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Edinburgh, Sciennes, Dominican Convent

Hospital (17th Century), Nunnery (16th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Sciennes, Dominican Convent

Classification Hospital (17th Century), Nunnery (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Sciennes, Dominican Nunnery

Canmore ID 52560

Site Number NT27SE 92

NGR NT 2603 7222

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/52560

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT27SE 92 2603 7222.

(NT 2603 7222) Dominican Nunnery, Sciennes: The Convent of the Order of Friars Preachers, the only Dominican Nunnery in Scotland, was founded after Flodden by a group of kinswomen or widows of the men who had fallen at the battle. The buildings included the Chapel of St John the Baptist (founded in 1512 by Sir John Crawford, a canon of St Giles - before it was taken over by the Nunnery of St Catherine) and covered an area bounded by Sciennes Road on the N, Causewayside on the E, Grange Loan on the S, and extending west of the short street, now called St Catherine's Place. (A stone from the Convent is preserved in No/16) The buildings were damaged at the Reformation, and parts of the ruins were made to serve as a plague-hospital in 1645: but it was pulled down about 1760...(RCAHMS 1951).

This Nunnery stood a little to the S of the E end of The Meadows. A fragment of the wall still remains (c.1820)...(Stark 1820)

H Arnot 1874; J Stark 1820; Bartholomew 1919; RCAHMS 1951.

No trace of the Nunnery now remains; no further information obtained.

Visited by OS (J D) 8 January 1954.

Activities

Publication Account (1951)

215. Dominican Nunnery, Sciennes.

The Convent of the Sisters of the Order of Friars Preachers, the only Dominican nunnery in Scotland, was founded after Flodden by a group of kinswomen or widows of men who had fallen in the battle. Most of the money was contributed by the widow of the fifth Lord Seton. The buildings included the Chapel of St. John the Baptist (RCAHMS 1951 No. 214) and covered an area bounded by Sciennes* Road on the N., by Causewayside on the E. and by Grange Loan on the S., and extending W. of the short street now called St. Catherine's Place**. The Convent's career was uneventful until the eve of the Reformation, when its buildings were damaged but not destroyed by a mob. Parts of the ruins were made to serve as a plague-hospital in 1645 (1) and the enclosing wall, then standing 12 feet high, was pulled down about 1760 (2).

RCAHMS 1951

(1) B.R., 1642-1655, pp. 71 and 421. (2) Session Papers: Dick-Lauder v. Town of Edinburgh, 1764

*A corruption of ‘Siena’, the convent having been dedicated to St Catherine of Siena.

**A stone of the convent is preserved in the garden of Number 16.

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