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The Border Abbeys
Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey Jedburgh Abbey Jedburgh Abbey Jedburgh Abbey

Founded 1138 by David I

BLACK Canons of the Augustinian Order came to found a priory at Jedburgh in place of a church which had been there since at least the 9th century. Since the Celtic Church had a policy of building on sites of previous religious significance, Jedburgh may have been a place of worship for many centuries before that.

The priory was very soon promoted to an abbey, which brought power and influence with it. Alexander III was married at the abbey in 1285.

During the early years of the Wars of Independence Jedburgh was held to be pro-English. Edward I stayed there during his campaign of 1296, and elected an abbot sympathetic to his cause. As Robert Bruce strengthened his hold on the nation Abbot William and 11 canons were forced to flee to Yorkshire, while the new abbot, Kennock, is credited with keeping peace in the area for the next decade through the power of prayer alone.

Jedburgh Castle was destroyed in an English raid of 1409, during which the abbey was also fired. The complex was raided another three times in the following 55 years then again in 1523.

During the Rough Wooing of the 1540s the abbey was held by the English and used as a base for raiding until an Auld Alliance army re-took it in 1548 and fortified it against future attacks. Another devastating raid all but destroyed the abbey in 1555.

In 1604, with all canons gone, the abbey was secularised and much of the masonry was gradually absorbed into local buildings. The power of the Jed Water at the south of the complex was utilised by commercial mills, some of which continued in business until the 1960s.

Finally, in 1875 the Marquis of Lothian built a new parish church outside the abbey precinct and set about removing all post-Reformation work from the ruins. the result, given to the nation in 1913, is an almost complete medieval church preserved for all time.

This text is abbreviated from the articles that appear on ScotlandPast's CD-Rom digital guide "The Border Abbeys". The guide also features 360 degree panoramic images, photo galleries, video introductions, 3D interactive graphics and an at-a-glance history timeline. The CD, which runs on PC and Mac with most Internet browsers, is available for 8.99 from 2003 ScotlandPast. All rights reserved.

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