No official records of Glenluce Abbey remain, so information comes from contemporary charters and chronicles. Founded around 1192 by Roland of Galloway, Glenluce reflects the influences of Melrose and Dundrennan abbeys, both suggested as the possible mother house. Positioned close to the River Luce and Luce bay it was a convenient stop for pilgrims visiting nearby St Ninian’s shrine. Despite the costs of providing hospitality, the abbey remained in reasonable condition into the early 16th century.
The Reformation and appointment of commendators heralded numerous disputes over this lucrative position, including one between the Gordons and the Kennedys which lasted from 1544 until 1560 when Thomas Hay, a genuine churchman, became the last abbot.
By 1572 almost all the lands belonged to the Kennedy Earl of Cassillis and Abbot Thomas was granted lands at nearby Castle of Park. Between 1602 and 1619 Glenluce Abbey was a temporal lordship for the last commendator, Gordon of Lochinvar. It then returned to church ownership and finally in 1933 it came under state care.
Many abbey walls are little more than an impression of their former stature but the south transept wall reaches almost the full height of the gable and appears to have the remnants of a spiral staircase in a round tower. A reconstructed part of cloister arcading leads to an ornately decorated doorway and into the chapter house. This was rebuilt in about 1500. It has a lovely vaulted ceiling, with bosses and corbels rising from a central pillar.
Don’t miss: the interesting museum, displaying objects discovered during excavations.
Glenluce Abbey, Glenluce, Dumfries and Galloway, DG8 0JH
tel: 01581 300541