Abbey & Kelso Abbey Factsheet
Abbey was founded by David I in the years before he became King
of Scots. From 1113, David effectively controlled all of southern
Scotland and started his programme of monastic foundations. In
1118 he brought a colony of Augustinians or 'Canons Regular' from
the Abbey of St-Quentin, at Beauvais, France to establish a priory
- The Augustinians followed the rule of St Augustine, laid down
around 400 AD in north Africa, but given new moral impetus with
the inception of cloistered monasticism in the 11th century, when
monks renounced private property, giving it all to The Pope who
could bear the sin.
- Of all the
monastic orders, the Augustinians were the most involved with
the secular world. They provided priests who dealt with the public
in the churches. In Scotland they were very successful: establishing
communities at Holyrood, Cambuskenneth, St Andrews and Jedburgh.
- Thanks to
David Is large bequests of lands and fisheries, Jedburgh
rapidly prospered, becoming an abbey in 1147. It was an important
abbey in the 12th and 13th centuries. It occupied a strategic
position right on the border with Northumbria - which the Scots
either occupied or claimed as part of their kingdom for most of
the 12th century.
successor, Malcolm the Maiden, died at Jedburgh in
1165; and Alexander III was married to his young bride Yolande
de Dreux in a lavish ceremony at the abbey.
- After the
Wars of Independence broke out, Jedburgh lay fatally exposed to
repeated English attacks until it was ultimately destroyed by
Henry VIII. Thanks to cross-border warfare, it can seem as though
the Border Abbeys were in alternating states of destruction and
reconstruction, but to focus on this is to disregard their contribution
to education and culture.
It surely can't
be a geographical coincidence that some of Scotland's finest medieval
intellectuals came from the area around the abbeys. Perhaps the
greatest of these was John Duns Scotus (1266-1308), who came from
Duns in Berwickshire. Known as 'the subtle doctor', he was a philosophical
champion of free will and laid the foundations of the Scottish tradition
of philosophy. One of his many admirers was John Mair, the
prince of the theologians of Paris, who taught Ignatius Loyola,
founder of the Jesuits, Jean Calvin, father of Calvinism, George
Buchanan one of the greatest Renaissance poets, and François
Rabelais, the famous humanist author.
Also worth visiting is Kelso Abbey. It belonged to the Tironensian
Order, which came to Selkirk from Tiron in France in 1113 - the
first of Davids monastic foundations. When David I assumed
the kingship he established a royal sheriffdom at Roxburgh, near
Kelso, so, on the advise of the Bishop of Glasgow, the monks were
moved from Selkirk to Kelso. Like Dryburgh, Melrose and Jedburgh,
Kelso Abbey suffered severely during the Wars of Independence
and was finally destroyed by Henry VIII in 1545.
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