A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Dundrennan (Gael. dun-nan-droigheann, `fort of the thorn bushes'), a village and a ruined abbey in Rerwick parish, Kirkcudbrightshire. The village stands in a narrow valley, on the right bank of Abbey Burn, 1 ½ mile N by W of the coast at Port Mary, and 5 miles ESE of Kirkcudbright, under which it has a post office. Its environs are charming, with vantage-grounds commanding fine views inland, down the valley, and across the Solway Firth; and the village itself consists of a single row of one-story houses containing any stones from the ruined abbey, and interspersed with fine old trees. At it are 2 inns, the manse and parish church of Rerwick, and a public school. The abbey, standing in the south-eastern vicinity of the village, was founded in 1142, for Cistercian monks, by Fergus, Lord of Galloway; passed, with its property, in 1587 to the Crown; and was annexed, in 1621, to the royal chapel of Stirling. It fell into such neglect and dilapidation as long to form a quarry for repairing or erecting neighbouring houses; but still is represented by considerable remains, with interesting architectural features, and in 1842 was cleared out and put into a state of conservation by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. Its church was cruciform, comprising a six-bayed nave (130 ½ x 30 feet), with side aisles 15 ½ feet wide, a transept (107 x 28 feet), a choir (45 x 26 feet), and a central tower and spire 200 feet high; and was partly in the Transition Norman style, but chiefly in the First Pointed. The cloisters were on the S side of the church, and enclosed a square area of 108 by 104 feet; various monastic offices stood still further S, and occupied a space of nearly 300 square feet; and to the S of the S transept stood the chapter-house (51 ½ x 35 feet). The chief extant portions of the pile are the N and S walls of the choir; the E aisle of the S transept; part of the N transept; a few feet of the piers of the central tower, remarkable for their unequal dimensions; the doorway of the chapterhouse, flanked on each side by a double window; the cells or cellars at the entrance to the garden; and several curious monuments - of Allan Lord of Galloway (1234), Prior Blakomor, an abbot, a nun (1440), a cellarer (1480), Sir William Livingstoun (1607), etc. Queen Mary is commonly said to have ridden straight from Langside to Dundrennan, or at least to have passed the last night (May 15, 1568) of her sojourn in Scotland here; but Dr Hill Burton questions this belief, challenging the authenticity of her letter to Elizabeth `from Dundrennan,' and upholding the counter-claims of Terregles, Lord Herries' house. The estate of Dundrennan lies round the village and the abbey, and has long been the property of the Maitlands of Dundrennan and Compstone.—Ord. Sur., sh. 5, 1857. See the Rev. Æneas B. Hutchison's Memorials of the Abbey of Dundrennan (Exeter, 1857), and J. H. Maxwell's Dundrennan Abbey, and its History (Castle-Douglas, 1875).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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