Monasteries in United Kingdom

Rushen Abbey

Originally home for monks of the Savignac order, Rushen Abbey soon came under Cistercian control and remained so until its dissolution. The abbey is located two miles from Castle Rushen, the politically most important site on the island in medieval times. The abbey was founded in 1134, under Óláfr Guðrøðarson's control. He granted the land to Savignac monks from Furness Abbey. In 1147 the abbey came under ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Ballasalla, United Kingdom

Clonard Monastery

Clonard Monastery was developed by the Catholic Redemptorists religious order. Members of this religious order came to Belfast originally in 1896. They initially built a small tin church in the grounds of Clonard House in 1897. In 1890 a monastery was opened in these grounds and in 1911 the Church of the Holy Redeemer opened in the grounds and replaced the tin church. Clonard is also used as a music venue for many ...
Founded: 1890 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Bonamargy Friary

Bonamargy Friary is a late Franciscan foundation established in 1485 by Rory MacQuillan. It is said that the first battle between the warring MacDonnell and MacQuillan clans was fought on nearby land. At the main entrance to the friary is a small, two storey gatehouse which opens into a store and workroom. Well worn steps lead directly to the dormitory above. Traces of an altar can still be found in the adjoining chu ...
Founded: 1485 | Location: Ballycastle, United Kingdom

Glenarm Friary

In the early fifteenth century, Franciscan Third Order Regular communities began to be established in Ireland. In 1445 the archdeacon of Connor was sent a mandate by Pope Eugenius VI, authorising him to establish a Franciscan Third Order Regular friary in his diocese. A 1580 map of the County Antrim coastline shows the friary at ‘Glanarme’ on the other side of the river from the castle. It was probably closed by the ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Glenarm, United Kingdom

Bangor Abbey Church

Bangor Abbey was established by Saint Comgall in 558 and was famous for its learning and austere rule. Bangor Abbey is regarded as one of the most important of the early Northern Irish monastic sites, second only to Armagh. Within the extensive rampart which encircled its monastic buildings, students studied scripture, theology, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and the classics. Bangor was a major center of learni ...
Founded: 558 AD | Location: Bangor, United Kingdom

Grey Abbey

Grey Abbey is a ruined Cistercian priory in the village of Greyabbey. It was founded in 1193, by John de Courcy"s wife, Affreca (daughter of Godred Olafsson, King of the Isles), as a daughter house of Holmcultram Abbey in Cumbria. It had declined by the late Middle Ages and was dissolved in 1541. It was burnt out by Brian O"Neill in 1572. It was granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery who re-roofed the ...
Founded: 1193 | Location: Greyabbey, United Kingdom

Holywood Priory

Holywood Priory was founded by St. Laiseran before 640 on the site of the present ruins of the medieval Old Priory. The present ruins are 12th century Anglo-Norman Augustinian Abbey built by Thomas Whyte and much of these ruins remain. After the Black death (1348-1350) Niall O’Neill refurbished the church for the Franciscan Order. The Priory was dissolved on New Years Day, 1541, by Henry VIII with its lands passing ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Holywood, United Kingdom

Inch Abbey

Inch Abbey is a large, ruined monastic site north-west of Downpatrick. The site was originally on an island in the Quoile Marshes. The pre-Norman Celtic monastic settlement here was in existence by the year 800. In 1002 it was plundered by the Vikings. The Vikings plundered the settlement again in 1149. Its large earthwork enclosure has been traced from aerial photographs. On the ground, the early bank and ditch ca ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Movilla Abbey

Movilla Abbey is believed to have been one of Ulster"s and Ireland"s most important monasteries. It was founded in 540 by St. Finnian (d. 579) under the patronage of the king of the Dál Fiatach. It survived as a place of Christian witness for over a thousand years, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1542. The name Movilla is an Anglicized form of the Irish magh bile, which means “the plain ...
Founded: 540 AD | Location: Newtownards, United Kingdom

Nendrum Monastery

Nendrum Monastery may have been founded in the 5th century, but this is uncertain. The monastery came to an end at some time between 974 and 1178, but its church served a parish until the site was abandoned in the 15th century. Some remains of the monastery can still be seen. Dendrochronology has dated a tide mill on the island to the year 619, making this the oldest excavated tide mill anywhere in the world. The mona ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Comber, United Kingdom

Newtownards Priory

Newtownards Priory was a medieval Dominican priory founded by the Savage family around 1244. Only the lower parts of the nave and two blocked doors in the south wall leading to a demolished cloister, survive from the period of the priory"s foundation. The upper parts of the nave date from a 14th-century rebuilding and the western extension and the north aisle arcade were undertaken by the de Burgh family. The pr ...
Founded: 1244 | Location: Newtownards, United Kingdom

Devenish Monastic Site

Devenish Island contains one of the finest monastic sites in Northern Ireland. A round tower thought to date from the twelfth century is situated on the island, as are the walls of the Oratory of Saint Molaise who established the monastery in the 6th century, on a pilgrim route to Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. It became a centre of scholarship and although raided by Vikings in 837 and burned in 1157, it late ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Devenish, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.