According to the tradition
of Kinloss Abbey
king, while engaged on a hunting expedition, lost his way in a
thick wood; and while in extremity, and in answer to his prayers,
he received the guidance of a white dove. By following the Dove
he was led to an open spot, where he found two shepherds tending
their flocks. From these he received food and shelter. During
the night he was warned, in a dream, that he should erect a chapel
in honour of the Blessed Virgin, by whose ready aid he had been
preserved. On rising from sleep, and recalling his dream, he resolved
to act on it, and, drawing his sword, he marked out on the ground
the lines of the chapel that he vowed to erect. The King then
went to the castle at Duffus, accompanied by his nobles; and after
communicating to them his vision and consequent vow, he called
the architects and masons engaged on royal works in various places,
in order that the foundation of Kinloss might forthwith be preceded
with. To secure the uninterrupted progress of the work, the King
remained during the summer at Duffus. When he was called away
by other affairs before the completion of the Abbey, he sent to
Melrose for a monk, whom he set in charge over his builders and
the rising monastery, of which he was afterwards made the first
Abbey is approximately 3 miles east of the town of Forres in the
county of Moray in North Scotland. At the time the Abbey was built
it would have been a heavily wooded area on the edge of an estuary
known as Findhorn Bay which out flows into the Moray Firth. These
days the area is very different with the Abbey grounds forming
part of the local cemetery and surrounded by the local RAF Airbase.
To find the Abbey just follow the signs to RAF Kinloss from the
A96 the Inverness to Aberdeen trunk road.
The Abbey was founded in 1150 by King David I and was colonised
by Cistercian monks of the Melrose Abbey. It received its Papul
Bull from Pope Alexander III in 1174 and came under the protection
of the Bishop of Moray in 1187. The Abbey was honoured in 1214
when the Monastery was selected to host the General Chapter of
the Prelates of the Cistercian Order. As the success of Kinloss
grew so the brethren were able to expand the Cistercian Order
by the founding of two daughter houses at Culross and New Deir
in 1217 and 1219 respectively. The Monastery obtained many endowments
from the King and his successors and became one of the largest
and wealthiest Cistercian houses in Scotland. For example, in
1312 Robert I (The Bruce) granted Abbey the fishing rights to
the Findhorn and in 1362 Earl of Sutherland bestows upon the Abbey
the Hospital and lands of John the Baptist of Hebnisden.
a major rebuilding in the 13th century following a fire, the abbey
was extended and modified many times over the 400 years of its
existence. During 1395 construction started on the Abbots Hall
and the Abbacy was granted the Mitre with a seat in Parliament.
Stories of strange scandals started to spread and accounts of
immoral lives of the Abbot and the monks were beginning to give
cause for concern in Rome and Citeaux as a result an envoy was
sent from Citeaux to correct the evil ways. In 1440 Abbot John
Ellem bought many gifts for the Abbey and commenced repairs to
the fabric of the monastery including the planning of a Bell Tower
to stand above the choir of the church. The Bell Tower was completed
in 1470 and a spire mounted above. In 1492 further scandal hit
the Abbey when monk William Butler committed murder by striking
a young boy in a fit of anger and killing him in the cloister.
Butler was sent to Rome under escort of another monk in order
to receive his punishment from the Pope. Letters of absolution
were received by the Abbey but neither monk was seen again. 1528
saw great damage caused to the Abbey when it is inundated by flood.
During its history the Abbey had many Royal visitors; Edward
I (the 'Hammer of the Scots') camped at Kinloss Abbey for approximately
3 weeks during the autumn of 1303, Edward III stayed in 1336 whilst
rescuing the besieged Countess Atholl from Lochindorb Castle and
Mary Queen of Scots stayed in the Abbey in 1562 despite the church
having transferred to Protestantism and Mary remaining a Catholic.
Probably the greatest Abbot the Monastery had was Robert Reid.
He was responsible for the introduction of an organised education
system into the area and brought to the Abbey a fine painter and
celebrated gardener. Reid was made the Bishop of Orkney and following
his death became the founder and benefactor of Edinburgh University.
Reformation of Parliament in 1560 finally saw the end of Kinloss
Abbey as Protestantism became the religion of the land and Catholicism
was abrogated. Walter Reid the last Abbot systematically dismantled
the wealth and the fabric of the church until it was taken into
temporal Lordship in 1601 under the control of Edward Bruce later
Lord Bruce of Kinloss. The ruins were eventually sold to Alexander
Brodie of Lethen in 1643 who sold the stone on to Cromwell in
1650 for the construction of the Cidedal in Inverness.
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