Chronology

Based on statistical, census and antiquarian accounts

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 significance.


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.

'Reviresco', '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 Galloway.

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 (Anglo-Saxon).


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 Premonstratensian Order.


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.


14th century: "regular carriers' wagons in use between the larger towns".

J. Robertson, The Public Roads and Bridges in Dumfriesshire 1650-1820 (Wigtown: G. C. Book Publishers, 1993), p. 14.


1560: Reformation: land ceded to Mary and granted immediately to Lord Maxwell.


1587: General Annexation Act: land vested in King, and by Act of Parliament (1617) to form Barony of Holywood.


1617: Scottish 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 Market.

Robertson, op. cit., 15.


1621: Act prohibits wheeled wagons and limited loads to 1 ton to protect deteriorating road network.


1670: Cluden 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. pp. 137-8.


1759: New bridge constructed over the Cluden at Newbridge.


1773: Manse constructed on Glebe land.


1778: Holywood 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., p. 94.


1779: New 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.


1782: Schoolhouses were built. Bridge over the Nith constructed at Auldgirth (the first bridge there had been built 1773-80 but collapsed).


1788: The 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.


1791: Turnpike road being constructed (the present A76). 'Druidville' (the original Holywood village) constructed 1790-92 by minister, Rev Bryce Johnston.


1806-7: Several 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'.


1831: Holywood 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).


1861: Electric telegraph follows the line of the Glasgow & South-West Railway Company Glasgow line.


1864-5: Holywood church was extended and repaired. It was reseated (wealthy members paying for their seats) and four memorial windows installed.


1873: Robert 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 South-West Scotland.

Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL; EDINBURGH, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1873.


1883: The 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.


1905 Cairn 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.


1920: First car, a model T, owned by resident of East Cluden village.


1922: Excavations 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. 207-213.


1930: Church hall constructed at the junction of the Glasgow road and Church road.


1935: Mains electricity supply arrives at East Cluden (and rest of parish?) just before Christmas. Before this, a few had had electricity operated from generators.


1937: Mains 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.


1942: Prison camp built near East Cluden, holding up to 60 Italian and German prisoners of war.


1949: Cairn Valley Line closed to all rail traffic; dismantled by mid 1950s.


1952: Foot & Mouth disease in parish.


1948-60s: 'Glebe scheme' of council housing constructed in stages, using Glebe land ceded by the Church of Scotland and forming the centre of Holywood village.


1977: Old Cluden Bridge at Newbridge superseded by road diversion and new bridge.


2001: Foot & Mouth disease in parish: Abbey farm infected. All cattle and sheep in parish slaughtered during April.


Source for East Cluden information: James H. Carson, transcribed East Cluden History, 6 March 1999.

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