Holywood Abbey

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Alternative Names Premonstratensian Abbey Of Holywood Or Dercongal
Site Type ABBEY, ENCLOSURE(S), FIELD BOUNDARY(S), PIT(S), TRACK
Canmore ID 65500
Site Number NX97NE 1
NGR NX 95449 79675
Council DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY
Parish HOLYWOOD
Former Region DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY
Former District NITHSDALE
Former County DUMFRIES-SHIRE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR
Form Cropmark

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Notes and Activities

Archaeological Notes

NX97NE 1 95449 79675

(Name: NX 9557 7961) Holywood Abbey (NR) (Site of)
OS 6" map (1946).

Not to be confused with Holywood Parish Church (NX 95495 79655), for which see NX97NE 516.

The Premonstratensian Abbey of Holywood or Dercongal was established by 1225 and was erected into a temporal lordship in 1609.
An almshouse for men was established within the limits of the abbey before 1362.
I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976

The abbey was taken down in 1778 and the remains used to build the parish church (at NX 9549 7965).
New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845 (R Kirkwood)

The main portion of the abbey lies beneath the present churchyard; building remains, small finds and burials have been discovered during grave-digging and excavations in surrounding areas. The site of the chancel is marked by a portion of wall running E-W and just appearing above the surface for a distance of 3 ft, though a neighbouring burial ground encroaches upon nearly half of it.
A pillar within the churchyard marks the site of the entrance to the abbey.
The finds have been divided between Cowhill and Dumfries Museum.
Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc 1924; J W Martin 1898

No trace of this abbey could be found during field investigation. The pillar marking the site of the entrance to the abbey and the portion of wall marking the site of the chancel were not located.
Enquiries at Cowhill revealed no knowledge of any finds from the churchyard; the owner was not in residence at the time of visit.
Mr Truckell, of Dumfries Museum, states that some small pottery fragments from Holywood Abbey are in Dumfries Museum and that some sculptured stone heads from the Abbey are at Cowhill.
Visited by OS (WDJ) 26 June 1964

The pottery obtained during a brief trial excavation at the site of Holywood Abbey by Major Keswick of Cowhill in 1922 is fully described by A E Truckell and J Williams 1967.
Further finds of pottery, bone, tiles etc, were made in 1967-8 when ploughing in the field E of the present churchyard; a richly foliated (?) 15th century cross, found about 1965 beneath the pulpit of the present church, is in the possession of Mr Keswick, Cowhill.
J Williams 1967; 1968; A E Truckell 1964

Photographed by the RCAHMS. Settlement and agricultural patterns possibly relating to the Mediaeval Abbey. Parch mark of E end of Abbey.

Medieval pottery in Dumfries Museum (1972/63-4)
A E Truckell 1972

A complicated series of cropmarks have been recorded by aerial photography in fields to the E and W of the site of the Abbey. Only one of these cropmarks, a trackway running SE, from the NW corner of the churchyard to the nearby road, is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Dumfries-shire 1854-61, sheet xlix). Linear features which may represent sides of enclosures intersect and concentrate at NX c.9530 7970, and groups of pits are visible at NX c.9532 7967 and NX 9543 7966. Similar cropmarkings (NX97NE 171) have been recorded immediately to the SE of Holywood Parish Church.
Information from RCAHMS (KB) 6 May 1999.

Holywood Parish Church
Site of Holywood Abbey
(Premonstratansian) [Premonstratensian] [NAT]
OS (GIS) MasterMap, August 2009.

 
Books and References

Brooke, C J (2000) Safe sanctuaries: security and defence in Anglo-Scottish border churches 1290-1690, Edinburgh
Page(s): 329, 344, Held at RCAHMS F.5.31.BRO

Cowan and Easson, I B and D E (1976) 'Medieval religious houses, Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man', London
Page(s): 102, 181 Held at RCAHMS C.3.2.COW

Crowe, C J (2002) 'Holywood, an early medieval monastery: problems and possibilities', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd, vol.76
Page(s): 113-18 Held at RCAHMS P.7

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Charity SC026749