Arbroath Abbey was founded in 1178 by King William the Lion for a group of Tironensian Benedictine monks from Kelso Abbey. It was consecrated in 1197 with a dedication to the deceased Saint Thomas Becket, whom the king had met at the English court. It was William's only personal foundation — he was buried before the high altar of the church in 1214.

The Abbey, which was the richest in Scotland, is most famous for its association with the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, believed to have been drafted by Abbot Bernard, who was the Chancellor of Scotland under King Robert I.

The last Abbot was Cardinal David Beaton, who in 1522 succeeded his uncle James to become Archbishop of St Andrews. The Abbey is cared for by Historic Scotland and is open to the public throughout the year.

The Abbey was built over some 60 years using local red sandstone, but it gives the impression of a single coherent, mainly 'Early English', architectural design, but the round-arched processional doorway in the western front looks back to late Norman or transitional work. The triforium (open arcade) above the door is unique in Scottish medieval architecture. It is flanked by twin towers decorated with blind arcading.

What remains of it today are the sacristy, added by Abbot Paniter in the 15th century; the southern transept, which features Scotland's largest lancet windows; part of the choir and presbytery; the southern half of the nave; parts of the western towers; and the western doorway. The church originally had a central tower and (probably) a spire, which would once have been visible for many miles over the surrounding countryside and certainly acted as a sea-mark for ships.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1178
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Em G (2 years ago)
A nice, interesting piece of history - not sure if the entrance price justifies what's on display, but I suppose it goes towards maintaining the Abbey too. Not a bad way to spend an hour or two!
Paul Robertson (2 years ago)
Extensive and impressive ruins to explore. Excellent visitors' centre with informative history of the abbey and exhibition about the Declaration of Arbroath. Definitely worth the entrance fee if the weather is good.
Kevin Stewart (2 years ago)
Arbroath Abbey is must for anyone who is interested in Scottish history. Although a ruin, the site is steeped in history and was where the famous Declaration of Arbroath was drafted which affirmed Scotland’s independence from the English crown. The abbey takes about 1-2 hours to go around if you take time read all the exhibits.
Jacquie Dougan (2 years ago)
Beautiful building unfortunately we didn't go in....just like many the cost of an entrance ticket is becoming a little to expensive. A few quid cheaper and we wouldn't have hesitated. I understand money is needed to fund the project but over pricing also makes people walk away.
Louis Leow (3 years ago)
Interesting part of Scottish history. A must-stop point in your understanding of Scotland's history and heritage. Not much left to see among the ruins of the Abbey, but much to feel here.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kirkjubøargarður

Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went to the priest school. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up. Note, that there is no forest in the Faroes and wood is a very valuable material. Many such wood legends are thus to be found in Faroese history.

The oldest part is a so-called roykstova (reek parlour, or smoke room). Perhaps it was moved one day, because it does not fit to its foundation. Another ancient room is the loftstovan (loft room). It is supposed that Bishop Erlendur wrote the 'Sheep Letter' here in 1298. This is the earliest document of the Faroes we know today. It is the statute concerning sheep breeding on the Faroes. Today the room is the farm"s library. The stórastovan (large room) is from a much later date, being built in 1772.

Though the farmhouse is a museum, the 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Shortly after the Reformation in the Faroe Islands in 1538, all the real estate of the Catholic Church was seized by the King of Denmark. This was about half of the land in the Faroes, and since then called King"s Land (kongsjørð). The largest piece of King"s Land was the farm in Kirkjubøur due to the above-mentioned Episcopal residence. This land is today owned by the Faroese government, and the Paturssons are tenants from generation to generation. It is always the oldest son, who becomes King"s Farmer, and in contrast to the privately owned land, the King"s Land is never divided between the sons.

The farm holds sheep, cattle and some horses. It is possible to get a coffee here and buy fresh mutton and beef directly from the farmer. In the winter season there is also hare hunting for the locals. Groups can rent the roykstovan for festivities and will be served original Faroese cuisine.

Other famous buildings directly by the farmhouse are the Magnus Cathedral and the Saint Olav"s Church, which also date back to the mediaeval period. All three together represent the Faroe Island"s most interesting historical site.