Scottish Archaeology Month 2021: Tongland Abbey Archaeological Excavations Open Days 7 and 11 September

Tongland Abbey was founded by Alan, Lord of Galloway, for the Premonstratensian order in 1218. Very little of it survives above ground, although documentary evidence suggests that it was an extensive site within and around the area of the present Tongland kirkyard. It appears to have been built on the same scale as the much better preserved Glenluce Abbey in Wigtownshire. In 1455, during the siege of the Douglas family’s stronghold at Threave Castle, the abbey was used by the king’s army as its operational base.

Tongland Abbey Excavations

Since 2016, a small community archaeology dig with local volunteers has been trial trenching the garden of the adjacent former manse (Mansewood) with the aim of finding evidence to help establish more precisely the location and layout of the abbey complex. Evidence in the form of wall foundations and water-supply channels has revealed part of the layout of the west side of the cloister garth and west end of the south range of the cloister. Current excavations are revealing ancillary buildings and structures south of the main cloister area, including what appears to be a large stone-lined water cistern or basin.

Tongland Abbey Excavations

As part of Scottish Archaeology Month and by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Robertson, owners of Mansewood, the dig will welcome visitors on Tuesday, 7 September and Saturday 11 September, from 11am to 3.30pm on both days. From the main road through Tongland village, turn down Monks Way and then take the first turn right into Mansewood garden, where cars can be parked.

Admission is free. Research on the site was originally initiated by Tongland and Ringford Community Council and has been generously sponsored by the Hunter Archaeological and Historical Trust.