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Cornell University Library 
NA 5474.B98 

Scotland's ruined abbeys, 

3 1924 015 739 067 



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Cornell University 

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the Cornell University Library. 

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All rights restrvtd 

Copyright, 1899, 

Set up and electrotyped October, 1899. Reprinted September, 


J. S. Cushing k Co. — Berwick k Smith 
Norwood Mass. U.S.A. 


Elfin Booft is affectionately fflcbicateti 


The mediaeval architecture of Scotland has been amply 
treated in books of more or less scientific character. Accurate 
descriptions of every historic edifice in the ancient realm can 
be found, and historical sketches are not lacking. But the 
material at hand dealing with this subject exists only in a 
form too bulky for general use. The pamphlets, on the other 
hand, which are to be had at the site of many of these ruins, 
are often too superficial and sometimes incorrect and not suited 
to the purpose of more deeply interested persons, while both 
classes have ignored the romantic interest which centres about 
these places from the roles they play in the poetry and fiction 
for which Scotland has long been so famous. 

It is the purpose of this book to place in convenient form, 
at the disposal of interested travellers among the ruins of 
North Britain, and of all to whom these ancient buildings are 
an object of pleasant memory, an accurate, though necessarily 
brief, history of each of the more important abbeys, with a 
careful description of its structure in the light of the most 
recent study and criticism. 


To this collection of facts and theories has been added 
whatever of traditional or romantic lore has been woven about 
the sites or the ruins as they stand, and for this reason quo- 
tations have been made directly from Scottish literature. 

The work is the result of two summers spent in Scotland, 
during which the pleasure of looking up the historical and 
romantic side of the ruins manifested itself to the author, 
whose original interest in them had been purely from archi- 
tectural motives. 

The subject has been confined to the ruined abbeys, because 
restoration, in days when art did not flourish in Britain, has 
stripped many of the abbeys of every vestige of beauty and 
picturesqueness, while present use has broken the charm of 

The illustrations, most of them, were made by the author 
from the ruins themselves. A considerable number were taken 
from photographs. This has been noted in every case. 

For the benefit of any who wish to read more widely upon 
the Scottish architecture of the Middle Ages I refer to the 
books of Messrs. McGibbon and Ross, whose works, in several 
volumes, upon Scottish mediaeval architecture, will be found 
accurate and exhaustive, while the older works of Billings, upon 
the ecclesiastical and baronial architecture of Scotland, are full 
of interest and finely illustrated in the engravings of thirty 
years ago. 



The subject of ecclesiastical history, though avoided as much 
as possible, has been introduced here and there to explain 
certain conditions, historical or architectural. These references 
are quoted largely from the best authorities of the day, but 
the author can be held responsible only for such parts of the 
work as bear directly upon art history. 




Beginnings of Gothic style in Scotland. Abbeys of David I. (1124-1153). Archi- 
tecture of his reign. Earlier buildings. Pointed style introduced under Will- 
iam I. (1165-1214). Growth of architecture under Alexander II. and III. (1214- 
1286). Destruction of abbeys during War of Independence. Revival in reign 
of Bruce; introduction of decorated style. Architecture under the Stuarts. 
Final demolition of the abbeys by Henry VIII. of England. General survey of 
Scottish ecclesiastical architecture 1-9 



Early history of Iona ; coming of St. Columba. St. Columba's mission. Importance 
of the abbey of Iona. The Culdees. The Norsemen seize Iona. Restoration 
under Malcolm III. Changes under David I. Reginald, Lord of the Isles 
(1202), rebuilds abbey. Description of the abbey. Its sculpture. St. Oran's 
chapel. The convent 1 °-33 



The abbey begun by Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret, completed by Alexan- 
der I. (1115) and David I. (1124). Description of Norman nave, comparison 
with Durham Cathedral. The abbey in the thirteenth century. Translation of 
the relics of St. Margaret. The abbey as a shrine. The Westminster of Scot- 
land. Bruce. The " New Abbey Church." The monastic buildings . 34~54 





Site of the abbey. Description. Norman Work. The Gothic structure. Vaults. 
The west front and towers. History of the abbey. The legend. Beginnings 
of a palace at Holyrood. Holyrood and the Stuarts. Destruction . . SS~7° 



Early establishment of the abbey. Portions extant. Norman work. The barrel 
vault. The Early English nave. French influence. Late restorations. History 
of the abbey 71-86 



Fortified abbeys. Kelso ; its extant portions ; its style. The style of the north 
porch. Monastic buildings. History of the abbey. The monks. The defence 
of the abbey and its destruction 87-99 



The ruin. Description of its parts. The decorated nave, etc. Perpendicular work 
in transepts and sanctuary. The vaulting. The exterior of the abbey. Its 
sculpture. The abbey's history. Its great wealth. Its destruction by Edward II. 
and rebuilding by Robert Bruce. The heart of Bruce and the tombs of the 
Douglases. Richard II. and the abbey. The final destruction. Sir Walter 
Scott 100-123 



The ruin ; its extant portions. The well-preserved cloister buildings. Description 
of the church, St. Mary's aisle. The buildings about the cloister. The history 
of the abbey. Its founding by Hugh de Moreville. The white friars. Its 
destruction by Ralph Evers. Sir Walter's grave 124-137 


Haddington Priory 


Early Christianity in East Lothian. The abbeys of Coldingham and North Berwick. 
Post-Norman period. Haddington. Parish church or Franciscan abbey? De- 
scription of the ruin. Early English choir and transepts. Decorated details. 
The key to the abbey 138-155 



The abbey's site; in ancient times and now. First pointed style in Scotland. 
Study of superstructure from plan and fragments. Record of the abbey. Its 
dedication to St. Thomas of Canterbury. Its abbots .... 156-171 

Kinloss — Beauly 

The unfrequented abbeys of the north. Early church north of the Grampians. The 
abbey of Kinloss. The abbey of Beauly. Its situation. Description of its 
parts. The story of Beauly 172-185 


An ideal location. A well-preserved ruin. Description of church. The monastic 
buildings. The abbey's history. The white monks. The "Wolf of Badenoch." 
The coming of the black friars 186-201 



The conversion of the west coast. St. Vinnen. The abbey and the question of its 
founder. Study of the abbey from fragments. Three periods. The abbey's 
site; its history 202-215 





The abbey famous for the preservation of its monastic buildings. The site. De- 
scription of the ruin. Its history. The family of Bruce. The trial of an abbot. 
Closing years 216-233 

The Abbeys of Galloway 

The first Christian mission to Scotland. St. Ninian. The ancient Earls of Gallo- 
way. The abbey of Whithorn. Description of the ruin. Its history. The 
abbey of Glenluce. Its site and a description of the ruin .... 234-244 



Kirkcudbrightshire. Its romantic and historical interest. The Cistercian abbey of 
Dundrennan. Description of the ruin. The transepts. The chapter house. 
Historical notes 245-257 



'Twixt Nith and Cluden. The abbey's early history. Its blazonry. Description of 

its architecture. Its decorative details 258-268 


The latest of the great abbeys. A romantic foundation. History of the abbey. Its 

plan and construction. The foreign architects. The abbey's preservation 269-284 





Holyrood ••....., * 


Kelso „ 


Melrose .... 





Arbroath .... , 

BeauI y 179 



Kilwinning 2o6 

Crosraguel 220 

Glenluce 24I 

Dundrennan , 247 

Lincluden 2c8 

Sweetheart 277 




Iona : The Convent Chapel from Southeast 23 

Abbey Choir looking East {from photograph) 25 

South Aisle of Abbey Choir {from photograph) 27 

The Abbey and St. Oran's Chapel 30 

Dunfermline : Interior of Nave (from photograph) 39 

West Portal 42 

Bruce Memorial Brass 49 

Refectory and Abbot's Tower from Parapet 51 

Interior of Refectory • • ■ S3 

Holyrood: Arcade (initial) 55 

Norman Part of Nave 57 

Interior of Nave 59 

West Front 62 

Sculpture over Main Portal (tailpiece) 70 

Jedburgh: Fragment of Romanesque Altar-piece (initial) 71 

The Abbey from the River 72 

Two Bays of Norman Choir 74 

Norman Vault-ribs in Choir Aisle 75 

Beneath the Tower 77 

Norman Doorway 79 

Piers and Arches of the Nave 81 

View from the Garden 85 

Celtic Slab (tailpiece) 86 

Kelso : The Abbey from Northeast (from old print) 88 

Aisle of Choir 91 

Interior from Choir 93 

North Porch 95 




Melrose : Statue of St. Andrew (initial) ioo 

Abbey from Southwest 101 

End of South Transept 106 

West Wall of South Transept 108 

Stair Tower 109 

Keystone — Head of Michael Scott 113 

The Abbey from the Southeast 121 

Keystones of High Vaults 123 

Dryburgh: St. Mary's Aisle 128 

South Transept and Chapter House 130 

Doorway leading to Cloister 131 

A Corner of the Cloister Court 133 

Haddington: Capital from West Portal (initial) 138 

The Abbey and the " Auld Brig " 142 

The Tower and Choir 147 

Interior of the Choir 151 

Arbroath: The Abbey from the Southeast 156 

West Portal 158 

South Transept 163 

The Nave looking West 171 

Beauly: The Abbey from the Highroad 178 

Windows in South Wall of Nave 180 

The Choir 183 

Pluscarden: The Abbey from the Wood 189 

The Abbey from Northeast 191 

The Crossing, from Stair to Dormitories 193 

Doorway to Cloister 196 

Kilwinning : Doorway to Cloister 208 

End of South Transept 210 

Crosraguel: Sedilia in Choir (initial) 216 

Baltersan Castle 218 

The Nave, Interior (from photograph) 221 

Tower, Chapter House, and Apse 223 

Capital in the Sacristy 225 

Cloister from Watch-tower .......... 229 

The Dove-cote 233 



Whithorn : Norman Portal 238 

Glenluce : Corbel in Chapter House (initial) 240 

Transept End and Chapter House 242 

Doorway of Chapter House 243 

Dundrennan : Effigy of Abbot (initial) 245 

View across the Transepts 249 

Front of Chapter House 253 

The Abbey from the " Crown and Anchor " 256 

Lincluden : Piscina in Choir (initial) 258 

The Abbey from Cluden Water 262 

The Calvary and the Chapel of Good Sir James Douglas .... 263 

Tomb of Foundress in Choir 265 

Corbel in Choir (tailpiece) 268 

Sweetheart : The Abbey from the Fields 275 

Nave looking West (from photograph) . ■ 279 

The East End, Interior 281 


Arbroath . . Tironensian . . William I. . 
Beauly - . . Valliscaulian . . Lord Bissett 
Cambuskenneth David I. 

Dryburgh . 
Dumfries . 
Dunkeld . 
Glenluce . 
Holyrood . 

Cistercian . . . 
Clunensian . . 
Franciscan . . . 
Cistercian . . . 

Duncan, Earl of Carrick . . 
Hugh de Morville .... 
Devorgilla, Countess of Galloway 
Fergus, Lord of Galloway . . 

Culdee (Benedictine) Malcolm III 

Culdee (Benedictine) King Kenneth M'Alpin . . . 

Cistercian . . . Roland, Lord of Galloway . . 


Augustinian . . David I 

Holywood Devorgilla, Countess of Galloway 

Iona . . . Culdee (Benedictine) St. Columba 

Iona, Convent Augustinian . . Reginald, Lord of the Isles . . 

Jedburgh . . Benedictine . . . David I 

Kelso . . . Tironensian . . David I 

Kilwinning . Tironensian . . Richard de Morville .... 

Kinloss . . Cistercian . . . David I 

Lincluden . . Benedictine (Collegiate) Uchtred, Lord of Galloway . 

Melrose . . Cistercian . . . David I 

Newbattle David I 

North Berwick, Convent, Cistercian 

Paisley . . 
Soulseat . 
Whithorn . 
Wigtown . 


Valliscaulian (Benedictine) Alexander II 

Premonstratensian Fergus, Lord of Galloway . . 

Devorgilla, Countess of Galloway 

Fergus, Lord of Galloway . . 

Fergus, Lord of Galloway . . 

Devorgilla, Countess of Galloway 

Cistercian . . . 
Dominican . . . 





139, 140 



269, 270 

3, 236, 245-257 

4, IS. 34-54, 199 
2, IS, 18, 31, 32 

2 , 3, 5S-7o 

20, 22 
4, 71-86 
2, 4, 87-99 

2, 3, 172-176 


2, 100-123, 244 













The tidal wave of architectural activity which swept over 
Europe in the latter half of the Middle Ages reached its high- 
water mark in the north of France; but the influence of its 
motion was felt, in diminishing degrees, in every direction 
from that centre. Its impetus toward the north was aided by 
the Norman conquest of England, whence it rolled on to break 
in ripples over the furthest shores of Scotland. 

Few and meagre were the monastic edifices in Scotland at 
the end of the eleventh century; rude and primitive were the 
castles of the Scottish chiefs until Saxon England had become 
Norman England, and the effects of this change had revolution- 
ized the whole of Great Britain. The Conqueror himself in- 
vaded Scotland, receiving homage from Malcolm III. A few 
years later the Norman king, Henry I., sought a Scottish 
bride, Matilda, daughter of Malcolm. This alliance became 
the entering wedge for Norman influence in Scotland. Matilda 


brought with her to the court of the English king her young 
brother David. Growing up amid Norman surroundings, re- 
ceiving his education from a Norman bishop, David returned 
to Scotland, to become king in course of time, more Norman 
than Scot. Two features seem to have been infused into the 
character of David by his education: a devout religious enthu- 
siasm and the Norman building spirit. Monumental evidence 
of this was given even before he became king. Returning 
from England he retired to Jedburgh, then the chief town of 
the Middle Marches, and there, in 1118, erected a beautiful 
and extensive abbey for the reception of an abbot with a 
large following of Benedictine monks from Beauvais. 

What William the Norman was to the architecture of Eng- 
land, David I. was to that of Scotland. Upon his accession 
to the throne, in 11 24, he made large grants of crown lands 
to the Church, founded abbeys at Holyrood, Kelso, Melrose, 
Newbattle, Kinloss, and Cambuskenneth ; elevated the ancient 
abbey of Dunblane to the dignity of a cathedral; drove the Cul- 
dees from their church at Dunkeld and established there the 
seat of a bishopric. In fact, it is unusual to find an establish- 
ment in the whole domain that David did not either found or 
enrich. His excessive liberality toward the clergy, his zeal for 
founding churches and for the spreading of religion, caused 
him to be canonized in the hearts of his subjects, and under 
the title of St. David has he come down to us in history. 


Comparatively few of the church edifices of St. David's build- 
ing escaped the ravages of the wars with England under the 
Edwards, so that we are obliged to judge of the style of archi- 
tecture during his reign from fragments incorporated with 
buildings of later date. But a single edifice preserves anything 
approaching a complete structure, — the abbey of Kelso. Here 
the style of Romanesque is so unique, so unlike anything of its 
kind across the border or on the Continent, that we are almost 
ready to place the style of David's reign apart, as a school of 
Romanesque by itself. The same general features are perceived 
in the earliest surviving portions of the abbeys of Holyrood, 
Dryburgh, Kinloss, and' Dundrennan. They consist in an unusual 
degree of lightness manifested by the use of colonettes of exceed- 
ing slenderness, in the lavish use of mouldings, which depend for 
decorative effect upon depth of cutting rather than upon fan- 
tastic surface carvings, in which respect they are more like the 
true Gothic type, and in the naive use of the pointed arch 
wherever exigencies of space or the demands of construction 
would seem to favour this form. 

It is this tendency toward refinement and the unmistakable 
advance toward transition from Romanesque to Gothic seen 
in David's churches that would make certain other edifices in 
Scotland seem to belong to an earlier period. The principles 
of construction, the motives of decoration, and the whole char- 
acter of these buildings, which we know to have been built in 


David's time, are entirely different from those of such buildings 
as the nave of Dunfermline, the choir of Jedburgh, and the 
famous little church of Dalmeny, where the construction is 
heavy and crude, the ornament profuse but. barbaric. Instead 
of huge cylindrical piers we have in these later types com- 
posite supports or piers with engaged columns. In place of 
arches narrower in proportion and archivolts garnished with 
incised patterns, we see broad, deeply moulded arches in 
David's churches. The delicate interlacing arcades of Kelso 
and Dryburgh are substituted for series of heavy single arches, 
rich with dog-tooth and zigzag ornament supported by thick 

In short, these two groups of Romanesque buildings illus- 
trate quite clearly the difference that existed between the 
social, and hence the artistic, condition of Scotland in the 
reign of Malcolm Canmore (1054-93) an d in that of his young- 
est son David (1124-53). David had not only profited by Eng- 
lish training at Winchester but he imported monastics from 
France, and these important facts must have influenced his 
extensive architectural exploits. 

The next building monarch after David was his grandson 
William (1 165-12 14), under whom the pointed style was defi- 
nitely introduced into the Kingdom. Some fine monuments 
of this period, though partly ruined, serve to illustrate the par- 
ticular development of the Early English style in Scotland. 


Under William's son and grandson, Alexander II. and III, 
the pointed style was carried on with great richness and 
breadth, especially in the reign of the latter (1248-86), under 
whom the finest specimens of Gothic in the realm were 

This gradual expansion and steady growth in architectural 
development, which had covered some two hundred years and 
had raised the building art in the kingdom from a state of crude 
barbarity to one of refinement and even of splendour, met a 
severe check at the interregnum and the outbreak of King 
Edward's wars. 

Scores of monastic edifices were totally demolished by the 
English armies, others only partially wrecked; some of these 
were restored, others not; but the monastic architecture of the 
lowlands in particular was in a frightful state of dilapidation 
when peace was at length reestablished by King Robert the 

The resources of the Kingdom seem to have been drawn 
upon to a large extent by the Bruce to restore again to their 
pristine beauty the shrines of the low countries that had suf- 
fered most from the ravages of war. 

At this stage it was that the decorated style of England 
and the flowing style of France found their way to Scotland, 
and though the proportion of the former is naturally much 
the larger* there are elements in the Scottish architecture of 


this period, in the sculptured details of its more decorative por- 
tions, that are plainly not of English origin, and find their 
only counterpart in the work of the French Gothic artists. 
Some of the loveliest architectural bits of this age are to be 
found among the ruins of the abbeys that Bruce restored at a 
time when Scotland was all alive with the glow of returning 
national life and with a religious fervour that had not existed 
since the days of the saintly King David. 

It was at the beginning of this epoch that the societies of 
freemasons, commissioned by the Pope and sent abroad from 
Italy and France all over Christendom to build religious edifices, 
reached the North. Their influence is noticed in the improved 
character of the construction, in the careful working of the 
materials, and in the refinements of carving. 

The advent of the house of Stuart to the Scottish throne 
was not marked by any activity in architecture that corresponded 
to the contemporary changes in England that produced the 
perpendicular. A few isolated examples of this work can be 
found on Scottish soil, but these are distinctly of English 

Toward the end of the monarchy as an independent govern- 
ment, various restorations were made in a weak and feeble way 
to repair the devastation of Henry VIII.'s crushing campaign, 
but by this time the Reformation was upon Scotland and the 
Church was soon torn up by its very roots. Naught remained 


of most of the abbeys but heaps of ruins. An attempt was 
made to conform a few of them to the requirements of the 
new faith by housing in a transept or chapter house, better 
preserved than the rest; but in a majority of cases the ruined 
buildings became the quarries for their several neighbourhoods, 
and the .portions that remain to us were spared only because 
the supply of material was greater than the demand for it. 

Such is a brief outline of the history of Scotland's abbeys. 
There is in this mediaeval architecture of Scotland a certain 
originality that clothes it with special charm. Uncontrolled by 
the rigid and logical laws of development which, combined 
with extreme refinement, gave to French Gothic its chief 
beauty, quite free from the lines of greater freedom that 
guided the advance of the Gothic style across the border, it 
pursued a course purely individual, and reached a goal very 
different from and in many respects inferior to either, but in 
its way quite as interesting. It did not depend absolutely 
upon either of these sources for general methods of design or 
treatment of detail, but, borrowing generously from both, 
evolved new motives. 

Nor did it follow closely in time the march of transition 
and growth of architecture in these countries, but set a pace 
of its own, which varied in the several parts of the Kingdom. 
Certain elements remain constant through all periods of de- 
velopment: the semicircular arch, for instance, is persistent 


from first to last; the Norman arch embellished with true 
Gothic mouldings is the commonest form of portal in all these 

An interesting feature of these ruined abbeys is the absence 
of modern restorations. In France and England almost all the 
finer examples of mediaeval architecture have become national 
monuments, restored in every part ; or are preserved, as Ruskin 
says, as mere specimens of the Middle Ages, put on a velvet 
carpet of green-shaven lawn to be looked at, and which, but 
for their size, might just as well be put on a museum shelf 
at once. 

In Scotland the ruins are usually given simply sufficient 
protection and support to secure them from further decay, and 
stand, " feebly and fondly garrulous of better days " it is true ; 
but still playing a role in history as in the natural landscape. 
In many cases they still live among the people, brooding over 
little hamlets, full of pathos, eloquent of history, the connecting 
link between the past and present. 

The almost universal use of these ruined abbeys as places 
of interment for the families of the local gentry and the con- 
sequent crowding of the interiors with graves and monumental 
slabs is in keeping with the general practice throughout Great 

This custom, which recalls the remark of Cardinal Newman, 
is doubtless partly the olitgroWth of that admirable love for 


the church edifice which seems to animate the British people, 
but it is one which, when carried to excess, most Englishmen 
deplore. There must be a limit somewhere to the capacity of 
these abbeys, as even of Westminster itself, for the tombs 
of succeeding generations of worthies and unworthies. Many 
of these tombs are a great disfigurement to these splendid 
monuments which we would think ought to be preserved and 
kept as the glorious heritage of our whole race regardless of 
titles or of land tenures. 



Far beyond the highlands of the West, beyond the peaks 
of Mull and "lonely Colonsay," where the storms of Atlantic 
rage and the southern current brings tribute from the western 
world, girt about with eddying tides and whirlpools, beset with 
hidden reefs and rugged rocks where myriad sea-fowl rest, lies 
the tiny isle of Iona, long known by its Celtic names as I, Hy, 
or Inchcolm-Kill. 

For upwards of a thousand years this bleak islet — one of 
Britain's bulwarks against the surges of the western sea — was 
one of the chiefest religious centres of the North of Europe, 
the goal of great pilgrimages from every kingdom, the hallowed 
resting-place of monarchs of many nations; for here had lived 
and died a saint of great repute, not only father of the Celtic 
Church in Scotia, but a founder of non-Romish Christianity 
in the West. 

During the long centuries of the Middle Ages thousands 
of sail set yearly toward this distant shrine: the tiny skiffs 
of devoted pilgrims, the majestic ships of chiefs and Vikings, 


IONA 1 1 

and sombre barges bearing the mortal remains of kings to 
their interment on the holy isle. 

Here was not only the sacred shrine of St. Columba and 
a congregation of holy men who made this secure retreat their 
home and a centre of widespread missionary labour among the 
half-wild tribes of Britain, but a great institution of learning, 
which through the blackness of the Dark Ages trimmed the 
lamp of knowledge and cherished the flame until it shone as 
the brightest spot in Europe — an island lighthouse in a long 
night of world-wide ignorance and superstition. While Rome, 
crushed and laid waste by hordes of invading tribes of Lom- 
bards and Saracens, was struggling to avert utter annihilation, 
and the Roman Church languished under oppression and mis- 
government ; while Spain writhed under Moorish invasion ; while 
France was torn by faction wars among Merowings and Carl- 
ings, and England suffered constant feuds and warfare between 
the petty chiefs of the Heptarchy ; while invasion, sack, pillage, 
and plunder were the order of the day, and the history of 
Europe is one long chapter of violence and crime, the little 
island of Iona offered a refuge to all who were weary of the 
ceaseless turmoil, a fountain of learning to the studious, and 
a religious retreat to the devoutly inclined. Little wonder 
that a few feet of this peaceful soil were coveted by great 
monarchs for a final resting-place ; little doubt that all, of every 
degree, who sought refreshment to the soul or food for the 


mind, and could find means of reaching it, came to this won- 
drous fountain and storehouse of every good thing. 

It was in the year 563 that St. Columba with his twelve 
devout companions set sail from Christian Ireland for pagan 
Scotland and beached their bark, to which they had given the 
name of Curich, within a little bay on the southern extremity 
of the island, called from the name of St. Columba's boat, 
Port-na-Curriach. Tradition has it that the saint first set foot 
upon a great boulder of beautiful greenish hue, a portion of 
which is preserved at the shrine; but the storms of centuries 
have broken the rock into thousands of emerald fragments and 
strewn them along the beach, and the natives of to-day prize 
them highly as charms against drowning. The island, which 
historians tell us had long been a centre of Druidical worship 
and the scene of the most horrible' heathen rites and orgies, 
was a suitable spot in which to set up the cross and establish 
a religion of peace and gentleness. Fortified by nature against 
the attacks of enemies, it afforded far greater protection to the 
saintly company, who, even in their poverty and simplicity, 
would easily have fallen prey to the violence of some untamed 
tribe, than any spot upon the mainland. 

He was no ordinary saint, like the multitude of canonized 
personages who preached the Gospel in Britain in the primitive 
days of Christianity, that landed on this little isle in the mid- 
dle of the sixth century. In the history of Britain, nay, of 

IONA 1 3 

Europe in those times, the figure of St. Columba stands out 
in clear-cut lines undiminished by any shade of mythical 
miracle workings, matchless for strength and spiritual beauty. 
" There came into Britain from Ireland," wrote the Venerable 
Bede less than a hundred years after the death of the saint, 
"a famous priest and abbot, a monk by habit and life, whose 
name was Columba, to preach the Word of God: a perfect 
sage, believing in Christ, learned, chaste, and charitable; he 
was noble, he was gentle, he was the physician of the heart 
of every sage, a shelter to the naked, a consolation to the 
poor; there went not from the world one who was more con- 
stant in the remembrance of the Cross." 

Wonderful words these, a true pen portrait of a true saint, 
though made twelve hundred years ago, a vivid contrast to 
the ordinary " Lives " of mediaeval saints, those garish pictures 
for the credulous, almost grotesque in their unintentional cari- 

Columba had left Ireland confident that the island was 
in safe hands and its evangelization assured. He set his face 
toward a field almost untouched by Christian influence, one 
that opened a boundless expanse for missionary zeal; for, 
though the labours of St. Ninian, a fourth-century saint, had 
sown seed and borne fruit on the shores of Solway Firth and 
in parts of Lothian, the greater part of North Britain still 
remained in heathen darkness. 


It was St. Columba's plan to despatch his ministers singly 
and in various directions to bear the tidings of Christianity 
and to establish religious settlements wherever possible upon 
the mainland, with their head and centre at Iona; to keep a 
constant supply of monks at home for the training of younger 
men for the broader fields of labour, and to maintain the dignity 
of the parent church. 

The intention of St. Columba was speedily fulfilled, and far 
more brilliantly than he could possibly have foreseen. Within 
a hundred years after St. Columba's death religious " cells," 
dependencies of Iona, had been established over all Scotland 
from north to south and well into North umbria and Cumber- 
land, and many of the early labourers had been canonized by 
Rome, of whom St. Cuthbert of Durham and St. Aidan, the 
converter of Northumbria, are the most familiarly known. St. 
Columba lived and laboured some four and thirty years at Iona 
and fell on sleep, but not until his feet had blessed the mountains 
of western Caledon and a hundred isles of the sea. The rude 
and slender craft of the special patron saint of mariners and 
those of his followers, hewn from hollowed logs or fashioned 
with wattles and skins, sailed from rockbound isle to frowning 
mull and penetrated the deep kyles or estuaries of that rugged 
coast, until the frail cockles with their symbolical cross-form 
Egging were known and welcomed by the savage Picts, and it 
became possible to set up religious retreats upon the mainland. 

IONA 1 5 

These primitive religious settlements were at first purely 
eremitical, that is, the monk lived in the cell which he had 
made and ministered to the needs spiritual of the people 
about him without assistance. Remains, and even preserved 
specimens of these bee-hive-shaped and simple cells are not 
wanting in various parts of Scotland and in the scattered 
islands of the Hebrides. The hermit monks came to be 
known as Culdees, a word variously derived from the Gaelic 
ceile De, " servant of God," and from the Latin cultor Dei, 
"worshipper of God." It was not until later years that monas- 
teries were founded for and peopled by Culdees. In the seventh 
century we find St. Blane founding a Columban " house " at 
Dunblane, in the ninth King Kenneth McAlpin establishing 
one at Dunkeld, and in the eleventh King Malcolm Canmore 
establishing a monastery for thirteen Culdees at Dunfermline. 

The monastery at Iona during the first three hundred years 
of its existence enjoyed the most tranquil prosperity and reached 
the distinction to which we have already alluded. 

To this retreat of saintly men, to this home of learning, as 
we learn from the chronicler Fordun, were sent the young 
princes of Pictish royalty, sometimes for the laying on of 
holy hands, sometimes to be trained and educated for the 
duties of state. Brude was the first Pictish king to listen to 
Columba's words, and Donaldus was taken as a lad to be 
blessed by the aged saint. 


It was in this way that in the history of barbaric Scotia 
of this time there now and again appears the figure of a king 
superior to his wild surroundings. And it was to these Iona- 
nurtured monarchs that was due the gradual enlightenment of 
the Pictish tribes, the founding of a kingdom that a century 
or two later took important rank among the nations of Europe. 
The religious colony of St. Columba's founding waxed rich 
and powerful through the munificence of kings of many realms, 
even during the first abbot's lifetime. Its fame and influence 
spread with rapid strides, until saints and sages flocked to its 
blest retreat from distant shores. As a centre of learning 
Iona was second to none during the period while ancient 
classic lore was being supplanted by the Christian philosophy 
of the Church fathers. Many were the books and manuscripts 
that the industrious monks and their pupils laboriously tran- 
scribed and richly illuminated with matchless skill. Some of 
these escaped the ruin of later years and have come down 
to us: one of them, preserved in the Museum of Trinity 
College, Dublin, is a Book of Gospels inscribed in the saintly 
characters of Columba's own hand. As a school, the abbey 
of Iona had great renown, and we have record that there were 
often from three to five hundred students receiving instruction 
within its walls. 

The cenobites, however, were more than preachers or 
teachers : they were experienced navigators, ploughing the 

IONA 1 7 

unknown seas in their frail barks to discover Iceland and the 
far Faroe Islands. They were agriculturists, maintaining a 
large population within their little realm by the careful culti- 
vation of its stony soil. They were architects, raising extensive 
edifices in that rude style adapted in barbaric fashion from 
the principles of building art introduced into Britain by the 
Romans, of which, unfortunately, almost no vestige remains in 
all Great Britain. 

Iona continued to be the burial-place of Pictish royalty even 
as it had been in older pagan times. The bodies of kings from 
Fergus to Kenneth McAlpin all lie here, while monarchs of 
Ireland, Norway, and even France were brought hither over 
distant seas. 

With the beginning of the ninth century the tide of war 
and devastation that so long had smothered Europe swept 
wildly toward Columba's peaceful isle and broke with fury 
upon the sacred strand where the Vikings' ships were moored. 
In 802, in the time of Abbot Connachtack, while Charlemagne 
was being crowned at Rome and establishing a new empire, 
and the Church of Rome was taking fresh hope therefrom, the 
Norsemen swooped down upon the retreat, slew the defenceless 
cenobites, burnt their church and home, and carried off the 
sacred store of votive offerings, the gifts of long lines of kings. 
After this attack the colony was reestablished, only to be de- 
stroyed again in 808. Again the successors of St. Columba 


took fresh heart, and under Abbot Cellah began a church of 
stone, as we are told, with a stronger, more defensible residence. 

In this they found safe retreat for twenty years, until a third 
visit from piratical hordes levelled the monastery with the 
ground. Little is recorded of the Columban isle for many 
years after this blow. The chief centre of the Pictish Church 
was now removed to Dunkeld by Kenneth, king of the united 
Picts and Scots, and Iona, we may surmise, became but a 
simple cell. 

That a religious seat was maintained on the island we 
may be sure, for the list of the Columban abbots preserves 
an unbroken line through all these years of strife, and the 
sacred shrine of St. Columba, though sadly ruined, kept a truce 
between Norseman and Islander when a Pictish or Scottish king 
died, for royal burials were still performed at the holy isle. 

But Iona was now in the grasp of the Norsemen, and a 
part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Isles. The Columban 
Church, no more an object of pirates' greed, was no longer 
harassed by the sea-rovers, but no more was it cherished or 
fostered by them. In 1074 we hear of Margaret, the sainted 
queen of Malcolm III., making gifts to the shrine for rebuild- 
ing the abbey. 

There appears to have been considerable activity upon the 
island from this time, while the powerful Malcolm Canmore 
held the Norsemen at bay, until that monarch's death. Almost 

IONA 19 

nothing is recorded of the abbey at Iona during the first fifty 
years of the twelfth century, until the Pictish natives of the 
isle began to rebel under the rule of Godred, their Norwegian 
king, and called upon Somerled, king of Argyle, to assist them 
in throwing off his burdensome yoke. In 1165 a great battle 
was fought between the Picts and Norwegians, which ended 
the sway of Godred over the inner Hebrides and freed Iona 
from foreign oppression. 

With the accession of David I., the supremacy of Rome had 
been established in Scotland, and the Culdees wherever estab- 
lished had been forced to make room for " regular " canons, 
just as the Saxon clergy in England had to give way to Norman 

Latin names, like Johannes and Celestinus, take the place 
of the Celtic Dunchadh or Innrechtach upon the lists of the 
abbots, and the whole character of the church becomes Latinized. 
Rome, for many centuries not unfavourable to the Columban 
Church, now began to grow wary of its growth and took gradual 
steps to suppress it. 

The Culdees, too, on the mainland were themselves learning 
"regular" ways and began to lose their individuality, but at 
Columba's shrine, and on the islands of the West, the non- Romish 
Church held its own for nearly a hundred years, while the Col- 
umbites were promptly ousted from their new centre at Dunkeld 
and replaced by an Anglo-Norman bishop, canons, and chapter. 


In 1 202 Reginald, Lord of the Isles, son or grandson of 
old Somerled who had wrested Iona from Norwegian sway, a 
faithful vassal of William the Lion King, trained at court in 
the ways of the new Scottish Church, rebuilt the crumbling 
walls of Iona's abbey and established under the same roof with 
the original colony a chapter of Black Friars or Benedictine 
Monks. A year later a deed of confirmation was sent by Pope 
John to Celestinus, abbot of St. Columba, on Hy. The Celtic 
community gradually adopted Benedictine rule and was ab- 
sorbed in" the new monastic establishment. Thus the all- 
engulfing power of Rome swallowed up the remnant of 
Columba's ancient church upon Iona. What was the fate of 
its dependencies in Wales and in the islands of the North, and 
how it is connected with the future growth of the English 
and Scottish church, it is not within the province of this rapid 
sketch to discuss. So far as Iona is concerned, the church of 
St. Columba from this date falls into line with the innumer- 
able host of English and Scottish abbeys as a regular monastic 

In the same year with the founding of the Benedictine 
Abbey of Iona, the Lord of the Isles established on the island 
a convent for nuns of the order of St. Augustine, and Beatrice, 
his sister, became first abbess of this second institution, only 
a stone's throw from Columba's shrine. No vestige, of course, 
remains of the material church of St. Columba's day. We 

IONA 2 1 

cannot be sure that it was built of enduring stuff. That 
there was a church building besides monastic edifices we 
know from the writings of St. Adamnan, a successor of St. 
Columba only seventy years later, which mention the monks 
going from one to the other, and describe the divine vision 
and death of St. Columba before the high altar. 

Of the later edifice built in stone by Abbot Cellach, no 
trace has yet been discovered ; even St. Oran's Chapel, long 
considered to be the sole remnant of St. Margaret's restora- 
tions, is now believed to be of later date. 

The earliest remains traceable, then, belong to Lord Regi- 
nald's buildings, and these are very fragmentary. They con- 
sist of a fair portion of the convent chapel and a small bit of 
stonework in the transept of the abbey. 

Both buildings are situated on the eastern slope of a low 
line of hills which afford almost no shelter from the bleak 
westerly and northerly winds. 

To the east the site looks across the turbulent water of 
Iona Sound, dotted with black rocks and little islets around 
which the surf breaks in broad white fringes. Afar off one 
may descry the lofty dome of Ben More towering into the 
clouds from the isle of Mull, and in the opposite direction the 
"Coolin Hills of Skye" rise ethereal among the ever present 
clouds, which drift majestically by, now veiling, now revealing, 
their purple, craggy peaks. 


Aside from the sweeping grandeur of the inspiring view 
there is little of beauty in the actual site of St. Columba's 
abbey or Lord Reginald's convent. Between the two lies 
Reilig Odkrain, an almost level stretch of ground thickly cov- 
ered with gravestones and monumental slabs. These represent 
almost every age of Pictish, Scottish, and English art-history, 
from the curiously wrought carvings of the Celtic slabs to the 
mail-clad warriors of the Middle Ages and even down to 
modern gravestones. Here rests the dust, so we are told, of 
forty-eight kings of Scotland, eight kings of Norway, four 
kings of Ireland, and one of France, besides countless numbers 
of chiefs and clansmen. 

Along the way from this ancient place of burial to the 
abbey are a few remnants of the Celtic crosses for which 
the island was once so famous. One of these, called St. Mar- 
tin's Cross, still intact with its intricate and characteristic 
ornament, stands solitary in front of the abbey, some sixty of 
its brothers having been thrown into the sea by the Reformers, 
while several hundred others have disappeared in unknown 
ways from the island since the palmy days of Celtic Christian- 
ity. Some thirty still exist on the mainland, having been 
carried from Iona to Argyleshire centuries ago. 

As viewed from the tombs of the kings, the nunnery pre- 
sents a pile of late Norman fragments, round arched and 
sturdy, though fallen greatly to decay, while the abbey, far 



better preserved, raises its majestic tower of steep gables in 
the latest style of the Gothic. On approaching the abbey we 
find the outer walls and tower of the church, a structure of 
moderate size, in an excellent state of preservation. The edi- 
fice consisted, as the plan indicates, of a simple sanctuary to 


the east, a long choir with side aisle on the south and sacristy 
on the north, projecting transepts screened off from the choir, 
and a long nave of plain and simple design. To the north 
stretches a well-preserved quadrangle of monastic buildings, 
chapels, chapter house, and refectory, and beyond these a ram- 
bling range of outer structures representing the various offices 
of the monastery. 



The choir, from its ground plan, would not seem to pre- 
sent any new or peculiar features, but the moment one enters 
it by the narrow doorway in the late, ill-built screen, he sees 
that this is no usual form of arrangement. The main body of 

A. Nave. 


Cloister Court. 

B. Choir. 


Abbot's Fat lour. 

O.C. Transepts. 


Chapter House. 

D. Sacristy. 



£,£. South Akle 


the choir extends somewhat beyond the side structure, and is 
lighted on three sides at the sanctuary end, as is common, its 
east window being filled with a late form of decorated tracery. 
But the side aisle to the south and the sacristy opposite pre- 
sent remarkable innovations, most interesting to study despite 



the fact that they are of very late construction. The former 
consists of three bays divided from the choir by two piers of 
circular section with banded capitals richly and most interest- 
ingly though crudely carved. The aisle is spanned by two 


low flying buttresses heavily weighted ,at the top, springing 
from near the ground and abutting, thq^qhoir wall just above 
the capitals of the piers. These . low, arches, give the aisle an 
extremely depressed and confined appearance, .so that it looks 


like a triforium gallery of some larger churches, but the mouldings 
of the under side of the low arches, combined with the carved 
capitals, give an effect of greater antiquity than the ruin can 
claim. "The aisle is of course roofless and otherwise damaged 
in its outer walls, but it is still a very interesting development 
of aisle building, and raises the question whether or not the 
choir itself was originally intended to have a vault which these 
arches were meant to support. 

The form of the other side aisle — for so it may be looked 
upon in plan — is even more unusual; it consists of but two 
bays and these opposite the easternmost bays of the other 
aisle, there being no bay adjoining the transept. The sacristy 
itself was a low apartment opening upon the choir by a small, 
rather richly decorated doorway. Above this apartment was 
a lofty gallery opening upon the choir by two large pointed 
arches divided by a tall column. This is described by archae- 
ologists as a " singing gallery," and is a feature found in a 
number of late churches in this very position — over the 

The general effect of the choir, then, is far from symmetri- 
cal, though exceedingly picturesque. 

The transepts project well on either side and have no aisles ; 
at the crossing are four large piers which support the cen- 
tral tower. The southern arm is lighted by a traceried pointed 
window of good size, and an arch opens into the choir aisle of 



the two screens which separate the transept from the choir 
and nave; that to the east is modern. 

The northern arm has rather more architectural character. 
In its east wall are two deep chapels with a small deeply 


splayed window in each and a niche between them. These 
chapels are provided with engaged colonettes and mouldings. 
The wall at this point is extremely thick, and its construction, 


together with the lower courses of the tower pier adjoining, 
is quite different from that of the other portions of the church. 
It is quite transitional in character and doubtless dates from 
the first Benedictine structure of Lord Reginald. A diminu- 
tive door leads from the transept out to the cloister which is 
particularly interesting, preserving, as it does, the only exist- 
ing cloister arch in any of these ruined abbeys. This is in 
the southwestern angle of the court, is of semicircular form 
and very plain. It is not difficult to restore in the mind's eye 
the full rectangle of arcades with their sloping roof of wood, 
and to imagine the solemn company of monks as they took 
their morning constitutional round and round to the droning 
hum of Ave Marias and Pater Nosters. 

The eastern range remains entire in its ground story. There 
is adjoining the transept a small apartment with a fireplace, 
called, from this rare display of a medium of comfort, the 
abbot's parlour. 

Next to this comes the chapter house, which consists of 
a sort of anteroom which constituted the original chapter 
house, and a longer room beyond, separated from the first by 
two arches supported by a column and provided on either side 
with a row of four niches which seem to have answered for 
stalls or seats for the clergy. This building retains its vault- 
ing and is believed to have contained the scriptorium or the 
library in its upper story. How interesting to find even par- 

IONA 29 

tially preserved the treasure house of that great collection of 
books which in its day had almost no rival in Europe! Ad- 
joining this is a chamber corresponding to the abbot's parlour, 
but of no particular interest. 

The northern range of the cloister is almost wholly occu- 
pied by a long building, originally two-storied and still preserv- 
ing two rows of windows, which was doubtless the refectory. 

It has been suggested that the lower floor consisted of 
storerooms, and that the refectory was above, where the win- 
dows are quite large and fine. 

Opposite this building is the long plain wall of the nave. 
This is the least interesting part of the ruin. It is of simplest 
plan, aisleless, poorly built, and altogether of poor and late work- 
manship. To the left of the facade are two more interesting 
little structures, the first a diminutive chamber with a tiny look- 
out window, called the porter's lodge, and it may readily have 
answered such a purpose. 

Next to this is a small chapel quite unattractive but for 
two much dilapidated sarcophagi of stone which the natives of 
the island love to dignify as the coffins of St. Columba and 
his faithful servant, Diarmaid. The coffins have certainly an 
appearance of great age, but the student is rather sceptical of 
their immediate connection with the great saint. 

Their location alone would cast suspicion upon their au- 


Far toward the north stretches a miscellaneous collection 
of buildings of different ages. That nearest the refectory is 
called the kitchen, the use of the others is not even hinted at. 

Almost all of the work as it stands is of fifteenth-century 
and sixteenth-century style and construction, though this may 
have been carried out on plans of great antiquity. Most of 
this work was done at about the time that Iona Abbey became 
the seat of the See of the Isles and was elevated to the rank 
of a cathedral. 

Iona escaped the greatest part of the Reformation troubles 
and fell to ruins by the unaided hands of time and weather. 
This would at once be imagined when we stand at a distance 
from the abbey on the rocky eminence to the south, for the 
old cathedral with its far extending buildings, its unbroken 
walls, its fine battlemented tower with its great square windows 
of plate tracery, appears almost intact but for its roofs. The 
tower just mentioned is one of unusual picturesqueness and 
grace, and the tracery of the belfry windows, patterned in vari- 
ous geometrical designs, is well worthy of notice. 

It is easy to see that the abbey was spared the fury of the 
Reformers, and that there has been little temptation to turn it 
into a quarry, because its neighbours are so few and so far away. 

We cannot leave Iona without special notice of its sculp- 
ture. This, though sparingly used, is extremely quaint, and in 
its crudeness and its use of animal forms and grotesqueness 



would suggest a Romanesque origin; but any such theory 
must be abandoned when we examine the structure of the archi- 
tecture of which it is a part, which is undeniably of late, even 
very late, date. The subjects represent many scenes from Scrip- 
ture story, and are treated in a light, gay manner which is quite 
amusing. Where foliage is employed it is also very much in 


the style of Norman work, and it is difficult to assign a reason 
for the late appearance here of such old forms unless we con- 
clude that the sculpture is purely a product of Iona's soil, where 
ancient Celtic carving and later Norman workmanship were to 
the insular artists their only inspiration. 

Between the abbey and the landing lie two buildings of 
considerable interest. The first is St. Oran's Chapel, long 


believed, as we have said, to be the sole remnant of Queen 
Margaret's restoration upon the island. It is a simple gabled 
structure of oblong plan with a heavily moulded, round-arched 
doorway, which misled the older archaeologists to connect its 
construction with that of the little chapel of St. Margaret at 
Edinburgh Castle ; but a closer examination will show the 
impossibility of the comparison. Within the chapel are a num- 
ber of decorated niche tombs of abbots and temporal lords, 
and its floor was originally covered with grave slabs. The 
chapel cannot be earlier than the thirteenth or fourteenth cen- 

Further along on our return to the harbour stand the scant 
ruins of the convent, where heaps of foundations show the lines 
and extent of the original structure. All that remains of the 
little abbey is in the late Norman or early transitional style, 
and shows what the form and style of the other abbey must 
have been in the founder's time. The only portion of interest 
is the little church building, of which a small part remains in- 
tact. It consisted of a nave with a single aisle to the north, 
separated from the main body of the church by a round-arched 
arcade resting upon columns of plain Norman design. The 
clerestory, which was superposed immediately above the main 
arcade, had windows of very small proportions over each of the 
columns and not over the arches as was the usual plan. To 
the east was a small square vaulted compartment which an- 

IONA 33 

swered the purpose of a sanctuary. The remains of the vault 
are plainly visible, though it has long been destroyed. 

Beside the sanctuary in a diminutive chapel is a curious 
effigy marking the tomb of the last abbess, Anna, who had 
given her substance to the tottering convent in vain. 

This establishment was done away with at the time of the 
Reformation, and seems to have suffered some violence which 
for some unknown reason was spared the cathedral. 

The day of pilgrimages to Iona has returned. During all 
the summer hundreds of interested tourists, and some less 
interested, flock from all lands to see the remnant of St. 
Columba's great abbey, and within a few years extensive cele- 
brations of Columban anniversaries have been held upon the 
island, in which Catholics and Protestants took part, each on 
their appointed day. Again the uncovered host, the uplifted 
chalice, the solemn words of the mass, have blessed the bleak 
uncovered walls of the abbey ; again the note of praise, the 
sound of anthems, has rung through its silent depths. So long 
as Christianity endures, the name of St. Columba will be re- 
vered ; and so long as the name of Columba lives, Iona shall 
not be again forgotten. 



Perhaps no town in all Scotland, excepting only Edinburgh, 
figured so prominently in the early portions of Scottish national 
history as Dunfermline; surely not one ever so vied with the 
capital in royal favour as did this nearest of neighbours, only a 
few miles distant north of the Frith of Forth. It was Malcolm 
Canmore who, early in the eleventh century, first brought this 
burgh into fame by building his castle upon its precipitous hill- 
side and designating it as the future place of royal sepulture 
instead of the long-famous isle of Iona. Accordingly almost 
all of the kings of Scotland, from Malcolm to the Bruce, were 
buried here, besides a host of princes and persons of rank and 

To the castle which Malcolm had just built he invited the 
fugitive royal family of England, driven from the throne by the 
Conqueror, and here he soon espoused one of those fugitives, 
the gentle Princess Margaret. 

The advent of the English royal family to the Scottish capital 
was the beginning of a new order of things in manners and 




mode of life, not only at court, but by degrees throughout the 
Kingdom. Under the influence of the newly made queen, we 
learn from her chaplain and biographer, Turgot, the bold Mal- 
colm soon founded a church which was to be the locum sepul- 
tures regium. 

Like most churches of its day, this was the central feature of 
a monastery, and it is interesting to notice that, even at this 
date, the inmates were not to be imported from across the border 
whence the queen had so recently been driven; that, though 
she had been brought up under the strongest influences of the 
Roman Church, the monks were not chosen from any of the 
English monasteries, which were all under papal sway, but from 
Iona, the centre of Scottish Christianity, a centre quite inde- 
pendent of Rome. It remained for Margaret's son David to 
import English canons to Dunfermline as to almost all of the 
Scottish abbeys. Thirteen Culdees were accordingly established 
upon the new foundation, and the church edifice and monastic 
buildings were at once begun. In 1075 a part of the church 
seems to have been completed, for in that year it was dedicated 
to the Holy Trinity, and Queen Margaret's wish was accom- 

The site which Malcolm and Margaret chose for their monas- 
tery was one of the most imposing in Scotland, on the summit 
of a steep hill sloping toward the south, with a superb panorama 
of the lowlands stretching away to the Frith of Forth and far 


beyond toward the hills of Lothian. To those approaching 
from the south the towers of the abbey were long a landmark 
rising like a crown above their lofty base. For eighteen years 
the future of the abbey looked very bright, but with the death 
of Malcolm in 1093 came troublous times for Scotland, and work 
upon the church proceeded very slowly. The unfortunate king 
was not even buried in the new tomb which he had constructed, 
but far away in the monastery of Tynemouth. But in the same 
year Queen Margaret, dying of a broken heart at the loss of 
her husband and son, was the first of the royal family to be 
interred in the new church. It is recorded that the edifice was 
completed in 1 1 1 5 by Alexander I., second son of Malcolm. 

This prince, in any event, brought the remains of his father 
from Tynemouth and deposited them, with great ceremony, 
beside those of his mother in the vault in front of the high 
altar of Dunfermline. Later the abbey was greatly enriched by 
David I. and enlarged in 1 1 24 for the reception of thirteen 
Benedictine monks from Canterbury; in 11 28 Gaufrid of Can- 
terbury was consecrated first abbot. 

It is very difficult to determine which portions of the 
present structure are part of Malcolm's original church begun 
in 1075 and finished by Alexander, his son, in 11 15, and which 
belong to the additions and improvements of David's time. 
Two theories have been advanced which seem almost equally 
tenable. The greater number of Scottish antiquarians seem 



to believe, and all the guide-books state, that the splendid 
Norman nave, with its two rows of magnificent piers and its 
heavy walls, is the original building of Malcolm and Margaret; 
that the present nave constituted the entire church of that 
period, a simple basilical church with possibly a curved apse 

A. Navo. 

B. Cloister Court. 
0. Refectory, 
P. Site of Choir. 
£. Site of Chapter 


F. Abbott's Towor. 

G. Royal Kitchen. 
H. St. Katharine's 

K. Wont Portal. 
L. North Porch. 
M. Staging Gallery. 
P. Ancient Royal 


(see plan). Some of the more recent 

critics, on the other hand, hold that the 

present nave is too good for Malcolm's time; that no portion 

of his church remains, it having been torn down to make 

room for the thirteenth-century choir; that the dignified piers 

and arches of the nave are the result of David's enrichments. 

Both opinions are well founded ; for, from the first point of 
view, the original royal vault which is recorded to have been 


in front of the high altar, or below it, as would have been 
most natural, is between the easternmost piers of the nave 
(see plan). The church begun with considerable splendour by 
Malcolm was not finished at his death, but was completed in 
less prosperous times by his sons, and this nave, with its 
richly adorned main arcade and outer walls, has a triforium and 
clerestory of painful plainness and crudeness. On the other 
side, you may say that it would have been an unheard-of 
innovation in ecclesiastical architecture to begin building a 
church with the nave, or to turn the original sanctuary into 
the nave. 

When one comes to the question of style, he is as much 
in the dark as ever; for it is almost impossible to judge of 
period by style in Scotland. The exterior of this nave has 
been altered almost beyond recognition, but within we have 
one of the finest specimens of a Norman interior in Great 
Britain. Two rows of lofty cylindrical piers carry arches com- 
posed of rich Norman mouldings; not only is this arcade one 
of unusually fine and imposing proportions, but some of the 
piers are ornamented with .patterns in incised lines, and the 
archivolts are enriched with a simple but elegant design. 
The supports are in no sense columns; they are built up of 
many courses of stone and their base is the simplest of mould- 
ings curved round the bottom above a square plinth, and what 
might be called the capital is a simple cushion with eight 



flutings under an octagonal abacus. The outer wall has its 
responds of plain engaged columns of severest Norman design; 



small, round-headed windows and a wall arcade of narrow 
arches, ornamented with the zigzag pattern and resting upon 


plain colonettes. The vaults are probably a little later but 
still Romanesque. Above the main arcade is the barest row 
of triforium arches, of sufficient height not to impair the 
dignity of the lower story, but entirely unadorned, and a clere- 
story wall equally plain, pierced with small windows. The 
ceiling is of course of wood, several having succeeded each 
other in the abbey's history, owing to the perishableness of 
the material, but a beautiful mediaeval structure of oak was in 
place until the early part of this century, when Sir Walter 
Scott made a visit to Dunfermline. So charmed was he with 
its beauty that it soon went to adorn the ceilings and walls 
of Abbotsford. It is impossible to understand how the anti- 
quarian poet and romancer, who did more than any one has 
ever done to preserve to us the finest specimens of Scottish 
mediaeval art, could have allowed himself to be so tempted. 
The construction which superseded the ancient roof is any- 
thing but beautiful or appropriate. 

The ground story, as can be seen from the drawing, at 
once suggests Durham Cathedral, and some authorities lose 
no time in placing it after that edifice. Durham was not 
begun until 1093 and was not roofed in until about 11 30; but 
there is a striking resemblance between the two interiors, in 
the lofty proportions of the ground-story arcade, and in the 
incised decoration of the cylindrical piers and the octagonal 
fluted capitals. The cylindrical pier was used very extensively 


in the early Norman churches of the North, much more than 
in the South. We find it at Carlisle as well as at Durham, 
at Kelso, at Lindisfarne and even at St. Magnus in the Ork- 
neys; but the use of the incised pattern was not so common, 
though we find it at Lindisfarne, just off the coast of Berwick. 
Many theories have been advanced to explain its origin. The 
most probable is that it was a design borrowed from the 
earlier churches which the Norman builders replaced. 

It does not seem absolutely necessary, then, to place Dun- 
fermline after Durham, but quite possible to make the two 
about contemporaneous, both taking suggestions from the same 
source, and to give Dunfermline the advantage of a few years' 
start. Durham is, of course, a far more highly articulated 
structure, and much richer in design, taken as a whole, but 
there is sufficient resemblance between them to warrant our 
belief that both are derived from the same parent stock. I do 
not wish to take one whit of his fame as a church builder 
from the saintly King David, but it seems to me that the 
Romanesque of his day was somewhat different from this, — 
lighter and more ornate. At Kelso, which is one of the few 
extant examples of his many buildings, we have circular piers, 
but with columns engaged on three faces, and cushion caps 
with many flutings. The wall arcades, too, there are interlaced 
and far more ornate than those at Dunfermline. To David's 
time it is easy to assign the aisle vaults and the west front 



with its flanking towers, so far as it preserves its Norman 
character. The main western doorway is of great interest, a 


spacious portal of five recessed arches, preserved entire. The 
elaborate ornament of the arches has for the most part weath- 
ered away, though it is possible to see in the voussoirs of the 


outer arch a few of the twelve faces which alternate with 
carved floral designs and have been called the twelve apostles, 
though they are simply grotesques. The shafts of the colo- 
nettes have been restored with their bases, but the capitals are 
quite intact and show considerable variety of design. The 
whole portal is fine in proportion and rich in execution. 
The nave had two other portals, not in the facade, but open- 
ing north and south from the first bay east of the towers. 
That to the north opened toward the town and was later pro- 
vided with an elaborate porch. The other opened upon the 
cloister. The hideous buttresses which mar the exterior of 
the nave were built between 1585 and 1675. 

Early in the thirteenth century a period of great strength 
began for the abbey; a new and spacious choir was built in 
1 231, application for funds was made to Pope Gregory IX., 
and the number of canons was increased from thirty to fifty. 

The king, Alexander II., called the " Peaceful," and his 
queen, Johanna, both showered favours and gifts upon the 
"house," although they had chosen Melrose as their last 

The monastic buildings were greatly extended, until under 
Alexander III. the institution became one of the largest and 
most powerful in the North. 

It was under this monarch that the relics of St. Margaret 
were translated to the new shrine while elaborate preparations 


were made for a new place of royal sepulture. *Upon the death 
of Alexander in 1286, and that of his only heir, the " Maid 
of Norway," four years later, Scotland was plunged into the 
well-known bloody strife between the descendants of David I., 
through the Earl of Huntington, that made the country an 
easy prey to the ambitious schemes of the English sovereign. 
Dunfermline was among the first of the religious houses north 
of the Forth to suffer the violence of the invading hosts. 

In 1303 the domestic portion of the monastery suffered 
great damage during the invasion of Edward I., but was 
quickly restored under King Robert Bruce. After this the 
abbey enjoyed comparative tranquillity until its destruction in 
1560. Of the most important structure of this period — the 
portions of the church east of the nave — almost no vestige 
remains. A faint memory of its form is preserved in some 
poor seventeenth-century sketches and of its details in the 
merest fragments of the eastern end still in situ. From these 
we infer that there must have been a broad transept with a 
tower above the crossing, a spacious choir of six bays, and 
joined to the east end of this a Lady Chapel. The northern 
choir aisle seems to have been flanked by a row of chapels or 
perhaps a secondary aisle, giving great width to this part of 
the church. 

This must have been a very imposing structure, built as it 
was during the best period of the Early English style in the 


North, with its lofty tower pierced by two stories of tall pointed 
windows, its buttresses and pinnacles, and far more beautiful 
from the exterior than the mother church. Some idea of the 
richness of its decorations may be had from the remnant of 
the Lady Chapel, where the bases of colonettes and the mould- 
ings display the use of the " nail-head " and other designs of 
Early English ornament. It was to this Lady Chapel (of 
which only the base mouldings and the base of the arcade are 
extant) that the bodies of the sainted Queen Margaret and her 
spouse were brought in 1250. 

The shrine of St. Margaret had grown steadily in popular 
esteem as the resort of pilgrims ever since her interment and 
later canonization. As the number of miracles worked by the 
royal relics increased and as the fame of the shrine spread in 
both kingdoms, the number of pilgrims became each year 
larger and more important, until an almost continuous line of 
devotees could be seen upon the road between the " Queen's 
Ferry " and the abbey, while pilgrims' crosses marked the roads 
that led to the shrine for miles around. The number of gifts 
grew proportionally with that of the pilgrims, so that it was 
found necessary for convenience, and possible from a financial 
standpoint, to erect a more commodious and richer shrine. 
The Lady Chapel was accordingly built, and a superb relic 
tomb erected within it. A high feast marked the translation 
of the sacred bones from their old resting-place, and a curious 


tradition accounts for the removal of the king's bones as well 
as those of his sainted spouse. 

With all the pomp and pageantry of a most holy function, 
the relics of the saint were raised from their resting-place; and, 
with a cortege of kings, princes, high ecclesiastical dignitaries, 
and nobles of every degree, the solemn procession toward their 
new abode began. 

Between the easternmost piers of the old church, rich with 
their incised ornament and brilliant with colour, was the tomb 
of Malcolm Canmore. As the gorgeous coffin of the saint- 
queen passed between these columns and reached the sarcopha- 
gus of her husband, it became so heavy that those who bore 
it were compelled to lay it down, nor could they by any force 
raise or move it an inch further. The portent and the delay 
caused great consternation among those in the pompous train, 
until it was proposed that the coffin of the king be moved too, 
when both at once became so light as almost to have moved 
of their own accord to their final resting-place. The presence 
of uncanonized bones by the side of the sainted ones is thus 
counted no profanation, and the " unbelieving husband is saved 
by the believing wife." The shattered slab of imported gray 
marble filled with fossils, still to be seen on the site of the 
Lady Chapel, is a part of the original shrine, and still covers 
the place where so long reposed the remains of the royal saint 
and her kingly husband. The six holes regularly disposed along 


the sides of the slab doubtless were sockets to receive the 
bottoms of marble or metal colonettes which supported the 
canopy of the shrine, which was, in all probability, not unlike 
that of Edward the Confessor, — an almost contemporaneous 
structure in Westminster Abbey, — except that the coffin was 
not elevated. 

In front of the altar of the new choir a new royal vault 
was made for future burials, the older one having become 
crowded ; and, the most important relics having been removed 
from here to the Lady Chapel, the less sacred bones were 
allowed to rest in their original position. A large share of its 
sanctity thus passed from the old church to the new, though 
mass was constantly said and lights perennially burned above 
the old locum sepultures regium until Reformation times. 

When the king died he was unquestionably laid in the new 

vault, although Scott says, 

" Long since, beneath Dunfermline's nave, 
King Alexander fills his grave," 

referring to the " third monarch of that warlike name," in his 
encounter with the goblin knight. 

Under Alexander III. (d. 1286) the abbey reached the 
zenith of its greatness, from which it descended but little until 
after the reign of the Bruce. During this time the church 
became the site of the most magnificent monuments in Scot- 
land. The tombs of all the great kings were here, even of 


Bruce himself. The shrine of St. Margaret was more and 
more enriched, nobles vied with each other in erecting for 
themselves tombs of the greatest splendour; in short, Dunferm- 
line became the Westminster Abbey of Scotland. Then came 
the Reformation, and though this church seems to have sur- 
vived the wholesale destruction of ecclesiastical buildings under 
Henry VIII., it was completely wrecked by the Covenanters, 
who, in 1560, pulled down the choir, and in iconoclastic fury 
broke the tombs and smashed the effigies. Little by little the 
burghers allowed the ruined building to fall until the very 
site of Bruce's splendid shrine was lost to memory. Little by 
little they preyed upon the ruin of their greatest national monu- 
ment for building materials, until, in 1818, only a portion of the 
north wall remained standing. In this year the site was cleared, 
and the foundation of a new house of worship, upon substan- 
tially the lines of the old choir and transept, was laid by the 
Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, the famous earl who brought 
the Parthenon sculptures to London, saving them, perhaps, 
from complete destruction, perhaps from one of the continental 

The building of the " New Abbey Church " makes one of 
the saddest chapters in the history of the abbey. It was com- 
pleted in 1 82 1, its period of building being the poorest in the 
architectural history of Great Britain, when the Gothic had not 
been studied and the Victorian Gothic not developed. It is 



a disheartening piece of design, full of false proportions, its 
mouldings within and without being absolutely flat and often 
uncarved. It is altogether a fitting monument to those who 
pulled down its predecessor and 
destroyed the monuments of an 
age whose glories they themselves 
could not attain. 

One fortunate circumstance was 
the outcome of this rebuilding, — 
the discovery, among the old debris, 
of the body of King Robert the 
Bruce, wrapt in a leaden shroud 
lined with fragments of cloth of 
gold. A careful examination of the 
skeleton revealed that the bones of 
the breast had been cut through 
for the removal of the heart, which 
was done to the body of Bruce for 
his friend, the loyal Sir James 
Douglas, to whom Bruce had given 
the commission to bear his heart 
to the Holy Land. 

His remains, having been thus identified beyond a doubt, 
were given the place of honour in the new building, and the 
tower thereof heralds the fact in early nineteenth-century fash- 



ion, its balustrade being wrought of colossal letters which 
spell the words " King Robert the Bruce." A rather more 
fitting monument has marked the spot where Bruce lies buried, 
since 1889 — a simple brass designed in mediaeval style inlaid 
upon a slab of Egyptian porphyry. The king is represented 
in the characteristic attitude of mediaeval brasses, crowned 
and in chain armour. At his left side are the famous two- 
handed sword and a shield bearing the rampant lion of Scot- 
land. His feet rest upon a lion couchant, and other heraldic 
emblems make up the design of the brass. 

Of the monastic buildings there remains an interesting 
portion which belongs to the thirteenth-century period: it is 
not possible to say definitely whether it belongs to the early 
part of the century or to the reconstruction under Bruce, 
but the evidence would lead to the opinion that the major 
part is of the earlier date, with details executed early in the 
fourteenth century. These remains are situated directly across 
the ancient cloister court to the south of the nave, and repre- 
sent a portion of the refectory with the abbot's tower, as it is 
called, which was built upon an arched passage above the ancient 
road leading up to the abbey, and was connected with the kitch- 
ens of the Royal Palace. This portion of the abbey stood on 
the very edge of the precipitous hillside up which the road wound 
in a gradual but steep incline. The lower side of the " fratry," 
or refectory, has two stories below the level of the cloister. 



ft* ~wA 

JThTh-I-i kj 


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In the drawing made from the parapet over the roadway 
one may see the three stories of the refectory, with the abbot's 
tower above the road beyond. The lower story is vaulted and 
was probably the cellar of the abbey ; the next is also covered 
with vaults and may have been the kitchen; small windows 
may be seen opening out from these levels. Above all was 
the refectory, with its long row of tall pointed windows and its 
great traceried window toward the west. Near the opposite 
end of the wall, built out between the buttresses and sus- 
pended upon arches, is a small vaulted compartment with 
two narrow openings outward and two inward upon the hall; 
this is called the " music gallery," but may have been the 
place from which one of the brethren read the Scriptures 
while the others were at meat. At the western end of the 
wall the similar space between the buttresses was utilized for 
a staircase from below, but not extending above the refectory 
windows. In the western wall are two doors, one leading 
into a small octagonal tower which once had a staircase, the 
other opening upon the abbot's tower and communicating 
with the royal kitchen, to the bounty of which the monks had 
certain stipulated rights. 

Throughout the early history of the abbey these rights 
were strictly observed ; but as the abbey grew and the num- 
ber of monks and penitents increased, this privilege became 
a great annoyance to the royal purveyor and a constant drain 


upon the royal purse, until Alexander II. cut off this time- 
honoured source of supply and granted to the monastery the 
lands of Dollar as a substitute. 

Of the refectory all the lower portions are plainly of early 
thirteenth-century construction, and the southern wall, from 
the remnants of tracery which it preserves, with the excep- 
tion of that in the " music gallery," which is evidently of later 
date, would seem to belong to the same period. The western 
wall, with its broad, low-arched window and beautiful tracery, 
is doubtless a part of Bruce's restoration ; for, though far from 
being perpendicular, it is neither flowing nor plainly geometri- 
cal. The abbot's tower is of older construction. Its position 
making uncommon solidity a necessity, it has outlasted many 
buildings of its age. 




Perhaps the most familiar 
of the ancient monastic edifices 
of Scotland, next to Melrose 
Abbey, is Holyrood Chapel, the 
ruined remnant of the once 
powerful abbey of Holyrood. 
It is now in the city of Edin- 
burgh, though at the time of its 
founding it was beyond the farthest outskirts. It stands well 
at the southeast of the city, at the end of the Canongate, com- 
pletely hidden, as you approach it, by the buildings of the 
Royal Palace, which through centuries was permitted to en- 
croach upon its ancient neighbour until the more modern 
walls have crowded the black and crumbling ones sadly into 
the background. 

Of the extensive mediaeval monastery with its great church, 
its spacious cloisters, and its far-stretching cluster of ecclesi- 
astical buildings, nothing is left but a portion of the church 





A. Nave. 

B. Site of Crossing. 
0. One of [lie West- 
on Towers. 

D. West Portal. 

E. Falaoo. 

F. Cloister. 

edifice, including the west front, the high, enclosing walls of 
the nave, a portion of the main arcade, and fragments of single 

piers ; but it is not difficult to trace 

the main outlines of the church in 

/i the smooth green that surrounds the 

■ ruin — these show the plan to have 

™f included broad transepts and a 

choir of considerable length. The 

steps leading up to the high altar 

at the line of the sanctuary are 

e still visible in two little terraces. 

An imaginary reconstruction of 
the whole church upon the lines 
thus furnished, in addition to the 
preserved nave of seven bays, would give a building of imposing 
dimensions, comparing favourably in size with some of the larger 
English abbeys. When the choir and transepts were demol- 
ished (1596), the nave was provided with an eastern wall; the 
high east window in this wall, intact even to its tracery, fills 
the entire expanse between the eastern piers and below the 
lofty transverse arch, which was originally the westernmost 
arch of the crossing and one of the main arches of the great 
central tower; beneath this the new high altar was placed. 
This wall and its window are hung with a rich drapery of ivy 




vine and an exquisite carpet of greensward is spread before 
the site of the new altar. 

The south aisle is the best preserved portion of the ruin ; 
all of its vaults are still in position, with the piers and arches 
of the main arcade and the triforium gallery. 

Three distinct styles are to be found among the fragments 
of broken wall and pier: the 
Norman, the early pointed, and 
the seventeenth-century Gothic 
of some of the restorations. 

The Norman work, while 
not the most conspicuous, con- 
stitutes a fair portion of the 
ruin. It comprises a part of 
the south wall, where are pre- 
served the windows * of the first 
two bays west of the cross- 
ing, and a doorway, now 
walled up, that led from the 
nave into the cloister. It 
can be seen only from the 

The next oldest portion 


is found m the opposite point 3 on pi an . 

1 These are apparently late reproductions of preexisting Norman windows. 


wall, where an arcade of rich interlaced round arches illustrates 
the first steps toward the transition. Two periods of Roman- 
esque style are thus represented in these few fragments, quite 
distinct and well defined though incorporated .in the same 

The doorway just alluded to is low, but provided with a 
full set of rich, early Norman mouldings originally carried by 
colonettes, the cushion caps of which still remain. The pro- 
portions of this portal and the early type of ornament would 
place it among the specimens of earlier Norman work, while 
the fragment of arcade on the opposite side of the nave would 
seem to belong to a considerably later date. It is not unusual 
to find earlier and later developments of the same style in the 
several parts of a building; but it is impossible to account 
for this change of style manifested in the same portion of an 
edifice, for the differences are not between the upper and 
lower parts of the structure nor yet between the eastern and 
western, but hopelessly mixed together as if the building of 
the church had been arrested by some catastrophe. The two 
periods which figure here are such as might easily represent 
the work of the beginning and end of the reign of David I. 
It has been suggested that the fragments of early Norman 
at the east end of the nave may indicate that the choir and 
transepts were in that style. The remainder of the ruin is 
all in the early pointed style; and the portions destroyed 


seem also to have been of the same character, so that, in 
all probability, we have most of the relics of the original 
structure that survived the first rebuilding. This Gothic 
structure was built upon the lines of the older Norman 


S»v> '■■ 

Point 2 on Plan. 

church, at least so far as the nave is concerned; for here 
we have early work on both sides. The seven bays are of 
the most dignified design, showing a highly articulated struc- 
ture, richly though not profusely decorated. The wall arcades 
of this period are single-arched and acutely pointed; their 


mouldings and capitals are quite different in character from 
those of the earlier arcade. They are rich and deeply cut, 
the capitals being of flowing foliate design. The piers con- 
sist of a number of slender shafts engaged with a heavy pier. 
The inside shafts are carried through a small capital, little 
more than a moulding, to the springing of the main vault 
ribs. At the triforium a moulding breaks round them. The 
use of these shafts is quite in the manner of those in some 
of the best French Gothic models. 

The undoubted use of vaults of stone over the central 
alley of the nave adds greatly to the architectural interest 
of this church. This involved a much higher order of con- 
structive principles than was exercised in the building of the 
majority of these abbeys, and it seems to have been carried 
out with the greatest success. Besides the cluster of vault- 
ing shafts which we have seen carried up from the pavement 
to support the downward pressures of the vault ribs there 
was also an elaborate system, as we shall see, of exterior but- 
tresses to meet the outward thrust of the vaults, and this of 
necessity influenced the whole character of the building. 

The arches of the main arcade are, of course pointed, and 
provided with pure Gothic mouldings. Above the moulding 
which crowns the main story, runs the fine arcade of pointed 
arches which constituted the triforium, and above this, at the 
extreme ends, we can still see the engaged colonettes of the 


clerestory, which must have been high enough to have filled 
the nave with a flood of light. Here, then, we have a fully 
articulated Gothic structure, with the soaring height and grace- 
ful proportions that belong to the Gothic. 

What the form of the high vaults was we can only judge 
from a few bits of vault rib still clinging to the clerestory wall 
and from that of the vaults of the side aisles. 

The side-aisle vaults, like the arches, are much higher than 
usual, higher even in proportion than many of the Gothic vaults 
in England. The plan of the vaults is a perfectly simple, square, 
cross-form; the plan upon which all French Gothic low vaults 
were built. The ribs which support them rest upon engaged 
columns which are, in every case, brought to the ground by a 
slender shaft. The ribs themselves are delicately moulded and 
perfectly fitted. The plan of the high vaults, as suggested by 
the arrangement of piers, the use of shafts above the arches, 
between the piers, and the fragments of wall ribs preserved at 
their springing, would seem to have been of the six-part order. 
In fact, these vaults are not unlike some of the best specimens 
of Early English type, like those of the cathedral of Salisbury. 

Across the nave there remain standing only the aisle wall 
and two shattered piers of clustered shafts. The wall preserves 
the spacious pointed openings, some fine engaged shafts, ter- 
minating in delicate capitals of Early English work, and the 
exquisite Norman arcade of interlacing round arches with their 



slender colonettes. Above the wall tower square buttresses 
with simple pinnacles. Just above the line of the wall, on the 
inner face of each buttress, can be seen the set-off from which 
sprang a flying buttress which spanned the aisle roof to meet the 


thrust of the high vaults. The buttresses from which these half- 
arches sprang are very deep, so that the whole system of vault 
support from shaft and rib to buttress is admirably illustrated. 

The west front, flanked by two massive towers, underwent 
extensive restoration in the time of Charles I., but there 


are still to be found a few bits of Early English work in the 
varied and delicate carving of the portal and the sculptured 
arcade with deeply carved heads in its spandrels. This main 
portal is in many respects very striking — there are few like 
it anywhere in the North. It is sharply pointed and deeply 
recessed, like French examples of the end of the twelfth cen- 
tury, and bears a striking resemblance to the French type in 
its form and proportions. The building up of the tympanum 
with a miniature arcade is quite in the manner of the Ile-de- 
France, the lintel carved with a frieze of angel heads suggests 
either French or Italian art, but the sculpture of the arch mould- 
ings, which includes twisted patterns and semi-geometrical de- 
signs, is entirely insular and indeed quite Scottish. Above the 
portal the facade is treated in later styles which belong chiefly 
to Charles I.'s renovation. The remaining tower is pierced 
with pointed double windows of Early English design. 

On the exterior from the north we notice that the buttresses 
are of later style than the wall within ; that the outer face of 
each is provided with a canopied niche, from which the statue 
has, of course, disappeared. 

Of the buildings which clustered about the cloister court 
on the south nothing whatever remains. The buttresses which 
extend out from the northern wall are on the south set far 
out from the wall, with which they are connected by low, broad 
semi-arches (flying buttresses) which span one side of the cloister 


walk. The outward thrusts of the high vaults are thus, on the 
north, carried to the earth by two sets of flying arches meeting 
at a buttress built in the aisle wall in a manner unique and in 
this particular usage very effective. 

The ruin as a whole is wonderfully imposing after we 
have passed through the cold flat arcades of the palace court 
and come at one step face to face with the rich deep shadows 
of the Middle Ages. 

The fire by which the abbey finally perished imparted a 
beautifully dark tone to the pile, a hue of sombre black, with 
which the bright green tints of the ivy clinging to the interior 
walls makes* a striking combination. 

Holyrood was one of the first abbeys established by 
David I. after his accession. A legend with variations as to 
details tells that a dense forest covered the spot where the 
abbey now stands, and that fine sport with bow and spear 
was to be had in the depths of its glades. The young king 
came often to this wood for the pleasures of the chase, 
and one day had started in pursuit of a royal stag, which, 
instead of darting off with hounds in full cry behind him, 
turned and dashed furiously toward the kingly huntsman, with 
a flaming cross blazing between his antlers. In response to a 
half-breathed call for divine aid, the cross miraculously passed 
into the king's hand, and the stag fled. The king in thank- 


fulness vowed a great church to be erected upon the site 
already consecrated by the divine vision. 

In 1 1 28 David granted a charter, and with munificent gifts 
at the hands of its founder the promised abbey materialized 
and grew rapidly; a broad clearing was made in the royal 
forest, and well-tilled fields soon spread out toward the hills 
to the east. The church and monastic buildings were begun, 
of course, in Norman style, and some fragments of the former 
still remain in situ, as we have seen, representing the primi- 
tive structure in somewhat crude style, with alterations carried 
out in a later period of David's reign and in better style. 

On account of its suburban situation and the wealth of 
its endowments, the abbey, from the first, was blessed with 
unusual prosperity. Its inmates, who were of the order of 
St. Augustine, built a magnificent church and gathered about 
their abbey a considerable town, which stretched away toward 
the city, from which it was long separated by a tract of open 
country. The holdings of the abbey, a broad expanse of meadow 
land and forest reaching as far as the top of Arthur's Seat, 
was called the abbey sanctuary, and, like the cities of refuge 
in Scripture, offered protection to fugitives from vengeance 
and from debt. 

The forests, well stocked with all kinds of game, offered 
excellent opportunities for the chase and became a favourite 
resort of the royal founder. This explains the early appear- 


ance of royal apartments in the abbey, which grew into the 
palace of Holyrood and finally became the state palace of the 

The original church, the Norman structure, was replaced in 
the thirteenth century by one in pointed style, of which the 
ruin, as we have it, is largely a part. We do not know why 
the great church in the Romanesque style was made to give 
place to a new one. It may have been in consequence of 
one of the many fires that the abbey suffered, or possibly 
only the result of the great revival in architecture that every- 
where followed the introduction of the pointed arch, when 
many fine buildings in the round-arch style were deliberately 
taken down. 

It is not possible to say just when this change took 
place, but comparing the forms and treatment of the details 
with buildings whose date is approximately known, we should 
place it at the end of William's reign, during which Arbroath 
was entirely built, and before the time of Alexander III., 
under whom a very rich treatment of Early English arose, 
that is, between 1210 and 1240. This edifice, one of the 
greatest in the North, was burned during the war with Eng- 
land under Richard II. in 1385. The abbey was restored 
after this disaster and used by the canons for over an hun- 
dred years. Many improvements were made in the structure 
and adornment of the abbey, particularly under the rule of 


Abbot Crawford, a wealthy ecclesiastic, who is said to have 
made handsome presents to the abbey. To the date of his 
administration (1460-83) many of the later enrichments of the 
architecture seem to correspond. The buttresses of the north- 
ern side were rebuilt and enriched with canopies. The door- 
way in the north side was cut through, or perhaps only 
entirely remodelled, for its ogee moulding and rich canopies 
are of fifteenth-century work. 

During this period Holyrood became a favourite resort of the 
royal house of Stuart, and the royal apartments were greatly 
enlarged and beautified until they rivalled the royal palace at 
Linlithgow. Robert III. and James I. made the abbey their 
chief residence, and James II. was born within its walls. 
Here was celebrated the marriage of this prince to Mary of 
Guilders, and in the vault below the choir of the abbey he 
was buried in 1460, after which date the royal burials at Dun- 
fermline ceased and the Stuarts made Holyrood the third 
locum sepultures regium in Scotland. 

To Holyrood came the Princess Margaret, daughter of 
Christian I. of Denmark, to be the bride of James III.; and 
with the greatest pomp the abbey had ever seen that famous 
daughter of the Tudor dynasty, Margaret, sister of Henry VIII., 
came to wed King James IV. This monarch found the royal 
apartments of the abbey too small for the functions of state, 
and founded in 1501 the palace of Holyrood, which, however, 


was not built until after Flodden by James V. The abbey 
became now the centre of Scottish court life, and many were 
the nights of revelry that rung through the King's apartments 
and were reechoed through the lonely aisles of the darkened 

" Old Holy-Rood rung merrily, 
That night with wassail, mirth, and glee; 
King James within her princely bower 
Feasted the Chiefs of Scotland's power." 

And what scenes of despair must the abbey have witnessed 
after that dread day on Flodden Field ! 

" Snowdon's Knight," familiarly called The Gudeman of 
Ballinbreich by his loving subjects, built the palace which his 
father had founded and was married in the abbey to Mary of 
Lorraine, daughter of the Duke of Guise. The royal resi- 
dence was now permanently removed from Linlithgow, and the 


"At Holy-Rood a Knight he slew" 

is eloquent of the turbulent character of the Scottish court of 
the period. 

In 1542 James V. was buried beneath Holyrood's aisle, and 
little Queen Mary began her checkered career. Later, Mary 
of Guise was buried here. 

In 1544 the Earl of Hertford laid violent hands upon the 
abbey, but it does not seem to have been destroyed until 
three years later, when Somerset drove the monks from their 


home and stripped the lead from the abbey's roof. Twenty 
years later the church had fallen greatly to decay, so that the 
commendator of Holyrood was permitted to tear down the 
transepts and choir and to sell the material to provide funds 
for the refitting of the nave as the parish church of Canon- 
gate. At this time the royal vault was removed from the 
choir to its present site in the southeast corner of the nave. 
But before this a most famous marriage had been celebrated 
at the abbey, that of the beautiful but unfortunate Mary to 
Lord Darnley. A little later Rizzio was laid in the passage 
just outside the abbey, and soon after the troubles of Mary's 
reign began, which resulted in another sack for the ill-fated 

Once more the abbey rose phcenix-like from the flames, 
when its nave was restored and embellished for the coronation 
of Charles I. as king of Scotland. It was now consecrated to 
the service of the Protestant faith, but only to be finally de- 
molished toward the end of the seventeenth century, when the 
royal vaults were desecrated and their contents scattered over 
the pavements (1768). 

A strange fatality seems to have overhung the history of 
the abbey and the fortunes of those connected with it. Here 
lie's James II., killed by the bursting of a gun at Roxburgh. 
James III. was married here and afterwards killed in battle 
at Sauchieburn. James IV., the hapless victim of Flodden, 



lived within the abbey walls, while James V. moved the 
court hither, lost the battle of Solway Moss in 1542, died 
the same year, and was buried within the abbey, leaving the 
infant Mary Queen of Scots to play out another act in the 
abbey's history. James VI. seems to have avoided the fateful 
home of his ancestors, leaving King Charles the " Martyr " to 
close the dramatic career of this old abbey, whose life had 
been so closely interwoven with that of Scotland's longest and 
most luckless line of kings. 




VSTir " 

There is probably no other country 
district, equally small in area, that can 
boast a group of ruins, at once so great 
and interesting, as those situated in the 
north of Roxburghshire, along the banks 
of the Tweed and its little tributary the 
Jed. Here were founded almost con- 
temporaneously, in the first half of the 
twelfth century, four great abbeys, which 
were destroyed at the same time, by 
the same ruthless hands, four centuries later, and which now 
stand in ruin equally desolate and equally interesting. 

The oldest of these is the abbey of Jedburgh, already men- 
tioned in connection with St. David's early church building. 

It is not probable that the abbey was the earliest ecclesias- 
tical establishment in this place, for the town of Jedworth or Jed- 
burgh was already ancient, having been planted by Bishop Egred 
of Lindisfarne early in the ninth century, and its castle is men- 





tioned by the earliest Scottish chroniclers. We cannot believe 
that this ancient saint would have founded a town without a 
church, but, be this as it may, the original establishment soon 
lost its independent existence and was engrossed in that of 


the abbey, if, indeed, the early foundation was not taken as a 
nucleus for the later and greater one. 

The ruin is most imposing — a broken and rugged mass of 
walls and piers surmounted by a massive tower. The abbey 
stands well, as the drawing shows, on an eminence overlooking the 
valley of the Jed. It is this that gives the ruin half its grandeur. 



One of the oldest portions of the ruin is the lower story 
of the facade, which the visitor naturally encounters first. 
This portion is a fine example 
of Norman strength in the period 
of its richest decoration. The 
round recessed arches are pro- 
fusely ornamented with geomet- 
rical designs and are supported 
upon slender colonettes. 

The stories of the facade rep- 
resent three widely separate pe- 
riods of style, from the Norman 
of the portal, through the early 
pointed, to the gable pierced by a 
rose window with delicate flowing 

The long nave of nine bays 
is unroofed, and the north aisle 
wall has been carried away for building-stone, but it is other- 
wise in a comparatively good state of preservation. 

The central tower, thirty feet square, retaining in ruins 
almost its entire height, was partly rebuilt in the thirteenth 
century. Only two of the massive Norman piers remain. 

The choir and parts of the transepts are of Norman design. 
The northern arm of the transept has been much restored in 

A. Navo. 

B. Choir. 

C. Crowing. 

D. Later Transept. 

E. Norman Tran- 

F. Cloister Court. 

G. Norman Portal. 






r < 













comparatively recent times, and was used in the last century as 

a place of worship. 

The sanctuary is a thirteenth-century restoration, and one 

of the latest parts of the abbey. 

The most ancient portion of the church, the portion that 

has remained from the foun- 
dation, and which David in 
his youth saw consecrated 
with much pomp, is the 
choir. This is very short 
in proportion to the length 
of the nave. As will be 
seen from the drawing, it is 
divided into bays by huge 
cylindrical piers extending 
to the springing of the tri- 
forium arches. The bays 
are again divided by less 
massive piers. The arches 
of the ground story are sup- 
ported between these piers, 
not upon colonettes, as was 
the universal method from 
the earliest period, but upon 


Point 2 on Plan. cumbersome corbels. The 






mouldings of the archivolt, of which there are several, end 
abruptly against the piers ; the broad triforium arches rest upon 
the cushion capitals of the main piers, as we have seen, and 
embrace a sub-order of two diminutive pointed arches resting 


upon low, thick colonettes. These little arches were pointed, 
owing to lack of space, I should judge, rather than from choice. 
The compound capitals of the great piers and the simple caps 
of the colonettes are of the finely fluted cushion type, the 
mouldings of the arches are purely Norman, heavy and simple. 
Those of the triforium are enriched by the use of zigzag and a 
bold continuous label. Above the triforium the early structure 
has been replaced by later work, but at the springing of the 
great tower arches in the northern angles are preserved two 
huge corbels of Norman design and several voussoirs orna- 
mented with the zigzag. The side aisles of the choir were 
originally vaulted with heavy Norman vaults supported by ribs 
of simple section and somewhat domed. The south aisle still 
shows a half of one of the original vaults, the other half having 
been replaced with considerable skill late in the thirteenth 
century. One of the drawings illustrates this bit of Norman 
construction, with its ribs and their supporting corbels and en- 
gaged columns ; and the interesting fragment here is a piece 
of original east wall preserving a window jamb with colonette 
and remnant of arch, showing that in Jedburgh as well as in 
the later churches the sanctuary was aisleless. 

This same style of solid Norman work is seen also in the 
two bays of the transepts. The tower arch which opens into 
this arm of the south transept is round-arched and simply 
moulded, but its most interesting feature is the remnant of a 



Point 3 on Plan. 


broad barrel vault which it carries across its entire span. 
This vault springs immediately above the triforium arches, and 
its masonry is of the same general style as the Norman work. 
If this be a fragment of the original structure, it is indeed 
interesting to find a high vault, and a barrel vault at that, so 
far in the north. This plan of structure would have neces- 
sitated the lighting of the church through the triforium gallery, 
and introduces another novel question in Scottish Romanesque. 
Above the vault on the east side is preserved a passageway 
and stair, which was, and is still, the mode of access to the 

To this period belongs also the little doorway in the south 
wall leading into the garden. On the plan this is marked G. 
It is a beautiful example of crude but free sculpture. Its 
series of arch mouldings are interesting in the extreme, they 
include so many of the varieties of Norman mouldings. 

As one may see from the sketch, the weather has made 
serious inroads upon the lower portion of the work. But the 
thoughtful owner of the abbey has had a complete restoration 
of the doorway inserted in the wall beside the ancient monu- 
ment at a little distance. From this the architect interested 
in Romanesque ornament may make an accurate drawing. 

We may safely place all this work, so primitive in its mas- 
siveness, so crudely wrought, among the earliest specimens of 
native art of the first period of Norman influence in Scotland. 



Yet its finely fluted capitals and the beauty of some of its 
parts would assign it to David's time rather than to the period 


of Dunfermline's nave. Surely it had been completed when 
the French monks arrived. They could not have been re- 


sponsible for a piece of architecture more primitive even than 
that of a church already old in their own city of Beauvais 
— the church of St. Stephen in that city had been built over 
fifty years when they left. 

The presence of Norman work in the western and southern 
walls and in the piers of the tower adjoining the nave would 
indicate that this portion of the edifice, which is now in full 
pointed style, was in the original construction of Norman 
design. It is, of course, possible, as has been suggested, that 
the nave was designed on Norman lines and these few parts 
executed, but that owing to some delay the remainder was not 
carried out until the pointed style -had come in vogue and the 
plans altered. 

There are no records to show that there was ever in the 
history of the abbey a disaster in its early days that might 
have ruined a Norman nave; nor yet any evidence that there 
was cause for a long delay in building any nave at all. Either 
position is easily tenable in the absence of facts, but certain 
it is that the present nave is not of late construction. The 
inner walls with their three stories of arches are almost intact. 
The pointed arches and clustered columns of the main arcade 
present forms and proportions of unmistakable Early English 
design. The fragments of aisle vaults manifest evidence of 
structure quite Gothic in character. The broad triforium arches 
are round, embracing two pointed sub-arches with a circular 



opening in the spandrel, a design not uncommon in Early Eng- 
lish work, seen in the triforium of York Minster. The clere- 
story, within and without, consists of a continuous series of 

Point 6 on Plan. 

narrow pointed lancets ungrouped, some open to form win- 
dows. The arcades on the interior form a fine clerestory 
passage around the nave. From the construction and design 
at this level, it is apparent that the nave was not intended 
to have a vaulted roof. 


In all three stories, then, we have a fine example of digni- 
fied first pointed style on English lines, but in the details we 
see at once the result of the workings of an influence quite 
different. The abaci of the capitals of the clustered columns 
and colonettes are rectangular, and the carving of the capitals 
themselves, the bases, the profiles of all the mouldings, are far 
more suggestive of the French style of the transition than of 
insular work. These capitals with their abaci are strangely 
reminiscent of the late Norman details of the cathedral of 
Bayeux. The design of their conventionalized foliage even in 
direct comparison is strikingly like that of the transitional 
churches of Laon and Beauvais. Is it not this last name 
that gives the clew to the appearance of detail here in Jed- 
burgh, totally unlike anything of its kind in Great Britain ? 
Is it not the work of the monks from the great Benedictine 
convent at Beauvais that we see in these elegantly carved 
capitals and mouldings? 

If this is so, the date of this part of the abbey would be 
fixed considerably before the opening of the thirteenth century, 
while the personnel of the monastery remained distinctively 
French, unrecruited by initiates from the north country. 

Soon after the completion of the nave it was found neces- 
sary, for some cause now unknown, to rebuild the eastern bay 
of the choir; from the latest research on the spot it has been 
shown that this restoration was carried out on old foundations, 


so that the plan of the choir was not altered. The rebuilding 
was of course in pointed style, more English than the work in 
the nave, but clumsily joined to the older part. Very little of 
this restoration was spared in the later catastrophe that befell 
the abbey. 

If a barrel vault, like that of which a fragment remains in 
the transept, covered the central portion of the choir, it was 
destroyed at the time of this rebuilding; for a clerestory was 
now added to the choir with an arcaded passage like that in 
the nave. In still later years some further restorations were 
undertaken within the church when the outer wall of the south 
transept was renewed with pointed traceried windows and the 
outer half of the aisle vaults was renewed. At this period the 
north transept was extended, but the restorations of modern 
times have quite obliterated all of the ancient work. 

The monastic buildings, situated to the south of the abbey 
upon the edge of the steep descent to the river, have com- 
pletely disappeared. Their position was one that would make 
disintegration easy and rapid after the beginning of their 

The site of the old cloister, however, is lovely, and is now a 
bright flower garden, the pride of the keeper of the abbey, 
who may be mentioned as one of the most agreeable and intel- 
ligent of the many officers of this kind that we meet in Great 
Britain; full of information and deeply imbued with a loving 


interest in his charge, he is able to communicate his enthu- 
siasm to all who feel the slightest interest. 

In the garden a few remnants of ancient sculpture attract 
attention, and somewhere in safe keeping the custodian has 
some carved slabs which he will show to visitors. These have 
been called Celtic remains, but the most beautiful of them is 
an arabesque design of Romanesque appearance. It was prob- 
ably part of an altar. 

The history of Jedburgh is rather obscure after its founding 
by David I., while he was only Prince of Cumbria. The abbey 
must have increased with great rapidity in worldly wealth, for 
the extensive church edifice that we have to-day was built 
within eighty years after its foundation. 

The only great pageant recorded as celebrated within the 
abbey was the second marriage of King Alexander III., in 
1285, to Iolanda, daughter of the Count of Dreux. This 
union was looked upon with great superstition by the people, 
for only a few months later the good king was thrown from 
his horse on the Fifeshire coast, and killed, leaving no issue 
but the Norway Maid, whose untimely death ended the great 
line of Malcolm and St. Margaret, and opened Scotland to 
twenty years of troubled warfare. 

Like all the abbeys of the border country, Jedburgh suffered 
sack at the hands of Edward I.'s army during the war for inde- 





pendence; but although the domestic buildings were demol- 
ished, and the roofs and tower of the church were burned at 
this time, the main portions of the edifice survived, and were 
promptly restored. It was probably after this disaster that 
the south aisle vault was partially ruined, doubtless owing to 
the destructive action of fire. 

During the years of peace that followed the establishment 
of the house of Stuart on the Scottish throne, .the monastery 
seems to have flourished, but met final destruction in 1554, when 
Lord Eure invaded Scotland on his raiding expedition ; but 
the portions that he spared and that the townsmen left form 
one of the most beautiful of all of Scotland's ruined abbeys. 




Owing to .their situation in the immediate neighbourhood 
of a border upon which war was almost incessant for centuries, 
the group of abbeys along the Tweed had of necessity taken 
on numerous features which imparted to them a decidedly 
fortress-like character. This was especially true of those parts 
of the edifices which were erected during the late twelfth and 
early thirteenth centuries. Castellated forms, such as angle 
towers with battlemented tops, narrow slit openings, massive 
ground walls, and portals which might be barricaded like those 
of castles, are some of the relics of distant days when the hand 
that held the crosier could wield the sword with equal dignity; 
when the monk, though he had abjured the things of this 
world, could at a moment's notice exchange his cowl for a 
helmet of steel, his staff for the bow and spear. 

No finer example of this castellated style of ecclesiastical 
architecture can be found in Scotland than in the ruins of the 
abbey church of Kelso. When seen from a distance it is 
quite impossible to distinguish the massive walls of Kelso 




A. Nave. 
H. Choir. 
C,C. Transept. 

D. Siu.ii-i.Mly or 

Chapter House. 

Abbey, looming up on the horizon, from those of some bold 
baronial castle. Its turrets and battlemented towers, its high 
narrow openings, its solid, unbroken wall surface, would indi- 
cate that it was built for a stronghold alone. It is only when 
one is actually within the enclosure that the general plan and 
outline, the lines of scattered and broken piers, betray the re- 
ligious purpose of the 

edifice. v2 ^4 

As a ruin Kelso 


is complete ; naught 

remains in position 

above the ground 

save some of the 

heavier walls. Of 

these there are those 

of the nave front in 

part, and of the 

transepts complete, with two sides of the central tower, 

and a small fragment of choir wall and arcade. The 

peculiarity of this church is that the dimensions of nave 

and choir are reversed, the longer end being the eastern, 

while the nave is short and narrow, having, like the 

transepts, only the one great aisle, of the same width 

as the central tower. It is curious to observe that in 

their ruin the front wall of the nave and the great central 




tower were each broken in halves, as if cut with a huge 
knife, one half disappearing completely, the other still stand- 
ing almost intact. So accurate was this severing in the 
front wall that the great - portal is represented by a single 
cluster of columns surmounted by one half of a recessed 

The structure, or what remains of it, is pretty nearly 
confined to a single epoch. The style represented is prin- 
cipally late Norman, with here and there a touch of early 
pointed work. The abbey was founded in 1128, when the 
first signs of the transition were beginning to manifest them- 
selves in France ; but" the full bloom of the Romanesque had 
not passed in the North. It seems to have been completed, 
or nearly so, in 1152, while the Norman style was still linger- 
ing in the confines of the North. The arches throughout are 
round, the capitals severely plain, but, in the higher portions 
of the choir especially, the slender engaged shafts and the tall 
narrow arcades point to the coming change which was already 
finding expression in the Early English work across the 
border. The tower was supported upon four huge clustered 
piers of Norman design with pointed arches. The two sur- 
viving bays of the south wall of the choir, as the drawing 
shows, have broad Norman arches and heavy cylindrical piers 
of grouped columns. 

The caps of these piers are of the cushion type carved 



bfc i S 

with the fine flutings already men- 
tioned as characteristic of David I.'s 

Above these runs a low triforium 
passage in the thickness of the wall, 
appearing within the church as a 
continuous round-arched arcade with 


Point 4 on Plan. 


very slender single colonettes, graceful spreading capitals, and 
rich, deeply carved mouldings. 

Above the triforium appears another round-arched arcade, 
but this is supported by clusters of three slender colonettes 
with compound capitals almost transitional in design. This 
arcade was carried around the entire church at the same level 
with a window opening out of each bay. 

The remnant of choir aisle shows on the exterior a rem- 
nant of heavy Norman vaulting, so we may conclude that 
both aisles were vaulted. The roofs, above these vaults were 
carried up quite high, to the clerestory ledge, where appear 
the unmistakably Romanesque windows of the uppermost story. 

In the transepts and little nave, where there were no side 
aisles, the stories were arranged differently from the choir. 
In the ground story we have a rich wall arcade of interlacing 
arches, and above this, window openings, large on the interior 
and quite narrow on the outer surface of the wall, divided in- 
ternally by a section of wall flanked by nook shafts which sus- 
tain the simple window arches. The triforium story consists 
of a row of windows similar to those below and similarly divided. 
A passage runs in the thickness of the wall at this level. Above 
the triforium is the clerestory arcade and windows already de- 

The high portions were never vaulted. We may only sur- 
mise what the style of the structure of the apse and choir may 



have been ; in the latter, as we have seen in the picture, two 
bays have given us a clew. We are very safe in assuming that 


Point 2 on Plan. 

this, of all the abbeys we are studying, was one that knew no 
restoration ; it perished as it had been founded, a monument of 
late Norman work in Scotland. 


The outer angles of the nave, those of the transepts and 
the great tower, were provided with heavy square towers having 
circular or octagonal crenellated tops. The three stories are 
of nearly equal height, their openings are Norman in style and 
proportion, and are separated by wide pilasters ; the gables of 
the transepts are pierced each with a small circular window 
without a remnant of tracery. The most interesting portions, 
decoratively, are the portals. The main doorway, alluded to 
before, though sadly broken, preserves a few bits of good carv- 
ing, but it is the north portal that attracts our attention (see 
drawing). This portal consists of a set of round arches not 
deeply recessed; the spandrels of the arch are brought to a 
straight line, above which is imposed an arcade of interlaced 
round arches upon colonettes of equal height; above them the 
masonry is again carried up several courses and brought to a 
gable, the face of which is decorated by a simple pattern of 
oblique squares. The whole design gives an impression of grace 
and symmetry seldom seen in Norman work, a happy blending 
of solidity and lightness. Nothing in the ornament or the 
construction suggests the transition, yet it is not the work of 
the Normans who built the nave of Dunfermline or the walls 
of Durham. 

Adjoining the south wall is a rather narrow barrel-vaulted 
structure entered by a door of good Norman design. Within 
we find an oblong chamber with a fine interlaced arcade adorn- 

Point j on Plan. Colonetles restored. 


ing its four walls, and a sort of continuous seat carried all 
around. An opening in the northeast corner, now walled up, 
doubtless connected with the church, though it may originally 
have led by an angle to the cloister. This building is called 
the Chapter House ; and it is certainly the first of a number of 
monastic buildings of two stories that joined the transept end, 
as the marks of gabled construction are still visible upon the 
wall. But this would have been an unusual location for a 
chapter house, directly adjoining the church, and is much more 
likely to have been the sacristy. But it is difficult to tell 
whether the cloister court adjoined the choir or the nave. In 
the latter case, the exceedingly short nave would have afforded 
little protection to the garth: if the cloister took the more un- 
usual position, it is strange to find the entrance to the remain- 
ing chamber on the west. This point raises the question 
whether this was perhaps not merely a passage. 

The entire edifice as we have it, unique as a specimen of 
a style, the persistent use of Romanesque forms throughout, 
with a highly refined treatment of details, the frank employ- 
ment of the pointed arch in the supports of the tower, all 
foreshadow the transition, and would seem to indicate that the 
style of David's reign was not like the barbaric Norman of 
the last twenty-five years of the eleventh century, nor yet the 
still heavy style of the first quarter of the twelfth, but a lighter 
and more elegant system of construction and a more graceful 


theory of design that distinguishes it from earlier phases of 
northern Romanesque. 

The abbey of Kelso was founded in 1128, four years after 
David's coronation. Twenty-five years later David laid his 
son, Henry Earl of Northumberland, in a tomb within the 
walls of the church. This honour was of course accompanied 
with heavy endowments, and the abbey buildings became more 
and more extensive. The establishment was one for Tirone- 
sian monks, an order of Cistercians whose founder, Bernard 
the Elder, though trained in an order of strictest asceticism, 
took for himself and his followers a different view of life, one 
of utilitarianism. While the older order courted temptation, 
in order to resist it, and mortified the flesh, the new order 
sought, by keeping their hands well employed, to give Satan 
no opportunity. They followed those worldly pursuits which 
involved manual labour. The lands of the abbey were care- 
fully and extensively tilled by them ; some of them were car- 
penters, others were stonecutters and masons. Specimens 
of the handicraft of the last two still remain. It is to these 
skilful monks that we owe the masterful work upon the 
north transept with its exquisite portal, the delicate mould- 
ings of the arcades which make them seem too fine for 
Norman work, and the skilful adjustment of the tower to its 


With the increase of endowments and benefices the abbey 
soon became the richest and largest in Scotland. In 1165, 
Pope Alexander III. conferred the mitre upon the Abbot of 
Kelso, and gave the abbey precedence over all the monastic 
institutions in the Kingdom. In the disputes that arose as 
to the succession of the monarchy after the death of the 
Maid of Norway, the Abbot of Kelso represented the inter- 
ests of John Baliol, and was, in consequence, not highly in 
favour after the advent of Bruce to the throne. In modern 
times a portion of the abbey was converted into a prison, 
which Scott makes the jail-house of Eddie Ochiltree. 

The church seems to have escaped the ravages of the wars 
with Edward I. and the subsequent invasions, for no vestige 
of restoration in decorated or perpendicular style is to be 
found. But neither Kelso nor any other establishment in the 
Middle Marches was spared the violence of the Earl of Hert- 
ford and other of Henry VIII.'s relentless emissaries (1545). 
The story of the taking of Kelso is a most thrilling one. A 
large force of the English had surrounded the abbey, artillery 
was mounted close to its walls and the storming began. The 
brave defenders were driven from the embattled close to 
the buildings near the church. Obliged to yield one after 
another of these, they finally withdrew to the church, with 
hopes of saving themselves and it, but the stout walls and 
defence towers had not been built to withstand the shock of 


cannonade and could not hold out long. When a breach 
had been made and the earl had offered a reward to the 
men who should first scale the walls, a band of Spanish mer- 
cenaries charged and were soon in possession of the church ; 
a few of the surviving monks took refuge in the tower, 
where a single man at the top of the winding stairs could 
hold his place against the invaders. This place they held 
all night, escaping at dawn on the following day. Trie 
" house " was then demolished and has ever since lain in 
desolation, of which — 

" No legend needs to tell, 
For story's pen must fail to write 
What ruin paints so well." 



Every one who has been in Scotland, and 
every one who knows Scott, is more or less 
acquainted with Melrose and its beautiful, historic 

But few who have read the advice — 

" If thou wouldst see fair Melrose aright, 
Go visit it by the pale moonlight" — 

few even of those who have had opportunity to 
take the hint, have thought of the abbey as any- 
thing more than a picturesque ruin, enchanted by 
some mysterious sentiment and surrounded by a 
dim halo of associations which mean little or 
nothing to them. Then the guide-books have something to 
say about the abbey's being rich in association of this, that, 
and the other Scottish hero, prince, or poet. Then, too, 
there are a number of indecipherable Latin inscriptions which 
might convey a clew to the identity of the illustrious dead 
who are said to repose there. So that the impression left 




Upon the mind by a visit to Melrose is one of beauty, but 
one vague and intangible in the extreme. There is certainly 
a charm about Melrose which is not shared by any other 
of the abbeys of Scotland ; due not only to the manifold 
legends and traditions that are interwoven with its history, 


but to the peculiar beauty of the ruin, the rare delicacy of 
the workmanship, and the crude richness of its sculpture; for 
the church was rebuilt when the Gothic style was in full, 
even late bloom, and the character of the stone used is such 
that, hardening with age, it preserves the minutest details 
of carving in tracery and in sculpture. So that, though a 


most complete ruin, Melrose does not tend to disintegrate 
and crumble into the mould again, but holds its own, rich 
and beautiful though shattered, more lovely perhaps because 
it has been so mellowed by being left to itself and the 
weather, its only occupants the bats, the owls, and the 

Melrose, a quaint and ancient village on one of the direct 
lines between London and Edinburgh, has few attractions to 
offer beside its famous abbey. Whatever else of beauty or of 
interest it may possess is completely eclipsed by the stately 
grandeur of its massive ruin. 

The abbey does not stand aloof from the cluster of more 
humble cottages which form the hamlet, and has permitted 
them to nestle about its very walls on two sides; but to the 
south and east lies the old burial ground ; beyond this the open 
country stretches away toward the Eildon Hills. 

Unlike many of the abbeys that we have been looking at, 
Melrose stands, in some of its parts at least, in a very good 
state of preservation. As the plan indicates, the walls and 
vaults of the apse are complete; the transept walls and a few 
of its vaults are also standing; the tower has fallen, leaving 
only the western side. The three bays westward of the tower, 
comprising the choir (this was the position of the choir in 
many Cistercian churches), are complete, with vaulted aisles 
and the chapels of the south aisle. The western end of the 



choir is marked by a heavy rood screen ; beyond this naught of 
the nave remains save five unroofed chapels of the south aisle. 

The abbey, though founded in 1 1 36 and built immediately 
thereafter, preserves no vestige of its primitive structure unless 
the core of the heavy north 
wall of the nave and the 
west wall of the north tran- 
sept, now hidden in a later 
revetment of cut stone, can 
claim to be of the original 

The earliest part of the 
ruin is the magnificent sec- 
tion of the nave, which, as 
we have seen, was brought 
into requisition as a portion »'. ■>■ t™,.V 

J- ± E. E. Eastern A 

of the choir. These three 

bays are probably the finest 

specimen of the decorated 

style north of the Cheviot 

Hills, and manifest their 

kinship with Whitby and the Abbey of Fountains. We have 

here three bays, with fine groups of slender columns whose 

capitals are richly and delicately wrought in foliate designs, 

A, Nave. 

B, is. Choir. 

C, Sanctuary 

E, E. Eastern Aisle. 

F Cloister. 

O. Saoristy. 

H, H. Chapels of 

South Aisle. 
E. Rood Screen. 
M. South Portal. 
N. Door to Cloister. 



broad, pointed arches heavily moulded, and above them an 
interesting combination of triforium and clerestory. It com- 
prises, first, a passage above the main arches, divided from the 
open space beneath the aisle roofs by a curtain wall. The 
passage appears within the nave in two openings in each bay, 
provided with a traceried balustrade. These openings are car- 
ried up to embrace the clerestory window, which opens in 
cusped lancets over the aisle roof. The arrangement is strik- 
ing and effective. The bays are divided one from the other 
by a cluster of delicate vaulting shafts, which rise from corbels, 
just above the main capitals, in true English fashion, to sup- 
port a radiating group of slender ribs. In this part of the 
church a pointed tunnel vault has been inserted, in compara- 
tively recent times, to sustain the Gothic vault. This uncouth 
structure completely hides the northern half of the nave vault, 
and all but conceals the other ; but a minute examination 
reveals the original construction as described above. 

The side aisles at this point are also vaulted; the north 
aisle, being much narrower than the other, is consequently 
much domed. This discrepancy in measurement was in all 
probability due to a change of proportions at the time of 
rebuilding, and the cloister court stood in the way of widening 
this aisle when the nave and south aisle were enlarged. 

The vault structure of the south aisle is of later construc- 
tion than that opposite, and is doubtless coeval with the eight 


chapels of this aisle which are among the latest additions to 
the abbey. 

The rood screen which delineated the province of the choir 
within the nave is a massive structure of one story, well pre- 
served ; the arched opening in its centre is vaulted in the 
thickness of the wall, within which a narrow stair leads to the 
top of the screen or organ loft. That another screen separated 
this choir from the side aisles is clear from the fragments of 
wall to be found incorporated with the piers as part of the 
original design. 

The remains in decorated style embrace also the west and 
north walls of the north transept, the remaining half of the 
tower with its two piers, the first bay of the south transept 
next to the crossing, and the glorious south end with the 
walls of the adjoining bay of the transept aisle. The north 
transept wall is almost perfectly plain on the ground story, 
broken only at the north end by a low round-arched door- 
way leading into the sacristy, and another, somewhat elevated 
and originally reached by a straight flight of steps that con- 
nected with the upper story of the domestic part of the mon- 
astery. Above these doorways the north wall is pierced by 
three simple lancets crowned by a small wheel window of con- 
siderable depth. The upper story of the adjoining bays of the 
western wall corresponds with the arrangement in the nave, 
except that the passage is somewhat lower and the windows 




thus elongated, while the bays to the right and left of the 
crossing are in all respects like the bays of the nave, but 
narrower, having single instead of double windows. 

The next two bays to the south are of later building; but 
the entire south end is in the finest style of the decorated 
period. The doorway is treated in later style ; but the great 
window which almost fills the space beneath the wall rib of 
the vault is one of the most beautiful in Great Britain. Perhaps 
the sketch of the window, with the door below and the ele- 
gant series of niches above, will give a clearer idea than words 
of the exterior form of this transept end. 

The tracery of this window is exceedingly rich and flowing, 
and, fortunately, perfect as when glazed. The delicate jamb 
mouldings and slender shafts, the graceful sculptured heads, 
are all in the same style as the window, but the rich ogee 
mouldings and the sumptuous canopied niches are probably a 
little later. To this second period also belongs all of the im- 
portant buttress system of the exterior with its flying arches 
and decorated pinnacles. 

All the remainder of the choir and transepts is in another 
style, the date of which, from its perpendicular tendencies, ' we 
cannot fix much before the middle of the fifteenth century. 
The manner in which the later work is joined to the old, the 
amount of patching that is evident, make it clear that the 
rebuilding was done as the result of disaster rather than by 



design. Beginning at the west, the first bit of this work is 
discovered in the west wall of the south transept, where two 
bays are inserted between the decorated work adjoining the 


From Point 3 on Plan. 

tower and the south window. One of these bays is perfectly 
plain on the interior, the other manifests its late period in the 
clerestory, which, though preserving the level of the older work, 
consists in the interior of a broad mullioned and traceried 



opening that fills the entire bay, and on the exterior of a 

similar window with a different pattern of tracery, a pattern 

that could be considered to belong to the older 

work. Next to this bay is a beautiful little 

octagonal stair tower, adorned with niches and 

gargoyles and terminating in a low crocketed 


The eastern portions of the choir and the 
adjacent bays and chapels were greatly damaged 
by the fall of the tower, which carried down 
most of the vaults, but enough was spared to 
speak for the rest. 

The whole eastern aisle, except the south 
bay, with the two bays of the choir east of the 
crossing and the aisleless sanctuary, are all in 
the same style and are built of a different stone 
from that of the older parts of the building, a 
stone of a more yellow hue. The clustered 
piers here are of different section from those of 
the decorated period, and the flowing capitals 
give place to moulded ones adorned with con- 
ventional rosettes or Tudor flowers.. The com- 
bined triforium and clerestory — the general plan of which was 
borrowed from the older portions of the church — now almost 
fills with its openings the entire width of each bay, as we have 



already seen in the first of the new work. In the eastern 
aisle and choir, however, the outer tracery of the window 
stiffens into fully developed perpendicular. The sanctuary has 
no triforium nor clerestory, but is provided with three huge 
richly traceried windows, the central one of which, though 
unique, is, like its companions, more of perpendicular than any 
other style. The tracery of the window to the south, as we 
may discover in the sketch of the apse, takes the form of a 
tall central cross between two smaller ones, and is said to 
symbolize Calvary. 

The vaulting of the parts east of the nave is of two epochs, 
the one, coeval with the lower work in the transepts, and 
bearing on one of its keystones the arms of Abbot Hunter 
(1450-60), is provided with extra ribs or tiercerons introduced 
for a richer effect, and the other, that over the sanctuary, 
which is of very late type and is practically a barrel vault 
adorned with a network of fine ribs, a species of vault struc- 
ture in vogue just before the introduction of fan vaulting in 
England. The row of chapels adjoining the south aisle of 
the nave seems to have been added at two periods, the first 
at about the same time that the repairs were undertaken, in 
the middle of the fifteenth century, the other in the beginning 
of the sixteenth. 

These dates are arrived at by marks left upon the work, 
presumably during its construction. The first and fifth but- 

MELROSE 1 1 1 

tresses east of the transept bear the arms of Abbot Hunter, 
which would not be likely to have been added after 1460; 
while the eighth is embellished with the royal arms, the letters 
I. Q. (Jacobus Quartus), and the date 1505, showing the inter- 
est of James IV. in the abbey. 

This series of aisle chapels is simply an outer aisle divided 
by light partitions between the piers and wall buttresses. The 
piers consist of beautiful clustered shafts with freely carved 
capitals. The windows are spacious and filled with varied forms 
of early decorated tracery, which seems to be a stumbling-block 
to those who wish to assign to them a date after the middle 
of the fourteenth century. It seems quite plain, however, that 
this tracery is the original adornment of the decorated nave — 
that when the chapels were built the tracery of the aisle 
windows was simply moved to the outer wall; for this was a 
work of expansion, not restoration, and the tracery of the 
windows being in perfect condition did not require to be re- 
newed. The vaulting of these chapels is intricate, and evi- 
dently late. The adjoining aisle seems to have been revaulted 
at the time the chapels were added. 

The exterior of Melrose is in some respects more French 
in appearance than any ecclesiastical edifice in Scotland. The 
prominent buttresses are provided with canopied niches, some 
of which retain their sculpture; slender pier buttresses rising 
through the aisle roof to support sets of two flying buttresses 


are also adorned with niches and terminate in richly decorated 
Gothic pinnacles. The deep mouldings, the wealth of gro- 
tesque gargoyles and other figures, make it seem so like early 
French Gothic work that we may assume a French architect, 
or at least a student of French architecture, designed portions 
of the abbey, and that some of the builders, those Cistercian 
monks, had come from France. 

The two periods of style are manifest without as within, 
though not in the same degree. If we compare the design 
and construction of the buttresses, with their pinnacles and 
canopied niches and the flying arches of the eastern portions 
of the edifice with the same details in the western end, we 
shall find a very considerable difference in character and type. 

The sculpture within and without is rich and plentiful for 
a northern clime. The interior abounds in beautiful capitals 
and mouldings carved in most delicate foliate designs. The 
variety is remarkable, almost all of the native leaves being 
wrought in the hard brown stone; the oak leaf and the thistle 
are prominent. Most graceful and flowing and most deeply 
carved is the capital of the easternmost column in the south 
aisle; the design is a naturalistic treatment of the domestic 
Scotch kale; so humble and so crude in nature, it becomes 
most rich and delicate in the sphere of art. 

A corbel in the north transept is ornamented with the form 
of a female hand clasping a spray of flowers; the execution of 


this charming design is equal to that of the best French 
Gothic sculpture. The ponderous keystones of the fallen high 
vaults have been preserved by themselves, They represent 
human heads with masses of flowing hair. The boss of the 
great central tower represents the head of David I. ; another 
is that of his queen, Matilda; a third is something like the 
head of Medusa. This, tradition says, represents 
the head of Michael Scott, the famous wizard, who 
was buried here in the east corner of the south 
chancel chapel, if we may believe the account given 
in the " Lay of the Last Minstrel. There is an- head of 
other boss, smaller but most attractive, that of the MICHAEL SCOTr 

' ' ON A. 

diminutive vault under the rood screen. It repre- keystone. 
sents the head of our Lord wearing the crown of thorns. 

The walls of the numerous chapels throughout the church 
edifice bear some beautiful specimens of carved piscinas and 
ambries. These, as well as more important details, manifest 
the handiwork of artists trained in different epochs of archi- 
tectural history. 

The figure sculpture of the interior is not especially fine, 
but is interesting in this locality; a few of the niches contain 
their statues, one of St. Bridget in a chapel dedicated to that 
saint in the south transept, two of St. Peter and St. Paul in 
niches with well-preserved canopies in the west wall of the 
north transept. These, with a few grotesque figures in the 


balustrade below the great south window, would indicate that 
the church was the possessor of a rare collection of barbaric 
Gothic sculpture when its destruction came. 

The exterior was quite as rich in the handiwork of the 
sculptor; the gables are filled with a stepped series of canopied 
niches ; the slender pinnacles and the flying buttresses are 
richly adorned with crockets and finials; every buttress had 
its niche of statuary, the canopies of which are most exqui- 
sitely carved and well preserved. Iconoclastic hands in early 
Reformation times robbed the majority of the niches of their 
"images," leaving only a scant half-dozen. The niche of the 
westernmost pier buttress contains a group representing the 
Virgin and Child beneath a tabernacle. The next niche 
holds St. Andrew. It would seem as if these two, the figures 
of the Virgin and the national saint, had been purposely 

The central and uppermost niche of the series in the eastern 
gable is occupied by an interesting group representing the 
coronation of the Virgin, a favourite subject with the Cistercian 
order. Other sculpture is seen in a niche bracket, where a 
group of two figures represents the blind carrying the lame 
— a curious composition. A number of grotesque gargoyles, 
decorative heads and figures, finely carved and vigorously 
designed, complete the remains of the abbey's sculptured 



It was about the middle of the seventh century that Eata, 
one of the companion monks of St. Aidan, who with the saint 
had set out from the holy precincts of Iona to convert the 
lowlands, set foot in Melrose, and upon an eminence almost 
surrounded by a loop of the winding Tweed founded a reli- 
gious retreat. 

The cell of Eata became famous in the lonely vale of 
Tweed. Hither in his youth came the saintly Cuthbert, who 
later became bishop of all Northumbria, with his throne in 
Lindisfarne. In later years the monks of Lindisfarne, driven 
from their home by the furious Danes, fled to Melrose, bring- 
ing with them the sacred bones of St. Cuthbert. 

"The monks fled forth from Holy Isle 
O'er northern mountain, marsh, and moor, 
From sea to sea, from shore to shore, 
Seven years St. Cuthbert's corpse they bore. 
They rested him in fair Melrose ; 
But though, alive, he loved it well, 
Not there his relics might repose." 

Nor were they willing to rest in a number of places tried 
by the weary monks, until they finally reached the " lordly 
seat" where now the towers of majestic Durham "look down 
upon the Wear." 

Although during the eleventh century, when the Culdee 
Church was rapidly losing ground, the cell at Melrose had 


almost disappeared, it was again, toward the end of the century, 
of sufficient importance to be a place of retirement for the 
monk Turgot, the confessor of the saint-queen Margaret, who 
later held the foremost see of the Kingdom as Bishop of St. 
Andrews. But when under the new ecclesiastical influence 
David I. refounded the convent of Melrose, it was decided to 
move the site some two and half miles up the river. 

Melrose Abbey was consecrated with great solemnity in 
1 146, ten years after its founding, — an extensive edifice of Nor- 
man character to be the home of a body of Cistercian monks 
imported from Rievalle in Yorkshire, the pioneers of their 
order in Scotland. Heavily endowed by David I. in its origi- 
nal charter, the abbey was constantly enriched by gifts from 
the Crown and from noble families until it became a treasure- 
house of rare and costly works of art and a centre of monas- 
tic learning; for, we are told, many of the monks of Melrose 
spent their lives at the weary task of copying and transcribing 
the abbey's store of books and ancient manuscripts brought 
from France. 

The endowment of Melrose did not cease with the death of 
David; in 1238 Alexander II., who was a great patron of the 
abbey, and who chose it for his last resting-place, presented 
the abbey with the extensive lands of Ettrick Forest. 

To-day in the apse one is shown an ancient stone which is 
said to have covered the tomb of King Alexander, and within 

MELROSE 1 1 7 

the doorway of the sacristy is a slab which covered the remains 
of his queen Johanna. 

As the abbey increased in numbers as well as in wealth, 
the influence of Melrose spread throughout the North. The 
pioneer of its order in Scotland, it became now the mother of 
Cistercian foundations all over the Kingdom ; Kihloss, New- 
battle, Glenluce, were all the offspring of Melrose. During 
the war of independence the abbey was spared while Edward 
I. lived, by the fealty of its abbot to the English Crown; but 
the well-filled coffers, the costly vessels of gold and silver, the 
rich vestments of Melrose, were well known throughout that 
wild border country of the North. Unprotected by any force 
of arms, they soon fell prey to the greed of the English 
armies, especially of that baffled and enraged host under 
Edward II. (1322), which, retreating from the field of Ban- 
nockburn, where they had left thirty thousand English slain, 
wreaked vengeance upon many of the defenceless shrines of 

The abbey's great wealth seems to have called forth special 
violence, for scarcely a vestige of the early fabric is to be 
found. It is to this calamity, dreadful as it must have seemed 
to the homeless inmates, that we owe the exquisite beauty of 
the new shrine. Since the consecration of the abbey, the 
Gothic style had been perfected in France and had reached 
full bloom in England. Melrose destroyed had been too early 


to profit by the lessons taught in France, but Melrose restored 
takes advantage of every principle peculiar to the pointed 
style. It may not have the soaring height nor the perfect 
symmetry of the French churches, but it is second to few, very 
few, in delicacy of design and expression and in gracefulness 
of line and composition. 

It was largely due to the munificence of King Robert 
Bruce that the abbey was restored on so sumptuous a scale. 
Shortly before his death Bruce made his will, bequeathing a 
large sum to Melrose. He recommended the monastery to 
the favour of his son, and requested that his heart be laid 
in its choir. Subsequently, however, he changed his mind in 
regard to this last request, and commissioned Sir James 
Douglas to carry his heart to the Holy Land. The story is 
well known : how the brave Sir James tried in vain to carry 
out his royal master's dying request, how he was repulsed, 
what dangers he encountered on his mission of love and duty, 
how he was finally killed by the Saracens in Spain, in 1330, 
while fighting under Alfonso, king of Leon and Castile, and 
how his body and his precious charge were recovered and 
brought back to Scotland. It was then that the former request 
was complied with, and a stone engraved with a cross now 
marks the reputed spot where lies the heart of Bruce. 

Near the heart of Bruce, beneath the fretted vault of the 
sanctuary, was laid the body of the "good Sir James," amid 



the tombs of the Douglas family. 1 In the Douglas vault lay 
the remains of Sir William Douglas of Lothian, and William, 
first Earl of Douglas; of Sir William Douglas, the "Dark 
Knight of Liddesdale," " The Flower of Chivalry ; " of James, 
Earl of Douglas, slain by Harry Hotspur on the field of Otter- 
burn, celebrated in the English ballad of " Chevy Chase," and 
innumerable other scions of that renowned house. In 1544 
Sir Ralph Evers despoiled the tombs of the Douglases while 
defacing other parts of the abbey. 

For forty years the abbey was held by Edward III. as on 
English territory, but the inmates suffered no harm and the 
buildings remained intact. In 1384 the abbey suffered again 
from English visitation under Richard II., who, having passed 
the night beneath the abbey's roof, repaid for its hospitality by 
setting it on fire. By this act Richard II. left his stamp upon 
the edifice. For the portions then destroyed, the transepts and 
choir, were rebuilt in the style inaugurated in England during 
that monarch's reign. To do him justice, it is said that the 
English king made handsome gifts to Melrose to restore the 
damage his troops had caused. It is true that the church 

1 Another tradition holds that Sir James was buried in St. Bride's, Lanarkshire, 
where are many tombs of later Douglases, and an elaborate tomb has been assigned 
to him in that church. Blore, in his "Monumental Remains," pronounces the effigy 
there to be anterior to Sir James's time, and the canopy is much later. It is possible 
that a monument was erected to him here by his son Archibald, even though his 
body reposed with the older Douglases at Melrose. 


was restored in excellent style, and, under Abbot Hunter, in 
the middle of the fifteenth century, attained its old-time pres- 
tige. This famous superior was at one time the ambassador 
of James II. to France, and later Lord High Treasurer of the 
Kingdom. As we have already seen, this abbot left his im- 
print upon the church edifice. For over a hundred years 
more the abbey flourished^ in 1542 no less than two hundred 
brethren, monks and laymen, were in service at Melrose. 
The abbey did not escape the " scourge of God," as the Earl 
of Hertford might have been called by the Scottish monastics : 
it met final destruction at his hands in 1545. If the Earl 
left anything in the way of pillage undone, it was thoroughly 
performed by the promoters of the Reformation. From that 
time the ruin went rapidly to decay and was used as a quarry 
by the townspeople of Melrose, until, with its lands and titles, 
it came into the possession of Sir Walter Scott and the noble 
house of Buccleugh, who have taken every measure to preserve 
the ruin without imparting a suggestion of restoration or of 
artificial support. 

During Sir Walter's residence at Abbotsford, the abbey was 
one of his favourite haunts. In the portion of the choir east 
of the crossing, now almost wholly destroyed, is a pile of 
broken columns and capitals marking the site of one of the 
piers. This, Sir Walter chose as the most favoured spot 
from which to view the abbey. Here he improvised a rustic 


\y' h i^. ! m 


seat and often sat with his face toward the grand ruin of 
the eastern end with its tracery darkly outlined against the 
changeful sky, and here he was inspired to write the Melrose 

I have refrained from quoting further from the famous 
lines of Scott upon Melrose by moonlight in the " Lay of the 
Last Ministrel," because I feel that they must be so familiar 
to every one. But charming as the poem is, and lovely as the 
sight must be, I cannot recommend it to my readers, to my 
countrymen at least, to undertake the poetic task. 

One is apt to forget how far Scotland is from the equator, 
and how oddly the Queen of Night behaves in northern lati- 
tudes. Not long ago I visited Melrose with a German friend 
who had travelled many miles to see the abbey. It was in 
August, and my friend had calculated his time so as to be there 
at the full of the moon. In the evening we walked to the 
abbey and waited long for the moon, which, in harvest, we are 
taught to expect early. Finally she appeared, and like a huge 
cart wheel rolled slowly up the slope of the Eildons and disap- 
peared behind them without raising her limb from the hori- 
zon. Daylight hung on, as it does in northern climes. The 
light which the refractory orb gave out was completely dissi- 
pated by the ''gay beams of lightsome day." Just before she 
disappeared, by placing our heads near the ground, we could 
bring the " slender shafts of shapely stone " between us and 



the golden disc ; but it was far from satisfactory. Such is the 
behaviour of the Scottish moon in summer time. I am told 
that at Christmas-tide, when the moon is high in heaven, the 
children of the neighbourhood gather in the evening within 
St. David's ruined pile to sing their Christmas carols and make 
the bare old walls ring out again, as of old, the song of 
" Peace to men of good will." 




The most natural step from Melrose is to Dryburgh, its 
ruined sister abbey across the Tweed only a few miles distant. 
If the traveller is made familiar with the former ruin through 
the writings of Sir Walter Scott, he is brought to the latter 
with sentiments quite different — a pilgrim to the tomb of 
the " Wizard of the North " — which has become a veritable 
Mecca of the Scots. The abbey of Dryburgh has neither 
the extent nor the exquisite detail of Melrose ; it has not the 
antiquity nor the historical association of Dunfermline. It is, 
nevertheless, most attractive for two reasons: the first, already 
hinted at, for the dust it enshrines, and secondly, for its grace 
and picturesqueness. Its ruin is complete. A pile of shat- 
tered walls and piers, huge mounds almost hidden by the grass 
that has found footing in the crumbling mass. Scattered blocks 
and bits of decorated capital or moulding, attract our notice; 
for the stone of Dryburgh, like that of Melrose, is hard, retain- 
ing the carving. The church cannot claim a single unbroken 
feature. The trees have grown up about it, even within its 




walls, and the ivy vine has woven a beautiful garment to hide 
the shame of its desolation. As was the case in many of the 
English and Scotch abbeys that met their destruction in war- 
like assault, the lateral walls and interior supports of Dry- 
burgh have almost entirely disappeared, while the west and 


C. Transepts. 

D. St. Mary's Aisle. 
Cloister Court. 

St. Mod en's Chapel. 
Chapter Houso. 
Vaulted Cellars below Refectory. 


south ends are almost the only surviving portions. It is not 
difficult to see how the walls, with their many openings, would 
be most pregnable to the pounding of artillery, and that when 
one breach wag made the homogeneous structure of super- 
posed arcades and delicate shafts, dependent upon each other 
for support, quickly collapsed. As the plan indicates, there are 


still standing, of the church edifice, two complete bays of the 
transept aisle and one of the choir aisle with their vaults intact 
and the triforium and clerestory above them, the lower part of 
the sanctuary wall to the height of about six feet, the south 
transept end complete, the southern wall of the nave, heavy 
and devoid of openings, and the western wall with its portal. 
A peculiar architectural interest attaches to Dryburgh on 
account of the excellent preservation of its original cloister 
court with some of the domestic buildings on one side of it 
and the walls and foundations of others on the remaining 
sides. The group includes two tunnel-vaulted chapels, adjacent 
to the transept, and the chapter house, in excellent preserva- 
tion ; a long structure, adjoining the chapter house, probably 
the fratry, not so well preserved; then the slype, and a large 
structure called the library. Above this continuous line of 
apartments are preserved parts of the second story, which con- 
tained the dormitories, scriptorium, etc. At the centre of the 
fratry wall the cloister wall turns ; a flight of steps in the 
angle leads down to the lower level upon which the fratry, 
slype, and other structures open. 

On the south side of the cloister are the vaulted cellars 
of the refectory, which is completely destroyed except for its 
western gable, which preserves a fine wheel window. At this 
point the cloister wall forms another angle and is carried north 
to join the wall of the nave. At its northern end we find three 


low vaults, which are called the dungeons. This completes 
the great quadrangle of the abbey's residential portions. A 
triangular court seems to have been formed to the south of 
the refectory, with the so-called library and slype to the east, 
and on its long side a number of less important buildings, 
traceable in their ruined foundations. 

Three distinct styles are represented in these remains. The 
Norman and early transition claim the entire eastern group of 
monastic buildings. The church edifice seems to have been 
wholly of Early English design, and the remaining remnants of the 
southern buildings of the cloister are largely in decorated style. 

For a more detailed examination let us begin with the 
church. From an examination of the remains of the sanctu- 
ary, the southern end of the transept with its attached frag- 
ments, and the long lines of pier bases that extend down the 
length of the nave, we may safely conclude that the three 
surviving northeastern bays known as St. Mary's aisle are a 
fair sample of the style and design of the entire edifice. The 
six-bayed nave with its two aisles, the single-aisled transept, 
the choir with aisles extending one bay beyond the crossing, 
and the simple sanctuary, were undoubtedly treated upon the 
same general lines. 

The main arcade of St. Mary's aisle consists of rather 
plain, pointed arches, supported upon clusters of slender shafts 



with capitals of simple moulded Early English type. The 
shafts of the piers at the crossing are carried up to the clere- 
story level, where arches spring in two directions to support a 
central tower. The triforium consists of a plain wall broken 

Point 3 on Plan. 

in each bay by a flat arched opening filled with a cinquefoil 
plate. Above this runs the gallery of the clerestory, an open 
arcade of three lancet-pointed arches in each bay, the central 
arch being the broadest, resting upon groups of slender 
colonettes with moulded caps. The windows, which open 
under the broad arches of the clerestory, are small and plain, 


but pointed. From the caps of the main pier a very delicate 
shaft rises to the top of the clerestory wall to afford apparent 
support to the roof timbers, for there is no sign of vault 
structure. The three vaults are of excellent form, simple in 
plan and solid in construction, typical of early pointed work. 
The outer walls have small windows, quite plain within and 
provided with only a simple label and dog-tooth mouldings on 
the exterior. St. Mary's aisle contains the simple tomb of Sir 
Walter Scott. 

Adjoining this part is a fragment of north end wall, show- 
ing that there were here two stories of tall grouped windows, 
ornamented with deep mouldings and engaged colonettes. The 
broken wall of the sanctuary contains a bit of stair which 
probably connected with the galleries above. 

The south transept end is solid and uninteresting in its 
lower regions, but in the gable is a fine window of first pointed 
style filled with plain tracery of later date. Its sill is raised 
by steps toward the centre to accommodate the steep ridge of 
the dormitory roof without. A winding stairway in the east 
corner of the transept led from the church to the upper 
story of the cloister buildings. 

At the west end we find only a heavy wall of one story with 
the main portal of the church, a round-headed opening adorned 
over its arch and along its jambs by rich mouldings embel- 
lished with rosettes. These unbroken mouldings with their 



little ornaments would assign the portal, though semicircular, 
to a comparatively late date. 

In the south wall of the nave is another portal that led out 
to the cloisters. It is one of the gems of the buildings. Its 

Point i on Plan. 

broad round arch, from which most of the mouldings have 
been stripped, rests upon colonettes quite slender and very 
gracefully capped in early French style. One of the best 
views of the abbey is to be had through this doorway. 

Adjacent to the south transept and reached by a descend- 
ing flight of steps, is the sacristy, now closed, and used as a 



mortuary chamber. It is covered by a vault and is provided 
with a window of two coupled arches, surmounted by one in 
form of the vesica pescis. Next to this comes another vaulted 



Point 3 on Plan. 

chamber, the chapel of St. Modan, also converted into a tomb, 
and lighted like its neighbour by coupled round-arched windows 
to the east Both apartments connected with the cloister by 


means of round-arched doorways ; the latter with the chapter 
house, which extends several feet further to the east than the 
two chapels. The structure of these buildings, thus far, is quite 
purely Norman. In the chapter house we find a fine broad 
barrel vault, Norman arcades in the walls, Norman arch and 
windows upon the cloister, but early pointed openings at the 
end and in the side of the vault; broken through in after 
years when more light was sought. In the centre of the floor, 
a double circle marks the burial place of the founder of the 
abbey. The cloister was reached from the chapter house, and 
in fact from all these buildings, by a flight of steps, the level 
of the cloister being somewhat above that of the domestic 
buildings, and the level of the church higher still, showing 
that the abbey was built upon a gentle slope. 

Next to the chapter house and connected with it by a curved 
passageway, is an oblong building, built in Norman style, but 
provided, apparently at a later period, with a set of vaults, to 
carry which two supports were placed on the central axis of the 
apartment and corbels set in the walls. The springing of these 
vaults is still visible, At the same time with the other improve- 
ments this room was fitted with large traceried windows and a 
commodious fireplace. A staircase led to the upper apartments. 
This building, which we shall call the fratry, opened upon the 
lower cloister court and upon the slype, which, with the ad- 
joining half-ruined structure, are in the primitive Norman style. 


l 33 



Point 4 on Plan. 

The second story of all these buildings is pretty well pre- 
served on the eastern side, where an interesting row of plain 
Norman windows between flat pilaster buttresses maintains the 
primitive style of the abbey. The upper story of the chapter 
house alone shows signs of having been remodelled. 

Alongside the fratry wall another flight of steps leads from 
the cloister to the lower garth. The vaulted cellars of the 
refectory, the only building on the southern side of the court, 
manifest work of extremely crude character; but one of the 


features of the whole ruin is the great St. Catherine's wheel 
window in its tall western gable. It is plainly of early deco- 
rated style, is twelve feet in diameter, and retains its original 
tracery. A rich growth of ivy, covering the bareness of the 
ruined wall and gable, adds much to the effect of the wheel. 

In the plain west wall of the cloister is a long niche that 
once contained the tomb of one of the early abbots. At the 
opposite end is the entrance to the supposed dungeons, where 
there is an arrangement in the wall for wedging in the hands 
of unruly monks or poaching laymen. Among the fragments 
of carving gathered in the chapter house and in a pile in the 
choir are an ancient font, remnants of an altar of great age, 
and a huge stone sarcophagus. 

The history of the abbey of Dryburgh is almost coincident 
with that of its more powerful neighbour, Melrose. Their 
periods of prosperity were coeval; their misfortunes came at 
the same time, for their enemies were identical. Dryburgh 
is slightly younger than Melrose, having been founded in 
1 1 50 — not by David I., strange to say, but by one of his 
powerful lords, Hugh de Moreville, Constable of Scotland. 
The saint-king, however, must be given credit for his share 
in building the abbey ; for, once founded, it became the object 
of his pious liberality to such an extent that the real founder 
was long forgotten until the research of antiquaries discovered 


him. The site chosen by the pious Hugh for his monument 

was one so old that history is lost in attempting to ascertain 

even an approximate date. This heavily wooded haugh, rising 

from the bank of the winding Tweed, was in the distant past 

a place of Druidical worship. The name Darach Bruach 

signifies in Celtic or Gaelic a grove sacred to that ancient 

religion. Besides a site of great antiquity, the abbey boasts a 

location which, for beauty, is not rivalled in the whole of 


" And Dryburgh, where with chiming Tweed 
The lint- whites sing in chorus," 

says Wordsworth. 

The river sweeps its majestic course on three sides of the 
abbey precinct, which is completely embowered in a splendid 
growth of ancient trees. Beside the abbey stand a number of 
grand old yew trees, which are known, from references to them 
in ancient documents as landmarks, to be almost as old as the 
abbey itself. 

When the abbey had been founded, its patron sent to 
Alnwick for a chapter of White Friars of the Premonstraten- 
sian order. In 11 50, on St. Martin's Day, the abbey was 
consecrated. Within twelve years the domestic buildings 
were completed; for in 1162 the pious founder was laid in a 
tomb in the chapter house beside his wife, Beatrix de 


Soon after the consecration of the abbey, the sacred relics 
of St. Moden, or Modan, were brought from his cell in Rose- 
heath, where they had reposed since the sixth century. The 
church could not have been built at that period, for these 
bones were laid in a special chapel adjoining the chapter 
house, instead of in the sanctuary, the usual site of reliquaries. 
But within sixty years after the abbey's founding, during which 
the Norman style had been supplanted by the early pointed, 
the church itself was consecrated with great solemnity on an- 
other St. Martin's Day in the time of Abbot Girardus (1177- 
1184), under whose rule the abbey was granted special privi- 
leges by Pope Lucian III. The White Monks enjoyed tranquil 
prosperity for nearly two hundred years. When the war for 
independence broke out, this borderland abbey saved itself and 
its inmates by the act of Abbot William, who swore fidelity 
to Edward I. The king, however, took over the lands of the 
monastery in 1276. 

Again the abbey was spared the invading hosts of England 
when Edward II., with his vast army, passed northward toward 
the capital. But one day in June the monks learned of the 
crushing defeat of this mighty host on Bannockburn field, and 
set their bells to ringing lustily for hours in jubilant exulta- 
tion ; but with the news of victory advanced the vanquished 
monarch, who turned the joy of the monks to grief by setting 
fire to their refectory. It was this part alone that perished in 


the conflagration, as we see from the change of style that took 
place in this building, represented by the rich decorated window. 

It is, of course, possible that the wooden roofs of the 
buildings were also consumed, but no other sign of destruc- 
tion or restoration of this period can be found upon the 
surviving portions. During the years of peace that remained 
to the abbey its cloister became a favourite haunt of Ralph 
Strode, the philosopher, and of many other men of letters. 

The abbey's great disaster fell in the year 1544, when Sir 
Ralph Evers was engaged in devastating all the cloistered 
haunts of Teviotdale. The demolition of this time undoubtedly 
left the abbey in the condition in which we see it to-day. 

In 1832 the body of Sir Walter Scott was laid to rest 
beneath St. Mary's aisle, among the graves of his ancestors, 
the Haliburtons of Newmains, to whom the abbey once 
belonged. It seems as if these few vaults had been spared 
expressly for the reception of the hallowed remains of Scot- 
land's favourite son. 




The Eastern Lowlands, or East Lo- 
thian, comprising what are now known 
as the shires of Berwick and Hadding- 
ton, were in the earlier days of Christ- 
ianity in Britain the seat of a number 
of monastic institutions. 

The proximity of the Holy Isle and 
the influence of several ancient Scottish 
missionaries, among whom St. Cuthbert and St. Aidan were 
most prominent, had wrought the evangelization of this wild 
and pagan coast as early as the seventh century. The North- 
umbrian Kingdom, unreached by the Roman-British mission of 
St. Augustine, we are told, was brought to the acceptance 
of Christian faith through Scottish agency in the person of 
St. Aidan, who came from the western isle of Iona, where St. 
Columba had set up his cross nearly a hundred years before. 
St. Cuthbert, whose faith was of the same source, made the 
Holy Isle, off the east coast of Berwick, the centre of a most 



extended bishopric; so that the early establishment of religious 
houses in this wilderness was the result of Columban rather 
than of Augustinian missions. 

Most, if not all, of these early foundations perished under 
the hand of the Danes, whose torches, early in the ninth cen- 
tury, laid waste these first homes of struggling Christianity 
from the Thames to the Frith of Forth. 

But the seed thus early sown was not wholly uprooted by 
Danish fury, although all visible signs of its existence had dis- 
appeared; for, as the more peaceful times of Malcolm Canmore 
appeared in the eleventh century, a fresh and vigorous growth 
began, which flourished richly under the protection and pat- 
ronage of his pious progeny. 

No vestige of monumental evidence remains of the earlier 
religious settlements; tradition points to a number of possible 
foundations. The name of St. Abb, which still survives in 
local nomenclature, is reminiscent of Ebba, who is said, after 
her miraculous escape from a Northumbrian prince who wished 
to marry her, to have established a convent, of which she was 
the first abbess, at Coldingham. The successors of Ebba, dur- 
ing the Danish invasion, are reported to have cut off their 
noses and lips in fear of violation, and to have been burned 
alive with their abbey when the relentless marauders came. 
The present remains at Coldingham are those of a Cistercian 
monastery established in 1098 upon the ruined foundations of 


St. Ebba's convent. A tragic discovery early in the present 
century lent credence to the story of the abbey's earlier founda- 
tion, when the skeleton of a woman was found in an upright 
position sealed up in the thickness of the ancient wall, telling 
perhaps of the penalty for broken vows paid by one of the 
sisterhood. This horrible form of punishment, which reminds 
one of the days of Roman Vestals and imperial persecutions, 
was visited upon the unfortunate Constance de Beverley, who 
left her cloister to become a horse-boy in the train of Lord 
Marmion, as the reader doubtless remembers from Scott's 

At North Berwick are the scant remains of another Cister- 
cian convent also made famous by Sir Walter in " Marmion." 

... "a venerable pile, 

Whose turrets viewed afar, 
The lofty Bass, the Lambie Isle, 

The ocean's peace or war." 

Here it was that "St. Hilda's Abbess" from across the border 
was received by the venerable Scottish prioress. 

Abbey St. Bathan's is but a name, though we may believe 
that it is derived from a religious settlement long since lost in 
oblivion. These traditions and names relate probably to only 
a small fraction of the religious centres established in East 
Lothian during its earliest Christian period. The second or 
post-Norman era saw great and powerful institutions erected 


upon many of these early sites, as we have seen above, and 
numerous new settlements were founded throughout the district. 

During this second period of Christian influence, no place 
in the whole region was more famous as a religious centre than 
the town of Haddington. A "royal burgh," it possessed no 
less than two religious houses — a Franciscan monastery and 
a convent — besides several churches and chapels. 

The town is beautifully situated in the fertile valley of the 
Tyne, just east of the lovely hills of Lammermuir. The river, 
bordered with willows and shaded by lofty, graceful elms, winds 
through one of the most fertile plains in the North Country, 
whose abundance of corn was famous even as far back as the 
time of Edward I. At the point where the river curves 
about the town, it is crossed by the " Auld Brig," which has 
withstood many inundations that have destroyed large por- 
tions of the burgh. The oldest of a number of inscriptions 
on the bridge at its eastern end reads, " Haidinton 1565," and 
an ancient iron hook projecting from one of the arches marks 
the place where the criminals of past centuries hung for their 

Early in the twelfth century Haddington became the dower 
of Ada, Countess of Northumberland; and here her sons, Mal- 
colm IV. and William I., spent their youth. William, later 
called " The Lion," made the town his most favoured residence, 
and his son Alexander II. was born in its castle. 




It was created a royal burgh by David I., and remained a 
royal residence until about 12 16, when, under King John of 
England, hostilities between the two countries began, which 
were to last for centuries. The town was at the time reduced 
to ashes, but was quickly rebuilt, the monastic portion with 
greater splendour than before. 

Of the mediaeval religious buildings which gave dignity to 
the town but one remains, and this, though ruined, is in com- 
paratively good preservation. But so completely have all rec- 
ords of the monasteries disappeared — so absolutely have war 
and fire and sword effaced the memory of the buildings which 
stood near it — that it is impossible to identify this majestic 
ruin with any degree of certainty. 

Dr. Barclay, writing in 1792, proved, to his own satisfac- 
tion at least, that the present church is the ancient Franciscan 
priory ; this conclusion he reached by quotations of certain 
boundaries in old documents. Mr. Robb, who has recently 
written a guide to Haddington, takes issue with Dr. Barclay 
and brings evidence to show that the abbey buildings of the 
Franciscan monastery were situated some yards further down 
the river, i.e. to the 'north, and holds that the present structure 
has always been the parish church, as it is still called. 

Mr. H. F. Kerr, in a paper published in the Transactions 
of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, concurs with Mr. 
Robb's views, while Macgibbon, in his new work upon the 


" Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland," seems non-committal, 
though he calls the building the "parish church," which no 
one can deny it now is. 

Without pursuing further the lines of proof so ably adduced 
by these authorities, let us look at the situation in a fair light, 
and then attempt to judge from a purely archaeological stand- 
point the possible identity of our church. 

If these more recent writers are correct, there stood at one 
time beside the Tyne, within a few yards of each other, two 
magnificent ecclesiastical edifices of nearly equal dimensions, — 
the parish church and the church of the friars, both of which 
we know from various accounts to have been large and 
splendid structures. 

The ancient chronicler Fordun records that Edward III., 
while invading Scotland in 1355, burned "the town, the mon- 
astery, and the sacred church of the Fratres Minores of Had- 
dington, a costly and splendid building of wonderful beauty, 
whose choir, from its elegance and clearness of light, was 
commonly called the Lamp of Lothian or Friars' Kirk." And 
Patten, in his " Expedition to Scotland under the Conduct of 
the Earl of Hertford," remarks, in 1547: "We burnt a fine 
town of the Earl of Bothwell's, called Haddington, with a 
great nunnery and a house of friars." Mr. Robb cites both of 
these quotations, but does not call attention to the fact that 
the magnificent " parish church " is mentioned by neither of 


these authorities, while both refer, apparently, to the convent 
in the N ungate and to the abbey. 

Beside a very unusual position in adjoining a large mon- 
astery, this parish church had the unusual features of a 
spacious choir (plan) of four bays, with side aisles and well- 
projecting transepts, beside a three-aisled nave of five bays, 
and these long after the town had ceased to be a royal resi- 
dence or of any great importance as compared with numerous 
other towns which could not boast of parish churches half as 
large. Could we reconcile the few yards of difference in loca- 
tion, would it not seem more practicable to combine the two 
supposed buildings and identify the commodious choir with 
the place of worship of the monks, and the present, later nave, 
with its predecessors (which must have been), with the parish 
church ; as was the case with the naves of abbey churches the 
world over? But these are not my only reasons for believing 
St. Mary's Church to be a part of the ancient monastery. In 
the north side of the choir, in the third bay, there is a door- 
way which now leads into a mortuary chamber of recent date. 

This doorway, round arched and small, is in all respects 
like those of other abbeys which lead into the sacristy or 
connect with the monastic buildings. High up on the exte- 
rior surface of the remaining walls of the north transept are 
the unmistakable marks of gable roofs and other evidences of 
buildings once attached. The northern and western walls of 


this transept are entirely wanting, but I believe that if they 
were in existence they could prove conclusively that they were 
connected with the domestic edifices of a great monastery. 
The buildings of the monastery we know were destroyed by 
Edward I., circa 1292, while the abbey church was spared. 
With a cloister court and domestic buildings about it to the 
north, and perhaps a smaller close beyond this, which was of 
frequent occurrence, it is not difficult to carry the boundaries 
of the abbey to the points identified as the "friers croft" and 
" friers gowl" which seem to be the chief landmarks of the 

The most picturesque and characteristic view of the abbey 
is to be had from the old bridge, itself some five hundred 
years old, that leads over to that portion of the town called 
the Nungate. From here the whole height of the tower is 
seen above the graceful ruins of the choir, while the nave, 
with its poor fifteenth-century work and awkward modern 
restorations, is suppressed into the background by the pro- 
jecting arm of the broken transept and the clustering trees of 
the friar's croft. There were few towers like this in Scotland 
in the days of its glory, nor many of the transitional style in 
Great Britain that could surpass it for grace of proportion or 
elegance of design. What its crowning feature was, whether 
spire or battlement, we do not know, but we at least may hope 
it was not, as has been suggested, a crown like that which 

Cu,.! 1 !." 11 "' 

the tower and choir. From Point 4 on Plan. 


makes St. Giles in Edinburgh, if not beautiful, conspicuous 
among the churches of the Kingdom. 

The choir needs closer inspection ; but the tower and 
choir, rising out of the water of Tyne, set among the soft 
green of luxuriant trees, all against the changing slopes of 
the distant Lammermuirs, have a site of rare beauty, dignified 
and commanding, yet low and protected. 

From the bridge we walk along the " Sands," or Butts, 
where archery was practised by the royal bowmen in pre- 
gunpowder times, to the north gate of the kirkyard; from this 
point the dignity of the choir is well appreciated, but the 
modern chapel hides much of its beauty. Making our way 
among the graves past the east end of the choir we turn, and 
have as good a view as can be had of the ruin ; the well-pro- 
portioned outer buttresses, with one broken and two perfect 
transitional pinnacles, and with their gargoyle water conduits 
intact; the south aisle wall, completely destroyed in the east- 
ern and western bays, but preserving in two mid-bays pointed 
windows broken down to the ground, but with their carved 
hood mouldings perfectly preserved, while through the win- 
dows we see the clustered shafts and pointed arches of the 
main arcade. Above this wall the sole surviving original fly- 
ing buttress describes a free curve to the clerestory wall. This 
arch is of simple form, well weighted at the back, and must 
be of the best period. The windows of the clerestory are of 



pointed form, well proportioned, with well-carved hood moulds, 
and contain a simple design of decorated tracery, which, from 
its depth and the richness of its mouldings, cannot be earlier 
than the middle of the thirteenth century nor later than the 
beginning of the fourteenth. 

The corbel table which adorns 
the top of both walls is of four- 
teenth or even fifteenth century de- | F 
sign, and marks a change of roofing "*" ' 
probably necessitated by fire. jf^P~ ; 

The plan of the interior com- 
prises a three-aisled choir of four 
bays, broad aisleless transepts, and 
a nave of five bays with three 
aisles. The choir was vaulted 
throughout, as were the transepts, 
and as is the much-restored nave. 

The broad pointed arches of the 
choir are richly moulded, and are 
supported by clusters of eight graceful shafts bearing capitals of 
the best English Gothic design and most beautiful workmanship. 
It must be said that the capitals of the two easternmost piers 
are of the plain moulded type of the Early English period, 
that those of another are restored, and that the carving just 
spoken of may be somewhat later than the construction. 

A. Nnvo. 

B. Cbolr. 
0. N. Transept. 
D. 8. Transept. 
£. Tower. 
F. Modern Mortuarj 




The colouring of the interior is a soft reddish brown, black- 
ened in some places by the smoke of long-past fires. The 
graceful clustered piers and richly carved pointed arches cast 
deep shadows over a floor of nature's green, broken here and 
there by the, white of a marble tomb-slab. Among these we 
note with interest the grave of Jane Welch, the wife of Carlyle, 
whose lines to her memory we read upon the stone : — 

" In her bright existence she had more sorrows than are common, but also a 
soft invincibility and a noble loyalty of heart which are rare. For forty years 
she was the true and ever loving helpmate of her husband and by act and word 
unweariedly forwarded him, as none else could, in all of worthy that he did or 
attenipted. She died at London, 21 April, 1866, suddenly snatched away from 
him and the light of his life as if gone out." 

Poor Jane Carlyle after a hard life at last found repose 
with her parents, far away in the North, in the abbey of the 
town where she was born, about whose crumbling ruins she had 
played as a little child and where she had received the homage 
of two of the greatest men of her time, Edward Irving and 
Thomas Carlyle. 

The side-aisle walls seem not to have had responds oppo- 
site the piers, but bear corbels which still support the remains 
of vault ribs. The windows in the north wall still preserve 
their original form and tracery, which may be assigned to the 
same date as that of the clerestory. The tracery of the east 
window is modern, but a restoration, they say, from original 



fragments : it is of fine flowing character. There is no tri- 
forium gallery, the blank space between the triforium string 
and that of the clerestory being the only ungothic feature of 
the choir, and is suggestive of German and Italian interiors of 
the same period. Three clustered vaulting shafts are carried 
up from bases resting upon the main capitals to support the 
ribs of the main vaults ; their capitals are moulded but very 
flowing to receive the loads. The wall ribs of all the high 
vaults are still to be seen, embracing the windows and above 
the great east window. These vaults must have been very 
fine and of truly Gothic character, as their plan of construc- 
tion shows. It has been necessary in precaution to brace the 
high walls by means of iron girders, which now span the 
main aisle, but I did not deem it important to reproduce 
these in the drawing. 

The supports of the tower are very massive, composed of 
shafts separated by pilasters of rectangular section and grouped 
about a pier of great diameter. 

The transept is of equal depth with the tower, and, so far 
as it is preserved, presents high walls unbroken to the east. 
The south end has a low door surmounted by a lofty window, 
but these are restorations of modern date. High up on the 
walls may be seen the corbels which supported high vaults of 
considerable span, three compartments over each arm of the 
transept. The tower and transepts are unmistakably the 


oldest part of the building. These, with the choir, are un- 
doubtedly portions of the church which Edward I. saw and 
spared in 1292, and are the veritable " Lucerna Laudoniae" of 
Fordun, which Edward III. burned, together with the town, 
m J 355- This conflagration consumed probably the wooden 
roofs and movables of the church, sparing the lower portions, 
as often happened in the case of vaulted buildings. An older 
nave, or one contemporaneous with the choir, may have been 
so seriously damaged at this time that it was found necessary 
to remove it, for the present nave is of a date subsequent to 
Edward III.'s invasion. 

Only one small portion of this nave, which is of a very 
poor period, and made worse by alterations and restorations 
in recent years, need be mentioned here; that is the western 
portal, which may easily be believed to have belonged to a 
structure of the best Gothic period. It consists of a broad 
semicircular arch, deeply recessed and richly moulded, embrac- 
ing two sub-arches of similar form, supported at their juncture 
by a slender cluster of colonettes, the compound capital of 
which is shown in the initial sketch. The round arch obtained 
in Scotland during all periods, but the richness and delicacy 
of the sculptured mouldings, and especially of the capital, 
which is an elaborate foliate design with a shield bearing a 
composite representation of the Passion, the pierced heart, the 
hands and feet, the nails, all interwoven with the crown of 


thorns, are specimens of exquisite workmanship of the best 
period. It is possible that this little bit of sculpture may aid 
in the final identification of the church, for symbolism is so 
rare in Scottish sculpture that its occurrence must have 

The heart, hands, and feet are symbolical of the " five 
wounds," a characteristic symbol in the blazonry of the Fran- 
ciscan order, and never used, so far as I am able to discover, 
by other orders or by the church at large. Various instances 
of its use may be found in the " Life of St. Francis of 
Assisi " (E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Paris, 1885), the most strik- 
ing example, perhaps, being that at the bottom of Plate XIX., 
where the resemblance to our shield is most patent, the only 
difference being that in the latter the crown of thorns is intro- 
duced to give sculptural character and to blend the design 
with the foliage treatment of the capital. May it not be that 
the key to the abbey's mystery is, after all, veritably in the 
front portal? 

If we follow the path through the churchyard to the gate 
by which we entered, cross the bridge, and follow the river for 
half or three quarters of a mile, we shall come to the meagre 
remains of the convent which Countess Ada of Northumber- 
land, mother of Malcolm IV. and William " the Lion," founded 
in 1 1 78. Little is known of its history except that in 1292 the 
Abbess Alicia did homage to Edward I. for herself and her 


followers, and that this act was repeated by the Abbess Eva 
four years later. Thus twice the nunnery was spared the 
violence of the English armies. 

In 1338 occurred the most terrible flood recorded of the 
Tyne. The fields for miles along its course were devastated. 
Villages were swept away and a large portion of the town of 
Haddington was inundated and the convent was threatened 
with destruction. The story is told that the abbess, taking 
the statue of the Blessed Virgin from above its altar, and 
followed by the nuns in solemn procession, marched to the 
edge of the swelling flood, which thereupon turned aside and 
began at once to abate. 

The convent seems to have flourished until the early be- 
ginnings of the Reformation, when it was gradually suppressed. 

The buildings were all destroyed later, and almost no trace 
of them remains. 


_ c 



As one sails along the northern shore of 
St. Andrew's Bay he may see, 
"''.i^'' ' -. towering against the dull 

gray sky, the jagged out- 
line of a mighty ruin 
mounted upon a bold 
headland, with the sea 

breaking in a long, white 
line upon the rocks at its base. The walls, ragged and 
broken, tell us that a once mighty edifice has been wholly 
demolished. Yet most conspicuous, even from so distant a 
point of view, is a tall pointed gable preserving intact a large 
circular window. The effect of this lofty bit of work, defying 
the touch of time and weather, above the shattered mass below, 
is striking indeed. 

The ruin is pointed out as that of the great abbey of Aber- 
brothic, one of the most powerful monasteries in the North 
during the later Middle Ages. A nearer view of the ruin re- 

i S 6 


veals, even to a further degree, the complete dilapidation of 
the whole fabric. The material, unlike that employed at Mel- 
rose, is soft and crumbling. The bleak winds and storms of 
that desolate coast through the centuries have wrought havoc 
with the yielding stones. Huge blocks — four square, not one 
left upon another — lie scattered about, with fragments of 
columns, broken capitals, and arches rent asunder. 

It is not difficult for the imagination to restore upon the 
far-extending ground plan, marked by little hillocks of moulder- 
ing masonry, an imposing mediaeval monastery, with its towers, 
its chapter house, its cloisters, all surrounded by flourishing 
gardens, verdant fields, and wooded parks ; but how sad is the 
contrast when we return to the Arbroath monastery of to-day, 
unable to offer shelter even to the rooks, shorn of its beauty, 
its lands barren and desolate. On all sides press the awkward 
structures of a manufacturing seaport town. Countless chimneys 
belch forth volumes of smoke that have streaked and blackened 
the grand old remnant of mediaevalism. The architecture dis- 
played in the remnants of the church is, almost universally, in 
pointed style, bearing strong traces of the transition and a few 
marks of the still older Norman period. There are almost no 
remains of decorated or the later pointed styles, so that the 
church edifice at least must have been pretty nearly of a single 
epoch, and that the earliest type of pointed style in the 

Colonettes restored. 


The main portal is the most ancient part preserved to us, 
and this, though distinctly Norman in form, is well infused 
with Gothic spirit in its ornament and in the lightness of its 
composition. The arch is round, low, and broad ; deeply re- 
cessed, and ornamented with a succession of mingled Norman 
and Gothic mouldings, supported on either side by ranks of 
slender colonettes whose capitals are simple moulded bands. 
Above the portal runs a gallery of two rows of columns open- 
ing within the church in a pointed arcade ; the gallery is not 
vaulted, a simple entablature being supported by the inner row 
of columns, which are curious polygonal shafts. This work is 
quite unlike anything else in the range of Gothic art in Great 
Britain. The walls within present no very striking features ; 
some of the apertures are large, but bear no remnant of tracery. 
The circular western window, a fragment of which remains, 
was one of the largest in the Kingdom. 

The ground plan of the church indicates an edifice of great 
size and elaborate parts, a long nave of nine bays having side 
aisles, the first bay of each being beneath one of the great 
western towers which flanked the main portal. Broad tran- 
septs, with an eastern aisle, reached to north and south, and 
a huge central tower rose high above the crossing ; to the east 
lay a spacious choir of three bays, which was carried on in an 
aisleless sanctuary of two bays terminating in a flat end in the 
manner of Early English churches. 



In comparatively later years the angle between the choir 
and south transept was filled with a structure that doubtless 
served as a sacristy. To the south of the transept lay the 

monastic buildings, of 
which few traces remain, 
and the cloister garth 
spread out beside the 
nave. To the west of 
the abbey a large group 
of buildings grew up in 
the later years of the 
abbey's history. These 
were the abbot's house 
and numerous civic 
buildings which were 
the result of the abbey's 
connection with the af- 
fairs of state through the 
worldly interests of its 
later superiors. We 
shall confine our interest 
to the more truly monastic portions of the abbey, however, 
and content ourselves with the magnificent ruin of the church 

On the extensive ground plan, above described, there 

A. Nave. 

B. Choir. 
'..'. Sanctuary. 

D, D. Transepts. 
£. Sacristy. 
F. Cloister. 
Q. Slype. 
H. Chapter House, 

E. Door to Olni: 
M. Doorway to 

N, N. Western 




remains standing, of the nave, goodly portions of the western 
towers, with the portal, a single bay of the nave (the northern 
tower bay), and a doorway in the north wall adjoining the 
tower, the long wall of the south aisle with its high pointed 
windows, two doorways, and the corbels and wall ribs of the 
aisle vaults, and the two long lines of main pier bases. At 
the transepts the huge bases of the tower piers are to be seen, 
and the foundations of the north transept wall have been dis- 
covered. The south transept is complete but for its east wall, 
and is a splendid specimen of transitional work. On the 
ground level a blind arcade of narrow cusped arches with slen- 
der colonettes adorns the south and west walls of the transept, 
and a narrow low doorway opens upon a stair leading to the 
upper passages of the church. Above this a second arcade of 
delicate lancet points, supported by colonettes, is carried across 
the end wall. The west wall is plain at this level, but above 
it the entire expanse to a height of sixty feet is filled with 
two narrow, round-headed windows, one of them somewhat 
destroyed. Across the end wall, above the two blind arcades 
and still below the triforium level, runs a fine open arcade of 
slender round arches with a passage behind. Then come two 
fine, tall, pointed windows below the " round O " which is so 
characteristic a feature of the abbey as seen from a distance. 

Of the choir little is left excepting the remains of bases, 
but a considerable portion of the sanctuary has been spared; 


the east end with a fine wall arcade and two stories of three 
lancet windows, well proportioned and richly, though not lav- 
ishly, decorated. The upper story has disappeared ; it is con- 
jectured to have been of the St. Catherine type, with great 
wheel window. The site of the high altar is easily traced in 
the east end, and, before it, the sunken chamber that originally 
contained the body of the founder. 

The exterior buttresses of the sanctuary are of excellent 
early design. The sacristy, reached by an interesting pointed 
doorway in the easternmost bay of the choir, is a fine vaulted 
structure of the early fifteenth century. An elegant arcade 
adorns the walls on the ground level. The windows in the east- 
ern wall are two grouped lancets, but that to the south is filled 
with mullions and tracery of the decorated pattern. Various 
small carvings in this apartment are worthy of study. Above 
the broad four-celled vault was another apartment which is 
now roofless, but otherwise pretty well preserved. 

The abbey connected with the cloister only by the door- 
ways in the nave. Adjoining the transept is a diminutive slype, 
and, beyond this, fragments of the chapter house; an octagonal 
turret marks the southeast angle of this building, and is suffi- 
cient to show that the style here corresponded to that of the 
church edifice. 

Fragments of the upper stories of the main body of the 
nave and choir, preserved in the tower bay and in responds 




From Point 2 on Plan. 

at other points in the ruins, show that the main arcade, some 
thirty feet high, consisted of fine groups of slender columns 
with richly moulded arches. The triforium was a fully de- 


veloped gallery, a broad round arch over each of the main 
arches embracing a sub-order of two pointed arches resting on 
a slender colonette. The clerestory was exceedingly lofty and 
carried the nave wall to an unprecedented height. The capi- 
tals throughout seem to have been of the plain moulded type, 
though a respond in the south transept shows rich foliate carv- 
ing. The great wheel windows were probably never traceried, but 
filled with glass in leaded designs supported upon bars of iron. 

Very few of the records of this abbey have been preserved, 
and it is only an approximation that we can reach with regard 
to the dates of its various parts. In a great art centre, in 
France or in England, it is a comparatively easy matter to 
determine the date of a piece of architectural work by a com- 
parison of its style, its composition, and the general character 
of the workmanship with those of neighbouring monuments 
whose dates are known. This rule is not infallible, but may, 
in general, be depended upon. In a remote corner of the 
world a very different condition presents itself; architectural 
changes travelled slowly. This is plainly demonstrated in some 
of the cathedrals of England. Were not the massive walls of 
Peterborough still building while the light and graceful piers 
and arches of Paris and Laon were soaring on the other side 
of the channel ? So that although the early parts of Arbroath 
are Norman in tendency, and the later parts strongly transi- 


tional, we must believe that neither are coeval with the corre- 
sponding periods in France or even in England, but some years 
later, after the English Gothic was well established over the 

About the founding of this monastery, history comes to our 
aid. Here is an abbey with which St. David had nothing 
whatever to do; he had long been dead and buried when its 
corner stone was laid. The honour of this distinction is as- 
cribed to William the Lion King of Scotland, in 1 1 78. Will- 
iam had suffered many indignities at the hands of Henry II. 
of England, while endeavouring to recover the lost Scottish 
territory of Northumberland, and had been held a prisoner in 
Normandy by the English king for nearly two years. 

The Scottish king knew of only one man who had set the 
English monarch at naught, had triumphed, even after death, 
over his (William's) bitterest enemy. This man had been 
canonized just five years before, and to St. Thomas a Becket 
William resolved to dedicate his church, a Scottish monastery 
sacred to an English saint. Thus the great abbey of Aber- 
brothic was, in all probability, one of the first establishments 
to bear the name of the martyr of Canterbury. 

The first abbot, who came hither with his little band from 
Kelso, was Reginald; under Reginald and his successors, 
Henry, Radolphus, and Gilbert, work on the abbey was pushed 
with all haste; the king made frequent visits to the abbey, so 


Holinshed tells us, and urged the overseers and masters of the 
works to spare no cost but to carry out the work to perfection 
and in magnificence. In 12 14 the king died and was laid in 
a superb tomb within the choir. A part of the effigy that 
represented the king upon this gorgeous shrine is still to be 
seen among the relics in the sacristy. It is finely executed 
in hard fossiliferous marble and bears a most striking resem- 
blance to the effigy of Richard Coeur de Lion in the cathe- 
dral of Rouen. The pose and arrangement of the drapery 
over the armour are very similar to the Rouen figure, but the 
most striking similarity is in the little figures of knights which, 
lizard-like, are represented crawling over the huge recumbent 
form of the king. A glance will satisfy the archaeologist that 
this sculpture is not a product of a native talent nor an im- 
portation from England, but a work of the best French art of 
the day. 

A few years after, the transept was near enough to com- 
pletion to receive the body of Gilchrist, Earl of Angus, whose 
tomb was erected in St. Catherine's aisle. 

Under Abbot Ralph de Lamley, in 1233, almost sixty 
years after the foundation stones were laid, the abbey was 
brought to completion and was consecrated, as a whole, with 
great ceremony in the presence of the founder's son, the 
" Peaceful " Alexander. 

From this time the abbey of Arbroath became preeminent 


in the North. The number of clergy was greatly increased 
and the services of the abbey were conducted with the greatest 
pomp and magnificence. The abbey was appointed guardian 
of the Brechernach, the sacred banner of great St. Columba, 
a much-coveted honour. The abbots fostered and encour- 
aged commerce and at night kept the sanctuary a blaze of 
light for the benefit of mariners. 

The abbots were almost always men of distinction and 
extended influence. Abbot Henry, appointed in 1288, one 
of the most brilliant figures of his time, was chosen to rep- 
resent the Estates of Scotland before Edward I. Abbot John 
was seized by the English monarch and carried a prisoner 
to England because he refused to take the oath of fealty. In 
131 1 an ex-chancellor of the realm was mitred and placed 
in the abbot's chair, Bernard de Linton, the staunch friend 
and powerful minister of King Robert Bruce. Abbot Bernard 
bore the famous Brechernach into the battle of Bannockburn, 
and remained throughout the battle near his sovereign. In 
1320 he drew up the notable remonstrance against Edward 
II. and presented it to the Pope, John XXII. He sat in the 
memorable parliament which met within the abbey's walls, 
when the Barons and Estates of Scotland confirmed the inde- 
pendence of the Kingdom, and died in 1328. 

Abbot John Gedy held the office for twenty-five years after 
his election in 1370. During his long rule this abbot built a 


fine harbour and placed a bell on the famous Inchcape Rock, 
as has been told by Southey. This bell, for the guidance of 
seamen, was cut adrift by a notorious pirate, who was himself 
shortly after wrecked upon that dangerous shoal. About this 
time the abbey suffered from a frightful conflagration, the 
result of lightning, when all the roofs were destroyed. The 
poor monks were driven to seek shelter where they could find 
it until their own was restored. In 141 1 Walter Paniter 
came to the abbacy. This abbot, another fighting prelate, took 
active part in the famous battle between the Lindsays and 
Ogilvies at Arbroath in 1445. He took sides with the Lind- 
says and aided in the slaughter of some three hundred of the 
Ogilvies. During his long term of office, Abbot Walter under- 
took extensive building operations, of which the sacristy, bear- 
ing his arms in the capitals and keystones, is a fine example. 

After his successor, Robert Alexander, came Richard Guth- 
rie, who was succeeded upon resignation by Malcolm Brydy. 
This abbot seems to have had a faculty for interfering with 
the affairs of other people. He began by making public 
charges against the rule of his predecessor, accusing him of 
carelessness and sloth. About this time it was the custom of 
the Bishop of St. Andrews to pay visits to this and other 
wealthy abbeys with a gorgeous train of over two hundred horse- 
men. The splendour of the equipage, " the stir of jewelled mantle 
and of golden spur," awoke the envy or suspicion of Abbot 


Malcolm, and he complained of the prodigality of the worthy- 
bishop. But this meddling seems not to have pleased the 
abbot's superior, for he soon found himself unmitred and in 
the " Bottle Dungeon " of St. Andrews, and Richard, his pred- 
ecessor, ruled in his stead. A later incumbent was James, 
Duke of Ross, brother of King James IV., who drew revenues 
from St. Andrews, Holyrood, and Dunfermline as well, without 
ever performing an ecclesiastical function. The next soldier 
prelate was Abbot Hepburn, who fell on the bloody field of 
Flodden beside his father; 

" Earl Adam Hepburn, — he who died 
On Flodden, by his sovereign's side." 

Next came James Beaton, who left the Metropolitan See 
of Glasgow for the richer emoluments of a simple abbacy at 
Arbroath. Abbot James resigned in favour of his famous 
nephew, David, the splendid, the sumptuous, the favourite of 
King James V., the most exquisite courtier of the realm, who 
became abbot at the age of twenty-nine, whose deeds of daring, 
whose statecraft, whose amours are well known in the history 
of those troublous years. 

"When like a lone star o'er the sea, 
Rose his lovely Mary Ogilvie." 

Abbot David, elevated to a cardinalate by Pope Paul III., 
appointed Archbishop of St. Andrews and primate of all Scot- 


land, ambassador to the court of Francis I., where he nego- 
tiated the marriage of James V„ with Magdalen, daughter of 
Francis, and the second marriage with Mary of Guise, the 
violent persecutor, who burned Wishart at the stake, was cut 
down at the zenith of his power by the hand of an assassin 
in his castle at St. Andrews. Abbot David Beaton was the 
last of the important superiors of Aberbrothic. 

The abbey does not seem to have suffered violence at any 
time during its history, and it was singularly spared by the 
Reformers. But as the abbacy became a temporal lordship 
and its revenues went to fill private lay coffers, there were 
no funds to be expended upon the abbey and it simply fell 
through neglect and decay. 

In the heart of a flourishing city so great a supply of build- 
ing materials was too great a temptation to the burghers, who 
pulled it down, stone by stone, until comparatively recent his- 
torical interest checked the ravages of peaceful plunder. 

I cannot close without a reference to the aged keeper of 
the abbey, G. W. Donald, who is one of those delightful spirits 
that lives for one all-engrossing object — the poems, songs, 
and other writings of this old gentleman, devoted principally 
to the subject of his care, are well known in Scotland. 

My conversation with him was of peculiar interest to me ; 
for hearing that I was from America, he asked if I had ever 
been in " Princetoon." When I told him that I had spent 



four of my happiest years in that place, his interest warmed at 
once, and he told me how my dear old president, Dr. McCosh, 
had preached his first sermon in the parish church of Arbroath, 
the direct successor of the abbey. He recounted how the ser- 
mon had differed from that of the usual preachers, how the 
"auld wives" criticised it, and how it appealed to the younger 
generation and to him. Dr. McCosh, it seems, was for some 
years pastor of this historic old town. 


From Point 4 on Plan. 



It is a refreshing yet inexplicable fact that sometimes 
nearest to the habitation of men we find the most secluded 
spots. How delightful it is to turn aside from the noise and 
dust of the streets of our workaday world and after a few steps 
find ourselves alone amid the restful scenes of untamed nature. 

A few hours of travel from the American metropolis will 
bring one into the solitude of primeval forests, while a small 
number of miles of railroad from London carry the traveller 
to a country as wild as when the conquering Caasar first laid 
eyes upon it, where he may find subjects of her Majesty who 
neither understand nor speak the English tongue. 

One has but to seek the north country and to journey a 
few hours beyond Inverness into the shires of Ross and Crom- 
arty, Sutherland or Caithness, to find himself as far removed 
from the " scenes and motion of the living world " as in Syrian 
desert or Canadian forest. These shires are, of course, dotted 
over with the shooting-boxes of a few gentlemen, but their wild 
retreats are practically unknown to the English people at large. 



Not long ago I crossed the Pentland Firth for a short so- 
journ among the northern islands. At Kirkwall, in the register 
of its one little hotel, I was able to look over, in a few minutes, 
the names of all the visitors to the Orkneys for the last twenty 
years. Pursuing my way still further north to the Shetlands, 
I found that mine host at Lerwick had the names of all who 
had penetrated thus far during the last ten years at his tongue's 
end. And these groups of islands so easily within reach are 
as enchanting as can be imagined, whether we look for natural 
scenery, quaint and interesting people, or a simple change of 

Man is singularly lacking in originality, but no more in any 
role than as a tourist. With the middle of summer it seems as 
if all England sought the Highlands for a longer or shorter visit. 
Thousands of Americans flock thither from home and from 
the Continent; we travel 'upon crowded coaches, are packed like 
sardines in miniature hotels ; we overcrowd the Clyde steamers 
until they seem like Thames excursion boats or the " Hudson 
River by daylight," — yet turn aside a mile from the beaten path 
and you will be lost in impenetrable thicket, and the natives 
regard you as a "freak"; but you will find far rarer views, 
more charming nooks, and even more beautiful monuments of 
bygone days than any of those that are well known to every one. 

Inverness is the tourist centre for the North. Elgin is a 
large city visited yearly by many hundreds of travellers, yet 


how many tourists have seen the lovely little abbey of Beauly 
only ten miles from Inverness, or have even heard the name 
of Kinloss or Pluscarden, two charming and most interesting 
ruined abbeys near Elgin. One may say that comparatively 
few people are particularly interested in the ruins of mediaeval 
monasticism, and yet how many of the thousands who visit 
Melrose yearly are not profoundly impressed by that stately 
ruined pile, even those who are not easily moved to admiration. 
Melrose is not so much more lovely than a number of other 
abbeys. Is it possible that the few lines of Scott and Lockhart 
can have made so great a difference? Is it solely literary 
fame that gives' this ruin its charm, or is it true that Melrose is 
loved and admired only because that is the " thing " to do ? I 
believe that other ruined abbeys are slighted because people 
feel that they have not the time to explore for themselves the 
more secluded paths of the North Country. They depend 
upon guide-books that give three pages to Melrose and three 
lines to Pluscarden, and are only waiting to be shown the 
loveliness of unknown spots. There is no reason why many 
of Scotland's ruined abbeys should not be well known and 
loved ; not all equally, of course, but each for its peculiar charm, 
for their variety is unending in site, style, and historical as- 

The abbeys of the far north cannot boast the antiquity 
of many of those in the centre and south, though Iona's mis- 


sionary monks had built their cells along the shores of Moray 
Firth at a very early period. Malcolm II., while waging war 
against the Danes in Banff in 1010, vowed, by way of thank- 
offering if victorious, to extend the chapel of St. Moloch by 
three spear lengths. This would indicate a well-established 
religious seat, and there are other records of Christian activity 
very early in this region. 

But this was a turbulent borderland to the Scottish King- 
dom for many centuries, even more disturbed than the English 
border, for Caithness and Sutherland, and often Ross and Crom- 
arty, were under the sway of the Norsemen, who had estab- 
lished their semi-piratic rule in the Orkneys at an early period. 
The establishment of extensive monastic institutions along this 
desolate coast could therefore scarcely be looked for until the 
strength of the Scottish realm should become more diffused, 
or at least until the Orcadian jarls had accepted Christianity. 

Early in the twelfth century the conversion of the Orkneys 
began. Alexander "the fierce" and David I. had established 
undisputed sway beyond the Grampians, and the Church imme- 
diately reestablished her footing upon that bleak northern shore. 

The Cistercians were the first order after the hermits to 
penetrate the forest or to guide their tiny boats around bold 
Kinnaird's Head. In 11 50 a little band of this order from 
Melrose, with the charter of David I., anchored within the 
shelter of Findhorn Bay, and in the same year laid the founda- 


tions of the abbey of Kinloss, not far from this shallow but 
well-protected harbour. During the three years that remained 
to the king, he made large and frequent gifts to the abbey; 
and soon a stately edifice in the late Norman style stood as 
the pioneer of monasteries on the Moray Firth. 

To-day, as one journeys by rail from Aberdeen to Inver- 
ness, he may see, not far from the railway and between it and 
the sea, a few tall fragments of late Gothic work and some 
low arches of the earlier Norman. These are all that remain 
of the abbey of Kinloss, which existed in a singular state of 
preservation until the time of the Protectorate, when it was 
ruthlessly dismantled and torn down, its finely cut stone being 
removed to Inverness for the citadel of the greatest of modern 

The abbey comprised a large cruciform church in the best 
style of the Early English, as we can discover from a few frag- 
ments of shafts and vault ribs which remain, and which must 
have been built within forty or fifty years after the foundations, 
a cloister court and monasterial buildings to the south, and 
an abbot's house and other structures to the north. The only 
portions of which any recognizable fragments were spared are 
the south transept and south wall of the choir, with low, vaulted 
buildings adjoining. The lines of the cloister are easily traced, 
and many heaps of carven stone lie among the graves of the 


Nearly a hundred years passed before another brotherhood 
came to aid in the reclaiming of this wilderness. The second 
quarter of the thirteenth century had begun when Lord St. 
John Bissett of Lovat brought seven French monks from the 
monastery of Val des Choux in Burgundy to found a little 
priory on the secluded banks of the westernmost arm of the 
Moray Firth, — the river Beauly, — opposite his castle on the 
southern side of the river's mouth. Lord Lovat's castle has 
long since disappeared, but the church of his founding is still 
to be seen, roofless, but otherwise in a fine state of preserva- 
tion. How the priory of Beauly, so near the sea, so easily 
reached from Inverness, escaped the rapacity of Cromwell's 
building craze is a mystery. The monastic buildings have 
completely disappeared, it is true, but the little church seems 
quite miraculously to have been spared. 

At the end of the long, broad, well-kept street that forms 
the core of the hamlet of Beauly, in the midst of a group of 
grand old trees, surrounded by the graves of several centuries, 
stands Beauly's ancient priory, sheltered by an enormous elm 
that sprang up within its walls some hundreds of years ago, 
neglected, overgrown with grass and mosses, the burial place of 
the lords of Lovat and knights of the families of MacKenzie 
and Chisholm. 

The abbey is not to be seen from the village, the great trees 
which cluster in the churchyard forming an effectual screen; 



but as one passes through the main street out toward the new 
church, where the view is superbly fine to north and east, he 
may see across the level down the whole north side of the 
ruin, with its simply traceried choir windows, its angle tower, 
and its dome of bright green foliage. 


But we should enter by the churchyard gate if we can 
find the witchlike, half-blind dame who guards the key. The 
west front is one of the latest parts of the building. It is 
very simple and dignified for a fifteenth-century front, and 
consists only of an unpretentious pointed arched portal with 
rather heavily moulded arch and jambs, surmounted by a small 
trefoil niche. Above this a tall, well-proportioned window is 



carried up into the steep gable. The facade has lost its flank- 
ing buttresses and consequently gives the impression of being 
rather too narrow. 

The plan of this church is totally different from that of 
any we have seen hitherto — a long aisleless nave and a choir 
also without aisles, transepts which pro- 
ject well on either side but which are 
practically closed off from the choir and 
nave and answer the purpose of annexed 
monastic buildings, that to the north 
serving as the chapter house and scrip- 
torium, and that to the south being the 
sacristy, its upper story opening the 
church as we shall see. The nave is 
of the plainest design, in a single 
story, and not so well built as the other 
portions of the edifice, constructed as it is of small stones of 
different sizes and not well cut. On the north side is a range 
of small blunt-pointed windows of uniform shape and size. 
The opposite side is irregularly designed as to its openings, 
and bears evidence of frequent reconstructions. The sole 
interesting feature of this nave is a group of openings high 
up on the south wall adjoining the entrance to the sacristy. 
These three openings, which overlooked the roof of the cloister 

A. CI.™. 

B. Nave. 

C. Chapter House, 
Scriptorium above. 

D. Baoristr, Blnginej 
Gallery above* 

E. Cloister, 
h t- Tomb Niches. 

g. Tomb of 8ir Kenneth 

n. Fireplace. 




walk, are equilateral triangles, curvilinear on two sides, fitted 
with plates of geometrical tracery that bring the interior open- 
ings to trefoil form. 

This group, so far as I have seen, is unique, and is certainly 

.'\n\\ \-j t Si 


&«1 > '.^.1.'« 

Point 2 on Plan. 

very effective, and could be successfully reproduced in modern 
church architecture where high light-openings are required. 

At the transept we come to the oldest part of the struc- 
ture, doubtless coeval with the founding of the abbey; here 
again we find the expression of a certain originality. The 


main body of the church having no aisles, and the arms of 
the transept (for so we may term it) being approximately of 
the same width as the nave, the walls running parallel to the 
major and the minor axes are brought together so as to reen- 
force each other at four points, which are practically at the 
angles of a square over which was doubtless placed the great 
wooden tower (to be referred to later) at the juncture of the 
two sets of roofs, ix. above the crossing. 

On the ground story the transepts are screened off from 
the church by a heavy wall pierced on either side with a 
round-arched doorway and window, the windows being provided 
with a thin curtain wall which forms a broad niche on either 
side of it. Above this, on the north side, the wall is plain, 
but on the other a broad pointed niche opens into the tran- 
sept, which plainly had two stories, the upper story, opening 
thus into the church, being what was called a singing gallery. 
It is easy to find on either side of the arch and along the 
top of the wall the remains of a traceried balustrade which 
screened off the lower portion of the gallery. 

The choir is in all respects the most successful portion of 
the edifice. A broad east window, totally ruined now, filled 
the space above the altar. On either hand are rows of grace- 
ful lancet-pointed windows, well spaced beneath a continuous 
arcade of mouldings once supported by exceedingly slender 
colonettes, the bases and moulded capitals of which are still in 


place. These windows seem to have been provided with very 
simple tracery at a later date, but this in no way impairs the 
simple beauty of the design. In the wall near the site of the 
high altar are the remains of a piscina and an ambry, which 
make the little sanctuary seem quite complete. Underfoot the 
grass grows long and rank, and a number of forgotten tomb- 
stones totter or lie half buried in the mould. 

The chapter house, called in old records the " North 
Wort;," the only portion of the edifice that could boast a 
vaulted ceiling, appears to be slightly later than the choir, 
unldss perhaps the tracery here also is a reconstruction. This 
structure, square in plan, was covered by vaulting in two 
oblong compartments. Narrow lancet windows provided the 
light, and an octagonal tower in one angle afforded access to 
the upper floor, which had a large window of the fifteenth- 
century form and tracery, and was fitted up as a scriptorium 
or library. 

The opposite transept belongs again to the earliest period, 
but is of little interest. It is connected with the cloister, 
where we find traces of a roofed arcade and a fireplace against 
the church wall. 

If we walk around the church, we cannot but be surprised 
to notice how little of the material has been pilfered during 
the lapse of centuries. The exterior buttresses, however, which 
naturally contained the finest pieces of cut stone, have disap- 



peared entirely from the nave and chapter house and, as far 
as the base moulding, from the choir. I may have been mis- 
taken, but I fancied I saw stones, that bore marks suspiciously 
like those of the Gothic chisel, in the neighbouring parish 

**» t '- <£«»*-* 


From Point 3 on Plan. 

The story of Beauly Priory is uneventful; one year after 
its dedication to St. John the Baptist by Lord Lovat, the 
priory's charter was confirmed by Pope Gregory XI. Scot- 


land's wars with Norway and with England seem to have had 
little effect upon the, placid life of the brothers, who were of 
the order of Valliscaulium, one of the strictest and most 
secluded sects in Europe after the revival in 1200. Generation 
after generation of monks for four hundred years became neo- 
phytes, lived their life of self-denial and penitential devotion 
within the priory's walls, and passed away, leaving no record of 
their existence but the clearings in the wilderness, the rich 
fields, and the various changes in architectural style that their 
church manifests. Little record -is to be had of the successive 
priors until early in the fifteenth century, when Prior Hugh 
Frazer (1430-40) undertook to build the "north work," which 
refers to the chapter house and scriptorium. He was succeeded 
by his nephew Alexander, who built the great tower above the 
crossing and placed in it a peal of bells. Sixty years after 
Prior Alexander's death a terrible storm destroyed this tower 
and the bells, and caused the ruin of a goodly portion of the 
church, immediately after extensive improvements by Abbot 
Robert Reed, who was one of the most powerful and progres- 
sive of all Beauly's clergy. His nephew Walter in 1561 alien- 
ated the lands of the abbey, though they were afterwards 
restored to the Lovat family. 

Of the quaint and curious monuments that the old priory 
contains within its crumbling walls, the most interesting is that 
of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, in a niche in the chapter house. 


The effigy of the knight reclines in full armour under a canopy 
of rich sixteenth-century design, and an inscription tells of his 
brave deeds. The ogress guardian of the ruin tells how many 
knights were slain by the brave Kenneth and how many great 
ladies were the victims of his blandishments. This Mackenzie 
married a daughter of one of the Lords Lovat, and was the 
first of a large number of that name to find sepulture within 
the abbey's sacred precinct. 



We find the majority of Scottish abbeys in 
towns of moderate size, of which they are and 
long have been the dominating architectural 
feature. Others are clustered about with the 
cottages of small hamlets or are at most re- 
moved only short distances from secular habitation ; and these 
conditions have obtained in most cases from the earliest date 
of their history. A small number only seem to have been 
placed with reference to complete retirement and seclusion. 
This of course depended somewhat upon the order to which a 
monastery belonged; for the labours of the mendicant and 
preaching orders differed widely from those of the cloistered 
brotherhoods — the one sect sought the habitation of their 
fellows, while the other removed to desert fastnesses, there to 
subdue the wilderness, to till their fields, and pass their silent 
lives secure from temptation. 

The wild wastes north of the Grampians offered ideal spots 
for the location of the more rigidly disciplined monasteries after 



the Danes and Orcadians had been subdued by Alexander the 
"Fierce." In 1230, the very year in which the priory at 
Beauly was established, another house of the same rare order 
was founded by King Alexander II., not many miles from the 
Cistercian abbey of Kinloss. The founders chose a site as far 
withdrawn from the world and its temptations as could well 
have been found at that day, yet one singularly beautiful and 
extremely fruitful. A verdant, peaceful valley some miles back 
from the coast, secure from storm and wind, sequestered be- 
tween two almost parallel ranges of heather-tinted hills, the 
Eildons and the Kellas, watered by an ever full, fresh burn, 
and swept around by magnificent forests, was the spot chosen 
by the pious brethren for their new home, and they called it 

It is quite a pilgrimage to Pluscarden. The abbey is eight 
miles by road from Elgin and nine from Forres. The way 
is through a lovely countryside, and it is easily worth more 
trouble and many more miles of travel to receive the lovely 
impression of placid repose and of dignified beauty that this 
remote and stately ruin gives. 

I was fortunate in having one of the loveliest of August 
days for my visit, and August can be wondrous fair in the 
'nortn countree." A true pilgrimage it was too, for I was not 
so fortunate in my choice of a date. Arriving at Elgin early 
in the morning, I discovered that it was the chief holiday of 


that town. The people seemed to be having a general jubilee, 
and it was quite impossible for me to find any sort of a trap 
to carry me over the eight miles (so called — I think they are 
ten) that lay between me and the object of my quest. There- 
fore having made fruitless search for a beast that I could hire 
or borrow, I set out on foot with staff in hand and sketching 
block under arm, while crowded carts and four-wheeled vehi- 
cles full of holiday makers rumbled past me by the score. 

For several miles I kept the highroad, then by the advice 
of a returning pilgrim I took the old road through the forest, 
in all probability the same that the monks, used hundreds of 
years ago ; the path, impassable now for any vehicle, leads 
along the foot of the mountain, which rises steep and rugged 
on the right. Grand trees meet overhead and tall, sweet- 
smelling ferns, waist high, wave on either side. In the bright- 
ness of early morning this path is dark with heavy shade and 
so still that one's own footfall seems to have an unhallowed 
sound. How meet a preparation for the mind of the pilgrim, 
in the days of old on penitential errand bent ; how calm and 
sweet a prelude for us to the view that presently opens to us ! 

The path merges from the wood at a little height above a 
level stretch of soft, green, waving grain, beyond which, em- 
bowered in a cluster of glorious foliage, set high on an isolated 
knoll, rises the Unbroken tower of the abbey, girt about with 
a high enclosing wall that marked the precinct of the monastery. 



On approaching the abbey, which must be done by a single 
gate near the lodge, we find it in the midst of a well-kept lawn 


with closely trimmed shrubs and yew trees. * To the west lies 
a fragrant flower garden with gravel walks and long hedge- 
rows of box, and beyond this a fruit orchard stretches as far 
as the boundary wall. This air of thrift and comfort is 



quite a change after our lonely walk through the wild forest, 
and indicates that the ruin is part of a large and well-kept estate. 

One is at once impressed with the remarkable state of 
preservation in which the abbey stands. The walls of choir 
and transept are intact, though roofless. Above them looms the 


S 5 

: 5 


: 5 

i 5 

: 5 


A. Choir. , 

B Crossing below Tower. 

C. C. Transept. 

D. Sacristy. 

E. Lady Chapel. I AbbotVParlour 

F. Chapels. (Confessional above. 

G. Chapter House. ) 

H. Slype. > Dormitories above. 

K Refectory. ) 

M. Cloister Court. 

X. Lines Nave would have taken. 

p. Doorway to Cloister. 

r. Stair to Dormitories. 

s. Screen, of later work. 

massive square tower of the crossing. The nave seems never 
to have been built, but to the south stretches a long line of 
monastic buildings, much restored, it is true, but never having 
been seriously injured. A sacristy, chapter house, and fratry, 
with a story of other apartments above them, complete the line 


of the eastern side of the spacious cloister court. We observe 
that the greater part of these buildings, as well as the church, 
are of pretty nearly the same epoch. The dignified lines of 
the early pointed style are seen throughout the structures. We 
enter first at the crossing and find a broad transept, with an 
eastern aisle of two bays, to right and left. The piers and 
arches are plainly of early pointed design, though somewhat 
disfigured by the action of fire. In the southern part of the 
transept a curious combination of triforium and clerestory runs 
above the main story, an arcaded passage which at intervals 
is carried up to include the clerestory windows. At the north 
end of the transept the three stories are marked by two tiers of 
narrow lancet-pointed windows and a large circular opening, now 
walled up in the gable. On the ground story a low pointed 
doorway opens from the transept. The transept, taken from 
end to end, shows two different types of pointed openings, 
those in the north being usually cusped and single, the others 
plain and grouped in triplets by a broad, pointed, segmental 
arch ; the latter seeming to be the earlier form and rather 
more like Early English design. 

In the choir we find a considerably later looking form of 
pointed style. It is noticeable, at once, that a departure has 
been made from the original design ; the plan is that of an 
aisleless sanctuary of three bays. And while the transept was 
apparently not built to be vaulted, we find in this part the 



very evident signs of vault structure. The original structure 
was extremely light, the window openings being very broad and 
the spaces between 


very narrow. These 
large openings were 
subsequently made 
smaller by the in- 
sertion of thin walls 
at either side and 
a lower arch below 
the original. 

joints of tracery are 
visible in the mould- 
ings at the sides of 
the great windows, 
but over the tran- 
sept aisle roof on 
the southern side of 
the choir, where the 
window was cut off 

Point 2 on Plan. 

just below the arch 
by the roof and appears in the form of an equilateral triangle, 
the whole expanse of the original traceried window is preserved 
with a fine trefoil pattern. The opposite triangular opening 


has been closed. At the east end the broad, high window was 
differently treated by filling in with a curtain wall pierced by 
a row of five lancets below a small traceried window. In the 
gable above appears the vesica pescis, still perfectly preserved; 
and still higher a trefoil enclosed in a triangle. 

The tracery of all these altered windows is exceedingly 
weak in design and the mullions are flatly moulded, so that 
one does not hesitate for a moment to assign them to a poor 
and late period of northern Gothic. 

The exterior of the transept shows the same strong charac- 
teristics as the interior and the same slight difference in style. 
Of the choir the shallow buttresses attract notice when we con- 
sider that this portion was vaulted, or at least intended to be, 
and the strengthening of the walls by narrowing the windows 
is perhaps explained in this way. 

In the southern arm of the transept a straight stair leads 
to the upper apartments of the adjacent buildings, where were 
doubtless the dormitories, libraries, and the like. From the aisle 
leads a doorway to the Lady Chapel or St. Mary's aisle, vaulted, 
like the aisle of the transept, in early pointed manner. Next 
comes the slype, or passage connecting the cloister garth with 
the grounds to the east of the abbey. This is vaulted in two 
compartments in a style which at once may be classed as later 
than those of the chapels and transept aisle. To the same 
period belongs the vaulting of the chapter house, a fine example 


of this class of structure, vaulted in four compartments sup- 
ported at the walls on brackets and in the centre by a group 
of slender shafts. The mouldings of the door and windows in 
the cloister side of this structure are earlier than the vaults 
and central support, which must have been restored at a later 
period. The windows in the opposite side have been restored 
recently to match some of the grouped lancets of the earlier 
portions. Adjoining the chapter house is the refectory or fratry, 
which shows signs in its vault ribs and octagonal piers of being 
later than its neighbour. Here we have six vault compartments, 
necessitating two free-standing supports of the form just men- 
tioned, into which the chamfered mouldings of the vault ribs 
disappear. The windows here, too, are of later addition and 
are not nearly so broad as the originals appear to have been ; 
for the brethren of this northern clime wished as much sun- 
light as possible in their hall, while it lasted. 

Over the sacristy is a small apartment called the abbot's 
parlour, with its little window looking to the east, and opening 
off from it a tiny vaulted cell, dimly lighted by a mere slit 
opening. The remainder of the second story was probably un- 
divided by walls and roofed with timbers, and constituted the 
dormitory of the monastery. 

We may now glance at the history of the abbey so far as 
it is known, and compare the epochs of its life with the periods 



of architecture represented in its frame. The establishment 
was founded, as we have seen, by Alexander II., who intro- 
duced the Franciscan, Dominican, and other new foreign orders 
into Scotland, about 1230. Immediately following the found- 
ing of the transept with its vaulted aisle, the sacristy and 

the tower were built. 
To this period belongs 
also the charming 
round-arched doorway 
between the nave and 
cloister and a portion 
of the chapter house, 
which makes it pretty 
certain that the domes- 
tic buildings at least 
were completed during 
this first period, from, 
say, 1230 to 1260. 

If any choir had 
been built during this 
period, it was totally swept away when the domestic buildings 
and the roofs of the church were burned by the "Wolf of 
Badenoch" in 1390. It was in this year that the whole of 
Moray was devastated by a band of terrible marauders led by 
Alexander Stuart, son of Robert II., with the title of Earl of 

doorway TO cloister. Point 4 on Plan. 


Buchan. The town of Elgin was burned, the fields for miles 
around were laid waste, and religious institutions in all direc- 
tions were devastated, their inmates often being put to the 
sword or consumed in the flames of their churches. 

During eight years the abbey stood in partial ruin; for it 
was not until 1398 that one Alexander, a man of some wealth 
and wide influence, was elected to the prior's chair at Pluscar- 
den, with the hope and expectation that he would place the 
"house" once more upon its feet. As was confidently expected, 
a new era of prosperity began for the abbey under the rule of 
Prior Alexander, and during the early years of the fourteenth 
century the settlement in the vale of Blackwater flourished 
with unprecedented success. Since the original founding of 
the monastery many changes had taken place in the develop- 
ment of the pointed style, and these we see embodied in the 
extensive building operations carried out by the new superior. 
The choir was at once rebuilt in a style far lighter and more 
airy than the earlier pointed; light vaults of wide span were 
planned for the choir and the crossing. The windows of the 
new portion, high and broad, were furnished with delicate designs 
of graceful tracery. The great expanse of glass which flooded 
the sanctuary with a blaze of light must have made the new 
portion seem more like a French edifice than one on British soil. 

The chapter house and the frater-hall were restored in turn, 
on the old lines, in all probability, but in a style advanced 


perhaps a little beyond its prime. The dormitories were fitted 
up for a large number of resident monks, and apartments pro- 
vided for strangers and wayfarers. 

For himself the prior built the little parlour, referred to 
above, with its little cell or confessional, and from this apart- 
ment made an entrance to the roof of the transept aisle, which 
was made flat and provided with a balustrade like a balcony, — a 
cool and restful retreat in summer evenings after the arduous 
duties of the day. 

The great square tower above the crossing, which extended 
but little above the ridges of the adjoining roofs, was provided 
with a crenellated battlement and trefoil windows on either 
side of the gables. 

The broad lands of the abbey, which during the past years 
had fallen to neglect, were now tilled with the utmost skill. 
The vine, brought from the vineyards of Burgundy by the new 
brothers, was taught to grow upon the southern slopes of the 
Eildons. With plenty of fish from the burn, with bread and 
fruit from their vast fields and orchards, with wine vinted in 
the Burgundian fashion, the White Friars of Pluscarden had 
little to complain of in their peaceful valley in Moray. But 
their life became at last too sweet — idleness and plenty com- 
bined prepared the ground for tares, and within forty years 
after the death of Prior Alexander disorders were rife among 
the wearers of the white cowl. 


The right of inspection of the abbey had been accorded to 
the Bishop of Moray in 1355. Reports of irregularities in this 
secluded spot at length reached the ears of the powerful 
churchman, and he soon found opportunity to execute his 
privilege. After searching investigation had been made, the 
abbey was taken away from the order of Valliscaulium and 
turned over to the great monastery of Dunfermline, to become 
a cell of that greatest of Benedictine houses in the North. The 
sacristan of Dunfermline, John de Boys by name, was appointed 
prior of Pluscarden in 1460, and with a chapter of Black 
Friars installed in the abbey a new order of things was 
instituted at Pluscarden. 

The new prior seems to have found the church already in 
need of repair; either neglect in recent years or bad design in 
Alexander's time had begun to tell upon the abbey, and the 
vaults of choir and crossing were threatening a fall. Work 
was at once begun to reenforce the walls of the choir, and the 
windows were reduced to the form and size now seen in a style 
characteristic of the middle of the fifteenth century in Scotland 
of the North, seen in the later portions of Elgin Cathedral and 
elsewhere. A heavy narrow arch was built up beneath the 
broad pointed arch that supports the eastern side of the tower 
separating the crossing from the choir, and the arches of the 
transept aisle were walled up so that the choir was made much 
darker and more shut in. The above theory for diminishing 


all the openings of the choir is that advanced by McGibbon 
and Ross, but another seems to me quite as tenable ; it is that 
the Benedictines preferred greater seclusion and less light and 
therefore reduced the size of their windows; that their degrees 
of sanctity made a separation of worshippers necessary in a 
service, so that the thick wall and narrow arch beneath the 
east side of the tower were more on the order of a screen 
than a support. And this seems all the more credible when 
we consider that the other arches of the tower did not seem 
to require a prop. 

This is the only one of the ruined abbeys of Scotland which 
preserves specimens of the painted decoration that must have 
enlivened the sombre walls of all of them to some degree. 
These traces of colour are plainly visible on the soffit of the 
low arch between choir and transept, and in the Lady Chapel. 

Cordiner, who wrote after seeing these bits of painting over 
one hundred years ago, describes the scene on the arch, which 
is now visible only as a blue ground with gilt stars and some 
architectural features, as a representation of St. John with his 
eagle amid the conclave of heavenly bodies, while in the Lady 
Chapel he saw a variety of Scriptural scenes depicted on the 
vault and walls. 

For one hundred and twenty years the abbey and its monks 
seem to have pursued the even tenor of their way. The last 
prior of the new order was Alexander Dunbar, who left his 


work upon the abbey building in the little vaulted vestry to 
the north of the choir, which is generally attributed to his time. 
It is in the late pre-Reformation style of Gothic, and exceedingly 
ill placed, extending as it does directly in front of one of the 
aisle windows of the transept and darkening that portion of 
the church. A ruined spiral stair would seem to have led to 
the roof of this structure. When the Reformation burst upon 
Scotland, the abbey of Pluscarden seems to have escaped notice ; 
for the inmates were allowed to die off within its walls until 
after 1586, when one monk was still alive. The priory at 
length came into the possession of the noble house of Fife, and 
it is to the dowager countess, we understand, that the careful 
restorations upon the domestic buildings are due. 



The western coast of Scotland, though nearest to the early 
fountain head of Scottish Christianity at Iona, was not the 
scene of so many nor so early religious settlements as the east- 
ern and northern shores or the southern borderlands. The 
Highlands of the west were, in the earlier days, quite untamed 
and very thinly settled, nor did these rugged mountain sides 
offer the attractive sites for cloistered homes that were to be 
found in the rich valleys of Lothian and Moray. At a very 
early period, hermit monks from the Columban isle had fixed 
their cells among the mountain fastnesses which stretched 
from the Kyles of Bute to the Minch, and, through their 
labours, the Highland chiefs had become Christian, by profes- 
sion, at least, though not always in practice, it might be added. 
By the middle of the thirteenth century, chapels, erected within 
the castles of the greater chieftains, began to be quite common, 
and we find such architectural evidence of religious life among 
the Highlanders in the chapels of the castles of Dunstaffnage 
and Rothesay. But to the south of the Frith of Clyde less 


forbidding natural conditions and more favourable surroundings 
invited the early establishment of conventual institutions, and 
at Paisley, Kilwinning, and Crosraguel we find ample remains 
of the monastic life that flourished in Ayrshire from the later 
Middle Ages until the Reformation. The planting of these 
religious houses along the southwestern coast was due in part 
to the missionary preparation of the Ayrshire soil by Columban 
monks and in part to direct Irish influence. 

It was in the first decades of the eighth century, so reli- 
gious tradition says, that St. Vinan, Vinnen, or Winnen estab- 
lished a cell on the banks of the Garnock. He was, doubtless, 
identical with St. Finnan of Moville, an historical Irish saint 
who set out to sow the seeds of Christianity in Caledonia. The 
site of his cell was held sacred and was, doubtless, the resi- 
dence of one or more missionary monks for some four hundred 
years, until it was further sanctified by the founding of a great 
monastery in the last quarter of the twelfth century. 

There seems to be much doubt, and there certainly has 
been a great deal of controversy, as to the founder of the 
abbey of Kilwinning; and the exact date of its founding is 
also obscure. 

The crux seems to be not only between two historical per- 
sonages, but between two distinct individualities which may 
be imputed to either. One belief is that Hugh de Morville, 
Lord Constable of Scotland, who founded the abbey of Dry- 


burgh in 1150, was also founder of the abbey of Kilwinning. 
A second statement is, that not Hugh, but Richard de Mor- 
ville, son or grandson of the Lord Constable, inheriting the 
pious predilections of his forbear, was founder and patron of 
this religious centre in the West. 

Pont agrees with neither of these views, and advances the 
startling theory that the founder of the abbey, bearing the 
name of Morwell, was neither the Constable Hugh, nor his 
descendant Richard, if such there was, but another Richard, 
who was no less than one of the murderers of Thomas a 
Becket, the saint of Canterbury. Pont goes on to say that 
this man, escaping from England, was received by the Scottish 
king and invested by him with lands and honours; he further 
adds that he himself saw the grave of the founder in the abbey 
when he visited it in 1608. 

Now, to begin with the last theory, it seems scarcely credi- 
ble that the king, William I., who is known to have loved 
the sainted Thomas so well as to have dedicated a great mon- 
astery to his memory in 1 1 74, could have conferred gifts and 
honours upon his assassin a few years before. This Morwell, 
Pont says, was made Constable of Scotland, and was buried in 
Kilwinning. But we know from the Melrose Chronicle that 
Hugh de Morville, Constable of Scotland, was buried in the 
chapter house of Dryburgh in 11 62, where a double circle in 
the floor marks his resting-place. There is evidently some 


confusion here on the part of Pont; for it would take a great 
amount of faith to establish the historical entity of two con- 
stables of the Kingdom of the same name but not related. 
If Pont really saw the name of Richard de Morwell upon the 
founder's slab at Kilwinning, it was, of course, not the founder 
of Dryburgh who was patron of St. Vinnen's, though as far 
as dates are concerned, it would not have been difficult for the 
same man to have founded both abbeys. But taking into 
account a probable difference in date of twenty years, the sen- 
timents of the reigning monarch toward St. Thomas and the 
evidence adduced to show that a Richard and not a Hugh 
was instrumental in the establishing of this abbey, it seems 
impartial to assign the disputed honour to a scion of the 
house of Morville and not to the sancticide. Pont, who saw 
what no other writer ever saw, — the chartulary of the abbey, 
— also insists that it was founded in 1191, but, on the authority 
of the Melrose Chronicle again, we learn that Sir Richard 
Morville, son of Sir Hugh, died in the year n 89. Besides 
this, the monumental evidence would show that the abbey was 
at least partly built as early as the building of Arbroath abbey, 
which was dedicated in 1 1 78. 

The oldest portions of the few fragments that we have of 
this once very extensive abbey support the assumption that 
the ancient cell of St. Vinnen was not replaced by a great 
monastery until toward the close of the twelfth century, though 



they prove almost conclusively that the thirteenth had not yet 
dawned when building operations were commenced here. The 
pointed style enveloped in Norman traditions, represented in 
remnants here, is the sign of transitional supremacy at the 
time of the laying of the corner stone. The Early English in 
its first Scottish form seems to have characterized the main por- 
tions of the church edifice, while a still later return to Norman 
proportions and outlines treated with fine Gothic details, assigns 
the portions that we have of the domestic buildings to the end 

of the thirteenth or the begin- 
ning of the fourteenth century. 

ii c 


The plan of the abbey as we 
have it to-day, derived from exist- 
ing remains above ground and the 
excavations of the distinguished 
architect, Mr. Galloway, shows the 
monastery to have included a large 
cruciform church, with two mas- 
sive towers at the western end and 
perhaps another at the crossing, a 
cloister as usual to the south, reached directly from the church, 
and surrounded by a range of domestic buildings in two stories. 
Of so extensive a group there remains to be seen only the 
towering end wall of the south transept in three stories, and, 


B. Choir. 

C, C. Transepts. 

. c D. Chapter House. 

E. Slype. 

F. Cloister. 

G. Doorway. 

H. Remains of one 
the Towers. 



connected with it, a single arch of the transept aisle, a portion 
of the south wall of the nave, preserving the doorway which 
led to the cloisters, and corbels from which sprang the aisle 
vaults. At the west end of the south aisle we have the two 
heavy piers that supported the eastern side of the tower 
extending up two stories, with the first transverse arch of 
the aisle; and besides these a portion of the east wall of the 
cloister court, embracing the entrance to the slype and a door- 
way between two windows of the chapter house ; back of this 
we find, almost buried in debris, the wall between the slype 
and the chapter house and a section of the opposite wall of 
the latter; within the slype we are able to find remnants of a 
well-built barrel vault and a seat running along the northern 
wall. The rest of the cloister is built up with modern houses 
of the poorer class, in the lower stories of which have been 
found walls and vaults that belonged to the domestic buildings 
that lined the church side of the garth. 

The oldest of the fragments thus preserved seems to be the 
doorway from the south aisle of the church to the cloister. It 
is a beautiful example of a pointed portal enriched with mould- 
ings of lingering Romanesque design. The three nook shafts, 
on either side, had bases and caps of unmistakably early 
design, which are still in situ, although the shafts are gone. 
Their abaci are rectangular and moulded in the style of the 
transition, and the rich set of deep mouldings above them 



shows a mixture of purely Norman and early pointed pattern; 
the label which completes the set is a fine specimen of dog- 
tooth work. The in- 
most moulding is 
carried down along 
the jambs of the 
doorway. Within the 
church, or where 
the church was, the 
doorway has been re- 
constructed in plain 
ashlar. To the same 
period may be said 
to belong the aisle 
wall, which, by its 
corbels, shows the 
number of the bays 
to have been seven. 
The next period, the pure early pointed, claims the lower 
portion of the southwestern tower and transept. This great 
pier, consisting on its western side of a group of shafts carried 
up two stories, preserving on its eastern side the engaged 
shafts of the main arcade and the colonettes and arch spring 
of the triforium, connected with the aisle wall by a single 
pointed arch, is a splendid specimen of first pointed work, 

doorway TO Cloister. From Point i on Plan. 


both in design and workmanship, and shows the western 
towers (if they were alike) to have been open on the ground 
story, to the east and north, and thus to have embraced the 
first bay of either aisle. With this lonely remnant at the west 
end of the church may be studied the one surviving pier, arch, 
and respond at the south end of the transept. Here we find 
the same fine clusters of columns and a similar bold set of 
arch mouldings, adorned with the same delicate dog-tooth and 
nail-head patterns that are seen in the south doorway. From 
the compound cap of the pier, with a base upon its abacus, 
rise a group of slender shafts, that could not have been meant 
for vault support, as further evidence shows the high parts of 
the abbey to have been unvaulted, but which, like those at 
Dryburgh, doubtless were carried up to form an apparent 
footing for the roof timbers. Above this bit of main arcade, 
adjoining the south wall, the ruined masonry preserves a por- 
tion of triforium arcade with dog-tooth ornament, and above 
this a segment of a circular, cusped opening, enclosed in a 
rectangular frame, not unlike a feature in the transept of Dry- 
burgh, but above the triforium instead of below it. Judging 
from the slope of the gable, it is evident that a clerestory of 
some height was superposed upon this triforium, bringing the 
interior to a really lofty height, speaking in terms of either 
English or even Early French Gothic architecture. 

This remarkable height involved no difficult problems of 



construction, as the central roof was of wood, but is interesting 
in this locality. In the south wall of the single extant bay of 
the aisle is a pointed window with excellent mouldings and 

end OF SOUTH transept. From Point 2 on Plan. 

label, which were once supported on either side by nook shafts 
within and without. This doubtless gives a clew to the form 
pf the windows throughout the ground story of the church. 


The transept end is a splendid specimen of majestic early 
pointed style, rising unbroken in three stories to a pinnacle at 
the summit of the gable some ninety feet above the original 
level of the church. The ground story consists of a perfectly 
unbroken wall, but above this the entire expanse of the tran- 
sept is filled by a splendid group of three tall, pointed win- 
dows, the central opening being a little taller than the others. 
Their heavy mouldings were supported by long, slender shafts 
that rose from bases set upon the triforium ledge. The nar- 
row masses of wall that divide these windows are pierced 
transversely by the triforium passage, which engirdled the 
entire church at that level. Above this group a large wheel 
window pierces the wall, between two sets of coupled arches 
which open upon the clerestory passage, but do not break the 
outer wall. The wall of the gable is of but one thickness, so 
that a set-off is visible above the wheel window, and is pierced 
by a single narrow, pointed window. 

The western angle of this transept wall bears unmistakable 
traces of a spiral stair which led from the transept to a door- 
way opening upon the second story of the domestic buildings, 
and was then carried up to the clerestory passage. On the 
exterior the wall and gable show a flat surface flanked by nar- 
row buttresses and pierced with the pointed and circular open- 
ing above and the three large windows below relieved by a 
continuous label moulding. The lower portion of two of these 


windows is partly walled up where the lines of a water table 
show the former presence of the steep roof of the adjoining 

Of the domestic buildings there is not much to be said. 
The round-arched doors and windows are provided with heavy 
rounded mouldings on the outside of the arch and jambs. In 
the case of the doors a narrow horizontal moulding is carried 
around the arch moulds in uninteresting fashion. Of these 
openings only the door of the chapter house boasts of mould- 
ings on the interior, the others being perfectly plain arches 
eloquent of late construction. The windows, which were of 
course always open, are provided with double round-arched 
plates from which the supporting central colonettes have 

The little that remains here cannot be considered as part of 
the original monastic habitation ; its rough masonry faced with 
a thin coating of ashlar, its poverty in design, and narrow com- 
pass, all indicate the probability of its being a reconstruction 
after the troublous time of the war of independence, when the 
abbey was poor and the monks few. It is, to say the least, 
hardly in keeping with the dignity of style and magnificence 
of scale indicated of the church edifice. 

A splendid site it was that the abbey had, on level ground 
rising slightly above the Garnock, and a glorious outlook with 


a flat stretch of sand spreading to the west far out toward the 
Frith of Clyde. 

"A plain below stretched seaward while, descried 
Above sea clouds, the peaks of Arran rose ; 
And by that simple notice the repose 
Of earth, sky, sea, and air was vivified." 

From the midst of the gleaming sea to the south the mighty 
cone of Ailsa Craig lifts high its grizzly head, and across the 
water, where the sun sinks into the ocean, loom the purple 
masses of Goatfell, the mountains of Arran and Kintyre. To 
the east roll the soft and shadowy hills of Tinto, with rich 
fields and pastures between. Alone in its grandeur for hun- 
dreds of years the abbey with its triplet towers appeared to 
stand, in the centre of a broad fen unrivalled in its dignity by 
art or nature ; but on nearer approach it was found to be 
hovering over a crowded mass of humble cottages, their shelter- 
ing mother. Even to-day, as we journey by rail or post chaise 
toward the thriving city of Kilwinning, with its thousands of in- 
habitants, its great factories and extensive foundries, the ancient 
mediaeval mother of the town is seen towering high, a ponderous 
mass of gray, above all her modern surroundings. Little space 
is given the time-worn relic of Kilwinning's earliest history; for 
streets of new-looking, well-built houses and shops pass directly 
under its shadow on every side. Here, again, the past and 
present are closely interwoven. We stand at evening beneath 


a broken arch of a glorious monument of the thirteenth cen- 
tury, we listen to the rumble of a busy factory of the nine- 
teenth, and watch the fires flash from the glowing foundries. 
The schoolboy of Kilwinning has no farther to look to find 
the glory of Scotland's past, and the complete annihilation of 
that past, than to see the strength of Scotland's present. 

The early history of the abbey, after its founding, is in- 
volved in much obscurity. As in the case of its sister abbey 
at Arbroath, founded almost simultaneously, work was begun 
upon the church immediately after its foundation and was 
pushed rapidly, with few breaks, for fifty years; for within this 
period the church was certainly completed, the greater part of 
Kilwinning probably in the first quarter of the thirteenth cen- 
tury and the greater part of Arbroath in the last of the twelfth. 

Large grants were made to the abbey by king and knights ; 
the monastery grew and flourished until its wealth surpassed 
even that of the mother monastery at Kelso, whence the first 
monks had been brought, for these brethren were of St. Ber- 
nard's order of Benedictines, called Tironensians. 

During the wars of the fourteenth century the abbey was 
harassed by land and sea. In poverty and want, after years 
of suffering, the abbot and his followers called upon the king, 
David II., who gave them material aid of fresh benefactions 
and new revenues. Robert II. and III., James III. and IV., 
followed with new grants and confirmations, until the abbey 



was again beginning to prosper. It was undoubtedly at this 
time that the present domestic edifices were built to replace 
those destroyed during the wars of Bruce's time. From this 
we can judge that, though the abbey was blessed with moder- 
ate prosperity in the benefactions of the kings, it did not 
attain to its pristine splendour. 

Little is heard of the abbey from this time until Mary's 
reign, when, with its lands, it passed, like so many of its kind, 
into the hands of temporal lords,, who, as commendators, 
administered the monastic lands "for the utility and advan- 
tage" of the monastery. It is well known what those words 
meant. The abbey soon became a free temporal lordship and 
passed freely from hand to hand for the "utility and advan- 
tage " of the temporal lords concerned. Toward the end of 
the sixteenth century the earls of Arran, Glencairn, and 
Argyle joined with the " Protestants of the West " to wipe the 
memory of the abbey from the face of the earth. This 
worthy mission succeeded pretty well, though they spared, by 
accident we presume, one powerful fragment that for three 
hundred years has pointed its aged finger to the sky, calling 
down vengeance upon the destroyers of the shrine of one of 
Christ's earliest messengers to the Scottish people. 



One might say that each of Scotland's ruined abbeys 

has its own peculiar point of inter- 
est, some feature or detail which the 
others do not possess, or at least do 
not present in an equally interest- 
ing way. At Holy rood it is the 
vaulting, at Jedburgh the majestic 
Norman work, at Melrose the carv- 
ing and tracery, at Dryburgh it is 
the site and the precious relics there 
entombed that engross most of our 
attention and hold our thoughts longest 
when we have come away. 

In the different abbeys already de- 
scribed we have found all the styles of 
mediaeval ecclesiastical architecture worthily represented; taking 
the entire range of abbeys so far as we have gone, we have 
found each part of the church edifice in one or more instances, 
though never all in a single building. We have seen frag- 




ments of the ancient clusters of cloistral buildings, with here 
and there a well-preserved or a restored example. But for the 
most perfect set of monastic and domestic edifices we must turn 
to a beautiful little ruin in the south of Ayrshire, near the 
coast, far from the haunts of men, in a lonely little valley be- 
tween Maybole and Kirk Oswald. This abbey was called in 
ancient times Crossragmol; in fact, its name is variously 
spelled during the three hundred years of its active history. 
It now goes by the name of Crosraguel. From its dimensions 
we should say that this abbey was the smallest of all that we 
are reviewing, excepting perhaps only Beauly in the extreme 
north. Nevertheless, its abbots held regal sway over all the 
lower parts of Ayrshire for several hundred years and its influ- 
ence was felt far and wide over the southwestern domain. 
Further interest attaches to Crosraguel on account of its long 
and intimate connection with the family of King Robert Bruce ; 
founded by one of his most famous ancestors, the abbey was 
cherished by his parents, endowed by the Bruce himself, and 
long remained a favoured beneficiary and frequent resort of 
the sovereigns of the house of Stuart. 

The abbots of Crosraguel were many of them famous men, 
whose fingers not only wielded the sceptre of their priestly 
office but mingled in the affairs of state. 

The monastery, with its far-reaching group of buildings, 
owes its remarkable state of preservation to two things: its 



remoteness from the centres of civil and religious strife, and 
the proximity of the castles of a number of powerful lords 
who, from the first, were friendly to the establishment. In 
later years it has fallen much to decay, and unless speedy 
measures are taken to prevent the unnecessary rapidity of 
disintegration, Scotland will soon lose one of her most unique 
monuments of mediaevalism. 

To reach Crosraguel one must go by rail to Maybole and 
from there make a short journey through a quiet countryside 
by the road that eventually leads out to the sea at Girvan. 
Soon after passing the last of the houses which form the 
thrifty hamlet of Maybole, one may descry in the distance a 

mediaeval landmark 
that like a signpost 
points to the older 
and more venerable 
edifice beyond. No 
one, however igno- 
rant of the principles 
of architecture, even 
at a distance could 
mistake this first monument of the Middle Ages, that looms up 
before us on the road to Crosraguel, for the abbey itself. The 
note it proclaims from its beetling turrets is far too warlike 
for even the most militant of monasteries. Baltersan Castle, 



for that is the name of the ruin, is an imposing specimen of 
Scottish baronial style, standing solitary among the fields it 
once protected, a fitting outpost and guardian for the old 
abbey which in its day saw full share of warlike assault, de- 
fending itself often single-handed until outside relief should 
come. When we have reached the castle, the ruins of the 
abbey become dimly visible at a considerable distance beyond. 
Close at hand we have the massy ruin of Scottish mediaeval 
chivalry ; beyond, a crumbling tower and gable, crowned with a 
cross of stone, mark the desolate remains of the great reli- 
gious life that first brought faith to these northern shores. One 
cannot but muse over such, a sight, nor suppress the thought 
that, after all, it is not only " the pride of heraldry, the pomp 
of power " that are ephemeral ; for what is to be found below 
that distant cross except the nameless and unmarked graves 
of hundreds of men who lived for the better things of this 
life and that to come? Their works have perished like those 
of the warrior and their reward is yet to come. 

The abbey is close by the roadside, opposite a tiny cottage 
where the key is kept. 

On entering from the highroad we cross an ancient and 
unused graveyard and find ourselves facing the north side of 
the church, with the main entrance to the nave near its 
western end and a range of somewhat irregular windows open- 
ing from nave and choir. 



Entering by the door of the nave, we find a simple, oblong 
structure divided from the choir by a heavy wall, pierced by 
a bluntly pointed archway and carried up to form a gable 

capped by a bell tower 
surmounted in turn by 
a well-carved cross of 
early design. 

The choir is singu- 
larly long, terminated 
by a polygonal apse. 
Here, remains of some 
decoration — piscinas, 
ambries, and fine, 
though broken, sedilia 
■ — manifest the greater 
dignity of this portion 
of the church. 

In the south wall 
of the choir are two 
doors ; that nearest the 
altar leading into a 
spacious vaulted sac- 
risty; the other leads into open air. This we pass through 
and find ourselves in the broad cloister court. To the right 
stretches the long and unbroken line of the nave wall, still 

A. Nave. 

B. Choir. 

C. Hicristy. 

D. Chapter House. 

E. Slype. 

F. Cloister Court. 

G. Vaulted Cells. 
H. Kitahcn. 

K. Rofeotorj. 

M. Gate i louse. 

N. Hove Cote. 

O. New Abbot's House, 

P. Foundatioa Walls. 

R. Eastern Court. 




bearing the corbels which held up the cloister roof; to the left 
a series of arched doorways mark the front walls of the more 
important monasterial buildings. Opposite, to west and south, 
lie the more or less ruined walls of the domestic buildings. 

CROSRAGUEL : THE NAVE. From Point 3 on Plan. 

In the centre of the court a low fence encloses the ancient 
abbey well, to which one descends by a few stone steps. 

If we pass through the slype to the east, we discover a 
triangular enclosure, the farther side marked by a mere mound 
of crumbling masonry which is said to have been originally 


the abbot's hall. Beyond, at a little distance, a ruinous, semi- 
baronial structure, over the burn, stands for the latest of the 
abbey's buildings — the abbot's house. 

Returning to the cloister and passing through it to the 
southwest, we find ourselves in another broad close bounded 
on the north by a group of buildings, the central one of which 
is a fine gatehouse, the main entrance to the abbey precinct, 
with an imposing watchtower preserved entire. To the west 
were a few low buildings and about the remainder of the close 
are the remains of a high enclosing wall with a picturesque 
dovecot in its southwestern angle. 

Walking from court to court, from hall to hall, ascending 
winding stairs to sit in a deep window seat and view the 
whole abbey and the farm lands far around, standing by 
ancient fireplace, burrowing in ruined kitchen and storeroom, 
and returning, at sound of bell, to the sacred precinct of the 
choir, we find at Crosraguel a lingering shadow of monastic 
life that has completely perished from all the other Scottish 
abbeys. It is possible here, as nowhere else, one might say, 
in all Britain, to reconstruct the simple routinary daily life of 
the Clunensian monk. When night shadows fall and the dark 
conceals the more broken portions of wall and arch, it requires 
but a faint imagination to replace the abbey in its pristine 
state, to see the far-stretching roofs restored to shelter a little 
host of monks and laymen, to see the blazing fire in the 



kitchen and the lamps swinging bright over the long tables of 
the refectory, to see the beacon on the tall watchtower and 
faint lights glimmer from each tiny window, to see the dim 
candle above the altar where gather the black-robed monks for 

<?- . * •_-,., 

From Point 4 on Plan. 

evening prayer; then, if imagination be strong enough, will 
follow the pealing anthems of the even-song; then the church 
grows dim, the sound of chanting ceases, the monks file out 
of the choir and ascend the winding stair; but the duties of 
the day are not yet over, for all night long, at intervals, prayers 
must be said and orisons be told again. 

But we must examine the buildings of the abbey more in 
detail if we would endeavour to discover the dates of its 


The most ancient parts are unquestionably in the church 
proper, in its foundations and in the western portions, the 
jambs of the west and north portals, and other minor details. 
These are of the thirteenth-century style and doubtless belong 
to the abbey's earliest period. All the rest of the church is 
in later styles. The plan shows a perfectly simple aisleless 
choir and nave of great length. Excavations undertaken at 
the abbey some years ago disclosed the foundations of a north 
transept corresponding to what is now the sacristy and chap- 
ter house, both of which are built upon older foundation 
walls. The present choir, however, has no transept. It is a 
specimen of good decorated style, and doubtless belongs to 
the period of great prosperity which the abbey enjoyed after 
the granting of its great charter in 1404. 

The broad pointed windows of the choir and three-sided 
apse show good mouldings with groups of slender colonettes 
at the jambs. The bays of the choir are divided by groups 
of three slender wall shafts, which in the apse rest upon bases 
set upon the pavement, but which are everywhere else stopped 
by corbels. At the level of the arches the outer mouldings 
of the group branch to right and left and form a moulding 
over the windows. The sanctuary contains a beautiful sedilia 
of fine decorated design and an extremely rich, though much- 
injured, piscina. The beaded steps of the high altar are plainly 
visible, but a flourishing young thorn tree occupies the altar's 


site. All the tracery of the choir has completely disappeared 
as if it had never been. The outer buttresses are of good 
early decorated design and the window headings are of ex- 
cellent form. The windows of the nave are a nondescript lot; 
one of them is filled with very late tracery, while others have 
transoms. The former opening is directly above the tomb of 
a benefactress of the abbey who died in 1530; and is doubtless 
contemporary with the burial of the Lady Egidia Blair, who 
lived in the castle hard by. 

The heavy screen wall which divides nave and choir is 
also late and is built upon the axis of one of the nave win- 
dows. In one angle is a stair, and at the top a belfry with a 
fine crosletted cross of sixteenth-century design. The arch 
below is well formed and moulded. 

The building next to the abbey in the south is the sacristy. 
We are told that this was the chapter house when the north 
transept was in existence. The doorway is 
certainly recent. The lower walls of the sac- 
risty are somewhat older than the vault, per- 
haps coeval with the choir ; it is provided with 
a low seat, like a chapter house, and in the 
northeastern corner a round-arched door opens 


upon a spiral stair that led to the upper story. sacristy. 

Its window preserves remnants of rather late flowing tracery, 
but its vault is most interesting. The apartment is oblong 



and the vault to cover it was made sexpartite with three oblique 
cells. The ribs rest either upon grotesque corbels or groups 
of shafts rising from the stone seat. 

The chapter house adjoining is a beautiful specimen of 
late decorated vault work; it is a square apartment divided into 
four vault compartments by a fine cluster of shafts which stands 
in the centre to receive the transverse and diagonal ribs of each 
vault. The ribs rest on clustered shafts rising from the seat, 
which, as usual, is carried all round. To the east are two fine 
windows preserving bits of tracery in all respects like that of 
the sacristy. Between the windows is the abbot's throne carved 
in the wall. The decorations have been much defaced, but 
they consisted of grotesques and armorial bearings carved upon 
the corbels, capitals, and keystones. 

Next to the chapter house is a spacious barrel-vaulted 
chamber, and adjoining this the passage connecting the main 
cloister with the eastern garth. The story above these build- 
ings is well preserved between the church wall and a high 
gabled wall and chimney which rises at the end of the chapter 
house and supported wooden roofs on either side of it. Above 
the sacristy was the scriptorium. It was reached directly by 
the winding stairs from the sacristy. The vaults of the sacristy 
are greatly domed, so that the floor of the scriptorium is higher 
than that of the apartment adjacent, and one must descend 
a few steps to the library, which must have been a roomy and 


comfortable apartment with two small windows to the east, a 
large mullioned window upon the cloister court, and a great 
fireplace at its southern end. The buttresses on the outside 
of these buildings are of good form, and would date their 
construction not long after the middle of the fifteenth cen- 

The remaining buildings of the eastern range are mainly 
vaulted chambers of unknown purpose. The best-preserved 
building on the south of the cloister is called the refectory. 
It has a great fireplace and low, queer little windows, and seems 
as likely to have been the kitchen. Within its wall is a straight 
staircase which led to the dormitories. The ruins of a great 
building on the west show a large pointed doorway and seem 
to me more suitable for the refectory than the low, once- 
vaulted, badly lighted apartment on the south. 

The inner wall of the cloister walk has almost entirely 
disappeared ; in one corner a portion of an arch shows the 
angles to have been of arched construction. 

The eastern garth was bounded on the south by a structure 
the lower vaulted story of which still remains in part. It very 
probably connected with the abbot's tower, which stands above 
the little stream and presents a few interesting details. The 
walls are very heavy and fitted with stairs, fireplaces, vaulted 
chambers, and machicolated parapet. The burn passes beneath 
by a vaulted passage and a stair leads down to the water. 


The southwestern courtyard, through which the burn flowed, 
had a number of buildings at the west and north, — the bakery, 
the brewery, etc., — but the gatehouse with its interesting tower 
is the only one remaining. Its main story, a broad arch, 
afforded the chief entrance to the monastery ; beside the arch- 
way a spiral stair leads up into the tower. The upper floors 
comprise comfortable apartments, with deeply recessed windows, 
for guests. The circular angle tower with its spiral stair be- 
comes a square structure at the top, where a little room for 
the watch is provided with window seats on either side of a 
large opening. This room has access to the battlemented roof 
of the main portion of the tower. 

It was about the middle of the thirteenth century when 
Duncan, the old Earl of Carrick, felt the need of Christian- 
izing influence among his retainers of the south of Ayrshire. 
He therefore, in 1244, made large grants of land with gifts of 
money to the abbot of Paisley, with instructions that a monas- 
tery of his order with outlying churches should be established 
in the domain of Carrick. But Earl Duncan, like many since 
his time, soon found that the founding of churches was not all 
peace and good will, for the wily abbot satisfied himself with 
erecting a small chapel at Crosraguel and pocketed the re- 
mainder of the endowment. The earl appealed to the Bishop 
of Glasgow, who directed the abbey at Paisley to establish an 




independent house at Crosraguel which should have all the 
lands of Carrick, then in possession of Paisley, for revenue ; 
that the new establishment be peopled by Benedictines of the 
order of Cluny drawn from Paisley and free to elect their own 
abbot, leaving to the abbot of Paisley only the right of annual 
inspection and a tribute of ten marks. 

The abbot appealed unsuccessfully to the Pope, who in 
1265 confirmed the charter of the abbey, and Crosraguel began 
to raise its buildings on an independent foundation. The 
noblds of the house of Carrick watched the growth of the new 
abbey from their castle of Turnberry, on the coast near by; 
many were the gifts they gave and much did their promises of 
protection mean to the abbot and the brethren. About the 
year 1270 the title descended to a woman, — Marjory, — who, as 
Countess of Carrick, was wooed and won by one Robert, Earl 
of Annandale. 

These good people were no less than the parents of the 
great Robert Bruce. The earl and countess were great bene- 
factors of the abbey, and their young son was brought often 
to the abbey in childhood. As king, Robert was lavish in 
gifts to the abbey; he granted a charter confirming the endow- 
ments of Earl Duncan. In the year of his death the Exchequer 
Rolls show large gifts from the privy purse for repairs upon 
the abbey buildings. David II. followed his father's example 
and endowed the monastery with large benefactions. 


A hundred years passed ; the abbey had grown in wealth 
and beauty. The ravages of war had been atoned for by the 
restored blessings of peace, and the inmates had settled into 
placid repose. Abbot Roger had grown old in office ; his once 
powerful grasp upon the reins of discipline gradually loosened 
until the morale of the monastery was running itself. Serious 
faults found shelter beneath the abbey's roof. Complaints were 
made to the supervising abbot of Paisley, who quickly advised 
Abbot Roger that he should make a visitation, when he should 
expect certain reputed irregularities to be explained. 

On Michaelmas Day in the year 1370 the Court of Inquiry 
convened in the chapter house of Crosraguel. The visiting 
abbot was seated in the chair of state ; about him were grouped 
his followers. Poor old Abbot Roger with his little flock stood 
before this judge and jury of ecclesiastics. But, before the in- 
quiry could proceed, the venerable abbot resigned his mitre 
and pastoral staff into the hands of his superior, saying that 
age and infirmity had rendered him incapable of governing his 
flock or of administering the temporal affairs of the abbey. 
Abbot John of Paisley, grasping the situation at once, stayed 
the investigations, simply accepted Abbot Roger's resignation, 
and fixed a day for the monks to elect a successor to their 
aged pastor. Roger was given privileges in the monastery, and 
remained within its walls an humble brother until he was laid 
with the other abbots outside the wall. 


In 1404 Robert III. raised the abbey to great dignity by 
granting it a perpetual free royal charter, which made its 
abbots princes of their domain, which now extended over all 
of Carrick and far out to the dome of Ailsa Craig. 

The buildings, which had become somewhat dilapidated, 
were almost entirely rebuilt at this period; the choir is a sur- 
vival of this work. Soon after the middle of the century 
Abbot Colin began his long and prosperous rule. He built 
the sacristy and chapter house and many of the buildings of 
the cloister which have remained. 

In the reign of James V. the Pope ordered the Bishop of 
St. Andrews to visit every monastery in Scotland and to punish 
the " excess and enormity of the brethren dwelling therein." 
At this time the influential Abbot David secured from the 
Holy See special immunity from inspection. 

After this two powerful members of the Carrick family 
succeeded in turn to the abbacy, and the abbey enjoyed special 
protection at a time when others were suffering severely. The 
Kennedys of Dunure Castle now became very powerful in the 
region, and William Kennedy became abbot. To this abbot 
the Archbishop of Glasgow sent his treasure, his jewels, his 
plate, his costly vestments, and a rare collection of books for 
protection in the abbey. William was succeeded by his 
nephew, Quentin, who held the great controversy with John 
Knox in Maybole, 1562. 



In 1 56 1 the earls of Arran, Glencairn, and Argyle were sent 
out on their mission of executing the act of Privy Council 
suppressing " Idolatori and all monuments thereof," and among 
other things they tore down part of Crosraguel, but fear of 
the neighbouring lords prevented total demolition at this time. 




Whithorn — Glenluce 

In the earliest pages of the dim, half-mythical history of 
ancient Caledonia we find a ray of well-authenticated tradition 
in the appearance of St. Ninian among the Pictish tribes of the 
southwest. At the coming of this sainted British missionary 
to the shores of the ancient domain of Galloway, the Picts of 
the southwest were allied with the Romans against the other 
tribes of fierce Caledonians ; for Rome had not withdrawn her 
legions to the Imperial City, and this part of Britain, like the 
south, was fast becoming Romanized. 

In 397 Ninian, said by some writers to have been the first 
Christian missionary to set foot in Scotland, set up the cross 
on the bold peninsula that separates the bays of Luce and 
Wigtown. It seems to be a mooted question whether the his- 
toric Candida Casa of St. Ninian was built upon the diminutive 
isle off the point of the Whithorn promontory, where a small 
chapel is claimed by some to mark the original foundation, or 
three miles further up the peninsula, on the site occupied, in 




after years, by the famous mediaeval monastery of Whithorn. 
But, be this as it may, the good St. Ninian for twenty-three 
years continued to preach among the half-civilized Picts. At 
the end of that time Galloway fell into the hands of the hostile 
Scots, who were extending their sway over all Caledonia, and 
the British missionary with his Pictish followers was driven 
to take refuge in Ireland. Nevertheless the site of the Candida 
Casa preserved its sanctity through the dark unwritten periods 
of Scottish history until the twelfth century, when we find the 
site dignified by the erection of a great religious hbttse; one of 
the most important of its time. 

The domain of Galloway remained for many years inde- 
pendent; the lords of the domain held almost regal sway 
over the whole territory. It was not until the accession of 
David I. that Galloway was annexed to the Kingdom and made 
an earldom. 

But the practical independence of the earls during the 
twelfth century is nowhere better illustrated than in a review 
of the monastic institutions founded within their domain during 
the years of religious activity that followed the accession of 
David I. to the Scottish throne. While the king was laying 
the foundations of numerous abbeys, priories, and churches 
throughout every portion of his realm, Fergus, Lord of Gallo- 
way, was founding and endowing monastic institutions of equal 
extent and importance in the several parts of his earldom. 


We have accounts of noble families establishing one or 
even two abbeys in the days of David I., but here we see 
Earl Fergus laying corner stones of extensive monasteries at 
Whithorn in the centre of his domain, at Soulseat on his western 
borders, and Tongueland on the eastern, and sharing with his 
king the honour of founding the great abbey of Dundrennan 
near Kirkcudbright. In. the latter half of the century we 
find his son Roland establishing an abbey in the valley of 
the Luce and endowing churches on both sides of the bay of 
Galloway ; another son, Uchtred, founding a famous convent 
on the banks of the Nith, and in later years his great-grand- 
daughter building the most beautiful abbey of all in Galloway, 
a few miles to the south of Dumfries. Thus the powerful 
lords of Galloway, who knew but one rival in their ruling, 
founded, endowed, and protected the ecclesiastical settlements 
within the boundaries of their ancient possessions, like sover- 
eigns of a greater realm. In one case the name of the king is 
associated with that of the head of the house in founding one 
of their great institutions. This we may take as an acknow- 
ledgment of his superior sway, though it admitted no necessity 
of royal assistance. The lords of the southwestern peninsulas 
remained loyal for many centuries, but as nearly independent 
rulers as was consistent with loyalty to the Crown. 

Of the edifices erected by Earl Fergus very few remains 
have been spared the ravages of war and the vandalism of 


the Reformation. By the placid lake of Soulseat only a few 
mounds of mouldering earth mark the site of the westernmost 
of these abbeys. A single arch of apparently Early English 
design is the sole surviving remnant of Tongueland Abbey, 
beside the waters of Dee. Both of these monasteries were 
founded about 11 40 and were colonized by Premonstratensian 
monks, like those at Dryburgh, but from Cokersand in Lanca- 
shire. Their history is lost forever in the oblivion of Reforma- 
tion annihilation, and their massive walls have long since gone 
to build the homes of plebeian laymen; only the record of 
their name lives with the memory of their pious founder. 

The oldest of Fergus's abbeys, the shrine of St. Ninian, 
— built upon foundations older perhaps than those of Sta. 
Sophia, Justinian's great church, — is in rather a better state of 
preservation. Of the original structure, of course, no traces are 
distinguishable, but the edifice of Fergus's building is repre- 
sented in a fine doorway and fragments of wall. A little over 
two hundred years ago, Symson tells us, the single western 
tower and the nave stood comparatively well preserved ; but 
the fall of the tower in later years greatly damaged the west- 
ern extremity of the main body of the church, leaving the 
remainder the only portion of interest. 

This long, aisleless nave, with the exception of the Norman 
doorway mentioned above, in its southwest angle, is all in 
rather late pointed style. A range of good pointed windows 

2 3 8 


and a pointed doorway, with well-moulded arch and slender 
nook shafts, give character to the south wall, while the un- 
broken wall on the opposite side of the house, with other 
evidence, proves the cloister to have occupied this somewhat 

rare position. 

Beside the nave 
there remain only the 
vaulted crypts of the 
choir and that of a 
structure well to the 
east, which Mr. Gal- 
loway, the architect, 
who has conducted ex- 
cavations here, calls a 
later, secondary tran- 
sept. A fragment of 
the twelfth - century 
south transept wall, 
and bits of the foun- 
dations of the north 
transept, which is believed to have served as a chapter house, 
of the slype and other domestic buildings, complete the 
extant remains of the abbey of Whithorn. The Norman door- 
way, through which we may believe the founder passed, is at 
once suggestive of the western portal of Dunfermline. Its 



nook shafts are heavier and more primitive in proportions, but 
the carving of the caps and abaci is substantially the same, 
while the deep mouldings above, with their chevron ornament 
and geometrical pattern, their heavy label supported at either 
end by a grotesque head, is decidedly reminiscent of Dunferm- 
line's grand portal. The outer mouldings and the wall above 
have been much damaged by the roof of a porch now fortu- 
nately destroyed, for which the water table was ruthlessly cut 
into the stonework. Above the arches, in the old Norman 
wall, are to be seen some squared stones carved in fantastic 
and geometrical patterns, suggesting the rich barbaric Norman 
character of the early church. 

From the earliest times the abbey of Whithorn was the 
object of religious pilgrimages. The shrine of St. Ninian 
was held in highest reverence throughout the Kingdom, 
and was frequently visited by royalty and persons of high 
rank. King Robert the Bruce made the abbey the object of 
his devout liberality, and is known to have made a pilgrimage 
hither in the year of his death. James IV. chose St. Ninian's 
shrine as his favourite religious retreat, and came, often twice 
in one year, to pay his devotion to the patron saint. On cer- 
tain occasions these visits were paid in royal splendour, "with 
retinue of many a knight and squire." The abbey buildings 
were of far greater extent than is possible for us to recon- 
struct in mind upon the scant remains now visible. The 



inmates, who were of Earl Fergus's favourite order, the Pre- 
monstratensian, were often very numerous, and many of the 
later abbots distinguished themselves in the affairs of state. 


From the first abbey of Earl Fergus, situated at the end 
of the Whithorn peninsula, ruined and desolate, we turn to a 

monastery founded, over fifty years later, 
by his descendant, Roland, just below the 
moors, in a lovely valley called by the 
monks Vallis lucis, down which the water 
of Luce rushes in a turbulent stream of rich 
amber colour. Down the valley of Luce 
a superb view stretches far out over an 
arm of the sea called Luce Bay, to the 
lighthouse on the Mull of Galloway. 
Smooth, well-tilled fields spread on either side of the river 
and surround the abbey with downs of level green. To the 
north, low, heathery hills break the violence of winter winds. 
An ideal spot it was that Roland chose for the site of his 
religious establishment, and happy was the monk sent to 

An extensive and exceptionally beautiful abbey with far- 
reaching monastic buildings, built largely in the late decorated 




style of Melrose, stood almost intact, in the vale of Luce, 
until 1646, when it was sold to be used as a quarry. Having 
escaped the ravages of war and the violent hands of the 
Reformers, it was ignomini- 
ously torn down, its well-cut 
stone being carted away for 
the foundations and walls of 
numerous castles and manor 
houses in the district. 

Of the church there re- 
main upright only the wall 
and gable of the south tran- 
sept, but it is possible to 
discover in the debris that 
surrounds the private burial 
plot which occupies the site 
of the choir, the lines of a 

two-aisled nave, slightly projecting transepts, an aisleless choir, 
and a vaulted sacristy adjoining the south transept to the east. 
The cloister court seems not to have been reached in the van- 
dalistic operations that annihilated the nave; for the range of 
buildings on its eastern side is fairly well preserved in one story, 
while the three other sides are traceable in patched-up walls. 

The surface of the cloister court seems to have been raised 
by the accumulation of debris to over two feet above its origi- 

A. Nave. 

B. Choir. 

C. 8. Trauept. 

D. Chapter Home. 

E. Slype. O, 0. Vaulted Cells. 
P. Cloister. 




nal level. Adjoining the transept is a chamber, probably the 
slype, filled with fragments and overgrown with weeds. But 


glenluce: transept end and chapter house from southeast. 

next to this is one of the most charming examples of the 
characteristic Scottish chapter house in all the north country, 
— a chamber twenty-four feet square, vaulted in four compart- 
ments which have a common support in a fine cluster of 
slender shafts in the centre of the building, lighted from the 
east by two pointed windows with mullioned tracery, restored 
by some lover of Gothic art from original fragments, and 
opening upon the cloister by a richly moulded arch of delicate 
proportions and design. The carving of the corbels that sup- 



port the slender vault ribs, that of the compound capital, of 
the central support, of the keystones, and of the abbot's chair, 
cut into the eastern wall, is all of graceful design treated in a 
manner worthy of the best artists. The jambs of the doorway 
are decorated just below the arch spring with a band of flow- 
ing leaf-ornament most unique in composition, while a label 
within is supported by 
grotesque heads cowled 
like monks. One key- 
stone bears the ram- 
pant lion of Scotland 
upon his well - known 

It is impossible to 
say why this beautiful 

vaulted chapter house K 
was left unscathed ; per- 
chance it was for the 
use of nonconformist 
worshippers. It was 
the fold of real . sheep 
when I visited it, and 
their feeding-trough occupied the most prominent place in the 
building. Adjoining the chapter house are two simple barrel- 
vaulted chambers, whose ceilings are richly decorated with a 

Point 3 on Plan. 


growth of maidenhair fern that has found footing between the 
stones. Its even growth, stirred by a gentle breeze, shows 
effects of changeable green seldom seen in the most costly- 
hangings. The vaults of all these chambers are roofed with a 
thick coating of earth provided with heavy turf, so that they 
are safe for the present. 

The towering transept wall shows, by a water table, how 
high the roofs of the dormitories, above the chapter house and 
other buildings, extended. A doorway and a fragment of stair 
are still to be seen in the wall, and three small windows of 
good pointed character open out above the roofs of the cloister 

The history of Glenluce Abbey must be short as the de- 
scription of its parts. It was peopled by monks from Melrose 
and flourished from the date of its founding, 1190, until 1545, 
when the monks were driven from their cloister. For some 
years in its later history, the abbey was a bone of contention 
between the Kennedys and the Gordons. 



There is no county in all Scotland that can 
boast more varied scenery than Kirkcudbright- 
shire. The broad channel of the river Dee winds 
its course from north to south through moorland 
and meadow, cultivated fields and marshy fens. 
The deep estuary at the river's mouth divides 
the Lowlands into two great peninsulas, rich with 
well-kept farms and picturesque with copsy knolls 
and thickly wooded haughs. To the northeast EFFIGY 0F ABB0T ' 


there are moors and fells rising toward the sea dundrennan. 
to where the lofty dome of Criffel looks across the Solway 
Firth to the higher peaks of Cumberland. 

The variety of its natural beauties is fully equalled by the 
historic and romantic interests in which the country abounds, 
beginning with the far-off mythical days of Uther Pendragon 
and the Roman occupation, coming down through the Middle 
Ages, full of memories of the romantic and warlike exploits of 
Bruce, of the Black Douglas, and others of that famous family, 



that linger in tradition about the crumbling walls of the 
castles Threave and Buittle. 

The romance of later days in the Stewartry, fresh in the 
minds of the lovers of Sir Walter's tales, still lives in the 
castle of Carscreugh, where wanders the spirit of the " Bride 
of Lammermoor," in Dirk Hatterick's cave and the haunts of 
" Old Mortality." Poetry, fiction, and history have enlivened 
the whole region with a glamour of associations richer per- 
haps than in any district in Scotland. 

Of the numerous abbeys established in the twelfth century 
between the Solway and the Frith of Clyde none is so well 
preserved in its architectural features nor so well known in 
history as the abbey of Dundrennan. 

Its site, like that of all Cistercian monasteries, was chosen 
with the utmost forethought, in a fertile, protected vale open- 
ing to the south upon the Solway Frith and watered by a 
never-failing burn. Above the abbey rises the Hill of Thorns, 
— Dun Drainan, — which gave the abbey its name. From 
this eminence a splendid panorama is unfolded in all direc- 
tions. To the north the view extends over the moors to dis- 
tant heathery hills; to the east rises Criffel, and further down, 
across the gleaming frith, the ever-changing slopes of the 
mountains of Cumberland; to the south the sea; and westward 
lie, beyond the Dee and Wigtown Bay, the Whithorn promon- 
tory and St. Ninian's Isle. 



Here Lord Fergus, in 1142, laid the foundation of a great 
monastery, colonizing it from the ancient Cistercian foundation 
in Rievalle, Yorkshire. Silvanus was appointed first abbot 
and ruled for many years, but it is impossible to say how far 
the building of the abbey progressed under his rule. 

A. Navn. 

B. Choir. 
G. Transepts. 

D. Chapter House. 

E. Sljpr. 

F. Cloister. 

G. Riiin.ll Cells. 
H. Tomb of 

"Belted Knight." 


The ruin is chiefly in the early transitional style with a 
large proportion of frankly Norman details. It is approached 
from the little group of cottages that form the sequestered 
hamlet, through the original portal of the west front, which is 
almost the sole surviving remnant of the nave. Within the 
portal we see two long rows of bases of the columns of the 


eight-bayed nave, and on either side the lower courses of 
aisle walls. Near the crossing the outer wall on the north 
preserves a bit of window jamb and arch, while that to the 
south contains the jambs of a good doorway which led to the 

The transepts, extending three bays to the right and left, 
are well preserved. Each had a vaulted eastern aisle, the 
outer walls of which are now completely destroyed. The 
walls of the aisleless choir are brought forward across the tran- 
sept aisle to the piers of the crossing, which were heavily reen- 
forced at all four angles and consisted on the inner face of a 
fine cluster of slender shafts carried up two stories, not unlike 
those supporting the tower arches of Kelso, and quite similarly 
capped. A considerable difference is noticeable between the 
transepts, the northern arm being of rather better style. Both 
are decidedly Norman in character, though all the lower 
arches are pointed. In the north transept the three fine 
moulded arches on the eastern side are supported by clustered 
columns with capitals of late moulded Norman design. Above 
these a well-proportioned triforium consists of a blind arcade 
of three groups of four lancet-pointed arches of elegant compo- 
sition. Behind this arcade is concealed the passage of the 

Then comes the clerestory, of tall, round-headed windows of 
the simplest Norman style. The east wall of the aisle has dis- 



appeared, but its northern wall preserves a good Norman win- 
dow, and, in the angle, an ascending vaulting shaft. The north 


From Point 3 on Plan. 

wall is plain on the ground story, broken only by a doorway 
of later cutting. At the triforium level are two fine, deeply 
splayed Norman windows rising through two stories. The 
mouldings of their arches are supported at the jambs by 


slender shafts and each is embraced by a broad wall arch, 
similarly supported at the angles of the transept, and by a 
cluster of shafts between the windows. On either side of the 
windows are seen the openings in the wall where passes the 
triforium passage. 

The gable is pierced by two pointed windows. The west- 
ern wall of this arm of the transept has but two stories of 
large simple Norman openings. The triforium passage here 
maintains the same level in the wall. In the south transept 
the main arcade is quite similar to that of the north, but the 
mouldings are flatter and the clusters of columns are not com- 
posed with equal skill. A complete change was made in the 
triforium, where there are two open, coupled arches of pointed 
style separated by a heavy pier above each of the main arches. 
This arcade is not nearly so light nor so well designed as that 
of the opposite arm. 

The clerestory is simply Norman again and the evidence of 
aisle vaults is of early pointed type, showing this church to 
have been, like the transitional edifices of England and France, 
Gothic in the principles of interior construction and design, 
but frankly Romanesque in outward appearance. The south- 
ern and western walls of this transept are missing, but they 
were doubtless similar to those of the opposite arm. The 
choir was by all odds the plainest portion of the edifice. Its 
eastern end has perished, but the side walls show that this 


portion of the abbey was aisleless and had heavy unbroken 
walls in the first story. In later days a doorway was cut on 
either side into the transept aisle, which must have been 
divided nominally into chapels with separate altars. From 
the triforium level tall Norman windows like those in the tran- 
sept extend to the top of the wall. There is every appear- 
ance of the choir having been vaulted in cross-vaults at a 
very early period, provision for the support of ribs being made 
in groups of shafts stopped by corbels at the triforium string- 

The quadrangle of the cloister is intact; the buildings 
on the east are totally destroyed, but for the chapter house. 
Next the church was the slype, now completely ruined ; then 
comes the chapter house, which, from existing remains, would 
seem to have been the largest in the realm. Within are 
found bases of six clustered columns which prove that there 
were twelve vault compartments. The facade, with its broad 
doorway flanked by coupled pointed openings, is a beautiful 
example of work of the richest decorated period. The pointed 
arch of the central opening is provided with an exceedingly 
rich set of fine mouldings, which are repeated in wall arches 
on either side above the windows. The main arch is cusped 
to cinquefoil form and its recessed mouldings are supported 
by sets of coupled shafts with simple moulded caps. The 
outer arches rest on single nook shafts. The windows, which 


were always open, consist each of two pointed arches embraced 
by a broader moulded arch, also pointed. The shafts which 
separated the sub-order of arches have been lost, but the colo- 
nettes at the sides are represented by their bases and caps. 
These, with the rich arch and jamb mouldings and the carved 
design above the smaller arches, are sufficient to show the 
elegance of the original design. The embracing arch of the 
windows have label mouldings of great beauty. The end of 
one preserves a loop which marked its termination, a motive 
of decoration of Oriental origin doubtless imported by crusad- 
ing monks. The jambs are ornamented with mouldings of 
nail-head and other patterns peculiar to the richest period of 
pointed style. 

The southern limit of the cloister is marked by a simple 
improvised wall, but the western side consists of a series of 
six vaulted cells, above which was one of the main halls of 
the monastery, either fratry or dormitory. A number of in- 
teresting tombs are scattered about the church and abbey build- 
ings. One, that of Allan, Lord of Galloway, who married a 
granddaughter of David I. and who died about 1250, enshrines 
a well-executed effigy in full armour, now much mutilated, and 
called for centuries the " Belted Knight." This tomb niche is 
in the north wall of the transept aisle and has been much 
exposed to the weather. A better preserved sepulchral figure 
is one in the chapter house. It is that of an ecclesiastic 



of high rank, presumably an abbot, bearing his crosier over 
breast and shoulder. His feet rest upon a curious figure 
of human shape, in frightful contortions and stabbed with some 

• It has long been a disputed question whether King David I. 
or Fergus, Lord of Galloway, was the real founder of the abbey 
of Dundrennan. Fordun in his " Scotichronicon," written in 
1385, names the king, while Spottiswood, in 1655, declares that 
the earl was founder. It is well known that David was a 
large benefactor of the abbey, and it is easy to see how read- 
ily so pious a prince might be considered the founder of this 
as well as many other abbeys. Such an error long prevailed 
regarding the founding of Dryburgh, until archaeologists found 
out the true founder. But of Dundrennan there is no chroni- 
cle, and it is thus impossible to decide with absolute certainty. 
For many centuries the abbots of Dundrennan were appointed 
by the king instead of the Pope, and this fact may have 
helped to mislead early writers. 

Hardly more than twenty or thirty years could have elapsed 
between the founding of the abbey and its completion, if we 
judge from the style and structure of the church edifice. 

The domestic buildings suffered during King Edward's 
wars and were restored in the sumptuous style of which we 
have an example in the chapter house. The extent of this 



building would argue for the great number of the abbey's in- 
mates at the time of its building; for there is no better indi- 
cator of the size of the chapter of a monastery at a given time 
than its chapter house. We have frequent examples of the 
enlarging of a chapter house when the number of canons had 
outgrown the original building, as at Dryburgh, and cases 
where a chapter house has been rebuilt, inferior in comparative 
size and style to the church edifice, where the chapter had be- 
come reduced, as at Kilwinning. 

The abbey seems to have flourished richly until Reformation 
times, and to its shelter and sanctuary fled the hapless Queen 
Mary after the disheartening defeat at Langside by the Regent 
Murray. The monks received the unfortunate queen and un- 
doubtedly would have died in her defence had her enemies fol- 
lowed her and laid siege to the abbey. Here the queen spent 
her last night in the ancient realm of her ancestors, and the 
following morning before daybreak was escorted to the sea- 
shore at a point some two miles away, where a boat was wait- 
ing to convey her to the protection of her cousin. The spot 
where she embarked has ever since been known as Port Mary. 

I would advise a visitor to Dundrennan to walk the six 
miles from Kirkcudbright. Two roads lead to the abbey; one 
over the hills with splendid views, the other along the bay for 
some distance and then across the peninsula. Both abound in 
interest, and give the pedestrian a charming impression of 



this lovely district of the Scottish country. But I would 
warn him against choosing the first day of the week for the 
excursion. My first visit was made upon a lovely Scottish 
Sabbath, and after my invigorating walk of six miles, I met 


with the chagrin of being denied admission and receiving a 
strong rebuke, as I could not name a relative buried within 
the abbey precinct and enrolled upon the sexton's register. So 
I crossed the abbey burn and ascended the hill on the other 
side, where I had a superb view of the ruin and its lovely 


On the occasion of my next visit it rained somewhat harder 
than it is wont to do in Scotland, and I had to content myself 
with making a sketch from a window of the " Crown- and 
Anchor." It was not until the third time that I could really 
enjoy the beauties of the ruin and make a few sketches in 



Beside the shady banks of the river Nith, where it is joined 
by the waters of Cluden, upon a point of land almost isolated 

by the curves of the two streams, stands 
the ruin of Lincluden Abbey. No site 
in all Scotland is more fair; no ruin is 
more graceful. The abbey was not one 
of the more extensive settlements of the 
Kingdom, and its ruins do not cover a 
wide area ; but for some reason, hard to 
explain, this abbey, though much de- 
stroyed, carries one back into the Middle 
Ages as few other ruins do. The situa- 
tion can have changed but little since 
the days when the cloistered inmates 
spent their placid lives within the abbey's enclosure; the rivers 
have not altered, and the smooth green of the haugh could 
scarcely have been more green or smooth. 

The cloisters lay to the north of the church, while on the 
southern side we find a carefully graded knoll, partly natural, 





partly artificial, with even terraces easily discerned upon its 
regular slope and tall trees growing at quite regular intervals 
upon them. This was unquestionably erected as a Calvary, at 
the time of the original founding of the abbey, and had its 
crucifix at the summit, toward which the nuns ascended by slow 
degrees with many a prayer 
and pater nosier, as the Scala 
Sancta is ascended to-day. 
This is one of the few Cal- 
varys to be found in Great 
Britain; in France they are 
the common adjunct of mon- 
asteries, but if many existed 
in Britain they have long 
since disappeared. 

The ruins, which are 
chiefly in the decorated style 
of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, consist of the south 
wall of the nave and the south transept with the choir, roof- 
less, but otherwise well preserved; a diminutive sacristy adja- 
cent to the choir on the north and a long range of vaulted 
cellars, extending northward, substructures of the more impor- 
tant monastic edifices, and, at the end of the range, a tower- 
like castellated structure, believed to have been the house of 
the superior. 

A. Nave. 

B. Oboir. 
0. Transept. 

D. 8 aorta ty. 

E. Vaulted Chapels. 

F. Cloister. 
G- Tomb of Foundress. 



To east and west of these buildings there appear to have 
been two courtyards: that adjoining the nave extending to the 
very river's brink and now completely destroyed; the other 
seems to have been more extensive, for the foundations of walls, 
forming a perfect quadrangle, are plainly recognized in mounds 
of green turf. 

The abbey was founded as a convent for Benedictine nuns 
about the middle of the twelfth century, by Uchtred, son of 
the great Earl Fergus who founded so many monasteries in 
other parts of ancient Galloway. Almost no portions of the 
original structure can be found among the ruins, although 
quite recent excavations have revealed foundations and broken 
details of undoubted Norman date. These are sufficient to 
show that the present church was erected on substantially the 
same lines as the older one, and that the western doorway, 
which seems to have survived the rebuilding, was a Norman 
recessed arch of several orders. 

The sisters of the black habit seem to have occupied this 
lovely site for upward of two hundred years, undisturbed, un- 
molested in their simple, secluded life, until Archibald, Earl of 
Douglas, called the " Grim," a descendant and successor to the 
titles of the old Lords of Galloway, discovered reasons for dis- 
placing the sisterhood, assigning "insolence" on their part as 
his reason, though it is understood that he acquired large land 
tenures by suppressing the convent. The grim Archibald never- 


theless not only set up a new establishment on the old founda- 
tion, so long held by the sisterhood, but rebuilt the convent 
in new and sumptuous style. He now founded a collegiate 
institution with a provost and twelve canons, and made new 
endowments of considerable extent. 

The first provost, Elias, was appointed in 1404. Under him 
the church was begun and changes were made in the domestic 
buildings for the accommodation of the canons. Under Provost 
Cairns, the successor of Elias, the number of inmates was 
swelled by the admission of twenty-four bedesmen and a 
chaplain. From this period the history of the abbey is inti- 
mately associated with the house of Douglas. The earls made 
Lincluden a frequent residence and enriched the abbey more 
and more. Archibald, fourth Earl of Douglas, son of Archi- 
bald the Grim, made it the object of his pious liberality, and 
his arms are found emblazoned in several parts of the church. 
This noble crossed the channel with a large retinue to aid 
Charles VII., and was created Duke of Touraine by the French 
monarch for his gallant services. In 1424 he was slain in the 
fierce battle of Verneuil. The story of these French honours, 
won by Lord Douglas, is told in simple language by the 
carven stones of the abbey: a lovely corbel in the choir, bear- 
ing the device of three fleurs-de-lis under a ducal crown sup- 
ported by two rampant lions, serves as a chapter in history. 
A peculiar interest and great historic value attaches to the 



style of architecture introduced extensively in the early fifteenth 
century, when heraldic emblems were employed as decorative 
devices. These not only indicate the connection of certain 
noble families with the buildings where they are found, but 

&. z_ 


wherever they appear they are like a seal upon the surround- 
ing architecture, and by the science of heraldry we are enabled 
to fix its date. In the heraldic symbols of Lincluden we may 
read the changing history of the house of Douglas, their acqui- 
sition, by inheritance or by marriage, of the titles of Galloway ) 
Annandale, and far-away Moray. 



The human heart, which was added to the stars of the 
Douglas arms after the death of Bruce and the romantic mis- 
sion of the Good Sir James, is to be found in many a corbel, 
keystone, and carved bracket of Lincluden's walls. The em- 
blems of the royal house of Stuart 
traced upon one prominent shield 
show that a Douglas aspired to royal 
alliance. Thus the ancient ruin is 
given a language of its own which 
those versed in blazonry can readily 
understand, and a double interest 
is added to each bit of detail. 

The second Earl Archibald it 
was who brought the royal arms 
to Lincluden by his marriage with 
the Princess Margaret, daughter of 
Robert III. The countess en- 
dowed the college with extensive 
grants in 1429 in memory of her 
husband, slain far away in France, 
and erected a chapel to the Good Sir James in the south 
transept. In consequence of these gifts the number of inmates 
was more than doubled and more elaborate plans were made for 
beautifying the church. In 1440 the countess died and a gor- 
geous tomb was erected for her on the north side of the choir. 

DOUGLAS. From Point 4 on Plan. 


Under Provost Haliburton, appointed 1430, the choir was 
well under way; for his arms are found well up on the south 
wall. The work was certainly beautifully designed and most 
skilfully executed. The choir is not a large structure, scarcely 
exceeding fifty feet by thirty, and aisleless. 

It was divided into three bays, and was cut off from the 
nave by a high screen pierced with a flat-arched doorway. 
The east end contained a spacious window, traceried in rich 
decorated fashion. Each bay was lighted on the south by a 
fine broad window with tracery similar to that over the high 
altar. On the north the window of the eastern bay is partly 
closed by the tomb of the benefactress, and those above the 
building that stood over the sacristy are of the equilateral 
triangle form seen at Beauly and Pluscarden. A broad 
moulded arch supported by clustered columns divides the 
choir and nave above the screen, and an arched doorway, 
richly moulded, leads from choir to sacristy. 

That the choir was vaulted upon an intricate system of ribs 
is very evident from the copious remnants of springers and 
the clustered vault shafts, with their rich caps, brought down 
a considerable distance and stopped with bases upon highly 
ornate corbels; but the singular feature was the undoubted 
use of a simple pointed barrel vault above that of English 
decorated type. This, it has been suggested, was built to 
protect the lower structure and to carry a gabled roof of 


ponderous flagstones like those in the early churches of 
Auvergne and that which now covers the nave of Melrose. 
Between these sets 
of vaults was an 
apartment lighted at 
the eastern end by 
a small window par- 
tially preserved. 

The decoration of 
the choir within and 
without is both rich 
and refined. The 
details are executed 
on rather large scale 
and thus diminish 
the apparent size of 
the edifice ; but shaft 
and rib, cap and cor- 
bel, base-mould and 
cornice, are executed 
with a degree of per- 
fection seldom seen 
so far north. The 
door leading to the sacristy is heavily enriched with a foliate 
band between the two chief mouldings of the arch, and 

SACRISTY. From Point 3 on Plan. 


carried down between the two colonettes on either side. The 
arch is filled with a carved tympanum adorned with the heraldic 
shields of Archibald the Grim and his countess. On the 
south side of the choir a lovely triple sedilia attracts attention 
by its sculptured enrichments, and an exquisite piscina adjoin- 
ing the altar is one of the most chaste and beautiful speci- 
mens of delicate decorated detail in Great Britain. Three low 
corbels projecting from the wall behind the site of the high 
altar appear to have supported an elaborately carved reredos, 
fragments of which have been brought to light in recent 

But the gem of the abbey's sculptured details is the superb 
tomb of the Countess Margaret in the north wall, — a deep 
semicircular niche, adorned above by a heavy canopy of an 
ogee moulding rich with crockets and finial, on either side a 
slender ornamental buttress with an acute carved pinnacle. 
Between the tops of the pinnacles, on a line with the finial of 
the ogee moulding, runs a rich foliate moulding and the wall 
surface included beneath it and between the little buttresses is 
panelled in delicate cusped arches. 

The arch of the niche is very elaborately designed with 
an ornate band of intricate foliage between its chief mouldings 
and carried down between the minute colonettes that support 
them on either side. Within the arch a rich cusping of 
elaborate carving broke up the roundness of the curve into a 


series of small segments and added greatly to the sumptuous 

The bottom of the niche consists of a broad, flat shelf 
which projected several inches from the wall surface. Upon 
this reposed the sculptured figure of the countess. This shelf 
formed the cover of a large sarcophagus, which also projected 
into the choir, bearing on its sides, in stately design, a row of 
nine armorial shields, each beneath its trefoil arch. The tomb 
was rifled and the effigy of the countess was torn from its 
place and ruthlessly destroyed centuries ago; but the present 
proprietors have restored the figure and the broken portions 
of the tomb from existing fragments. 

None of the tombs of the Douglases at the famous little 
church of St. Bride's, in the upper ward of Lanarkshire, can 
compare with this for richness or dignity of design, and few 
in all Scotland are more beautiful ; when complete in all its 
parts and brilliant with gold and colour, it must have been a 
gorgeous feature of the little choir. 

In the opposite wall of the choir the triple sedilia of exquisite 
workmanship, though now sadly mutilated, is a fine example 
of fifteenth-century carving, while the screen at the west end 
of the choir is of particular interest from this point of view. 
The screen is a solidly built structure with a low, flat-arched 
doorway; its summit is reached by a spiral stair. The deco- 
ration is confined to the upper portions, a heavy, overhanging 


cornice richly adorned with foliate bands and sculptured figures 
of angels in attitudes of adoration. Below the cornice a frieze 
in relief, now greatly defaced, seems to have represented scenes 
from sacred history. 

The sculpture of the south transept and the fragment of 
the nave still preserved consists of angel figures carved in the 
corbels of the vault ribs. The mouldings of the exterior are 
of elegant design and of the large scale prevalent in this 

Lincluden is only a mile from Dumfries. It is a lovely 
walk from the town to the ruin, along the banks of the Nith, 
amid green pastures where peaceful cattle graze, then skirting 
fields of grain, it passes into the welcome shade of splendid old 
trees, and rounding the Calvary hill, comes upon the most lovely 
of ruins, so far as its site is concerned, in all North Britain. 




The last of the house of the Lords of Galloway to establish 
a religious institution in Scotland was a daughter of Lord Allan 
whose tomb we have seen at Dundrennan, Devorgilla, mother 
of King John Baliol and foundress of Baliol College, Oxford. 
Though the founding of Baliol College was in direct execution 
of her husband's will, this gracious lady, who is said to have 
been the richest subject of her time in either kingdom, was 
famous for her benefactions in England and Scotland. At 
nineteen Devorgilla had married John Baliol of Castle Bernard, 
Yorkshire, and after forty years of married life had become 
a widow, inheriting from her husband large estates in England. 
By the death of all the heirs of her father, she came into 
possession of all the lordship he had held, so that it is not 
difficult to believe the story of her vast wealth. 

Inheriting further, to some extent, the disposition of her 
great ancestor David I. of royal line, Devorgilla, from her ample 
means, erected and endowed convents throughout her broad 
domain: one for Franciscan friars at Dumfries, one for Do- 



minicans at Wigtown, and another for Franciscans at Dundee. 
She founded a monastery at Holywood on the Nith, restored 
and extended the great abbey of Dundrennan, besides estab- 
lishing the "new abbey," the Sweetheart Abbey of this chapter. 

The story of the founding of this abbey is most romantic 
and quite unlike the prosaic church foundings of King David I., 
or of later sovereigns and subjects who were simply perform- 
ing a perfunctory and formal act of piety. Of such a character 
were Devorgilla's other pious acts of convent building, but in 
the founding of the new abbey there is a touch of pathos and 
romance that is quite refreshing. 

After her husband's death the disconsolate Devorgilla had 
his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket, which she 
made her constant companion. The " Sweet-heart," as she 
called it, travelled with her upon her journeys between Gallo- 
way and her Yorkshire estates, and doubtless journeyed to 
Oxford with the devoted widow. 

But as time passed and age began to warn the countess 
that she must soon follow her beloved spouse, she resolved to 
build a monument worthy of their loves, a resting-place for 
herself and the cherished relic. A great abbey, she thought, 
would be a fitting monument of their devotion, where she her- 
self might lie, when death should call her too, with the heart 
upon her heart. This was the end for which she undertook 
to erect a great church, under the high altar of which she and 



her "Sweet-heart" might sleep the long sleep; this gave reason 
for the name that, from the first, was given to the new abbey. 

The epithet new was applied to the abbey in contradistinc- 
tion to Dundrennan, which had been built a hundred years 
before and which was now called the " Old Abbey." The 
other appellation was variously corrupted, and we find Duz 
Quer, Douce Cceur, and Dulce Cor in old records, and an old 
rhymer sings: — 

"In Dulcecorde Abbey 

She taketh her rest 

With the heart of her husband 

Embalmed in her breast." 

In 1275, according to Fordun, the first endowments were 
made for the abbey and directly work was begun upon the 
church and buildings. A colony of twelve Cistercian monks 
was established in the same year and Henry was made first 
abbot. Within nine years from its founding, the abbey seems 
to have been well under way and a portion, at least, was dedi- 
cated; for some sixty years ago, among the ruins, a stone was 
found that had been used in the superstructure, bearing the 
inscription : — 





In 1289 Abbot Henry started on a journey to the mother 
house of the Cistercian order at Citeaux in France, and died 
on the way, and in the same year the foundress of the abbey 
ended her long labours for charity and the church in the Vill 
de Kempstone, and was laid in the choir of her church, before 
the high altar, with her husband's heart pressed close to her 
own. Upon their tomb was inscribed an elegy written for 
Devorgilla by the prior of Lanercroft : — 

"In Devorgil, a sybil sage doth dye, as 
Mary contemplative, as Martha pious ; 
To her, O ! deign, High King ! rest to impart 
Whom this stone covers, with her husband's heart." 

The second abbot, Ericus, lived but six years after his 
consecration, but under him considerable work must have been 
accomplished ; for under his successor building activity must 
have come to a standstill, as it did everywhere in Scotland 
after Edward I. had begun his invasion. Abbot John was, 
indeed, more deeply concerned with matters political and with 
saving the abbey and its lands from the invaders than with 
extending or beautifying its buildings. Immediately upon his 
appointment Abbot John renounced his allegiance to the 
French Crown and swore fealty to the English sovereign ; the 
lands which had been taken from the abbey were then restored. 
He sat in the parliament that chose Edward as arbitrator be- 


tween Bruce and Baliol and naturally sympathized with the 
king's favourite. 

Four years later Edward had again crossed the Scottish 
border and Pope Boniface VIII. had sent a bull to England 
asserting the independence of Scotland except so far as the 
Holy See was concerned. Robert Winchelsea, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, received this dictum of papal authority and set out 
to find the king. The archbishop was detained for some time 
at Carlisle, but finally journeyed on to Newabbey, where he 
overtook his Majesty giving thanks in the church for his vic- 
tory at Caerlaverock Castle. Then followed the famous inter- 

The names of the abbots who ruled the monastery during 
the fourteenth century have been lost to memory, though 
after the war of independence extensive work was carried out 
upon the church edifice. And all seems to have been com- 
pleted by 1 38 1, when the abbey had become short of funds 
and had suffered a catastrophe from lightning. At this time 
we find the monks appealing for assistance and the Bishop of 
Galloway granting fresh revenues to the abbey for repairs. In 
the next century the names of two abbots, Thomas and Will- 
iam, appear, but the history of the abbey is very obscure 
during that period. 

Abbot Robert began the sixteenth century, and the abbacies 
of two famous men, John and Gilbert Brown, extend over its 


latter half. These two were staunch supporters of the waning 
power of Rome in Scotland. Gilbert, the last abbot, fought 
hard to hold the southwest to the old faith and had many 
friends and faithful followers ; but he was finally condemned 
as a Jesuit and a rebel, and banished. He was the prototype 
of Sir Walter Scott's "Abbot." During the Reformation the 
Privy Council commanded Lord Herries, the friend of Queen 
Mary, to lay waste the abbey and its dependencies, but his 
Lordship refused, we are told, because he had been educated 
within the abbey's walls and loved it too well to be the instru- 
ment of its destruction. So the abbey was spared assault and 
the wracking effects of gunpowder, and came to its state of 
ruin by a process of gradual decay. At the time of the Refor- 
mation the abbey was feued to Lord Maxwell, but eventually 
was vested in the Crown. It then changed from hand to hand, 
suffering more and more from natural decay and local vandal- 
ism. Little by little the more exposed portions of the church 
fell in, and the vaults of the aisles collapsed, while the abbey 
buildings disappeared almost to a stone. It is about a century 
since the first steps were taken to preserve the ruin. A num- 
ber of persons succeeded in arousing sufficient interest to meet 
the immediate needs of the fast-crumbling walls. 

In later years the present proprietors have expended much 
care and many hundred pounds to save this fine monument 
from further decay. 



The site of Sweetheart Abbey is one of particular charm. 
Like so many abbeys of the Cistercian order, it stands on the 
sheltered side of a range of wooded hills, in the midst of smooth 
fields, the Pow Burn running through its precinct, to the bay 
at the mouth of the Nith only a short mile away. Thus we 


have the usual setting of the home of the White Monk: hills 
for shelter, forest for fuel, fields for harvest, and a burn to fur- 
nish food for the fast-days. The ruin lies some six miles south 
from Dumfries. The traveller may leave that fresh, clean, 
thriving town by an ancient bridge over the Nith, built by the 
foundress of the abbey, and preserving large portions of the 


original construction ; he then passes through a part of Max- 
welltown, and pursues his way along a well-built highroad, 
with verdant fields and pastures on either hand, through stately 
avenues of elms and limes, past well-kept country seats, and over 
a hill from which a glorious view is gained, looking backward 
toward the town, which is really picturesque for a manufactur- 
ing place, to the left over level stretches of brown and purple 
marshlands brightened here and there by brilliant bits of scarlet 
and gold, where clusters of blossoms spring from the rich moist 
soil, and forward to the majestic group of fells that mount up 
toward the crest of Criffel's great dome. Descending, he soon 
enters a dense wood thickly grown with underbrush, where it 
is dark and still ; then, as he comes once more into full light 
of day, the ponderous mass of the abbey's tower salutes him, 
standing across the burn only a few yards away. 

The ruin of this once extensive monastery preserves its 
church edifice more nearly complete than any of the ruined 
abbeys. The roofs have, of course, all disappeared; the north 
aisle wall has been demolished, most of the aisle vaults have 
perished too, and the clerestory in some places has fallen down ; 
but restore these few details and you have the perfect church 
structure of the fourteenth century. 

The plan is of that interesting type that seems to have been 
adopted for all the abbeys of the first magnitude founded in 



the thirteenth century, and, in choir and transepts, bears a 
striking similarity to the plan of Pluscarden Abbey: a two- 
aisled nave of six bays with four massive piers at the crossing, 
broad transepts with eastern aisle of two bays on either side 
of the choir, and an aisle- 
less choir terminating flatly 
toward the east. 

The system of the nave 
consists of a dignified ar- 
cade of broad, rather low 
arches, above which a plain 
wall occupies the position 
of the triforium, as is often 
seen in the Italian Gothic 
churches, and as we have 
seen once before in Scot- 
land, as the reader may re- 
member, at Haddington. The dignified and richly ornate 
clerestory was designed with three coupled, trefoiled arches 
above each of the main arches, with a narrow space of wall 
between the groups, and a continuous moulding carried over 
the arches and across the wall surface. A passageway runs 
between these arches and the clerestory windows on the out- 
side wall. The sills of these windows are elevated much 
above the clerestory level within; for the aisle roofs were steep 


C / 


y E l 

'G I 

■1 11 


1 , 





A. Nave. 


fi. Oboir. 
0. Crossing. 




D. Tiaosepts. 

E. Sacristy. 



P. Cloister. 

G. Chapter House. 

H. Doorway. 



and high, and the openings themselves consist of three uni- 
form lancets in the older portions and five of various height 
embraced by a semicircle in the later. The north aisle wall, 
as already stated, has been carried away, but enough has been 
spared near its east end to show that it was pierced with five 
large windows. The opposite wall is unbroken except by a 
doorway in the easternmost bay, which led to the cloister. 
It is of interest to notice how frequently the wall of the nave, 
which provided light through a set of arch openings, has com- 
pletely disappeared from the majority of these churches, while 
the solid wall toward the cloister is almost invariably intact. 
The west front, so often demolished in these abbeys, is here 
preserved to the summit of its gable. A pointed doorway of 
diminutive size afforded entrance, but the two stories above, 
once completely filled by a huge traceried window, in later 
years partially walled up, now consist of three pointed open- 
ings with remnants of tracery, separated by small buttresses 
in its lower half and a delicate wheel of tracery beneath the 
original broad arch, which may have constituted part of the 
original tracery. The apex of the gable is pierced by a trefoil 
opening within a triangle. 

The tower piers are a fine set of clustered shafts, some- 
what broken near the ground, and the four great arches above 
them carry a massive, square tower with crenellated parapet 
intact and two steep gables rising within the battlements; 



small rectangular windows pierce the tower on either side of 
the line of the very steep roofs and in the gabled tops. 

THE NAVE, looking west. From Point 1 on Plan. 

The transept is conceded to be the oldest portion of the 
church. The eastern aisle was vaulted, and two of these vaults 
are preserved in the southern arm. It is plain that the 
arrangement of stories here was the same as in the nave, 


though the clerestory is greatly dilapidated. The aisle win- 
dows are low, pointed, and broad, probably similar to the north 
aisle openings. The north transept has a little doorway lead- 
ing to the fields, with a tall pointed window above it and 
another with the segmental top in the gable. In the western 
angle a stair tower extends well above the wall and terminates 
in a decorated turret. 

The south end has a number of small windows and a door- 
way leading to the sacristy; high up on the wall a decorated 
wheel window has been partly blocked up by the gable of the 
domestic buildings. The eastern aisle is separated from the 
choir, on both sides, by a heavy wall, but beyond this the two 
remaining bays of the choir are airily built and richly deco- 
rated. The east window is of extreme breadth, divided by 
four mullions into five lancet lights, the central lancet extend- 
ing above the crowns of the others. The low sweeping arch 
is richly moulded and filled with an unusual variety of delicate 
geometrical tracery remarkably preserved, despite its lightness. 
The four side windows are uniform in size, being carried up 
to the clerestory level, and are richly moulded and traceried like 
the east window. All have flanking shafts very slender and 
delicately capped. Above the side windows can be seen the 
remnants of a passage at the same level as the clerestory in 
other portions of the edifice, which would indicate that the 
clerestory was uniform throughout the church. In the gable 



of the choir a broad, round-headed window with remnants of 
tracery once more illustrates the persistence of the semicir- 
cular arch in the later Scottish / 
Gothic work. 

The range of domestic build- 
ings to the south is repre- 

sented in a fragment of the "Tr.^M'-^j^ f • 
sacristy and the 
east wall of the 
chapter house, 
which pre- 
serves a tall, 
pointed win- 
dow that 
has borne 
tracery. The 
keeper of the 
abbey told 
me that this 
was not in 

situ, but had been re- 
moved from some other 
portion of the abbey. 

Across the green a single arched doorway, with niche 
above and escutcheons on either side, seems to mark the 


From Point 2 on Plan. 


entrance to some structure that stood on the western side 
of the court. 

From whatever point one views the abbey, the effect of 
the proportion is beautiful, and the relation of parts pleas- 
ing. The colour of the old red sandstone — brought from the 
Cumberland coast, it is said — is delightful in contrast with the 
deep green of the firs that stand as sentinels about the ruin. 
From the northeast these hues, seen against the purple slope 
of a spur of Criffel crowned with a gleaming shaft of white 
(the Waterloo monument), make a picture of rare beauty, one 
not soon to be forgotten. 

There seems to be a general belief that the work upon 
Sweetheart Abbey was largely executed by foreign artists ; that 
a band of Italian craftsmen was sent by the Pope for the spe- 
cial purpose of erecting Devorgilla's church. Mr. Primrose, 
who has prepared a guide to the abbey with far greater care 
and research than is usually expended upon this class of books, 
makes this statement without reserve, though he gives no 
authority for it. It is true that at the time the abbey was in 
process of construction it was the custom of Rome to pro- 
vide artisans for the convenience of such as desired to erect 
religious edifices, and it is very possible that this and other 
buildings in Great Britain were executed by these foreign 
masons. The history of freemasonry is closely interwoven in 
this matter, but the relation of that fraternity to the Romish 
Church is not always easy to determine. 


It is said that the chief architect was one Maccolo, whose 
name was Scotticized to McCulloch, and who was the founder 
of the Scottish family of that name in Galloway. If this be 
true, the older portions of the abbey at least were erected by 
these foreigners and the designs for the whole edifice were 
drawn by Maccolo; for it was entirely completed upon one 
general scheme of design. This may account for certain indi- 
vidualities of style here displayed, — the unique form of tracery 
and the blank wall in the room of a triforium gallery. 

We have conjectured that the choir and transepts at least 
were finished at the death of the foundress in 1289. There is 
a charm of simple dignity about the choir and transepts, but 
the details, many of them, manifest the weakness of the period. 
The squat form of the arches, which were struck from a point 
below the capitals, the manner in which the arch mouldings 
of the east window are allowed to die against the plain jambs, 
are two of the points which speak for lack of purity in 

The next portion executed must have been the first two 
bays of the nave, for these are somewhat different from the 
rest. The scheme of design here is exactly similar to the older 
part, but the execution of details is much richer. The cusped 
arches of the clerestory are very. richly moulded. Their span- 
drels contain well-carved heads, and the capitals of the slender 
colonettes are ornamented with varied naturalistic foliage in 


elegant design. This stage of the abbey's history brings us to 
the outbreak of King Edward's wars and the structure shows 
a break in construction; but the abbey itself seems to have 
suffered no direct violence and is known to have been pro- 
tected by the invading monarch. After a time, building opera- 
tions seem to have been resumed and the remainder of the 
nave with its west front and the tower were pushed to com- 
pletion, the last in a militant style well in keeping with the 
spirit of the time. In later years, as we have recorded, the 
abbey suffered from a stroke of lightning, and was obliged to 
call upon the bishop of the diocese for aid. The abbey shows 
marks of reconstruction in the west window, as already re- 
corded, and in the northern gable, where a window of pointed 
shape seems to have been renewed in segmental form. But 
as a whole Devorgilla's shrine seems to have been built in 
one unified style and pretty nearly all at one epoch. Its broad 
lines are fine and dignified; its details chaste and well em- 
ployed. Few ruins in the North are more lovely than the 
youngest of Scotland's ruined abbeys. 


Abbey St. Bathan's, 140. 

Abbot, the, 274. 

Alexander I., 36. 

Alexander II., 5, 43, 47, 116, 141, 187, 196. 

Alexander III., 5, 43, 47, 84. 

Apse, polygonal, 220. 

Arbroath abbey, 156, 205. 

Badenoch, Wolf of, 196. 

Baliol, John, 98, 269, 273. 

Bannockburn, 117, 136, 167. 

Beaton, David, 169. 

Beauly abbey, 177. 

Beauvais, 82. 

Becket, Thomas a, 165, 204. 

Bede, 13. 

Benedictine order, 2, 20, 36, 82, 199, 230, 260. 

Brown, Gilbert, 273, 274. 

Bruce, Robert, 5, 49, 98, 118, 217, 230, 239. 

and Baliol, 273. 

heart of, 118. 

tomb of, 49. 
Buttress, flying, 63, III, 112. 

" Calvary," 259, 263. 
Cambuskenneth abbey, 2. 
Carlyle, Thomas, 150. 
Carrick, Earls of, 228. 
Celtic remains, 22, 84. 
Chapel, St. Oran's, 31. 
Chapter house, Arbroath, 162. 
Beauly, 182. 


Crosraguel, 225. 

Dryburgh, 132. 

Dundrennan, 251. 

Glenluce, 242. 

Iona, 28. 

Kelso, 96. 

Pluscarden, 194. 

Sweetheart, 281. 
Charles I., King, 62, 69. 
Cistercian order, 97, 117, 175, 247, 271. 
Cloister, 28, 126, 217, 241, 251. 
Coldingham abbey, 139. 
Convent, Haddington, 154. 

Iona, 32. 

Lincluden, 260. 
Covenanters, 48. 
Crosraguel abbey, 216. 
Culdees, 15, 19,35, "5- 

Dalmeny, 4. 

David I., 2, 19, 36, 41, 64, 116, 175, 254. 
Decorated style, 5, 103, 105, 259. 
Devorgilla, Countess Douglas, 269. 
Douglas, 119, 261. 

Countess Margaret, 263. 
tomb of, 266:' 

Sir James, 118, 263. 
Douglases, tombs of, 119, 267. 
Druid worship, 12, 135. 
Dryburgh, 3, 124. 
Dunblane, 2. 
Dundrennan, 3, 245, 270. 



Dunfermline, 4, 15, 34. 
Dunkeld, 2, 15, 18. 
Dumfries, abbey at, 269. 
Durham cathedral, 40. 

Early English style, 4, 44, 61, 81, 127, 149, 157, 

Franciscan order, 141, 196, 269. 
Frescoes, 200. 

Gallery, singing, 26, 52. 
Galloway, abbeys of, 234. 

lords of, 235, 269. 
Glenluce, 240. 
Gregory IX., Pope, 43. 
Gregory XI., Pope, 183. 

Haddington abbey, 138, 277. 
Henry, Earl of Northumberland, 97. 
Henry I., of England, 1. 
Heraldry, 262. 
Hertford, Earl of, 68. 
Holyrood, 2, 3, 55. 
House of Stuart, 6, 67, 86, 215, 217. 
Hugh de Moreville, 134, 203. 
tomb of, 135. 

Iona abbey, 10, 16, 17, 29. 
cathedral, 30. 
convent, 32. 

Jedburgh abbey, 2, 4, 71. 

Kelso abbey, 2, 3,41, 87, 165, 214. 
Kenneth McAlpin, 15. 
Kilwinning abbey, 202. 
Kinloss, 2, 3, 172. 
Knox, John, 232. 

Lady chapel, Dunfermline, 45. 
Lincluden abbey, 258. 
Lindisfarne abbey, 41. 
Lord of the Isles, 20. 

Maid of Norway, 44. 

Malcolm III, "Canmore," 1, 4, 15, 18, 34, 46. 

Margaret, St., queen, 18, 21, 34, 43, 45. 

"Marmion," 140. 

Mary, queen, 69, 215, 255. 

Matilda, queen, 1. 

McAlpin, Kenneth, king, 15. 

Melrose abbey, 2, 100. 

Chronicle, 204. 
Military abbey, 87. 
Moreville, Hugh de, 134, 203. 

Richard de, 204. 

New abbey {see Sweetheart). 

Newbattle abbey, 2. 

Norman style {see Romanesque). 

Norsemen, 18, 175. 

North Berwick, abbey at, 140. 

Old abbey (see Dundrennan). 
Order of St. Augustine, 65, 138. 

of St. Benedict, 2, 20, 36, 82, 199, 230, 260. 

of Valliscaulium, 177, 184. 

Cistercian, 97, 117, 175, 247, 271. 

Franciscan, 141, 196, 269. 

Premonstratensian, 135, 237. 

Tironesian, 97, 214. 

Paisley, 228. 
Palace, royal, 50, 68. 
Perpendicular style, 6, 107. 
Picts and Scots, 18, 19, 22. 
Pluscarden abbey, 186, 277. 
Pope Gregory IX., 43. 
Pope Gregory XL, 183. 
Premonstratensian order, 135, 237. 

Reformation, 6, 30, 201. 
Reginald, Lord of the Isles, 20, 
Richard II. , of England, 66. 
Richard de Morville, 204. 

Romanesque style, 3, 4, 38, 40, 57, 74, 78, 90, 
238, 240, 248. 



Royal tombs, 17, 22, 35, 43, 47, 67, 117. 
palace, 50, 68. 

St. Adamnan, 21. 

St. Aidan, 14, 115, 138. 

St. Augustine, 138. 

St. Blane, 15. 

St. Columba, 1 1-15. 

St. Cuthbert, 14, 115, 138. 

St. Modan, 131. 

St. Ninian, 13, 234, 239. 

St. Vinnen, 203. 

Scott, Sir Walter, 40, 98, 100, 120, 129, 137, 246. 

tomb of, 124. 
Sculpture, 30, 63, m, 112, 153, 166, 266. 
Singing gallery, 26, 52. 
Soulseat abbey, 263. 
Stuart, House of, 6, 67, 86, 214, 317. 
Sweetheart abbey, 269. 

Tironensian order, 97, 214. 
Tomb of Alexander II., Melrose, 116. 
Bruce, Dunfermline, 49. 

Countess Douglas, Lincluden, 266. 

Devorgilla Douglas, New abbey, 272. 

Henry of Northumberland, Kelso, 97. 

Hugh de Morville, Dryburgh, 135, 204. 

Jane Carry le, Haddington, 150. 

Queen Johanna, Melrose, 117. 

Sir Walter Scott, Dryburgh, 137. 

St. Margaret, Dunfermline, 45. 

William I, Arbroath, 162, 166. 
Tongueland abbey, 236. 
Tracery, 107, 109, 151, 182, 193, 225, 242, 

Transition, style of, 3, 161, 207. 

Valliscaulium, order of, 177, 184. 
Vaults, 40,60, 76, 104, no, 152, 182, 195, 226, 
242, 264, 279. 
barrel, 28, 78, 79, 83, 94, 226. 

White Friars, 135, 198. 

Whithorn abbey, 234. 

Wigtown abbey, 270. 

William I, "The Lion,'' 4, 141, 165, 204. 





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