Ancient Monuments

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St Mary's Nunnery, 160m east of Abbeymill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Haddington and Lammermuir, East Lothian

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Latitude: 55.9632 / 55°57'47"N

Longitude: -2.7455 / 2°44'43"W

OS Eastings: 353557

OS Northings: 674721

OS Grid: NT535747

Mapcode National: GBR 2T.X73Y

Mapcode Global: WH7TY.SCTV

Entry Name: St Mary's Nunnery, 160m E of Abbeymill Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 March 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13573

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: nunnery; Secular: fish ponds

Location: Haddington

County: East Lothian

Electoral Ward: Haddington and Lammermuir

Traditional County: East Lothian


The monument comprises the remains of a Cistercian nunnery dedicated to St Mary and founded by Ada de Warenne between 1152 and 1159. The monument is partly visible as a burial ground within an oblong wooded enclosure. Other elements survive as buried deposits visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs and documented by geophysical surveys. The monument is located on the north bank of the River Tyne, at a height of around 40m above sea level.

After the reformation the priory was largely dismantled and incorporated into the later farm of Abbeymill, although part of the site was used as a burial ground at least into the 18th century. The burial ground lies within an oblong wooded enclosure and at its east end there are a number of 17th/18th century gravestones and a substantial mound measuring around 15m across and less than 1m high. This mound is expected to contain buried elements of the nunnery church. Other buried remains of the priory are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. The main drain of the priory was later used as a mill lade, the line of which is visible, along with the priory fishponds, as cropmarks on aerial photographs.  Above-ground elements of the east range were reused and are preserved within the lower courses of the 19th century mill.  

The scheduled area is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling excludes the 19th century mill but does include the mill lade which incorporates the original monastic drain. The scheduling excludes the top 300mm of all roads, paths, and yards, and the above-ground elements of all stone dykes, fences, gates, telegraph and electricity poles to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular of medieval ecclesiastical foundations and, more specifically, Cistercian establishments and medieval nunneries. The monument was one of the richest nunneries in Scotland, with connections to lands across central Scotland and pioneering land management and exploitation activities. The monument is a rare survival, with high potential for the good preservation of buried features and deposits, including architectural remains and burials. The monument is directly associated with Ada de Warenne and with significant historical events such as the 'Rough Wooing'. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of the role of women in medieval religious life in Scotland, particularly in relation to monasticism. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand nunneries in Scotland and their role in respect of their local economies.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 56492; 56585; 82105 (accessed on 09/03/2016)

East Lothian Historic Environment Record (HER) reference MEW1183

Cowan and Easson, I B and D E. (1976) Medieval religious houses, Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man'. 2nd. London. Page(s): 147 The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) Shelf Number: C.3.2.COW

Easson, D E and Donaldson, G (1952) 'The Cistercian Nunnery of St. Mary, Haddington', Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc, vol. 5, 1952. Page(s): 1-24.

Easson and Donaldson, D E and G. (1955) The Medieval hospitals of Haddington', Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc, vol. 6, 1955. Page(s): 9-24

Glendinning, E, McKinnon, J and Baldry, J (2015) 'A considerable abbey now so entirely demolished': rediscovering the abbey of St Mary, Haddington, Trans E Lothian Antiq Fld Natur Soc, vol. 13, 2015. Page(s): 1-20.

Hawkins, I. (2014) Haddington, Abbeymill Farm, Geophysical survey, Discovery Excav Scot, New, vol. 14, 2013. Cathedral Communications Limited, Wiltshire, England. Page(s): 70


HER/SMR Reference

East Lothian Council HER Reference MEL1183

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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