Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Cambuskenneth Abbey, Cambuskenneth

Cambuskenneth Abbey
Nr Stirling

I only found the remains of the abbey by accident…as I was taking photographs of the surrounding country side from the top of the Wallace Monument, I spied a ruined building by the river…and in my habitual hunt for towers and castles thought I may have found yet another fortified building. Luckily I also photographed what I thought was a church to the right of the ruin…and when I researched the ruins, found that I had in fact managed to bag some photos of the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey (also known as Stirling Abbey ) The remains can be found to the North East of the city of Stirling, in a tiny village nestling in the loops of the River Forth. The village and the abbey can only be accessed down Ladysneuk Road, leading off the A907.

The ruins represent the last remains of an Augustinian Monastery, that in its heyday, was probably one of the richest and most influential abbeys in the whole of Scotland. This influence was mostly due to the fact that it was patronised by Scottish Kings (and Edward I of England) and was only a mile or so away from the Royal castle of Stirling. King Robert the Bruce even held a parliament at the abbey in 1326, to secure the succession of his son David (King David II of Scotland)

The abbey was most likely built around 1140, on the request of King David I. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was probably known at this time as the Abbey of St Mary of Stirling. There are two notable burials that can still be seen at the abbey…that of Margaret of Denmark (died 1486, Queen Consort of Scotland) and King James III of Scotland (murdered 1488) Their final resting place is now marked by a magnificent tomb stone erected by Queen Victoria in 1864…this can still be seen at the abbey.

All that remains of the abbey now, is the 13th century tower, seen to the right of the photo above, the river side ruins seen to the left of the photo and a number of walls and footings exposed when the site was excavated. The abbey was already in a state of ruin by 1560, and much of its stone was robbed for building in the town nearby. Mars Wark is reputed to have been built of stone from the abbey buildings. It is thought that the tower survived as it served as a watch tower, affording excellent views across the Carse of Stirling.

The abbey is managed by Historic Scotland, and, I think, only open during the Summer months.

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