PLUSCARDEN, ABBEY, MONASTIC BUILDINGS AND PRECINCT WALLS (Ref:8441)
This building is in the Moray Council and the
It is a category A building and was listed on 26/01/1971.
Group Items: N/A,
Group Cat: N/A,
Map Ref: NJ 140 574.
Founded 1230. Abbey Church originally planned as cruciform church but it is unlikely that the nave ever existed above the surviving footings. Serious fire circa 1390 and subsequent rebuilding in 15th century. Built in squared rubble and ashlar.
NORTH TRANSEPT: most visible survival of 13th century work; lancet windows with large rose window in each gable, clerestory passage in N wall thickness. Glass by Sadie McLellan (Glasgow). 2 chapels Originally opened from N wall, arches now filled and chapels with 13th century detail and stone vaulted roof now form transepts to the chancel.
CROSSING: remains of massive shafted columns now mainly encased in later masonry, possibly applied after the fire, supporting solid squat tower with blind cusped panels below parapet. Original rood screen gone but traces of small stair survive; across the chancel arch is a gallery with arms of the 8 secular families who owned the Abbey between 1560 and 1943.
S TRANSEPT: probably 14th century with elaborate and progressive detailing to the clerestory and passage, the latter spanning the 3-light windows and with subsiduary pointed arches flanking the shafts on the intervening wall space. 2 original vaulted side chapels more elaborate but re-oriented as at N. Night stair leads from S transept, stepped, 5-light window in S gable head.
CHANCEL: some traces of Romanesque detail but this old fashioned style superseded (after the fire?) by a daring arrangement of windows, the mouldings of the reveals, show the vast planned size of the windows now filled with later masonry and smaller intersecting traceried windows on S wall (possibly for stability). E window now 4 lancets with large 3-light traceried window above, vesica and apex opening. Finely carved sacrament house and 3 sedilia. Modern timber panelled ceiling. Considerable remains of 15th century wall painting can be found around the chancel arch, the chancel transepts and the Lady Chapel.
LADY CHAPEL: to S of S transept, a squint opens from the chancel transept, groin vaulted roof.
DUNBAR SACRISTY: later (?) 16th century addition at NE with vaulted roof. Monastic range (E side of original cloister). 2 storeys, now with attic rooms.
LADY CHAPEL: (a) S of Chapter House with paired doors deeply recessed and flanked by elaborate arrangement of nook shafts; central trumeau, (b) the Slype, (c) the Calefactory.
Remains of cloister garth and Prior's House to SW of Abbey Church.
PRECINCT WALLS: massive rubble walls with original gates at N (main) and E, some beeboles with gothic lintels in S face of N wall. Later, circa 1820 entrance at SE.
House of Valliscaulian Monks founded 1230 by Alexander II. United 1454 with Urquhart Priory (also Moray, now demolished) of Benedictines. After 1560 monks continued in decreasing numbers to inhabit Priory until circa 1590. 1594 sold to Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail. 1662 to Brodies of Lethen. By 1710 Pluscarden property of Duff of Dipple who became earl of Fife; purchased by 3rd Marquis of Bute in 1889 and gifted to Benedictines of Prinknash by his heirs in 1943. Re-roofing and restoration followed, by late Ian Lindsay and W Murray Jack (still in progress 1987).
MacGibbon and Ross THE ECCLESIASTICAL ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, ii (1896) pp. 146-160.
Robert Young, ANNALS OF THE PARISH AND BURGH OF ELGIN, (1879) pp. 28-39. P F Anson, MONASTERY IN MORAY, (1959).
Guide book: Basil Skinner and George Hay, 1981.
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