Scotland Abbeys

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A list of Scotland Abbeys to Visit with Websites, Postcodes, Images and Links to Maps and Reviews.

Scotland Abbeys served as the main religious centre's for about 1000 years, the first monastery being established in 563, after Columba traveled to the Isle of Iona from Ireland. The monastery Columba founded on Iona, soon became one of the largest religious centre's in western Europe. Many of the early Kings of Scotland were buried at Iona Abbey. More history at the bottom of the page.

Click on the PostCodes for Maps and Reviews.

Arbroath Abbey / Arbroath 17 miles north of Dundee
Founded in 1178 for monks of the Tironensian order by King William the Lion, Arbroath Abbey is known for its association with the Declaration of Arbroath, when Scotland’s nobles swore their independence from England. Burial place of William I (William the Lion). Telephone number 01241 878 756.
Website . UDS Page . Postcode DD11 1EG .

Arbroath Abbey image

Cambuskenneth Abbey / 1 mile east of Stirling
Founded around 1140 by canons of the Arrouaisian order. The founder was David I. Cambuskenneth served Stirling Castle, one of David’s favourite residences, a short distance to the west. The abbey was used for Robert Bruce’s parliament in 1326, and the burial place of James III and his queen, Margaret of Denmark, in the 1480s.
Website . UDS Page . Post code FK9 5NH .

Cambuskenneth Abbey image

Crossraguel Abbey / 10 miles south of Ayr / Ayrshire
Crossraguel was founded early in the 13th century by the Earl of Carrick. The remains include the church, cloister, chapter house and even the dovecot (pigeon tower). After the reformation, an Earl of Carrick tortured the Commendator in a bid to gain control of the Abbey lands. Telephone number 0844 742 1287.
Website . AS Photo Page . Post code KA19 5HQ .

Crossraguel Abbey image
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Dundrennan Abbey / Kirkudbright / Dumfries & Galloway
Mary Queen of Scots is said to have spent her last night on Scottish soil in this Cistercian abbey founded by David I. The Abbey, built in the second half of the 12th century, is situated in a small, secluded valley. Telephone number 0131 668 8800.
Website . RSS Photo Page . Postcode DG6 4QH .

Dundrennan Abbey image

Dunfermline Abbey & Palace /Dunfermline by Edinburgh
Dunfermline Abbey has an interesting history going back to the 11th century, time of King Malcolm III and Queen Margaret. Their son David I extended the priory to an abbey by using stonemasons from Durham Cathedral to help build it. The great nave is one of the most visually stunning examples of Romanesque architecture in Scotland. The abbey church holds the mausoleum of some of Scotland’s great kings and queens. They include Queen Margaret, David I, and King Robert Bruce. Telephone number 01383 723 005.
Website . RSS Photo Page . Post code KY12 7PE .

Dunfermline Abbey & Palace image
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Glenluce Abbey / Glenluce 10 miles east of Stranraer
Founded in about 1192 by Roland, Lord of Galloway. The end of Glenluce's monastery came after the Reformation in 1560. The monks were allowed to continue living in the abbey, the last one dying in 1602. Telephone number 01581 300 541.
Website . RSS Photo Page . Postcode DG8 0JH .

Glenluce Abbey image

Inchcolm Abbey / on Inchcolm Island/ Firth of Forth / 4 miles out from South Queensferry. King David I founded an Augustinian monastery on Inchcolm Island in the 1100s, raised to the status of an abbey in 1235. The abbey is said to be one of the best-preserved in Scotland, with boat tours to the island throughout the summer from South Queensferry. Tel: 01383 823 332.
Website . RSS Photo Page . Post code KY3 0UA .

Inchcolm Abbey image
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Inchmahome Priory / on Inchmahome Island/ Lake of Menteith/ 16 miles west of Stirling. The priory was founded in 1238 by the Earl of Menteith / Walter Comyn. The powerful Comyn family had a large house on one of the other islands on the lake. They had been visited by King Robert the Bruce three times, and used to hide the infant Queen Mary after the English defeated the Scots at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. That battle was an attempt to preasure Scottish nobles into allowing Mary to marry the son of Henry VIII of England. Telephone number 01877 385 294.
Website . UDS Page . Post code FK8 3RA .

Inchmahome Priory image

Iona Abbey / Isle of Iona off the Isle of Mull
Iona Abbey is one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites, founded by St Columba and his Irish followers in AD 563. In 1938, the Iona Community was founded to conduct daily services and teaching in the abbey. Buried in the graveyard, are many early Scottish kings and chiefs, as well as kings from Ireland, Norway and France. Telephone number 01681 700 512.
Website . UDS Page . Postcode PA76 6SQ .

Iona Abbey image

Jedburgh Abbey / south side of Jedburgh / Borders
Founded as a priory by King David I in 1138 to show the English Scotland could build on a grand scale, close to the border between the two countries. The Abbey was taken over by King Edward I of England in 1296, on one of his many excursions north. Telephone number 01835 863 925.
Website . UDS Page . Post code TD8 6JQ .

Jedburgh Abbey image

Kelso Abbey / Kelso/ Borders
Built from 1128 as one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Scotland. After completion, it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St John in 1243, becomming the largest and richest in Scotland. Two kings, were crowned in the abbey, James III and James IV, and Prince Henry, son of David I, was buried here in 1152. Telephone number 0131 668 8600.
Website . UDS Page . Postcode TD5 7JD .

Kelso Abbey image

Kilwinning Abbey / Kiliwinning/ by Irvine/ Ayrshire
Built for Huge de Morville in the 1100s with the tower completed in 1816. The Abbey Tower Heritage Centre is open from Mid May to Mid September, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm - 3pm. Access for visiting groups at other times times may be possible. Phone 01294 551 496 for details. The abbey situated in Kilwinning town centre, can be easily found as it rises high above the surrounding buildings. May have connections to the Knights Templar.
kilwinning.org/abbey/ . AS Photo Page . Postcode KA13 6AY .

kilwinning abbey image
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Melrose Abbey /Melrose / Borders
In 1136, King David I requested Cistercian monks from Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire to found this abbey at Melrose. In 1322, Melrose Abbey and the town were attacked by the Edward II and his army with much of the abbey destroyed and many monks killed. The rebuilding started with funds from Robert the Bruce. King Robert's embalmed heart was buried at Melrose Abbey. Telephone number 01896 822 562.
Website . UDS Page . Post code TD6 9LG .

Melrose Abbey image

Paisley Abbey /Paisley centre / by Glasgow
Paisley Abbey dates back to 1163 with the signing of a charter by Walter Fitzalan, High Steward of Scotland. William Wallace was educated at Paisley Abbey in the late 1200s. The nave has a Wallace Memorial Window, added in 1873. Also here is the marble tomb of Robert III, commemorating all the Stewarts buried in the abbey, including Princess Marjorie. Telephone number 0141 889 7654.
www.paisleyabbey.org.uk . UDS Page . Postcode PA1 1JG .

Paisley Abbey image

Pluscarden Abbey
/ Elgin / 38 miles east of Inverness
Pluscarden Priory was founded by King Alexander II in 1230. From 1345, the abbey was controlled by the Bishop of Moray of Elgin Cathedral. The Bishop had Alexander Stewart (son of Robert II) to be excommunicated for marital infidelity. Stewart, known as the Wolf of Badenoch, attacked Moray with his men and set fire to Elgin Cathedral and Pluscarden Priory. The priory was restored in the 1900s, and granted the status of an Abbey. Telephone number 01343 89 0257 .
pluscardenabbey.org . UDS Page . Post code IV30 8UA .

Pluscarden Abbey image

Sweetheart Abbey
/ New Abbey / five miles south of Dumfries
Lady Devorgilla established a Cistercian abbey here in memory of her husband, John Balliol, in 1273 (father of the Scottish King of the same name). Lady Devorgilla was known for carrying his embalmed heart around with her in an ivory box. After her death in 1290, she was buried in the abbey church with the casket containing her husband's heart buried beside her. Telephone number 01387 850 397 .
Website . RSS Photo Page . Post code DG2 8BU .

Sweetheart Abbey image

Whithorn Priory
/Whithorn / 31 miles southeast of Stranraer
The first church here (first in Scotland) was dedicated to St Martin of Tours by St Ninian around the 390s. St Ninian was buried in this church with Whithorn then attracting pilgrims from across the British Isles and beyond. In the 700s, Whithorn was part of Northumbria, then taken over by the Norse in the 900s, with them using the church as a sacred burial place. The Norse were removed from the area by 1100, and the Bishopric of Whithorn re-established in 1128.
www.whithorn.com . RSS Photo Page . Postcode: DG8 8PY .

Whithorn Priory image

Christianity was extremely important for building a nation and uniting its people. The first king of this region, Kenneth I died on the 13th February 858. Kenneth I was king of the Picts, regarded by many as the first king of Scots. Kenneth I founded the dynasty that ruled Scotland for much of the medieval period.

Many of the Abbeys seen today were built around the 1100s - 1300s. Most of these Abbeys had to be rebuilt after being damaged in the wars with England in the 1300s.

By the start of the 1500s, the Catholic Church, centered around the Pope in Rome, was being accused of being corrupt, so countries throughout Europe began calling for reforms with a breakaway religion under the name Protestantism. In 1525, the Scottish Parliament banned the import of books written by the German Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism.

Henry VIII (King of England) adopted Protestantism in the early 1530s, so he could re-marry, and claim most of the money that was being sent from England to the Pope in Rome. He was excommunicated by the Roman Church at that time.

In August 1560, the Scottish Parliament passed a series of Acts to dismantle the Catholic Church in Scotland. At that time, celebrating mass, and communicating with the Pope in Rome, was made illegal.

Monks and Abbots were mainly allowed to live out their lives in the Abbeys. A Commendator appointed by the Crown, was based at each abbey to oversee the land and property. Most Abbeys had vast amounts of land and great wealth.

Most Abbeys in Scotland were abandoned, or slowly fell into disrepair after this time. Much of the stonework was then carried off for the building of other properties, such as castles, houses and farms.

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