Dryburgh Abbey

Mary, Queen of Scots Home Page

Hugh de Moreville, the Constable of Scotland, brought over canons from Alnwick in Northumberland, and established a Premonstratensian Order here at Dryburgh in 1150. The abbey prospered well and boasted magnificent buildings which suffered greatly due to their proximity to the English border. The English attacked the abbey in 1322 and 1385, and major re-building work followed. However, the abbey was once again ransacked in 1523 and during the "Rough Wooing" of 1544. The Premonstratensian order was founded in north-eastern France by St Norbert, and promoted an austere and simple way of life. The monks kept themselves busy with constant prayers, reading, contemplation and the copying of books. All books being hand-written at the time, this was the only way of duplication.
Remains of the inside of the abbey church
After the Reformation in 1560 the abbey passed into the hands of the Erskine family. In 1541, Thomas Erskine had been made commendator of the abbey, and in 1604 it was formally granted to John Erskine, Earl of Mar. For some time part of the monastic buildings were occupied as a residence but then fell into decay. In the 18th century, a revival of interest in Gothic architecture and romantic contemplation of history placed Dryburgh Abbey into the spotlight again.
Entrance to the nave of the church
Sir Walter Scott, the 19th century writer, generated a wide interest in Scottish history through his novels. In 1832, he was buried in the north choir chapel of the abbey. His ancestors had owned the abbey for a time in the previous century. The main buildings were grouped around an open square, known as the cloister. The church was on the north side, with the other buildings to the east, south and west arranged to make the best use of the water supply and drainage which was always very carefully engineered. Outside this nucleus would have been many other buildings, such as the infirmary, guest houses, stables, barns and smithies. The initial church was set up as a temporary location for the daily round of services of the monks. The remains of the current church were started around 1200, with major re-building after the first set of English raids. The plan was in the shape of a cross like most churches of the time, the nave being situated at one extremity and separated from the remainder of the church by a wooden panel leading into the canon's choir flanked by the north and south transepts, and the presbytery at the other extremity where the high altar would be located. Each transept also comprised additional altars.
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