Kelso Abbey is situated about 300
yards south of the Market Square in
Kelso, on Bridge Street.
Kelso Abbey is the burial place of
Henry of Scotland, Earl of
Northumbria and Huntingdon, and where
King James III was crowned.
The Abbey is open to visitors all year
round Free of charge. Postcode: TD5
See also a large Click On Map for the area Towns and
Kelso Abbey was founded in the 1100s by
Monks from Tiron in France, brought to
Scotland by King Alexander
The original Abbey was to be built at
19 miles west, most important town in the
region at that time. This Abbey was never built
into anything substantial.
Alexander I died in 1124, leading to his
brother David I
becoming King. David had been investing much of
his wealth into the area around Kelso, so in
1128, took the decision to have the Abbey built
at Kelso instead.
Alexander and David were sons of Malcolm III
Canmore by his wife Margaret of
Wessex, later Saint Margaret. This family
was credited with uniting a number of small
Scottish Kingdoms into the one Kingdom of
The Canmore's used religion as a way to
unite communities and help control the country.
They were the Monarchs of Scotland from 1058 to
1286, encouraging the building of a number of
large Abbeys and Cathedrals all over Scotland
such as the largest and most important:
Dunfermline Abbey 1070
Kelso Abbey 1128
Melrose Abbey 1136
Jedburgh Abbey 1147
Dryburgh Abbey 1150
St Andrews Cathedral 1158
Arbroath Abbey 1178
With Kelso Abbey being situated close to the
Border, it was damaged on a number occasions
during wars between Scotland and England from
the First War of Scottish
Independence in 1298, to the 1540s when
King Henry VIII of England began sending forces
into Scotland to destroy Abbeys and Castles in
an attempt to get the Infant Mary Queen of
Scots to mary his young son, a War known as the
1530s - Henry VIII made Catholic worship in
England illegal, leading to the destruction of
Abbeys throughout England.
1560 - the Scottish Parliament passed an Act
abolishing the Roman Catholic Church in
Scotland, leading to most of the Cathedrals and
Abbey's in Scotland being destroyed.
Some Catholic buildings were spared
destruction so they could be used as Protestant
1647 to 1771 - part of Kelso Abbey was used
as a Parish Church, with stone from other parts
of the Abbey taken for local buildings.
1805 - a large section of the Abbey,
including the Parish Church, were cleared from
1933 - a Memorial Cloister to the 8th Duke
of Roxburghe was built in the style when the
Abbey was first built.
Today - the Abbey is maintained by Historic
Environment Scotland with flower beds and
seating areas all around.