Holyrood Abbey

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The dramatic remains of Holyrood abbey church. Founded by King David 1st in 1128 as an Augustinian abbey, Holyrood was then altered and expanded over the centuries.


Holyrood Abbey - Edinburgh visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Holyrood Abbey' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Lothian.

Holyrood Abbey was built in 1128 on the orders of King David I of Scotland. It is now in ruins, as the poorly built stone roof, installed in 1758, collapsed during a storm in 1768. The abbey stands in the grounds of Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh at the bottom of Canongate. 'Rood' is an old word for 'cross', thus the abbey is effectively called 'Holy Cross'.

Holyrood Abbey is open to the public, an admission fee is charged. It is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Holyrood Abbey - History

Legend has it that Holyrood Abbey is built on the site where King David I was saved from being gored by a hart while hunting. In response he built the abbey, used by Augustinian monks. The original abbey had a six-bay aisled choir, three-bay transepts with a central tower, and an eight-bay aisled nave with twin towers at it's west front.

Holyrood Abbey was sometimes used as a meeting place by the Parliament of Scotland between the 13th and early 15th centuries. As it is just over a mile from Edinburgh Castle, the abbey was also regularly visited by the kings of Scotland, who stayed in the guesthouse west of the abbey cloister. It was used for several coronations and for the weddings of James II, James III and James IV.

The fortuned of Holyrood Abbey took a dramatic turn in the 16th century when it was damaged by the English during the War of the Rough Wooing. Lead was removed from the roof, the abbey plundered and bells stolen. It was further damaged and looted by a mob during the Scottish Reformation in 1559. The east end was so badly damaged that it was demolished in 1570 and an east gable was erected, closing the east end of the former nave.

In 1633, Holyrood Abbey was extensively remodelled for the coronation of Charles I. James VII established a Jesuit college at Holyrood in 1686, making the Abbey a Roman Catholic Chapel Royal. The Protestant congregation was moved to the new Kirk of the Canongate. However, in 1688 another mob ransacked the church again during the Glorious Revolution. It was after this that a stone, vaulted roof was installed, but the work was badly done and the roof collapsed ten years later in 1768 resulting in the ruins seen today.


Bus: Holyrood, Scottish Parliament
Train: Edinburgh (Waverley) Train Station
Walk: Holyrood Abbey is just over a mile from Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Tourist Information Centre.

Peter Watts - 30 Jun, 2010 12:36
Lovely shot Stuart, I really like ruins of this kind, very dramatic.

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