Kelso's Places

Kelso Abbey

The Largest and Richest of all the Borders Abbeys

Founded in 1128, by David 1, Kelso Abbey was the largest and richest of all the Border Abbeys. The monks belonged to a reformed Benedictine Order, and came from Tiron in Northern France. They spent a few years in Selkirk before moving to Kelso, just across the river Tweed from King David’s great castle and royal burgh at Roxburgh. Little now remains of its great church apart from the west tower. At one time its buildings would have stretched almost to the Knowes Car Park. However, it suffered much in the wars with England, particularly in 1545 during the ‘Rough Wooing’.


A Brief History

In 1113, Europe was in the middle of a religious reform movement. This saw the founding of several new monastic movements, such as the Cistercians and Tironensians. In Scotland the reforms were encouraged by St Margaret, Queen of Malcolm III and her sons Edgar, Alexander I and especially David I.

Prince David, as he was then, brought monks from Tiron in Northern France to set up an abbey in Scotland in 1113. The monks were settled first at Selkirk, however when David became King in 1124, he decided to move them nearer to his great castle and Royal Burgh of Roxburgh. So in 1128 the Tironensian monks moved down the Tweed to their new base at Kelso.

David went on to found several other abbeys - Melrose [1136] and Jedburgh [1138] in the Borders ; and elsewhere in Scotland Holyrood, Cambuskenneth, Newbattle, Holmcultram, Kinloss and Dundrennan. He also inspired his nobles to follow his example: Dryburgh [1140] was founded by his Constable Hugh de Morville and Coldstream Priory [1143] by Earl Gospatric.

Kelso Abbey was his first and greatest foundation, and the place he chose to bury his only son, Prince Henry in 1152.


Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey. Click image to enlarge.

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Kelso Abbey Exhibition

Kelso Abbey 900 Exhibition

Kelso Abbey was David 1 first and greatest foundation, the place he chose to bury his only son in 1152.
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Timelines of Kelso Abbey

Timeline of Kelso Abbey

View timelines of Kelso Abbey; events from 1100 to 2013, England's, Scotland's and Britain's monarchy.
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Photograph Gallery

Kelso Abbey 900 Exhibition Gallery

View photographs of Kelso Abbey and its connected people and places.
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