Scheduled Monument

Sweetheart Abbey, abbey, precinct and wallsSM90293

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.

Summary

Date Added
28/03/1927
Last Date Amended
15/03/2004
Type
Ecclesiastical: abbey; precinct walls; precincts
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
Parish
New Abbey
NGR
NX 96516 66175
Coordinates
296516, 566175

Description

The monument comprises the precinct and remains of the Cistercian Abbey of Sweetheart, or New Abbey, founded as a daughter house of Dundrennan Abbey by Devorgilla Balliol in 1273. The upstanding remains of the church and part of the abbey are in the care of the Scottish Ministers.

The monument is being re-scheduled in order to exclude a number of modern buildings which were incorrectly included on the last scheduling map. These are specifically:- the N extension to the New Abbey village hall; the public toilet block in the abbey car park; the lock-up garages at 38 Main Street, New Abbey; Rowantree Cottage and garage, 44 Main Street, New Abbey; and the lock-up garages behind 27 Main Street, New Abbey.

The most substantial part of the abbey buildings surviving is the church itself. This consists of a six-bayed nave with side aisles and a clerestory but no triforium. The transepts each have two chapels, with those in the S transept retaining their vaulting. Above the crossing there is a low gabled and crenellated tower. The presbytery is single-aisled and has retained its piscina and sedilia in the S wall and the majority of its window tracery. The W end shows signs of being partially rebuilt towards the end of the 14th century. Other remains include the footings of the E range of the cloister and the much rebuilt W gateway of the cloister. All of these elements are in the care of the Scottish Ministers.

In addition, the precinct wall of the abbey is still very visible, standing over 2m high in places, and clearly marks the limits of the precinct on all but the S side, where it appears to have been marked either by a ditch or by the mill lade. This was a wealthy monastery and would have been well provided with associated buildings, the remains of which are likely still to underlie some of the surrounding fields and gardens. Aerial photography has recorded markings in fields to the S which may relate to the abbey's drainage system.

The modern village of New Abbey overlies part of the area of archaeological sensitivity. For this reason, special exclusions are made to the area to be scheduled in the definition below. The principle exclusions are as follows:

A. The top 500mm of all non-agricultural private land, including the bowling green.

B. Any above-ground post-monastic structures.

C. The top 500mm of any public roads and their associated pavements.

D. The cemetery immediately NE of the church.

The area to be scheduled is based on the area of the abbey precinct and is defined mainly by the precinct walls. From the most northerly point of the precinct and heading towards the ESE, the scheduled area follows a line 2m beyond the upstanding precinct wall. Turning to the SSW it follows the wall right past St Mary's Roman Catholic Church before it reaches Main Street. The line then crosses Main Street to run along the N side of 'Gate-end', before turning SSW again to join with the wall that flanks the road to New Abbey Parish Church. It follows this boundary past the outbuildings associated with Kindar Lodge before joining the N edge of the mill lade. When the mill lade reaches the garden of Abbey House, the line turns NNE keeping 2m outside the precinct wall. Where the wall is incorporated into later houses, the line turns E and follows the boundary between the fields to the S and the gardens to the N. It then re-crosses Main Street to follow the E wall of Abbey Cottage, still keeping 2m out from the wall, and follows the N boundary of the gardens of the houses facing onto Main Street, before re-joining the precinct wall, taking in that section of the wall to the SE and returning to the starting point. Although the cemetery itself is excluded from the scheduling, a 2m wide margin next to the monastic walls is retained within the scheduled area. The area measures about 398m N-S by 437m E-W, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance as one of the best preserved medieval abbeys in Scotland.

The masonry of the church is largely complete, as is the plan of the cloister. The most remarkable survival is the precinct walls, which give a clear impression of the scale of the enclosed land immediately associated with a large monastery. The precinct itself has the potential to contain archaeological evidence of high quality, related to the outer claustral ranges and the domestic and store buildings essential to the life of the monastic community. As well as being of religious importance, the abbey was a chief centre of the economic and political life of the region, and as such has the potential to illuminate many strands of medieval life. The importance of the abbey is underlined by its status as a property in the care of the Scottish Ministers.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NX96NE9.00.

References:

Cowan I B and Easson D E 1976, MEDIEVAL RELIGIOUS HOUSES, SCOTLAND: WITH AN APPENDIX ON THE HOUSES IN THE ISLE OF MAN, London, 78, 2nd ed.

MacGibbon D and Ross T 1896-7, THE ECCLESIASTICAL ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND FROM THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN TIMES TO THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, 3v, Edinburgh, Vol. 2, 334-44.

RCAHMS 1914, FIFTH REPORT AND INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN GALLOWAY, II, COUNTY OF THE STEWARTRY OF KIRKCUDBRIGHT, Edinburgh, HMSO, 200-8, No. 280.

Richardson J S 1995, SWEETHEART ABBEY, Historic Scotland guidebook, Edinburgh, 3rd ed.

Stell G P 1986a, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE: DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY, Exploring Scotland's Heritage Series, Edinburgh, 148-9, No.71.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

New Abbey Corn Mill

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/new-abbey-corn-mill

Find out more

Related Designations

  1. New Abbey Corn Mill, including mill building, mill pond with dam, fish pond, lades including lade from Loch Kindar to mill pond, channels into New Abbey Pow river, sluices, and excluding car park to west of corn mill and disused curling pond to west of Loch Kindar lade, New AbbeyLB17323

    Designation Type
    Listed Building (A)
    Status
    Designated
  2. New Abbey Corn Mill,mill,mill pond,lade,fish pond and curling pondSM90323

    Designation Type
    Scheduled Monument
    Status
    Removed

Sweetheart Abbey and Precinct Walls

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/sweetheart-abbey

Find out more

Related Designations

  1. NEW ABBEY VILLAGE SWEETHEART ABBEY AND PRECINCT WALLSLB17304

    Designation Type
    Listed Building (A)
    Status
    Removed

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

Images

There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Sweetheart Abbey, abbey, precinct and walls

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 08/12/2021 19:33