Pluscarden Abbey

Situated in the shadow of Heldon Hill, 6 miles (10 km) southwest of Elgin in Moray, Pluscarden Abbey is the only mediaeval monastery in Scotland still occupied by monks. The original Cistercian abbey was founded in 1230 by King Alexander II (1241-86) and in 1345 came under the authority of the Bishop of Moray whose seat at Elgin Cathedral had also been founded by Alexander in 1224. Dedicated to St Mary, St John and St Andrew, it was one of only three Valliscaulian foundations in Scotland linked to the Priory of Val des Choux in Burgundy. Badly damaged following an assault by Alexander Stewart, the 'Wolf of Badenoch' (1343 - 1405) in 1390, Pluscarden was taken in hand by the Benedictine Order in 1454 on its union with the Priory of Urquhart, 4 miles (7 km) east of Elgin.

After the Reformation the buildings fell into ruin, passing through various hands before being restored by the Roman Catholic antiquarian John, 3rd Marquis of Bute, at the end of the 19th Century In 1943, the restored buildings were returned by his son, Lord Colum Crichton-Stuart, to the Benedictine community of Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire, England.

The monks, who now welcome visitors, took up residence in 1948 and continued the restoration of the 13th-century church. Occupied by nearly 30 monks, priests and novices, Pluscarden Priory was raised to the status of an abbey in 1974.

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