Tongland Abbey


Parish Tongland      Location Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: NX 6977 5392

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On the 20th June 2015, a gathering was held at Tongland Abbey for the unveiling of a new  information board about Alan, Lord of Galloway,  founder of Tongland Abbey, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and his conection with the Magna Carta.   Alan was the only Scot to advise King John of England on the Magna Carta and signed the document.  This short video shows the unveiling.  (appologies for the sound quality)





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With the unveiling of the information board we took the oportunity to re-photograph the site.   The images below show the current state of the old 17th Century remains.   The sideshow below focuses on the 19th Century Church and its current condition.

17th Century Tungland Kirk (2015)

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The 19th Century Church at Tongland (2015)

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The Abbey

Fragmentary remains of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Tongland, survive next to the now derelict Tongland Parish Church. The remains of the Abbey Church of Tongland were incorporated into the 17th Century parish church, with the most obvious feature being the 13th Century doorway with Dog Tooth mouldings. The remains comprise a west gable with a square stone belfry, north and part south wall.  The Abbey is hidden from view in a valley as your drive through Tongland on the A711 in the small village of Tongland, the Abbey ruins now site on Monks Way, between the grounds of Mansewood House and the derilict former Tongland Parish Church.           Stephen Clancy  June 2015

Historical notes

Tongland Abbey was founded in 1218 by Alan, Lord of Galloway [though it is sometimes ascribed to Fergus, Lord of Galloway with a foundation date of 1161] and was colonised by monks from Cockersand Abbey, Lancashire. During an attempt of the King of Scotland to subdue the Stewartry in 1235 the Prior and the Sacrist were killed within the Church. In 1296, during the Bruce – Balliol struggle for the Throne of Scotland, the Abbot, Alexander, swore fealty to King Edward I of England, no doubt in support of John Balliol who’s claim to the throne was through his wife, Devorgilla, daughter of Alan, Lord of Galloway. In 1430, the then Prior, James Herries, is reported to have repaired the monastery and enclosed the grounds with a precinct wall, probably similar to Sweatheart Abbey’s. During his reign (probably in 1509), James IV, asked Pope Julius II to give the abbey to David, Bishop of Galloway to allow him repair the ruins and reform its discipline. Between 1510 and 1525 the Abbey was held in commendam by David. By 1529 the abbey is again described as ruinous though still with a few monks. King James V writes to Pope clement VII and the Cardinal of Ancona seeking the annexation of Tongland to the Bishopric of Galloway, and this was sanctioned in a Papal Bull of 1530. In 1541 James V, sought confirmation of the annexation from Pope Paul III, and in 1612 the annexation was confirmed by parliament. For a brief spell between 1588 and 1606 the abbey was held in commemdation by William Melville. The existing ruins are very probably the result of the 17th Century adaption of the western transept of the abbey to form the parish church. The remains of the latest Kirk on the site are believed to sit on top of the main abbey. _______________ From the RCAHMS Inventory of Kirkcdubright 1912

Detailed Description

As described in the introductory notes above, the old Abbey of Tongland or Tungland as it is also known now only survives as parts of a 17th Century parish church.   The setting is quiet and peacefull, sitting off the modern road called Monks Way.

The ruins of the old parish church lie withing the graveyard that also contained the 19th Century Parish Church,  that also now lies as a ruin.  To the south of the site sits Manswood, and to the east there are the ruins of the 19th Century sucessor to the 17th Parish Church.

The 17th Century curch survices as a western gable along with parts of the noth and south walls. The east gable no longer exists.  The western gable stands around 5.8m in height, with a a possible ground plan of the building measuring 14.64m in length and 5.36m wide.   The north and south walls stand to a height of 2.45m.   A reused semi-circular arched doorway is the main feature of the remains, and it stands 1.12m wide between its outer Jambs within the north wall.

This section is currently being edited and will be updated shortly.