbright History Society:

T: 01557 330 193