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Lindores Abbey

Abbey (12th Century), Coffin(S) (Medieval)

Site Name Lindores Abbey

Classification Abbey (12th Century), Coffin(S) (Medieval)

Canmore ID 30109

Site Number NO21NW 5

NGR NO 24390 18475

NGR Description Centred NO 24390 18475

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Newburgh
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO21NW 5.00 centred 24390 18475

(NO 2438 1846) Lindores Abbey (NR)

(Tironensian - Founded AD 1178)

OS 6" map, (1959)

NO21NW 5.01 NO 2434 1849 Penannular brooch

NO21NW 5.02 NO 2430 1830 Copper Buckle

NO21NW 5.03 NO 2440 1860 Copper Buckle (possible); Copper Key; Spindle Whorl

NO21NW 5.04 NO 24454 18380 Detached section South of roadway

For traditionally-associated Monks' Well (NO 2373 1795) and Abbot's Well (NO 2407 1795), see NO21NW 10 and NO21NW 19, respectively.

For discovery of cist and human remains near the abbey, see NO21NW 8.

For (adjacent) Lindores Abbey Farm, see NO21NW 142.

Location formerly entered as NO 2438 1846.

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC28173- DC28181, 1870, 1925 & 1937.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

The Tironensian Abbey of Lindores was founded in 1191 by David, Earl of Huntingdon. Though Scotichronicon (Fordoun 1759) gives its foundation date as 1178, this may be regarded as being too early (D E Easson 1957) Reformers sacked the Abbey and expelled the monks in 1543, and again in 1559. It was secularised in 1600.

It is now considerably ruined, the buildings have been robbed of stone, but the ground plan has been defined by excavation carried out about the middle of the 19th century.

Fordoun 1759; RCAHMS 1933; D E Easson 1957; S Cruden 1960.

Lindores Abbey is in poor state of repair.

Visited by OS (J L D) 26 October 1956 and (R D) 10 June 1970.

Scheduled as 'Londores Abbey... the upstanding and buried remains of Lindores Abbey, its precinct and associated walls.'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 5 October 2011.


Field Visit (9 June 1925)

Lindores Abbey.

The remains of Lindores or "Lundors" Abbey stand overlooking the estuary of the Tay on a sheltered and level site less than half a mile east of Newburgh. On north and east flows a little stream, Pow of Lindores, which formed the eastern boundary of the Abbey lands between Lindores Loch and the Tay. The ruins are fragmentary, the buildings having been freely plundered for ashlar. But, although no part of the Abbey has been left entire, the ground plan has been refined by excavations carried out about the middle of last century.

Founded in the late 12th century by David, Earl of Huntingdon, grandson of David I, and munificently endowed by him and by subsequent benefactors, Lindores was an important Tironensian house, colonised from Kelso. The first abbot, Guido, had been a monk of that house; he is said to have "built the place from the foundations as well as the greater part of the outbuildings proper to it (officinas competentes)” (1), monks having been sent to him from Kelso for the work (2). While the extent of Guido's work is conjectural, church and cloister may safely be ascribed to him, as these parts bear traces of Transitional detail. The masonry is executed mainly in red freestone from the quarry of "Hyrneside" or" Irnsyde," which lay about a mile east from the Abbey and was the property of the founder, who granted to his monks of Lindores the right to take as much stone as they required (3). The extent of the precinct cannot be determined. The Newburgh-Newport road cuts through the site, the church and cloister lying to the north of it and fragments of three other buildings in a meadow to the south.

The lay-out of the cloister is normal. On the north is the church, on the east are a parlour and slype (Fig. 352), the chapter-house, and a long hall. The last may have been the warming-house; within it, at the northern end, is the day-stair to the dorter on the upper floor of the range. The dorter communicated with the church by means of a newel-stair-the night stair-situated in the south-west angle of the south transept. On the western side of the cloister were the store-houses or cellarium, and on the southern, facing the church, was the frater, its undercroft having at the eastern end a passage running southward and, at the other end, in line with the western range, a chamber that may have been the kitchen. At the south-west corner of the site facing the road is a gateway (Fig. 349), which was attached to some form of gatehouse. In addition to the inner cloister, there has been at least one other enclosure, to the south of the road, where the most considerable fragment of building has been part of a barn or granary.

[see RCAHMS 1933, 215-220, for a full architectural description]

HISTORICAL NOTE. Guido is stated to have died on 17th June 1219 after nearly twenty-eight years as abbot (1). This would date the foundation to about 1191, but, in an earlier passage of the same record, Earl David is declared to have founded the monastery in 1178 (7). The latter year is also given in an MS. of the earlier work of John of Fordun (8). An immediately succeeding entry in the same work says that Earl David founded Lindores "a new" (a novo) (9). This, taken along with the statement that Guido built "from the foundations," suggests that there may have been a house at Lindores before the arrival of Guido. If so, it would be a priory and the convent founded by Earl David in 1178, which, about 1191, was amplified into an abbey, as appears to have been the course of events at Dunfermline. In that case Guido's buildings would have to be new ones on a grander scale and so could be said to have been erected "from the foundations." Such an explanation would account for the discrepancy in dates. Guido at his death left behind him twenty-six monks (1). In 1289 the abbot and convent were granted leave to wear caps suitable to their order on certain festivals and in processions, because Scotland was a cold country and the monks had suffered much from cold in the head (10). Another source of annoyance was the proximity of wild (sylvestrium) Scots, so that early in the 15th century the buildings were said to be ruined and the rents diminished, on which account the Abbey received a grant in 1414 of the parish church of Creich (11). In September 1543 Sir Ralph Sadler, the English ambassador, reported how a "company of good Christians, as they call them here ... has sacked Landorse Abbey” (12). In 1559 the place was "reformed" by overthrowing the altars and burning images, vestments, and mass-books (13).

A charter of 1457 gives, in addition to the Abbot, the names of 24 monks "chapterly assembled” (14).

A lease of 1532, granted by the abbot and convent assembled in chapter, is signed by the abbot, sub-prior, and 24 monks (15), the establishment being thus of the same number as at the death of the first abbot in 1219. Another lease of 1546 is signed by the abbot, sub-prior, and 18 monks (16).

RCAHMS 1933, visited 21 July 1925.

(1) Scotichr., lib. IX, cap. xxvii. (2) Chartulary of Lindores Abbey (S.H.S.), p. 284. (3) Ibid., No. vii. (4) “They had ancientlie in this abbey 4 great bells, Michael, and Raphael, Mary bell and Gabrielle, of which Mary bell was of silver, the gift of ther first founder." Balfour MS. in the National Library quoted in Lindores Abbey, &c., by Alexander Laing, F.S.A. Scot., p.132. (5) Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., ix (1870-2), p. 209. (6) Henry, the eldest, who died young is recorded to have been buried there. Fordun, Gesta Annalia, xxx. (7) Scotichr., VIII, xxv. (8) Fordun, Gesta Annalia, xxix. (9) Ibid., xxx. (10) Theiner, Vetera Monumenta, No. cccx. (11) Papal Registers, i, p. 601. (12) Letters and Papers, For. and Dom., Henry VIII, xviii, Part ii, No. 128. (13) Knox's letter in Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland (Wodrow Socy.), i, p. 470. (14) Lindores Abbey, p. 479. (15) The Stirlings of Keir, Sir W. Fraser, pp. 346-9. (16) Lindores Abbey, p. 430. Cf. also Eccles. Arch., ii, p. 217.

Geophysical Survey (25 May 2014)

NO 2438 1845 A ground resistance survey was carried out on 25 May 2014 over most of the interior of Lindores Abbey, excluding the nave of the church which it is intended to cover at a later visit. Apart from previously recorded features, the line of a possible cross-wall was detected in the frater, and there was also a suggestion of a small high resistance feature

in the centre of the cloister.

Archive: Fife SMR and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Mr A McKenzie Smith and Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society

Don Matthews – Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society

(Source: DES)


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