Holyrood Abbey: the disappearance of a monastery

Holyrood Abbey: the disappearance of a monastery

Gallagher, Dennis B

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 128 (1998)

Abstract: Holyrood Abbey was one of the major monasteries of Scotland. Its spiritual function, the celebration of Mass and the spiritual office, stopped with the Reformation parliament of 1560, but the existing Augustinian community remained in place, each canon having a legal right to residence with the monastery and a pension. This paper examines the documentation and archaeological evidence for the structural form of the Abbey over the Reformation period, its relationship with the expanding royal palace within its precinct, and the adaptation of the Abbey church to secular use.

Introduction: Holyrood Abbey, founded in 1128 by David I, was the second Augustinian monastery to be established in Scotland. Its position, close to the royal castle of Edinburgh, encouraged regular visits by the Scottish kings. The Augustinian chronicler, John of Hexham, tells how David I was ‘devoted to divine services, failing not to attend each day at all the canonical hours, and at the vigils for the dead also’ (Barrow 1992, 48). The generosity of the founder was a mixed blessing to the community for it brought with it obligations, both spiritual and material.

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