Scotlands History

Monastic orders

A monastery was quite simply a place where people who devoted themselves exclusively to religion could live. A monastery could be a simple hovel housing one hermit, or a vast complex of buildings housing a large order of monks. Generally monasteries enforced strict rules regarding who could join and how members would live; usually members had to give up all of their personal possessions.

Well known monastic orders include Benedictines, Cistercians and Augustinians, generally named for the saint they adopt as their figurehead.

Queen Margaret’s son David I brought many monastic orders to Scotland. Ailred of Rievaulx said of David I:

... at the beginning of his reign he diligently practised the things that are of God in building Churches, in founding monasteries, which he also endowed with properties and riches according to the needs of each.

The monastic orders built spectacular abbeys across Scotland; from Iona Abbey, Sweetheart Abbey, and Dunfermline Abbey to Holyrood Abbey, Deer Abbey and Glenluce Abbey. Border abbeys include Dryburgh, Jedburgh and Melrose Abbey.

  • Photo of monks working in a garden
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