If we want to talk about the Borders of Scotland we can't help but discuss the economic impact that the early abbeys in the region had. From about 1100 ce forward the emergence of the border abbeys were a direct result of the work of King David I, the youngest son of King Malcolm and Queen Margaret. Many historians believe it is his love and devotion to his mother and her work to bring the Roman Church into being in Scotland that influenced his dedication to the growth of the Church's influence by building the many abbeys and priories in the region. This growth of abbeys was not only within David's domain as he influenced others over the next couple of centuries to patronize other abbeys and collegiate churches. The second part of this look at the lowland abbeys of Scotland will discuss those in Galloway and Dumfries.
So who was King David? We know that many of the claimants to the throne of Scotland in the late 13th century be they the Balliols, the Bruces and even the Comyns claim kinship that goes back to King David.
Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, Scotland
King David I ( reign 1124- May 24 1153)
Born 1083/1085 Youngest son of King Malcolm III (Canmore) and Saint Margaret of England.
Although he spent his youth in Scotland, he in was exiled in 1093 and became part of the court of Henry I of England and thus began his influence of Norman customs. Because of his time in Henry's court, when Henry died and left his daughter Matilda as empress of England, David took her side in the conflict she had for the crown with Stephen. He returned to Scotland to become Prince 0f Cunbria from 1113- 1124 in large part it was Henry who convinced King Alexander to accept David's claim to the area of Cumbria which included most of the borders region of Scotland. David married, at the behest of Henry I of England, Maud of Huntington. This area he was prince of included the present day counties of Roxburgh, Selkirkshire, Berwickshire, Lanarkshire, and Peebleshire. He didn't have any control of the are of area of Dunfries and Galloway, the west marches.
He followed his older brother Alexander I to the throne of Scotland in the spring of 1124 after a number of battles with Alexander's son Mael Coluim. As King he was able to bring his lands of Southern Scotland and what is now the borders along with the Alexander's domain creating a greater Scotland (Alba) domain. And it was during his reign of King of Scotland where had the most influence creating the Davidian Revolution. He began to encourage more Norman and Flemish knights to come to the larger Scotland domain where he offered them land and encouraged Flemish merchants from Continent to relocate to Scotland. He brought to Scotland military feudalism, Scotland's first coinage, monasticism (abbeys) and created Royal Burghs.
David created these Royal Burghs (cities) as both economic trading cents where the good/resources from his lands could be traded and as administrative districts. The first of these Royal Burghs was Berwick (Berwick on Tweed) to be followed by Stirling, Dunfermline, Aberdeen, Perth and Scone. The King's land in these areas were overseen by a Sheriff, they were initially located at Roxburgh, Scone, Berwick, Stirling and Perth.
David encouraged Norman and Flemish Knights to relocate to Scotland and offered them land in return to military service to him. The de Brus ( Bruce) family came to Scotland and were granted the land at Annadale in the Borders. This created the arrival of feudalism to Scotland at least in the military sense.
He owned a silver mine in his English lands and mined it to create Scotland's first coinage. This creation of coinage was used to link the economic growth of Scotland to the government of Scotland. The use of coinage in trade, always keeping the image of the king and his power in front of those who used the coinage, which helped to create the economic growth of the country both within and as the exchange of goods from the continent with that of Scotland. A large part of the export of goods to the continent was wool, wool from the sheep from the herds of the abbeys in the Borders.
David was often referred to as the "Saint", due in large part to the influence his mother made on him spiritually. It was St Margaret who brought a stronger influence of the Roman Catholic Church to Scotland who were Christians but adhered to the Celtic version still. David in honor of his mother's dedication to the Church had built a number of abbeys. The first of which was when he was Prince of Cumbria in 1113, the Selkirk Abbey, which house the grey monks of the order of Tironensians. During his reign he was patron of 15 monasteries in the lowlands of Scotland. These brought learned men to Scotland from the continent which helped to Europeanize Scotland, they also brought new agriculture practices that were employed. These e Abbeys were now no longer just spiritual centers but were also economic centers for an area and for the Church and to a degree the crown. Wool was the number one export from abbeys in the Borders and the Lothians and Scotland was the most important supplier of wool to the continent. It is because of this early trade that economy of the lowlands of Scotland was able to survive during hard times, especially during the clearance of the early 1700's in the lowlands.
Abbeys of the Borders:
A church has been on this
spot in Scotland since 650 CE. St Cuthbert is believed to have grown up in the borders of Scotland and was one of the first to serve at Melrose (Mailros) and later served at Durham, where he became their most beloved saint. In 839 the Scottish King, Kenneth McAlpin destroyed Mailros. In 1136 King David brought monks from an English abbey at Rievaulx, which was a Cistercian Abbey and a Norman styled abbey was built. Melrose quickly became one of the wealthiest abbeys in Scotland, by the 1300's it was thought they had a herd of sheep which total in excess of 15,000. Set so close to the borders with England the abbey was victim to many raids: Edward I of England in 1296 and Edward II in 1322. King Robert Bruce rebuilt the abbey. It was destroyed again by Richard II
and was ransacked during the period of "Rough Wooing" in the mid 1500's. It was deserted at the time of the Reformation in 1560 however it was used by locals as a church until 1810. Many visitors visit Melrose even though it now a ruin because of the beauty of the gardens and richness of the remaining architecture. Also others come in pilgrimage to pay honor to one of Scotland's greatest kings, Robert Bruce whose heart his buried at Melrose. However, his body is buried under the pulpit at the abbey at Dunfermline.
Jedburgh was founded in 1138 and was home to Augustinian Monks in the Middle March close to the Scottish and English border. The monks came from St Quentin Abbey in France. Jedburgh originally was a priory in 1154. Monastic live wascontinually disturbed because of the border conflicts with the English. In 1258 Alexander III married his second wife at Jedburgh Abbey. Edward I lodged his entourage when he had come to Scotland to pillage Scotland in 1296. The abbey was saved from damage during the "Rough Wooing" in 1544. And a new church was built with in the Nave in 1688-1670 but in 1875 a new parish church was built in another location. The demise of monastic life happened with the Scottish Reformation in 1560 when it became achurch of the new faith. The abbey introduced new agricultural methods and was a center of live to the community and surrounding area. The abbey is a ruin now but the naive and the transepts are still standing.
This abbey was not patronized by King David but by Sir Hugh de Moreville, constable of Scotland, in 1150 and was home to the Premonstratensain Order which was found in France in 1120. Sir Hugh became a monk at the order before his death. The abbey was located on the banks of the River Tweed and like other abbeys was often at the mercy of the Borders wars and reivers. In 1322 it was destroyed by the English, and rebuilt only be destroyed again by Richard II in 1385 and was a constant victim to the battles of the "Rough Wooing in the mid 1500's. At the time of the reformation the cannons accepted the new faith, setting aside the Catholic Church. The ruin abbey is the final resting place of a son of the Borders, Sir Walter Scott in 1832
The abbey was established in 1128 when the monks of the Tironsensian from Selkirk came to the area and established a new abbey. It took them 75 years to build and like most of the abbeys in the Border Region it took the a beating from the Scottish War of Independence in the late 13th and early 14th century. It took a terrible beating during the "Rough Wooing' and was not restored especially when 15 years later Scotland experienced its Reformation. In the 1600's it was made into a parish church until the mid 1700's when a new local church was built. As with a number of the abbeys the stones were removed for local building creating further destruction of the abbey which was not a ruin. Today the ruin is administered by Historic Scotland.
In 1126 King David established an abbey at as act of thanksgiving when he survived the attack of a hart (a red deer) on Holy Cross Day and apparently he saw a cross between the antlers of the deer and took that as a sign to build the abbey in thanksgiving at being saved. The abbey was established for the cannons regular at St Andrews, who were Augustinian Monks. The church
relic was a piece of the true Cross that his mother brought to Scotland. This relic was referred to as the Black Rood of Scotland. Unfortunately it was taken by the English in one of their many raids into Scotland and taken to Durham, but at the Reformation in both countries it disappeared. The Abbey which is now a ruin that is located next to Holyrood Palace, which was completed in the early 1501.
Holyrood Abbey has seen the birth of kings, (James II), crownings (Queen Mary, wife to James II) and the marriage of James III and Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley in 1565. Although not located on the Borders like the other abbeys, Holyrood was sacked by unruly Protestant reformers as the behest of John Knox in 1567. The Abbey ruins that stand today in the same location of the original site were built by Charles II in 1670. In 1667 James II created the Order of the Thistle and the nave of the abbey was created into a chapel for the Order. Although the abbey is a ruin located to the Holyrood Palace, the surrounding gardens and park are a favorite location for both the visitor and the locals to enjoy.
Next posting will include the other abbeys of Dumfries and Galloway.