Name: GLENLUCE Location: nr Glenluce
village County: Dumfries and Galloway Foundation: 1191/2 Mother house: Dundrennan Relocation: None Founder: Roland Lord of Galloway Secularised: 1602 Prominent members: Access: Historic Scotland open to the public
Glenluce was founded between 1191 and 1192 by
Roland, lord of Galloway and constable of Scotland. Roland was
grandson of the patron of Dundrennan and
it is likely that the first monks were brought from that monastery.
Very little is known
the history of Glenluce Abbey, although it is said to have been
severely damaged during a rebellion in Galloway in 1235. The abbey
was apparently visited by Robert the Bruce and James IV, and Mary
Queen of Scots was known to have stayed there during a royal progress.
was never a wealthy abbey and would have accommodated no more than
fifteen monks. In 1561 the annual
income of the abbey
was valued at £667, making Glenluce the second poorest abbey
of the Cistercian Order in Scotland at that time. During the sixteenth
century, the house was the victim of a series of disputes between
Scottish lords who each claimed the position of commendator. The
dispute was apparently brought to an end when Walter Mallen became
commendator of the abbey in 1519 and some stability returned to
the abbey during his term in office. However, in 1544 the abbot
was expelled from the abbey by the earl of Cassillis and the abbey
was invaded twice between
1545 and 1546, firstly, by the followers of the earl of Cassillis
and then by the followers of John Gordon
of Lochinvar. Both these men sought possession of the abbey by
enforcing their claims on the office of commendatorship. In 1547
resigned in favour of James Gordon, brother of John Gordon of Lochinvar.
On the death of James Gordon, before March 1560, John of Lochinvar
expelled the monks and took occupation of the abbey. Thomas Hay,
a protégé of the earl of Cassillis, was then installed
as commendator, although the ceremony had to take place in the
church owing to the occupation of the abbey by John of Lochinvar.
In 1561 Thomas Hay recovered possession of the
monastic buildings and remained as commendator until his death
1580, when it then passed to Gilbert Moncrief. In 1581/2 Gilbert
resigned the post to Laurence Gordon. The struggle between the
factions continued until after the Reformation. The situation was
finally resolved in 1602 when the abbey was erected into a temporal
lordship for Laurence Gordon of Lochinvar, although many of the
abbeys lands had already been alienated by the earl of Cassillis.
In 1619 the abbey was bestowed upon the bishop of Galloway and
the monastic buildings were allowed to fall into a state of ruin.
The most impressive of the ruins is the chapter-house, built
1500; it remains almost complete and in a very good state of preservation.
It contains some fine late-medieval stone carving, two beautiful
traceried windows in the east wall, and some of the original glazed
floor tiles which have been re-set around the base of the central
column. The remaining monastic buildings were much interfered with
at later dates and only the outlines of the buildings erected
the monks can now be ascertained. A particularly noteworthy feature
at the site is the network of interlocking clay pipes which carried
fresh water supplies around the abbey. Excavation of the site has
revealed a considerable amount of pottery, including high quality
French ware, suggesting that the monks bought on an international
market. A selection of the objects found at the site can now
seen in the abbey museum. The site is now owned by Historic Scotland
and is open to the public at regular times throughout the year.