Dundrennan Abbey: night-stairs and dorter


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill

The site of the night stairs from the dorter at Dundrennan Abbey are located in the south transept.


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill

The dorter was located above the chapter house, and remains of one of the windows can be seen in the upper section.


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill

The reredorter was located at the southern end of the range.

Melrose Abbey: Dorter


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

The dorter lay on the east side of the cloister, above the chapter house. The night stairs to it were in the north transept of the abbey church. The dorter was accessed through a round doorway.

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Melrose Abbey, doorway to dorter © David Gill


Melrose Abbey, east range with doorway to night stairs © David Gill

The day stairs to the dorter lay in the north-east corner of the cloister, on the south side of the dorter. Note the roof line of the dorter on the exterior of the north transept of the church.


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

The reredorter lay on the east side of the dorter.


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

Melrose Abbey: roof viewpoint


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

It is possible to view the upper parts of Melrose Abbey via a spiral staircase on the west side of the south transept of the church.


Melrose Abbey © David Gill


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

Culverts at Melrose Abbey


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

A series of drains cut across the site of Melrose Abbey. On the north side of the site, running south-east, is the Great Drain. It passes the Commendator’s House. The water was derived from the river Tweed.


Melrose Abbey © David Gill


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

On the east site of the abbey is the latrine pit for the reredorter for the monks’ dorter, that is connected to the Great Drain.


Melrose Abbey © David Gill

Guidebooks to Melrose Abbey


1932 (2nd ed. 1949, 6th impress. 1973)

Melrose Abbey was a Cistercian foundation from Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. It was placed in State Guardianship in 1919.



The first guidebook was prepared by James S. Richardson and Marguerite Wood (1932). A second edition was prepared in 1949, and this continued into the period when the abbey was cared by the Department of the Environment. This phase coincided with a short card guide (1963), and a wider illustrated guide to the Border Abbeys (1964).

Melrose Abbey

1981 (rev. 1989)

The guide by Richardson and Wood was revised by C. J. Tabraham (1981; revised 1989). This was illustrated in black and white, and contained a plan of the abbey inside the back card cover. This was further revised in 1995 and then reprinted in 2003.

Melrose Abbey


This Historic Scotland guide has been revised by the ‘Official Souvenir Guide’ prepared by Chris Tabraham (2005). It is fully illustrated, much in colour. The guide includes the reconstruction by Alan Sorrell.


The Infirmary at Rievaulx Abbey


Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

The infirmary at Rievaulx lies on the south [east] side of the complex, adjacent to the infirmary cloister. It consisted of a hall running east-west [north-south], with an arcade on the south [east] side of the wall where the columns can still be seen. Cuttings suggest that there were internal wooden partitions.


Infirmary, Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill


Infirmary, Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

In the late 15th century, when John Burton was abbot, the infirmary was converted into the abbot’s house.

Byland Abbey: Rood Screen


Byland Abbey © David Gill

The rood screen separated the lay brothers’ choir (at the west end of the abbey church) from the retrochoir. The nave altar stood at this point.

Note the square ends to the columns in the lay brothers’ choir.


Byland Abbey, Lay Brothers’ Choir looking eastwards © David Gill