Stirling , Dominican Friary

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Alternative Names Blackfriars Church
Site Type FRIARY
Canmore ID 46223
Site Number NS79SE 40
NGR NS 7967 9358
Council STIRLING
Parish STIRLING
Former Region CENTRAL
Former District STIRLING
Former County STIRLINGSHIRE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Notes and Activities

Archaeological Notes

NS79SE 40 7967 9358.

(NS 7967 9358) Supposed Site of (NAT) Dominican Monastery (NR) AD 1233 OS 1:500 map (1860)

There is now no trace of the Dominican friary which formerly existed at Stirling (RCAHMS 1963). The friary, dedicated to St Laurence, or according to Brockie, St Kentigern, was founded by Alexander II in 1233. It was destroyed by Reformers in 1559, and the Blackfriars' lands came into possession of the burgh in 1652 (Fr Brockie MS collections at St Mary's College, Blairs). The site was pointed out to the field surveyor in 1858 by the R C priest and Town Clerk, "situated on the E side of Murray Place and Maxwell Place, now occupied as a house and gardens, where great quantities of human bones have often been found."
Name Book 1858; D E Easson 1957

In 1835 when the Saracen's Head inn was being demolished for the erection of the Bank of Scotland, abundant evidence was obtained to show that what is now the bank garden was formerly a burial ground.
Trans Stirling Natur Hist Antiq Soc 1890

While demolishing nos. 58 and 60 Murray Place, an old wall was discovered. It was 46' long, 5' broad, with four buttresses 12' apart, each projecting 5' from the main wall. It is believed to have been the S wall of the Blackfriars Church. An abundance of human remains were also found. (Nimmo (1880), notes that for over 250 years, the Church was the chief place of worship in Stirling, with the burial ground adjacent). Ronald records that the Blackfriars' lands were bounded by a stone wall, whose S boundary is said locally to have been about Thistle Street.
J Ronald 1899; Trans Stirling Natur Hist Antiq Soc 1903.


NS 7969 9355 Reappraisal of the records in Central Region Archives confirmed that the old wall recorded in 1903 (supra) when the existing tenement replaced earlier buildings (at what is now 64 Murray Place) was the S wall of the Blackfriars Church.
Permission to excavate in the garden behind the property was kindly givem by all six of the joint owners. The end of the 1904 wall base was uncovered, and found to be of very solid construction, having survived the post-Reforrnation robbing out. Beyond the clear evidence of the exploratory digging that in 1904 had shown robbing out had taken place we found mortar and rubble debris indicating the line of the wall eastwards. The ground had been greatly disturbed, not only in the robbing out, but also in the cultivation of gardens since before 1858. Many human bone fragments were found, and the greater part of a female skeleton, accompanied by pieces of the bones of two infants, on a bed of clay close beside the S wall of the church. The skeleton had been partly destroyed when the wall had been robbed. If the buttress pattern of the 1904 wall had continued, there would have been a buttress where the skeleton was found, suggesting that the eastern end of the churchwas older and of simpler construction. The N wall was located, and the eastern end of the church. This was traversed by two functioning main drains, two earlier abandoned main drains, a field drain, and a water supply pipe. However, it was possible to see that the end of the church was apsidal, probably round, or conceivably polygonal. The width of the church was 6.5m internally, with walls 1.5m thick, making overall width 9.5m. We have added 13.Sm to the length of 14m recorded in 1904, making the total known length 27.5m.
E R Page and C Page 1994.

For a detailed history of the formation of the Blackfriars of Stirling, using historical documents, see "Blackfriars of Stirling", by R and C Page (MS 2600)


 
Books and References

Cowan and Easson, I B and D E (1976) Medieval religious houses in Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man, London
Page(s): 102 Held at RCAHMS C.3.2.EAS.R

Easson, D E (1957a) Medieval religious houses in Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man, London
Page(s): 102 Held at RCAHMS C.3.2.EAS

Nimmo, W (1880) The history of Stirlingshire, London
Page(s): Vol.1, 132-4

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Charity SC026749