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Cambuskenneth Abbey

Cambuskenneth Abbey
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Cambuskenneth Abbey

Situated in a loop of the River Forth just south of the village of Cambuskenneth, Stirling Council Area, Cambuskenneth Abbey dates from 1174 when it was founded by King David I. It was occupied by monks of the Augustinian Order and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sometimes known as the Monastery or Abbey of Stirling, its proximity to the royal residence at Stirling Castle added considerable prestige and wealth to the foundation. The abbey was the scene of Robert the Bruce's parliament in 1326, the first to include representatives of Scotland's burghs. The abbey was pillaged intermittently throughout the 14th Century and in 1423 its Abbot was sent to England to negotiate the release of James I from his long captivity. In 1488 King James III was buried here beside his queen by the high altar following his assassination after the battle of Sauchieburn. After the Reformation much of the abbey was pulled down and its stone re-used. It fell into the hands of the Erskines of Alloa who held it until 1709 when it was sold to the town council of Stirling. In 1908 Cambuskenneth Abbey was acquired by the Crown for maintenance as an Ancient monument.

Much of what survives today dates from the 13th century. The western doorway of the abbey church remains, as does the detached bell tower, or campanile, which rises to more than 20m (65 feet) in height. This fine example of 13th-century architecture was to replace the bell-tower over the central crossing in the abbey church, which collapsed in 1378. There is no parallel for this free-standing structure elsewhere in Scotland.


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