Marmoutier Abbey, also known as the Marmoutiers, was an early monastery outside Tours. In its later days it followed the Benedictine order as an influential monastery with many dependencies. The abbey was founded by Saint Martin of Tours (316-397), circa 372, after he had been made Bishop of Tours in 371. Martin's biographer, Sulpicius Severus, affirms that Martin withdrew from the press of attention in the city to live in Marmoutier (Majus Monasterium), the monastery he founded several miles from Tours on the opposite shore of the Loire River.
In 853 the abbey was pillaged and destroyed by Normans, who killed over 100 monks. During the years shortly after 1000 AD, the abbey grew considerably, becoming one of the richest in Europe. In the wake of the Norman Conquest the abbey acquired patronage of churches in England. In 1096 Pope Urban II consecrated its new chapel, and preached the First Crusade. Pope Calixtus II preached crusade again in 1119, convincing Count Foulques V d'Anjou to take part and leading to his subsequent role as King of Jerusalem. In 1162 Pope Alexander III, who came to reside in Tours after being chased from Rome by Frederick Barbarossa, consecrated the monastery's new Chapel Saint Benoit.
The abbey eventually grew too small for its inhabitants, and was completely rebuilt at the start of the thirteenth century under the leadership of Abbot Hugues des Roches. In the following century its abbot Gérard du Puy became cardinal-nephew to the last of the Avignon popes, Gregory XI. In 1562 the abbey was again pillaged, this time by Huguenot Protestants at the start of the Wars of Religion. Again however it recovered.
The abbey was closed down in 1799 during the French Revolution, and within a few decades the bulk of its buildings had been demolished. Today its grounds contain a private school, and of its former structures only a few ruins remain.References:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.