Name: KINLOSS Location: Kinloss
village County: Moray Foundation: 1150 Mother house: Melrose Relocation: None Founder: King David I Secularised: 1601 Prominent members: Access: Accessible to the public
Kinloss was founded in 1150 by King David I
of Scotland and was colonized with monks from Melrose.
According to tradition, it was God who guided the king to
establish a monastery
at Kinloss. Allegedly, David lost his way in a thick wood during
a hunting expedition
and, in answer
guidance of a white dove. He followed the dove into a clearing
where he found two shepherds tending their flocks. They provided
with food and shelter. During the night, David had a dream in
which he was warned that he should erect a chapel
in honour of
Mary to show his thanks for the aid he had received
at her hands. On waking he vowed to act upon his dream. Accordingly,
the king called together
a team of architects and masons and he himself resided at Duffus
Castle so that he could preside over the construction of the abbey.
was called away on other affairs before the monastery could be
completed, but he sent for a monk from Melrose to supervise the
This monk was later made first abbot of Kinloss. In the early thirteenth
century there were as many as twenty-five monks living at the
The community was soon in a position to expand the Cistercian Order
and Kinloss sent out two colonies in the space of two years: Culross (1217)
Deer (1219). The house soon acquired a special prominence
and importance as the only abbey to be founded in the extensive
province in Moray. In 1303 King Edward I, while on his progress
through the north of Scotland, stayed at Kinloss for three weeks
with a large retinue and received the fealty of Abbot Thomas. The
monastery received many generous endowments from King David and
his successors. For example, in 1312 Robert I (The Bruce) granted
Kinloss rights to the valuable salmon fishings on the River
and in 1362 Earl of Sutherland bestowed upon the abbey the hospital
and lands of John the Baptist of Hebnisden. In 1395 the abbacy
granted the Mitre with a seat in Parliament.
However, during the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries stories of scandals started to spread and accounts of
the immorality of the abbot and his monks were beginning to give
cause for concern in Rome and at Citeaux.
As a result, an envoy was
sent from Citeaux to correct their evil ways. In 1492 further scandal
hit the abbey when a monk, William Butler,
a young boy whom he struck in the cloister, in a fit of anger.
Butler was sent to Rome under the escort of another
his punishment from the pope. Letters of absolution were received
by the abbey but neither monk was seen again. Abbot Chrystal (1504-1528)
did much to reinvigorate the spiritual life of the abbey and, at
the same time, spught to maintain the material welfare of the
household, for example, church furnishings and library books.
In 1528 Chrystal resigned in favour of Robert Reid, who was the
pre-Reformation abbot and probably the greatest that the monastery
had seen. During his abbacy, Robert also held the priory of Beauly
in commendam. Robert was a learned and wise man and
in the 1530s he brought the Italian scholar, Giovanni Ferrerio,
Kinloss, where his teaching over five years made Kinloss a centre
of academic excellence. Robert also commissioned the artist, Andrew
Bairhum, to paint a number of altarpieces for the abbey church
and to decorate some of his own rooms. In addition, Robert erected
new library and other buildings at the abbey whilst carefully administering
the estate. During his term in office, Robert Reid was sent as
kings commissioner to discuss peace with Henry VIII and again
to France in connection with the marriage of James V. In 1541
was made bishop of Orkney and continued in his post at Kinloss
until 1553 when he resigned in favour of his nephew, Walter Reid.
his death Robert Reid became founder and benefactor of Edinburgh
University, a legacy which lasts till this day.
Walter Reid inherited the abbacy of one of the
richest Cistercian houses in Scotland; in 1561 the annual income
of the abbey was valued at £3480, ranking Kinloss third wealthiest
after Coupar Angus and Melrose.
However, following the Reformation Walter granted a deed of demission
in favour of Edward Bruce, and
he systematically dismantled the wealth and fabric of the church.
In 1601 the abbey was erected into a temporal lordship for Edward
Bruce, who took the title lord 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 Citadel at Inverness.
of the monastic buildings remain standing
today. The abbey church is largely destroyed, apart from the south
transept and the associated
chapel. Parts of the church walls can be seen at ground level along
with some of the column bases, including those of the large columns
which held up the clock tower and spire. The lower parts of the
walls of the south and west cloister ranges are also still visible.
The archway in the south wall of the cloister is the entrance to
the refectory; however the building itself has not survived. The
best remains of the monastic buildings are the abbots lodgings
which are thought to have survived from the work carried out for
Reid in the
second quarter of the sixteenth century. The sacristy still stands,
although it was converted into a family mausoleum in 1910 and was
extensively remodelled at that time. The remains of the abbey are
now situated within a graveyard owned by the local authorities
are therefore accessible at all times.