The Ruined Priory

prioryA beautiful 1950’s and rare photo of Blantyre Priory, with a stunning Bothwell Castle in the background. Blantyre Priory, a house of Augustinian Canons, was founded by Patrick, Earl of Dunbar and his wife between 1239 – 48, and was dedicated to the Holy Rood. It was maintained as a cell of Jedburgh Abbey, and secularised in 1598-9. During the mid 1950’s much of the Priory building still stood. It is described from that time as “The fragmentary ruins cover an area some 150′ East-West by 115′ North-South. The East walls stand on the edge of a precipice; the buildings at this part stand on fairly level ground, but immediately to the W the ground rises rapidly so that the cloister garth and the western enclosing walls are on a considerably higher level than the main buildings. The West wall is 5′ – 10′ high, the North wall, some 10′ high, but the South wall has nearly all gone, except for a part at the return of the buildings at the East and West ends. At the NE corner is a two-storeyed structure, the walls of which, except the South one, are almost entire. This was probably the prior’s house. Adjoining this to the South is an apartment locally said to be the chapel. Almost nothing of it remains, except part of the West wall, in which there is a stoup; however the window above it has no ecclesiastical character, and this building does not appear to have been the church. It is more likely that the latter stood somewhere about the line of the South boundary wall. The ruined fragment of a vaulted apartment stands at the SE corner of the monastery.

Today, the picture is very different with only a scattering of stones remaining. Indeed it is quite startling just how much deterioration happened in the last 60 years given how many Centuries this building has been standing.

Source: D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; Photo ownership reproduced with permission D E Easson 1957; I B Cowan 1964

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