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Cambuskenneth Village


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Cambuskenneth Abbey


There are a number of websites giving the history and pictures of Cambuskenneth Abbey.










The abbey of Cambuskenneth was founded in 1147 by David 1, King of Scots. The Augustinian Order from Arras in France, also established houses at Jedburgh, Holyrood, St.Andrews, Dumfermline and the lake of Menteith (Inchmahome).  Dedicated to  the Blessed Virgin Mary it has been variously known as “The Monastrey”, “Abbey of Stirling”, “St.Mary of Cambuskenneth” and “St.Mary of Stirling



The Abbey was the scene of many important political events.  Between 1303 and 1304 Edward 1 was at Cambuskenneth.  In 1308 Sir Neil Campbell, Sir Gilbert Hay and other barons met here, and on the high alter swore fealty to Robert Bruce.  In1314  Bruce held one of several Parliaments after his victory at Bannockburn, and in 1326  Robert Bruce, the whole clergy, earls and barons, swore fealty to Bruce’s son David and this convention at Cambuskenneth is the first Parliament of Scotland in which burgesses are mentioned as having a seat. So frequently did the Scottish Parliament meet here that one of the buildings was called “Parliament Hall”.





During the wars with England in the reign of David Bruce the abbey was pillaged of most of its most valuable furniture, books, vestments, alter cups, and ornaments. Intermittently throughout the 14th century the abbey suffered from wars and hostile incursions.


The right of burial within the church precincts was in the Middle Ages considered a desirable privilege and assurance of future bliss, and became a profitable source of income by the clergy.  To the community of Cambuskenneth, James111 gave the revenues of a whole parish in return for the burial of his queen in February 1487, and of himself.  In June 1488 King James was assassinated at Whins of Milton when fleeing from the battlefield of Sauchieburn, and he was buried beside his queen by the high alter. Part of the royal tomb was uncovered during excavations conducted in 1864, and the bodies were found in an oaken coffin beneath a large block of limestone.  The royal remains were subsequently re-interred beneath a memorial at the site of the high alter in 1865, at the command and expense of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. 


In 1559 John Knox returned to Scotland and at the Reformation there was dissolution and pillage of the Abbey, and the lands held by the Abbey fell to the noble families who had coveted them for so long.  In 1502 Queen Mary granted Adam Erskine the Abbey, which being no use to him, he had it demolished and the stones used to build his house, now known as Mar’s Wark. It subsequently fell into various hands until it was acquired by the Crown in 1908.  The stones of the abbey were cannibalised for housing and other projects.  There are fragments in Stirling’s Holy Rude church, and in the palace of Mar’s Wark, and Cowane’s Hospital.










Apart from the unusual free-standing bell-tower, little now remains standing of the abbey buildings but their foundations and the western door-way. The detached belfry or campanile, so frequently seen in Italy, is unique and occurs in Scotland only at Cambuskenneth.


The Abbey grounds are open from morning to dusk, entry is free, but there is no guide.   Only the ground floor room of the tower is open to the public, but the upper rooms can be accessed by special arrangement.


In recent years the village has held a Christmas Carol sing along with mulled wine and mince pies in the abbey tower.



For more pictures, click on the link below:


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