Benedictine Abbey of Lindores


Near Newburgh, Fifeshire, Scotland, founded by David, Earl of Huntingdon, younger brother of King William the Lion, about 1191

Lindores, BENEDICTINE Abbey of, on the River Tay, near Newburgh, Fifeshire, Scotland, founded by David, Earl of Huntingdon, younger brother of King William the Lion, about 1191. Boece (Chronicles of Scotland) gives 1178 as the date, but his romantic story of the foundation (adopted by Walter Scott in "The Talisman") is quite uncorroborated and almost certainly fictitious. The monks were Tironensian Benedictines, brought from Kelso; Guido, Prior of Kelso, was the first abbot, and practically completed the extensive buildings. The church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St. Andrew, was 195 feet long, with transepts 110 feet long. Earl David richly endowed the abbey, making over to it the ten parish churches which were in his gift, as well as tithes and other sources of revenue, and asking nothing in return "save only prayers for the weal of the soul". The monks, by the foundation charter, were to be free of all secular and military service, and they gradually acquired extensive powers and jurisdiction over the people living on their property. Other churches were granted by the Leslies and subsequent benefactors to the abbey, which had finally as many as twenty-two belonging to it. Dowden, in his introduction to the Lindores chartulary, gives details of these endowments, as well as of the privileges granted to the abbey by successive popes: these do not seem to have differed from those enjoyed by other great monasteries. Edward I of England, John de Baliol, David II, and James III were among the monarchs who visited Lindores at different times. David, Duke of Rothesay, who perished mysteriously at Falkland Palace, not far off, was buried at Lindores in 1402. Twenty-one abbots ruled the monastery from its foundation to its suppression. Lindores was the first of the great Scottish abbeys to suffer violence from the Protestant mob, being sacked and the monks expelled by the populace of Dundee in 1543. Knox describes a similar scene in 1559: "The abbey of Lindores we reformed: their altars overthrew we; their idols, vestments of idolatrie and mass-books we burnt in their presence, and commanded them to cast away their monkish habits". The last abbot was the learned and pious John Leslie, afterwards Bishop of Ross (d. 1596). The abbey was created a temporal lordship in 1600 in favor of Patrick Leslie, in whose family it remained till 1741. It now belongs to the Hays of Leys. The fragments of the buildings which remain are mostly of the twelfth century; they include the groined archway of the principal entrance, and part of the chancel walls and of the western tower of the church.

D. O. HUNTER-BLAIR