Kelso Abbey

North front Kelso Abbey
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

North front Kelso Abbey

Kelso Abbey was founded by monks from Tiron, France, under the stewardship of David I in 1128 and became the wealthiest of the Border Abbeys. James III was crowned here as an infant. It was laid out as a double cross - a plan unique in Scotland. The abbey suffered due to English raids in the 14th and 15th centuries, but was repaired. It was finally destroyed by the Earl of Hertford's campaign in the 1540s and the onset of the Reformation soon after ensured it no longer had a purpose and was left in ruins. The western tower and crossing which are the principal surviving features, illustrating the superb architecture of the structure. The tower still rises to a lofty 27.7m (91 feet).

The abbey is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland and can be found close to the centre of the town of Kelso. The red sandstone cloisters attached to the south of the Abbey were added 1933-34 by Reginald Fairlie (1883 - 1952) to provide a burial aisle for the Dukes of Roxburghe.

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