Neolithic - Earthwork
causeways (cursus), burials and, later, at least one
stone circle (later dubbed 'The Twelve Apostles')
built through the parish. The area was a
religious/ceremonial/occupation centre of some
6th century AD
- Irish preacher Congal (?) said to have settled in
the oaken wood (Dair Congal in gaelic is 'the oak of
Congal'). Said to have died in 602.
'Holywood: A Forgotten Dumfriesshire Abbey', Gallavidian
Annual (1922), pp. 4-40.
Late 12th century
- 'Reviresco' suggests that John, Lord of Kirkconnell
of the Maxwell family was responsible for the
establishment of Holywood Abbey c1121. Later
historians put the foundation closer to 1180. The
abbey was founded by the Premonstratensian Order,
which followed the rule of St. Augustine. Six other
monasteries of this Order were founded in Scotland,
including Saulseat, Whithorn and Tongland in
The Abbey was documented by the names Dercongal,
Drumcongal, Dercongall (Celtic); Sacro Bosco, Sacri
Nemoris, Sancti Nemoris Halywood (Latin); St.Bois,
Saint Boyse, Seint Boyse, Le Wod (French); Haliwood,
Halywood, Holtwood, Holywood and Holy Wood
c1210: John of
Holywood (1195-1256) or
Johannes de Sacrobosco, famous medieval author of De
Sphaera and other mathematical texts in use for
four centuries, was said by near contemporaries to be
'English'. The most likely site to be associated with
him is nevertheless the abbey of Holywood in
Nithsdale, at which he may have become a canon of the
1372: A Hospital
was established in Holywood by Edward de Bruce,
brother of Robert Bruce, and properly founded by
Archibald de Douglas, lord of Galloway. However, its
location appears to have been about a mile from
Lincluden, possibly in the region of the Abbey
grounds. "It was governed by a secular priest
and housed 18 poor bedesmen".
D. E. Easson, 'A note
on the Mediaeval Hospitals of Dumfriesshire and
Galloway', Trans. D&G Nat. Hist. &
Antiquarian Soc. (1955-6), pp. 209-210.
"regular carriers' wagons in use between the
J. Robertson, The
Public Roads and Bridges in Dumfriesshire 1650-1820
(Wigtown: G. C. Book Publishers, 1993), p. 14.
land ceded to Mary and granted immediately to Lord
Annexation Act: land vested in King, and by Act
of Parliament (1617) to form Barony of Holywood.
legislation for repair and upkeep of roads initiated
the Statute Labour System and placed the care of the
highways on the Justices of the Peace - roads to be
made 20 feet in breadth for roads leading to Kirk or
Robertson, op. cit.,
prohibits wheeled wagons and limited loads to 1 ton
to protect deteriorating road network.
Bridge, south of Holywood, was to be repaired. At the
time, almost all traffic across it, and the road
network, was by foot and by horse; wheeled vehicles
were uncommon because of the poor quality of the
parish-maintained roads in the county.
Robertson, op. cit.
bridge constructed over the Cluden at Newbridge.
constructed on Glebe land.
Abbey was dismantled. Its location was said to be
at the south-east corner of the churchyard, with underground passages described near
the grave enclosure of Nelson of Portrack.
Robertson, op. cit.,
Holywood church was
built, partly from stone from remaining portion of
Abbey bought by builder for £50. Resolution to build
was made on 2nd February 1779. Completed at a total cost of £378:18:10.
were built. Bridge over the Nith constructed at
Auldgirth (the first bridge there had been built
1773-80 but collapsed).
Commissioners of Supply for Dumfriesshire decided
that, if a new bridge were constructed over the River
Nith at Buccleuch Bridge in Dumfries, the route to
Sanquhar via Cluden Bridge (and through Holywood
Parish) could be made a toll road. Until that
time, the main route from Dumfries to Glasgow was via
the Edinburgh Road, Dumfries and Nunholm Road across
the River Nith by Martintown Ford, then by
Guillyhill, Hardlawbank and Portrack in Holywood
Parish and by Merkland in Dunscore Parish to
Auldgirth Ford and on to Thornhill. Martintown ford
was over the Nith at the end of Nunholm Road
immediately below the present bridge which carries
the Dumfries to Glasgow railway. Until the Buccleuch
bridge was proposed, it was intended that the
Edinburgh Road should be made a toll road. Instead, a
new line of road was constructed from the Buccleuch
Bridge to Newbridge over the Cluden Bridge and a new
line of road through Holywood Parish to the new
bridge opened in 1782 at Auldgirth.
road being constructed (the present A76).
'Druidville' (the original Holywood village)
constructed 1790-92 by minister, Rev Bryce Johnston.
branch roads were constructed off the present A76:
'to pass south of the old churchyard at Dunscore by
the Glen of the Lagg'; another 'near Auldgirth bridge
by Throughgatefoot to the Water of Cairn and from
thence thro' the farm of Speddoch to the confines of
the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright at Marglolly'.
Parish population: 1066. Number of families in the
parish, 207; chiefly employed in agriculture, 85; in
trade, manufactures, or handicraft, 43; males, 502;
unmarried men, bachelors, and widowers upwards of 50
years of age, 16; women, including widows upwards of
45, 36; average number of births yearly for the last
7 years, 26-5/7; deaths, 15-2/7; marriages, 11-1/7.
"The number of acres imperial measure in this
parish may be stated at 8960, of which there are in
wood, 540; meadow, 120; moss, ~60; roads, 120; hill,
300; the remainder is all arable".
R. Kirkwood, 'Parish
of Holywood', New Statistical Record, (1837).
telegraph follows the line of the Glasgow
& South-West Railway Company Glasgow line.
Holywood church was extended and repaired. It was
reseated (wealthy members paying for their seats) and
four memorial windows installed.
Louis Stevenson passed by: [From Irongray] "We
then fetched a long compass round about through
Holywood Kirk and Lincluden ruins to Dumfries".
Stevenson later wrote the novel The Black Arrow
in which a 'Holywood Abbey' is a key location. The
story, however, is set in medieval England, not
Letters of Robert
Louis Stevenson, Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL;
EDINBURGH, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1873.
previous Abbey farm buildings had been located at the
newer (south) portion of the Holywood graveyard. The
new house and steading were built in their present
location by John Carson, largely from old Abbey stone
and dressed stone from Lacharbriggs.
Valley Branch Line of Glasgow & South-West
Railway Company lay tracks just north of Holywood
village, south of the 1782 school buildings and
passing east-west to just north of the church grounds
to meet the Glasgow-Carlisle line to the east. It
connected Dumfries with Moniave, having stations at
Irongray, Newtonairds and Stepford.
car, a model T, owned by resident of East Cluden
of Holywood Abbey remains
by Messrs Dick Peddie & Co, architects, of
Edinburgh, at expense of Major Keswick of Cowhill,
"revealing minor (chapter house?) and possibly
domestic buildings with later additions. The main
portion of the Abbey lies within the present
churchyard, and consequently cannot be touched".
'7th September, 1922:
Holywood, Cowhill Tower, The Isle, Blackwood,
Dalswinton and Quarrelwood', Trans. D&G Nat.
Hist. & Antiquarian Soc. (1923-24), pp.
hall constructed at the junction of the Glasgow road
and Church road.
electricity supply arrives at East Cluden (and
rest of parish?) just before Christmas. Before this,
a few had had electricity operated from generators.
water supply arrives at East Cluden (and rest of
parish?) . Before this there were numerous wells to
supply local water. These were indicated on the first
Ordnance Survey maps.
camp built near East Cluden, holding up to 60 Italian
and German prisoners of war.
Valley Line closed to all rail traffic; dismantled by
& Mouth disease in parish.
'Glebe scheme' of council housing constructed in
stages, using Glebe land ceded by the Church of
Scotland and forming the centre of Holywood village.
Cluden Bridge at Newbridge superseded by road
diversion and new bridge.
& Mouth disease in parish: Abbey farm
infected. All cattle and sheep in parish slaughtered
Source for East
Cluden information: James H. Carson, transcribed East
Cluden History, 6 March 1999.