Culross Abbey was founded in 1217 by Malcolm I, Mormaer or Earl of Fife, and was first colonised by monks from Kinloss Abbey. Culross may have been chosen to establish an abbey because this was the birthplace of Saint Mungo. It is evident that the abbey was built over the earlier Pictish church supposedly founded by Saint Serf in the 6th century, as witnessed by the presence in the ruined Cistercian church of early medieval carved stones and from a ninth-century reference to a church of St Serf at Culross (Cuileann Ros) in a Gaelic list of the mothers of various saints.
The original 13th-century abbey was cruciform in plan, without aisles. By the late 15th century the lay brothers had ceased to be part of the monastery, and the abbey community consisted of only 15 choir-monks. The western half of the monastic cloister range was therefore abandoned, and the nave was demolished around 1500, although it is possible that it was about to be rebuilt at the time of the reformation. The reformation parliament of 1560 outlawed monastic life in Scotland and the monastery was allowed to continue, but was planned to die out naturally with the death of the last monk. In the 1580s the local parish congregation began to worship in the old monastic east end.
In 1613 the heart of Edward Bruce, a son of Edward Bruce, 1st Lord Kinloss who built Culross Abbey House, was buried in the kirkyard in a silver casket after he was killed in a duel with Edward Sackville.
In 1633 the east end of the abbey church was legally and completely taken over for use as a parish church, while the adjoining buildings fell into decay. In 1642 the north transept was converted into a tomb house by Sir George Bruce of Carnock. Alabaster carved effigies of him, his wife, and eight children can still be viewed there today. The abbey was restored in 1823, although many original features were removed, including the transept chapels. Another restoration took place in 1905, by Glasgow architect Peter MacGregor Chalmers, which reinstated the chapels and left the buildings much as they can be seen today. The eastern parts of the church are still in use for worship, and are generally open to the public.
A Ley tunnel is said to exist beneath the abbey, and within is said to sit a man in a golden chair waiting to give valuable treasures to anyone who succeeds in finding him. According to one story, many years ago a blind piper decided to try and upon entering at Newgate with his dog he proceeded to search and could be heard playing his pipes as far as the West Kirk, three quarters of a mile away. Eventually the dog emerged into the daylight, however the piper was never seen, or heard of, again.
The remaining ruins of the abbey are now in the care of Historic Scotland. The remaining intact part of the Abbey is used by the Church of Scotland as the local parish church. The church contains stained glass in the main east window by the Edinburgh company of Ballantyne & Son, plus several modern stained glass windows.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.