1897 Priory Description

There is a great description of the Priory Ruins from 1897 in the Ecclesiastical History of Scotland. Unfortunately, it would appear someone else has plagiarised it as the 1897 date on their book isn’t old enough for this particular description.

The Ecclesiastical History of Scotland vol.iii.
by David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross   1897

1897 Priory stoup wm


   The fragmentary ruins of this structure are situated on the left bank of the Clyde near Bothwell, at a point where the river forms a sudden bend from west to north, and where the priory is confronted on the opposite side by the great donjon of Bothwell Castle. The eastern walls of the priory stand on the very edge of a precipice, which rises perhaps 80 or 100 feet above the river. The buildings at this part are situated on fairly level ground, but immediately to the west 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 ruins cover a space of ground measuring about 150 feet from east to west by about 115 feet from north to south. The western enclosing wall is from 5 to 10 feet in height, and the northern wall stands to the height of about 10 feet. The southern wall is nearly all gone, except a part at the return of the buildings at the east and west ends.

   At the north-east corner stands a two-storied structure, the walls of which, except the south one, are almost entire. This was probably the prior’s house. It enters by a doorway at the west end of the south wall, and adjoining the door there appears to have been a stair to the upper floor (which is the floor shown on the Plan), but the place is in so confused a state with ruins and vegetation, that little regarding its arrangement can be made out. The house contained two rooms, one at each end, with the stair between. There are a fireplace and a window in each gable, and the eastern window looks straight across the river to the castle donjon. Along the north side of the house the ground is steep and inaccessible. On the south side of this house there was a courtyard with a building at the east end, the end wall of which still stands two stories high, in con­tinuation of the gable of the prior’s house.

   Adjoining this to the south is an apartment said, by the local guide, to be the chapel. Of this, however, almost nothing remains, except a part of the west wall, in which there is a stoup hollowed out of a stone wrought with all the appearance of a corbel, like those found in the castles. On the face of the corbel is an incised cross. It is this feature which has obtained for the apartment the name of the chapel. There is a window in the west wall above the stoup, but with nothing of an ecclesiastic character about it. This building does not appear to have been the church. It is more likely that the latter was placed somewhere about the line of the south boundary wall. It could not have stood any­where outside of what is shown in the Plan on the north side, as in all this locality the ground is inaccessible.

   A ruined fragment stands at the south-east corner of the monastery. It is a vaulted apartment, commanding the long reach of the river before it takes its northern bend. There is a narrow pathway in front of this apartment, giving access to it. The path is protected from the cliff by a parapet wall returned at the south end, where there is a shot hole. This parapet has gone on to join the buildings at the prior’s house.

   The parish church of Blantyre stood in a village of the same name, and belonged to the priory, which is said to have been founded for Austin canons, and endowed with the tithes by Alexander II. Spottiswoode asserts that Blantyre was a cell depending on Holyrood. In Bagimond’s Roll (1275), it is valued at £66, 13s. 4d. Chalmers states that this small monastery was founded by Alexander II. for canons regular brought from Jedburgh, and that the monks of Jedburgh retired here during the war with England.

   The barony belonged to the Dunbars as far back as 1368. Walter Stewart, son of the Laird of Minto, was made commendator by James VI., and the Barony of Blantyre was erected, in 1606, into a temporal lordship in his favour, with the title of Lord Blantyre.

Thank you to Gordon Cook for providing assistance with this subject. Pictured from the 1897 book is an illustration of the stoup or font. Also from 1935, is a photo of the Priors House, showing the fireplace and window facing out on to the River Clyde, although this is all now completely buried, with just a few stones from the top part of this ruin at that particular location.

1935 Priory Dr Wilsons book1 wm

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