Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Stirling , Dominican Friary

Friary (Medieval)

Site Name Stirling , Dominican Friary

Classification Friary (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Blackfriars Church

Canmore ID 46223

Site Number NS79SE 40

NGR NS 7967 9358

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Administrative Areas

  • Council Stirling
  • Parish Stirling
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Stirling
  • Former County Stirlingshire


Desk Based Assessment (2 October 1973)

NS79SE 40 7967 9358.

(NS 7967 9358) Supposed Site of (NAT) Dominican Monastery (NR) AD 1233 OS 1:500 map (1860)

There is now no trace of the Dominican friary which formerly existed at Stirling (RCAHMS 1963). The friary, dedicated to St Laurence, or according to Brockie, St Kentigern, was founded by Alexander II in 1233. It was destroyed by Reformers in 1559, and the Blackfriars' lands came into possession of the burgh in 1652 (Fr Brockie MS collections at St Mary's College, Blairs). The site was pointed out to the field surveyor in 1858 by the R C priest and Town Clerk, "situated on the E side of Murray Place and Maxwell Place, now occupied as a house and gardens, where great quantities of human bones have often been found."

Name Book 1858; D E Easson 1957

In 1835 when the Saracen's Head inn was being demolished for the erection of the Bank of Scotland, abundant evidence was obtained to show that what is now the bank garden was formerly a burial ground.

Trans Stirling Natur Hist Antiq Soc 1890

While demolishing nos. 58 and 60 Murray Place, an old wall was discovered. It was 46' long, 5' broad, with four buttresses 12' apart, each projecting 5' from the main wall. It is believed to have been the S wall of the Blackfriars Church. An abundance of human remains were also found. (Nimmo (1880), notes that for over 250 years, the Church was the chief place of worship in Stirling, with the burial ground adjacent). Ronald records that the Blackfriars' lands were bounded by a stone wall, whose S boundary is said locally to have been about Thistle Street.

J Ronald 1899; Trans Stirling Natur Hist Antiq Soc 1903.

Information from OS (IF) 2 October 1973

Publication Account (1978)

By the time of the Reformation, stirling boasted two orders of friars, the Dominicans and the Observative Franciscans. The Erskine family in 1652 sold the Dominicans lands, including two mills, for 16, 000 merks to the town which, in turn sold them to Cowane's Hospital in 1706 (Ronald, 1890-91, 15).

Information from Scottish Burgh Survey, ‘Historic Stirling: The Archaeological Implications of Development’, (1978).

Excavation (1994)

NS 7969 9355 Reappraisal of the records in Central Region Archives confirmed that the old wall recorded in 1903 (supra) when the existing tenement replaced earlier buildings (at what is now 64 Murray Place) was the S wall of the Blackfriars Church.

Permission to excavate in the garden behind the property was kindly givem by all six of the joint owners. The end of the 1904 wall base was uncovered, and found to be of very solid construction, having survived the post-Reforrnation robbing out. Beyond the clear evidence of the exploratory digging that in 1904 had shown robbing out had taken place we found mortar and rubble debris indicating the line of the wall eastwards. The ground had been greatly disturbed, not only in the robbing out, but also in the cultivation of gardens since before 1858. Many human bone fragments were found, and the greater part of a female skeleton, accompanied by pieces of the bones of two infants, on a bed of clay close beside the S wall of the church. The skeleton had been partly destroyed when the wall had been robbed. If the buttress pattern of the 1904 wall had continued, there would have been a buttress where the skeleton was found, suggesting that the eastern end of the churchwas older and of simpler construction. The N wall was located, and the eastern end of the church. This was traversed by two functioning main drains, two earlier abandoned main drains, a field drain, and a water supply pipe. However, it was possible to see that the end of the church was apsidal, probably round, or conceivably polygonal. The width of the church was 6.5m internally, with walls 1.5m thick, making overall width 9.5m. We have added 13.Sm to the length of 14m recorded in 1904, making the total known length 27.5m.

E R Page and C Page 1994.

For a detailed history of the formation of the Blackfriars of Stirling, using historical documents, see "Blackfriars of Stirling", by R and C Page (MS 2600)

Excavation (6 May 2014 - 5 December 2014)

An archaeological excavation was carried out by GUARD Archaeology Limited when a previous archaeological evaluation(see NS79SE 657) in May 2014 had established archaeological deposits of possible medieval date surviving within the proposed development area. The investigations uncovered the foundations of a substantial stone build wall that probably relates to the nearby medieval Dominican friary. In addition a burial was uncovered as well as medieval midden deposits and possible boundary divisions.

Information from OASIS ID: guardarc1-179287 (Bob Will) 2014.


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions