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Re-shoring work on the Abbot’s House funded by Kinloss Abbey Trust is complete


By Garry McCartney

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Trust members showing Mr McIntyre the Abbot’s House. Pictures: Beth Taylor
Trust members showing Mr McIntyre the Abbot’s House. Pictures: Beth Taylor

A LOCAL site of historical importance has been made safer via £56,000 of shoring works.

Kinloss Abbey Trust (KAT) raised the funding for the preservation of The Abbot’s House, extended and refurbished by foremost religious and political leader, Abbot Robert Reid, in the mid-16th century.

Trustee Kirsteen Mitcalfe confirmed their long-term aim is to enable the building - currently fenced off from the rest of the Abbey - to be open to everyone.

She said: “This stage of the project involved consolidation of the abbey’s north vaults, to make them safe. We are so pleased that it has been completed and is a step nearer to making the Abbot's House accessible to visitors.

“But there is still work to do!”

The north vaults, propped up with wood for the last few years, have been fully consolidated, giving support to the stack above them.

The tops of the vaults were stripped under supervision from Highland Archaeology Services. Using stones found on site, masonry reconstruction was then carried out before each vault top was profiled using salvaged stonework and levelled in lime for water to run off. The tops were then covered in a membrane and topped with grass.

To allow the lime mortar to dry sufficiently, the wooden supports were left in place until the spring. KAT hopes to use them for the next project, shoring the southern arches. The trust is fundraising for this stage.

Kinloss Abbey was founded in 1150 by King David I and colonised by monks from Melrose Abbey. It received a Papal Bull from Pope Alexander III in 1174 and came under the protection of the Bishop of Moray in 1187.

The abbey went on to become one of the largest and wealthiest religious houses in Scotland, receiving the salmon fishing rights to the River Findhorn from Robert the Bruce in 1312.

It received royal visitors including Edward I in 1303, Edward III in 1336 and Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1562.

The most renowned of the monastery’s 24 abbots was Robert Reid, who introduced organised education, erected a new library and other buildings.

From left: Kinloss Abbey Trust members Kirsteen Mitcalfe, Stephen Worth, Peter Grant-Peterkin and Timothy Finnegan with George McIntrye, Chairman of The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation (centre).Kinloss Abbey Trust have installed new signage.Picture: Beth Taylor
From left: Kinloss Abbey Trust members Kirsteen Mitcalfe, Stephen Worth, Peter Grant-Peterkin and Timothy Finnegan with George McIntrye, Chairman of The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation (centre).Kinloss Abbey Trust have installed new signage.Picture: Beth Taylor

KAT was founded in 2003 to preserve the remains.

Nick Brown of NBPlanning masterminded the renovations project and monitors the expenses.

KAT has had local support as well as the major sponsorship from the Wolfson Foundation. The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation has contributed £5000 while EB Scotland via the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund, a previous supporter, contributed £10,000.

“Masonry and Lime did the contractual work,” said Kirsteen, “sometimes in very wet weather, finishing on time and on budget, and did a first class job. Historic Environment Scotland was as helpful and supportive as usual.”

The site has a new notice board at the gate to the Abbey.

“It will be of interest to visitors,” said Kirsteen, “and replaces the rather scrappy bits of information stuck to the gates!”

Kinloss-based 39 Engineer Regiment has volunteered to make an additional informative displayfor beside the wall separating the Abbot’s House from the main building.

The Abbot’s House remains fenced off from the public for the time being. However, guided tours are available to visitors throughout the summer.

Visit https://kinlossabbey.org/ for more information.



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