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Dumfries, Franciscan Friary

Friary (Medieval)

Site Name Dumfries, Franciscan Friary

Classification Friary (Medieval)

Canmore ID 65526

Site Number NX97NE 13

NGR NX 9708 7622

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Dumfries
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Nithsdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NX97NE 13 9708 7622

(NX 9708 7622) Site of Friary (NR)


OS 25" map (1965)

A Franciscan Friary was founded at Dumfries before 1266; it was dedicated to St Mary. An alleged charter of foundation by Alan of Galloway in 1234 is undoubtedly spurious; other suggested dates or founders have an equal lack of justification. The friars' church was the scene of the slaying of John Comyn by Robert Bruce 1305/6. It was secularised in 1569. Parts of it were still extant within the memory of people living in 1850.

Name Book 1850; J Barbour 1911; I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976.


Online Gallery (1306 - 1329)

The year 2014 sees the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, in which the army of Robert I of Scotland defeated that of Edward II of England. The battle marked a major turning point in the long, drawn-out struggle of the Wars of Independence.

The Wars have had a lasting influence upon all the nations of the United Kingdom and upon the national story. Each age has seen fit to commemorate the events in its own way: through the perpetuation of the genuine historical associations of buildings and places and also through the endowment of others with improbable or fanciful traditions. Where past generations allowed its historic buildings to decay and disappear, later generations began to value and actively preserve these for their associations. Where an event lacked a tangible reminder, as at Kinghorn where Alexander III was killed in a riding accident, a commemorative monument would be erected to act as a focus. The Wars of Independence predate the fashion for accurate portraiture: the weathered, generic military effigy of Sir James Douglas is one of the few to survive in Scotland. Later centuries saw a need and supplied it by a crowd of images of its historic heroes, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, each depicted according to contemporary taste and imagination. The opening of the new heritage centre at Bannockburn takes this into a new dimension, through the use of three-dimensional, digital technology.

RCAHMS Collections hold many images of these buildings and locations from battlefields, castles and churches, to the many commemorative monuments erected in later years. This gallery highlights a selection of these, including antiquarian sketches, photographic and drawn surveys, and architectural designs.

Publication Account (1977)

A convent of Franciscan friars was established in Dumfries in the 1260s, possibly under the patronage of Dervorgilla de Balliol. Their convent was located to the north and west of the burgh, the line of Friar's Vennel being the southern boundary of their friary. In 1569 James VI granted the revenues and lands of the Greyfriars to the burgh in order that it might erect a hospital, a project never realised. Stone from the Greyfriars was alleged to have been used in the repair of Maxwell of Caerlaverock's 'castle' after 1570 (McDowall, 1867, 262). Two 'dilapidated' arch windows and part of the south wall of the friary were still standing at the turn of the nineteenth century along with a fireplace; all have since vanished (McDowall, 1867, 262).

Information from ‘Historic Dumfries: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1977).


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