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Lindores Abbey

A Scheduled Monument in Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, Fife

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Latitude: 56.3525 / 56°21'8"N

Longitude: -3.2253 / 3°13'30"W

OS Eastings: 324377

OS Northings: 718469

OS Grid: NO243184

Mapcode National: GBR 27.3MCV

Mapcode Global: WH6QN.FLDG

Entry Name: Lindores Abbey

Scheduled Date: 13 April 1935

Last Amended: 5 October 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM836

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: abbey

Location: Newburgh

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Howe of Fife and Tay Coast

Traditional County: Fife


The monument comprises the upstanding and buried remains of Lindores Abbey, its precinct and associated walls. This Tironensian abbey was founded in the latter half of the 12th century AD and is located on the south shore of the River Tay at approximately 5m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1935 but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The footprint of the abbey is bisected by a modern road running NE-SW. To the north of the road, the remains of the church, tower, gateway and claustral remains survive as upstanding masonry, and the overall footprint of the abbey complex is highly likely to survive as buried remains. In addition, there are at least three stone coffins, decorative stonework and several dressed stones lying on or partly embedded in the ground. The church itself is approximately 60m by 35m and the wider claustral remains cover an area of 80m by 85m. In the field to the south of the road survives a section of walling and the buried remains of associated buildings, thought to include a monastic barn or granary. The upstanding wall is L-shaped on plan, approximately 1.5m thick, and originally formed part of a substantial rectangular building, measuring a minimum of 20m by 6m. The wider abbey complex south of the road is contained within the paddocks of an equestrian steading, while the upstanding remains of the abbey and precinct north of the road lie within the garden grounds of the adjoining residential property.

The two areas to be scheduled are irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the following: the above-ground elements of all modern boundary features including fences, modern walls and gates; the above-ground elements of the wall of Lindores Abbey Cottage (the residential property wets of and immediately abutting the abbey), and the above-ground elements of a metal tank, its retaining wall and adjacent stone trough, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The reasonably well-preserved standing remains of Lindores Abbey comprise the cloister with the church to its north, a parlour, chapter house and long hall to the east (the latter possibly the warming-house) and day and night stairs to the dorter, store-houses (cellarium) to the west, and the refectory range and possibly a kitchen to the south.

The church was built with a rectangular presbytery as the setting for the high altar. This was flanked by transepts with three chapels on the east side of each. The nave originally seems to have had no aisles. On the northern side of the west front was a separate bell-tower, which only touched the nave at one corner. An aisle was later added on the north side of the nave. The cloister has the partial remains of the ranges on both its east and west sides, the best preserved being that on the east. The slype (parlour) still has its stone vaulting: this was the corridor that gave access from the cloister to the area of the precinct beyond it, usually containing the monks' infirmary. Next to this is the shell of the chapter house and, against its south wall, are the remains of a stair leading to the dormitory which ran along this range at first-floor level. Traces of other, more outlying buildings can be seen in various places around the abbey, notably the remains of a very large monastic barn in the fields to the south.

The ground plan has been defined by excavation carried out around the middle of the 19th century. The standing remains survive to various heights and demonstrate the building techniques, stonemasonry skills and development sequence of the abbey and its precinct. In several places there are the ornate vestiges of carved stonework, indicating the quality of the original workmanship. The survival of a clear ground plan helps us to understand the structural layout and components of ecclesiastical buildings in general, and the building phases that produced this footprint at Lindores in particular. Researchers believe that there were two main phases of building at Lindores, the second following closely after the first, but that the final layout was planned from the start. Much of the structural detail of the abbey seems to confirm this.

As well as the standing remains, buried archaeological deposits are highly likely to survive throughout the footprint of the abbey complex and its vicinity. These can help us understand the buildings and their functions and are likely to produce evidence of the wide range of activities which would have been carried out in and around the abbey precinct. The presence of at least one major agricultural building to the south can potentially help us understand more about agricultural regimes and practices at Lindores. In general, the archaeology of Lindores Abbey is likely to be characteristic of monastic life in medieval Scotland and can tell us much about the community that built, lived and worshipped here.

Contextual characteristics

This is one of a group of five similar abbeys in Scotland belonging to the order of Tiron, which was founded in France in 1105. It is believed that Lindores Abbey was founded around 1190 by David, Earl of Huntingdon, the grandson of King David I. Guido, the first abbot of Lindores, was brought from Kelso Abbey and probably oversaw the main building campaign. The Tironensian order had been a favourite of David I's, as a result of which this order had a number of important houses in Scotland, although it was hardly represented elsewhere in the British Isles. Lindores was one of the last Tironensian abbeys to be built in Scotland, following those at Arbroath, Kilwinning, Selkirk and Kelso. Later episodes in the life of the abbey include the sacking of the complex during the Reformation, in 1543 and again in 1559, and the subsequent re-use of much of its ashlar stone for building works elsewhere. The abbey is located close to the Cistercian complex at Balmerino, some 10km to the NE, and lies within the contemporary bishopric of St Andrews.

North and east of the abbey flows a little stream, the Pow of Lindores, which formed the eastern boundary of the abbey lands between Lindores Loch and the Tay. The mill and mill-pond to the east (outwith the scheduled area) are on the site of the abbey mill and remind us of the wide range of important buildings which existed within the precinct. It is possible that a burial ground may lie to the north of the abbey (also outwith the scheduled area). Geophysical survey of the field containing the upstanding remains of a substantial L-shaped section of walling, south of the abbey, proved inconclusive.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the structural, liturgical, domestic and economic functioning of a medieval religious complex. It can help us understand much about ecclesiastical architecture, the development of monasticism in Scotland and the role of the church in wider medieval life. The loss of this example could significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the place and organisation of monastic sites in medieval Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NO21NW 5.

Ggeophysical survey was carried out by Mr Douglas Spiers (Fife Council Archaeologist) of the ground the south of the road, but the results were 'noisy' and therefore inconclusive. Aditional remains are suspected in the immediate vicinity, including a burial ground thought to lie north of the abbey and a mill and mill pond to the east. The imprecise location and unknown extent of these remains is the reason for their exclusion from the current rescheduling.


Cowan I B, and Easson D E, 1957, Medieval religious houses in Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man. London: Lomgmans, Green and Company.

Cruden S, 1960, Scottish Abbeys: an introduction to the medieval abbeys and priories of Scotland, Edinburgh. Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Fawcett R, 2002, Scottish Medieval Churches: architecture and furnishings. Stroud.

King M D, and Cox, A, 1997, 'Lindores Abbey (Newburgh Parish)', Discovery and Excavation Scotland, 1997, 34

RCAHMS 1933, Eleventh Report with Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the Counties of Fife Kinross and Clackmannan, Edinburgh: His Majesty's Stationery Office.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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