From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Glenluce Abbey

Dumfries and Galloway
54°53'21.0"N 4°49'53.0"W

  • History
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  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Glenluce Abbey, also Abbey of Luce or Vallis Lucis, is located two miles inland from the sea at Luce Sands, and a mile from the village of Glenluce,Dumfries and Galloway.

Roland, Lord of Galloway, founded the Cistercian monastery in 1192, the white-clad Cistercian monks is thought to have come from Dundrennan Abbey. They built in the usual format as laid down by the Cistercian order, they placed the cruciform church on the north side, to ensure it didn't’t block out the sun for the domestic ranges arranged beside it, around an open cloister.

Because of the Scottish Protestant Reformation in 1560, the abbey fell into disuse. The 15 monks living in the abbey were allowed live out their days in the cloister, the Abbot Thomas and five monks were still living in the abbey in 1572.

Gilbert Kennedy, 4th Earl of Cassilis, persuaded one of the monks of the abbey to counterfeit the necessary signatures to a deed conveying the lands of the abbey to him and his heirs, during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. To ensure that the forgery was not discovered he employed a man to murder the monk and then persuaded his uncle, the laird of Bargany to hang his paid assassin on a trumped up charge of theft. After the success of the forgery he tried again in, this time for the lands of Crossraguel Abbey. He tortured Allan Stewart, the succeeding lay Commendator of Crossraguel, at his castle of Dunure. A feud followed including a number of families and lasted until at least 1611.

The ruins were consolidated and partly restored in 1898 by the Glasgow architect, Peter MacGregor Chalmers and in 1933, conservation and repair work began when Glenluce Abbey came into state care. Many artefacts were discovered during this time, once the rubble had been cleared, these are now on display in the visitor centre by the ruined abbey.

Today, substantial parts of the abbey church of St Mary the Virgin remain. They include the south transept and part of the presbytery but the cloister is less well preserved. The chapter house in the east range, built late in the monastery’s life is best preserved. It is a scheduled ancient monument.