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3 Beautiful Abbeys in Scotland You Have To See

While planning our trip to Scotland, Marty and I knew that we wanted to do a couple of things.  We not only wanted to stay in a beautiful castle, but we also see the abbeys in Scotland

Luckily we were able to do both.  (I also wanted to do some Spa Breaks in Scotland, but Marty didn’t seem so keen on that.  LOL! ) 

So, to help with your planning, we have put together a list of our 3 favorite abbeys in Scotland that are worth your vacation time!

Money-Saving Tip- If you’re a history lover like we are, then we highly suggest you looking buying a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass.  This pass saved us so much money! 

We were able to visit all of the abbeys in Scotland listed in this article as well as many other fabulous sites in Scotland, including Edinburgh Castle during our 2 days in Edinburgh.

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Our 3 Favorite Abbeys in Scotland

1.  Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey has on your list of abbeys in Scotland to visit

Brief History of Jedburgh Abbey

Don’t worry, I’ll keep the history lesson to an overview for you. ?

Established in the 1100s  in the Scottish Borders region, Jedburgh Abbey carries quite a history.  David I founded a priory here in 1138 that was later raised to the state of an abbey. 

Although none of the buildings from this early time period survived, archaeologists have found artifacts giving away the history of the abbey.

Although monastic life was usually peaceful for the priests, this abbeys strategic border location meant it was often caught in the turmoil between Scotland and England. 

The abbey not only served as a church and home for the priests, it was also the wedding venue and castle home to royalty.  King Alexander III married his wife, Yolande de Dreux, on the beautiful property and the two used it as their royal castle.

The demise of monastic life on this site came with the Protestant Reformation of 1560.

Jedburgh Abbey is one of the abbeys in Scotland to visit

Why Visit Jedburgh Abbey

Today is Jedburgh Abbey is set smack in the middle of the town of Jedburgh.  Despite being surrounded by city life, Jedburgh is a beautiful site. 

After much love from architects and historians, Jedburgh is one of the best-preserved abbeys in Scotland.  The beautiful mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles makes it a photographer’s dream. 

There is beauty at every angle and around every corner.

While you’re in the area be sure and explore the town of Jedburgh and the other fun sites located here.

2.  Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey is a great addition to your 7 day Scotland itinerary

Brief History of Melrose Abbey

The first Cistercian monastery in Scotland, Melrose Abbey was founded by David I in 1136. 

Surrounded by fertile soil and the River Tweed, Melrose Abbey was a great spot to showcase the power of David I.

The beautiful abbey dedicated to St Mary the Virgin was admired and loved by many, and it showed in her lavishly decorated adornments. 

Probably the biggest compliment of all to this abbey is that several powerful people chose it as their final resting place, including Alexander II. 

It is also noted that although the bodily remains of Robert the Bruce are housed at Dunfermline Abbey, his heart is buried here at Melrose.

The remains you see today have survived attacks from Edward I and II, Richard II, and the War of the Rough Wooing.  These remains are still some of the best examples of medieval church architecture to date. 

Take particular notice of the elegant piers, the window tracery, and of course the fabulous carvings on the exterior. 

My personal favorite is the bagpipe-playing pig.

Melrose Abbey has to be one of the abbeys in Scotland that you visit

Why Visit Melrose Abbey

Melrose was my favorite abbey.  Standing tall and majestic, her beauty just seemed to beckon us in from the moment we saw her. 

While all of the views are magnificent, I especially loved the view while standing in the graveyard.  Breathtaking!

Be sure to walk to the top of the top to get a bird’s eye view of the remains and the grounds while visiting.  You’ll be glad you did! 

Visit the chapter house where the remains of Robert the Bruce’s heart is said to be buried.  Overall, this is a fabulous historic site that is deserving of your time while in Scotland.

Oh yeah, and there is a great little ice cream shop on the corner by the grounds.  I mean, everyone loves ice cream!!

3.  Dunfermline Abbey

The Dunfermline Palace and abbey

Brief History of Dunfermline Abbey

This is one of the abbeys in Scotland that hold a special place in the country’s heart. 

Founded by Margaret in 1070 as a priory in Dunfermline, this is where she married Malcolm III.  Margaret invited over Benedictine monks from Canterbury, making this the first Benedictine house in Scotland.

Made an abbey in 1128 by David I, Dunfermline began to take on a new shape. 

David I built a new grand church with Romanesque pillars and a magnificent nave. 

Although the church suffered damage in 1303, it was later rebuilt and is still today used as an active Church of Scotland congregation.

Why Visit Dunfermline Abbey

Like many abbeys in Scotland, Dunfermline also served as a home to many people. 

The fabulous Dunfermline Palace remains are right on-site, and give you an insight into the grandeur of the once fabulous palace. 

Serving as a royal residence, to James VI’s queen, Anna of Denmark, the palace is full of history.  The last monarch to be born in Scotland, Charles I, was born here in 1600.

The abbey itself is gorgeous with its beautiful architecture and incredible stained glass windows. 

While visiting, be sure and walk through the fabulous Pittencrieff Park and feed the squirrels.  They seemed to be smitten with Marty.

Are the abbeys in Scotland worth your vacation time?

Well, that’s up to you to decide. 

We actually visited a few more abbeys during our time in Scotland, these three were our favorites. 

Given the fact that we love old churches, photography, and history, we felt that these three abbeys were well worth the time we spent visiting them. 

We would also explore the towns and find a fun place to eat or see other attractions while we were there, so this made visiting the abbeys even better.

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    Michelle Snell-Founder That Texas Couple

    About the Author

    Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through creative content creation and her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel and accompanying social media accounts.  She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.

    Annick Lenoir-Peek

    Wednesday 25th of March 2020

    Having lived in Scotland a long time ago, I remember visiting castles but not abbeys specifically. Hard to believe that Dumferline Abbey is still being used as a church today. I’m just amazed at the grandeur of all these abbeys built well over 800 years ago. So majestic! That Historic Explorer Pass was well worth it!


    Thursday 26th of March 2020

    It really is incredible to see them and experience their beauty and history. We loved having the Explorer Pass it was well worth it to us for sure!

    Sage Scott

    Tuesday 24th of March 2020

    I am sooooo a history loving girl! I've always wanted to go to Scotland, and your beautiful images (okay, Marty's photos LOL) make me want to go even more. I'll definitely have to check out the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass!


    Thursday 26th of March 2020

    We love history also, Sage, and were in heaven during our time in Scotland. I know that you would adore it!

    Juleen Meets World

    Monday 23rd of March 2020

    Oh, these abbeys are beautiful. I'll ensure to visit at least one when I finally make it to Scotland. Thanks for sharing.


    Tuesday 24th of March 2020

    Thank you for reading, Juleen. They are all so gorgeous.


    Monday 13th of August 2018

    Scotland looks absolutely stunning. The architectire is incredible. This is now at the Top of my list! Thanks for sharing.


    Monday 13th of August 2018

    Thank you so much for reading, Christina!

    Anisa Karen Alhilali

    Saturday 11th of August 2018

    These are beautiful, I hadn't heard of any of them. I did visit Holyrood Abbey, which is attached to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. I would love to visit these too. Also, glad to hear you got the Historic Scotland pass. We have the English equivalent and it has saved us lots!


    Saturday 11th of August 2018

    We didn't make it to Holyrood Abbey :(. Next time! And good to know about the English equivalent of the pass. We will have to keep that in mind.