Pluscarden Abbey

Abbey, Priory

Site Name Pluscarden Abbey

Classification Abbey, Priory

Alternative Name(s) Pluscarden Priory; Vallisculian Priory

Canmore ID 16094

Site Number NJ15NW 6

NGR NJ 14206 57614

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Elgin
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Morayshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ15NW 6.00 14206 57614

NJ15NW 6.01 14281 57584 Precinct Wall

NJ15NW 6.02 14226 57580 Prior's Lodging

NJ15NW 6.03 14239 57581 Corn Mill

NJ15NW 6.04 142 576 Motte

NJ15NW 6.05 14452 57522 Priory Lodge (Porter's Lodge)

NJ15NW 6.06 1456 5783 Storehouse

NJ15NW 6.07 14270 57689 Burial Ground

(NJ 1421 5761) Pluscarden Abbey (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map 1906.

The Priory of St Andrew was founded by the Valliscaulians in 1230 or 1231. In 1454 it was united with Urquhart Priory (NJ26SE) at which time it became Benedictine. It was secularised in 1587.

The church incorporates some of the original 13th century building, as well as 14th - 16th century work. It is unlikely that the nave was ever completed although the foundations and the bases of the columns are still visible.

The Priory buildings probably date from the Benedictine restorations of the 15th century. They were re-roofed in the 19th century. Nothing remains of the original cloisters.

Since 1948 Pluscarden Priory, the medieval walling of which is practically intact, has been restored and made habitable by the monks of Prinknash Abbey, Gloucester, to whom it now belongs.

The bounds of the Priory lands were marked by wooden crosses, one of which is preserved in the garden at Relugas House. (NJ04NW 4).

Precinct Wall scheduled.(NJ15NW 6.1)

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; D E Easson 1957; P F Anson 1959; ISSFC 1881

Pluscarden Priory, founded in 1230, is generally as described above. The correct name is Pluscarden Priory (Valliscaulian) dedicated to the Blessed Mary, St John the Baptist and St Andrew. This dedication suggests that there were a hermit's cell and a well dedicated to St Andrew here before the establishment of the community. (Information

from Fr Edmund, Pluscarden Priory)

It is inhabited by Benedictine monks, and restoration has continued to the extent described in the Official Guide. (Pluscarden Priory Official Guide)

Visited by OS (NKB) 6 August 1965.

Excavation was undertaken on the W side of the present monastic building prior to the proposed erection of new dormitory accommodation. No evidence for the presence of some rather insubstantial late medieval buildings was present. The entrance to a large rectangular building at the SW edge of the surviving monastic buildings was excavated. The virtual pristine condition of the jamb suggested that the building fell into disuse soon after its construction.

The absence of a nave at Pluscarden has suggested to some that the structure had never been built. Excavation, however, uncovered the SW corner of the structure and the pressure-cracked condition of much of the foundations suggested that the building had probably been built to its full height and not abandoned at foundation level.

An isolated group of three skeletons and a deep pit containing animal bones, glass and cloth was found about 3m west of the present cloistral buildings.

Sponsor: HBM.

F McCormick 1990.

Air photographs: AAS/97/06/G10/7-11 and AAS/97/06/CT.

NMRS, MS/712/29.


Address: Pluscarden Abbey, Pluscarden, Elgin, Moray

Postcode: IV30 8TZ

Status: Closed for burial but maintained

Size: N/A

Polygon: No

TOIDs: 1000038915883; 1000038915889

Number of gravestones: 26

Earliest gravestone: 1504

Most recent gravestone: 1798

Description: Graveyard associated with a monastic site/religious house. Some memorials are within the Abbey, in the North and South Transepts. There are obviously not in their original locations except for a few isolated examples. The gravestones within the abbey are all very good examples of carved stones, mainly 17th - 18th Century. All of the inside stones show good examples of the masons art at different times from 1504-1798.

Data Sources: Graveyard Recording Form, 3 August 2002; OS MasterMap checked 9 June 2005.

Architecture Notes

NJ15NW 6.00 14206 57614


Architect: John Kinross restoration

Thomas Mackenzie

NMRS Printroom

W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection Acc no 1997/39

Aerial view.

SMT Mag March 1950

Pluscarden Priory by the Abbot of Prinknash & Archdale King - text and illustration


Drawings stored in Lossimouth 1925-29. Student of Aberdeen School of Architecture

see paper catalogue, Grampian, Moray, L- Z

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC28441- DC28443, 1943.



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