Lincluden Collegiate Church
Lincluden Collegiate Church
In 1389 the 3rd Earl of Douglas, known to history as Archibald the Grim, founded a collegiate church here, beside Cluden Water and the River Nith, on the site of a 12th century Benedictine nunnery. The purpose of the Lincluden foundation was to say prayers for Archibald's soul and those of his immediate family members. Archibald's son, also named Archibald, created a fabulous chancel within which stands an ornate monument to his wife, Princess Margaret, daughter of King Robert III.
History
The original monastery at Lincluden was founded around 1164, possibly by Uchtred, the son of Fergus, Lord of Galloway, who died 10 years later. Another theory suggests that it was founded earlier, during the reign of Malcolm IV (1153-65). The nunnery was suppressed in 1389 and replaced by the new college of secular canons.

The south aisle and chancel of the church still stand, as does part of the nearby the provost's house. Most of the church ruins date to the 15th century, while the house is from the 16th century.

The man responsible for building Lincluden was almost certainly John Morow, a French mason who also worked at the abbeys of Melrose and Paisley. Morow was born in Paris, and probably brought to Scotland by the 4th Earl of Douglas, who was also Duke of Tourraine, in France. The great east window at Lincluden is an almost exact replica of that at Paisley, where Morow is known to have worked.

The chancel screen
The chancel screen
Though it would have been a secluded countryside setting originally, the suburbs of modern Dumfries have now swallowed Lincluden, and the monastic remains are now tucked in amongst a modern housing development. The church is sometimes known as Lincluden Abbey or Lincluden Priory.

Our Visit
Its not easy to find Lincluden church. I never did see a brown tourist sign on any of the roads nearby, and no indication of where to go or where to park. I set my satnav for DG2 0DG, which got me to Cairn Circle, where I parked along the road. I was lucky to find a chap out walking his dog and he pointed me to a footpath off the Circle that led past the church site.

Lincluden Church deserves better! Its an amazing medieval site, easily the equal of many more famous monastic sites in Britain. I was so impressed with the remains of the abbey church; the quality of the carving is simply exquisite. Though the soft reddish stone has suffered from centuries of weathering, the quality of the carving is simply stunning. Lincluden must have been an astonishing site to visit when it was newly finished.

The focal point is the east end of the church, where the magnificent tomb of Princess Margaret stands opposite the remains of an ornately decorated sedilia and an even more ornate piscina. Beside the princess's tomb is a beautifully carved doorway that leads to the domestic range.

To say I was impressed with Lincluden is an understatement. I came expecting to see a few crumbing walls of a medieval church. What I saw instead was one of the most satifying medieval monastic sites I've yet to visit in Scotland. It really does deserve to more widely known!


Princess Margaret's Tomb
Princess Margaret's Tomb
Coats of arms on Princess Margaret's tomb
Coats of arms on Princess Margaret's tomb
The triple sedilia in the chancel
The triple sedilia in the chancel