As early as AD 660, Coldingham was the site of a religious establishment of high order, when it is recorded that Etheldreda, the queen of Egfrid, became a nun at the Abbey of Coldingham, then under the management of Æbbe the Elder, aunt of her husband. Bede describes it as "the Monastery of Virgins" and states that in 679 the monastery burnt down. It was rebuilt, but was again destroyed by fire at the hands of a raiding party of Danes in 870. This time the ruins were not rebuilt, it would appear, until 1098, when the Priory of Coldingham was founded by King Edgar in honour of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. It became the caput for the Barony of Coldingham, with the prior as the feudal lord.
The priory continued in its religious purposes until 1560, when it was partially destroyed during the Scottish Reformation. However, a portion of it continued its religious activities until 1650, when it was fortified against Oliver Cromwell. After a siege of two days, the main tower in which the besieged defended themselves was so shattered by artillery that they were forced to capitulate. This great tower of the original priory finally collapsed about 1777. The ruins of about 40% of the original priory church were reconstructed in 1855; it is today used as the parish church, and is the most notable building in the parish.
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- History of the Priory of Coldingham by William King Hunter, Edinburgh & London, 1858.
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