Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath, United Kingdom

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.

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Founded: 1178
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

jim webster (8 months ago)
Really interesting audio visual and interactive/hands on introduction to the Abbey unfortunately a lot of the Abbey is closed to visitors at the moment and ruins the experience.
Antonio Losada (8 months ago)
One of the most impressive places i Scotland. Really touched by its strong presence and history. Excellent museum, very didactic.
Abbie Rendell (9 months ago)
Due to repair works we weren't allowed to see a lot of the abbey. Museum is good with dressing up. Staff are lovely.
Allen May (12 months ago)
Majestic red stone ruined Abbey. Only able to walk around the outside of the ruins as it is all fenced off. Priced accordingly. Great history in the visitors centre and interesting graveyard. Was enhanced by being a foggy day.
Victoria Buswell (2 years ago)
Excellent attraction with really cool information center and stunning building remains. When we went not all of it was open but I still really recommend going. It's really interesting. Love it!
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