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19 September 2014
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Jedburgh Abbey & Kelso Abbey Factsheet
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    Jedburgh Jedburgh Abbey
  • Jedburgh 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 at Jedburgh.

  • 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 I’s 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.
  • David’s 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.

  • Kelso Abbey Kelso Abbey
    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 David’s 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.

    more Melrose Abbey Factsheet
    Dryburgh Abbey Factsheet

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