Place:Scone Abbey, Scone, Perthshire, Scotland


NameScone Abbey
Coordinates56.424722°N 3.435833°W
Located inScone, Perthshire, Scotland

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Scone Abbey (originally, Scone Priory) was a house of Augustinian canons based at Scone, Perthshire (Gowrie), Scotland. Varying dates for the foundation have been given, but it was certainly founded between 1114 and 1122.

The priory was established by six canons from Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire, under the leadership of Prior Robert, who was the first prior of Scone (later bishop of St Andrews). The foundation charter, dated 1120, was once thought to be spurious but is now regarded as being of late 12th-century origin, perhaps the copying owing to the fire which occurred there sometime before 1163 (it would experience a similar destruction of records during the Wars of Scottish Independence).

In either 1163 or 1164, in the reign of King Máel Coluim IV, Scone Priory's status was increased and it became an abbey. The abbey had important royal functions, being next to the coronation site of Scottish kings and housing the coronation stone (until it was taken away by King Edward I of England). Scone Abbey was, in the words of King Máel Coluim IV, "in principali sede regni nostri" (RRS, no. 243; trs. "in the principal seat of our kingdom"), and as such was one of the chief residences of the Scottish kings. The abbey would play host to the king while he resided there, even if the abbey did not have a separate palace. It is probable that the abbey buildings (now gone) overlapped with the modern palace.

The abbey also had relics of the now obscure St Fergus, which made it a popular pilgrimage centre. Although the abbey would remain famous for its music, the abbey's status declined over time. After the reformation, Scottish abbeys disappeared as institutions.

In Scone's case, it became a secular lordship, first for the Earl of Gowrie, and then to Sir David Murray of Gospertie. Although the buildings are now gone, the property is now in the possession of the earls of Mansfield.

Scone Abbey flourished for over four hundred years. In 1559 it fell victim to a mob from Dundee during the early days of the Reformation and was largely destroyed. In 1580 the abbey estates were granted to Lord Ruthven, later the Earl of Gowrie, who held estates around what is now called Huntingtower Castle. The Ruthvens rebuilt the Abbot's Palace of the old abbey as a grand residence. In 1600, James VI charged the family with treason and their estates at Scone were passed to Sir David Murray of Gospetrie, one of James' loyal followers.

The precise location of Scone Abbey had long remained a mystery, but in 2007 archaeologists pinpointed the location using magnetic resonance imaging technology. The find revealed the structure to have been somewhat larger than had been imagined. A stylised illustration of the Abbey on one of its seals suggests that it was a major Romanesque building, with a central tower crowned with a spire.


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