Pluscarden Abbey

Pluscarden Abbey is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery located in the glen of the Black Burn about 10 kilometres south-west of Elgin, in Moray, Scotland. It has been for most of its history a priory and was founded in 1230 by Alexander III of Scotland[1] for the Valliscaulian Order.

In 1454, following a merger with the priory of Urquhart, a cell of Dunfermline Abbey, Pluscarden Priory became a Benedictine House. The years immediately preceding the Scottish Reformation, and those after, saw the decline of the priory. By 1680 it was in a ruinous condition. Some work to arrest the decay took place in the late 19th century but it wasn't until 1948 when restoration of the priory was begun by monks from the Benedictine Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire. In 1966 the priory received its independence from the mother-house and was elevated to abbatial status in 1974.

The old Pilgrim Road to Pluscarden hugged the forested hillside north of the valley and swept round to the imposing North Gate of the Priory precincts. Today, however, the visitor leaves his car at the East Gate and walks up the drive until he suddenly beholds the majestic east gable of the Abbey Church across the lawns. From this approach it is possible to form a clear picture of the composition of the East Range of Pluscarden Abbey, which was clearly designed to make a strong impression on a visitor.

Dominating the whole group is the massive block of the central tower and the north and south transepts of the church, and to the east of these, the choir with its finely composed east window. Immediately south of the choir is the lower projection of the Lady Chapel which has the Prior's Chapel above it, and beyond this can be seen the long block of the domestic buildings, roofed in 1960, containing Chapter House, library, refectory and dormitories, and forming the east side of the cloister garth. This wing has been completely restored to full use in the daily life of the Abbey.