Isle of Albion
Remarkably complete abbey church overlooking terraced approach.
Photographed: Saturday 3rd July 2010
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Jedburgh Abbey was founded by Prince David (later King David I of Scotland) as an Augustinian priory sometime around 1138AD. In 1154AD, the priory was elevated to the status of abbey. The royal patronage - along with generous land grants - allowed Jedburgh to prosper.

The choir and nave of the abbey church can be dated back to the 12th Century, and these were likely complete when Alexander III of Scotland was married there in 1285AD.

Like all the border abbeys, Jedburgh's position left it vulnerable during the various conflicts that flared up between the English and the Scots. In 1296AD, King John Balliol renounced his allegiance to England, and Edward I retaliated by sacking Berwick-on-Tweed. Edward pushed further into Scotland, and used Jedburgh abbey as lodgings for a brief period, with the abbot swearing allegiance to the English.

The war ebbed and flowed, but Jedburgh Abbey was perceived as a pro-English religious house. Accordingly, when Robert the Bruce finally turned the tide and pushed his forces south in 1312AD, the abbot and his canons fled to Yorkshire. Two years later, the English were defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn, leading to a period of relative peace along the borders. By this time, Jedburgh had been sacked and had its roof pillaged for lead, so extensive rebuilding was necessary.

Another period of relative peace followed, but the turbulent border caused further trouble for the abbey when the English once again sacked it in 1346AD. It was attacked at least three more times during the 15th Century - in 1409, 1410 and 1464AD.

In 1523AD, the Early of Surrey put both the town and the abbey to the torch - this time inflicting damage so severe that the monks were forced to construct a smaller church within the shell of the original abbey.

In 1543AD, the English were again waging war upon Scotland in the "rough wooing", whereby Henry VIII hoped to force a marriage between his son, Edward, and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. As a result of this conflicft, Jedburgh was attacked by the Earl of Hertford in 1544AD. He returned the following year, and also in 1547AD.

In 1548AD, Jedburgh was occupied by the French, who were allied to the Scots. They fortified the abbey with the construction of ramparts and gun platforms. During this time, the monks were forced to take refuge in the bell tower.

By the time of the Reformation in 1560AD, only a handful of canons remained at Jedburgh, living amongst the ruins of the abbey. They were allowed to remain until the last of their number died, with the shell of the abbey serving as a parish church. It continued in this role until 1671AD when concerns about the condition of the bell tower led to worship moving to the nave.

In 1875AD, religious use of the site finally ceased. A new parish church was constructed on the opposite side of the river, and Jedburgh Abbey fell into its final period of decline.

Today, the abbey church survives in remarkably complete and impressive condition. The nave, transept, and tower are all standing. The foundations of the cloister are still visible, along with other ruinous structures built into the terraces that lead down from the church. Access is via an excellent visitor centre.