Conservation Projects

Kinloss Abbey is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade A Listed Building of considerable significance in the context of North East Scotland.

The Abbey was founded in 1150 by King David I and was colonised by Cistercian monks. It has had an interesting and colourful history and for 400 years was extended and modified many times.

The reformation of Parliament in 1560 finally saw the end of Kinloss Abbey and the ruins were sold in 1645 to Alexander Brodie of Lethen, who sold the stone in 1650 for the construction of the Citadel in Inverness.

A programme of ivy clearance was conducted by Moray District Council completing the work in 1995.

Some conservation works were carried out by the Moray District Council, under the guidance of Historic Scotland, to the remains of the south transept between 1991 and 1995. The remaining standing remains were surveyed in 1995 by the Royal Commission.

For various reasons it has been decided to split the work into a series of Projects each with a definitive end-state.

Project One – Main Abbey

Monks in BackgroundThe main Abbey area has significant heritage value and required action in three areas – conserve and enhance the remains of the Abbey through a programme of conservation work; raise the profile of the Abbey locally to instil a sense of ownership and care for the Abbey; increase accessibility to and a greater understanding of Kinloss Abbey through promotion, signage and interpretation.

This project was completed in 2008. The work was carried out by Laing Traditional Masonry with financial assistance from Moray Council, HI Moray and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Interpretation boards now inform the visitor about the history of the Abbey.

The Princess Royal visited the project in September 2008 and was shown the sympathetic conservation of the main building.

Project Two – The Abbot’s HouseAbbot's House

To the south of the main Abbey enclosure lies the Abbot’s House. The area is currently fenced in and is very overgrown. As the result of a local farmers need for dry stone walling the east gable wall of the house was dynamited in the early 20th century leaving the majority of the structure in an unsafe condition.

The ruins include a stair tower with a low vaulted area and portion of ruinous wall, and tall free-standing length of wall containing a chimney, flanked by two low, single storey vaulted structures with adjacent wall remains. The tower and the chimney stand approximately 8 metres high. All the remains are built of yellow sandstone rubble and field boulders with ashlar dressings.

It is the intention of the Kinloss Abbey Trust in collaboration with Historic Scotland and The Moray Council to make safe and restore the ruins of the Abbot’s House so that it will be safe for visitors to explore.

This work will include access from the existing site into the house and interpretation boards for information and educational purposes. In time it is hoped to have a visitor’s centre in the area.

As with the main Abbey area, Historic Scotland have conducted an initial survey of the site and identified the work that needs to be carried out.

In 2019 work was done on the vaults which support the northern stack of the Abbot’s House.  Not enough funding was available at the time to complete the project and wooden trusses were put in as a temporary measure to support the vaults.  A fireplace was reinstated in the north stack which helped to stabilise the building as well as being historically accurate. It is hoped that funding may be available to complete this project.

In the meantime much work has been done in the area round the Abbot’s House with clearing self seeded saplings in the area of the drain which runs through the area.  We were hugely assisted by 39 Engineers, based at Kinloss Barracks, who moved a huge pile of fallen masonry under archaeological supervision.  A programme for killing off ivy is in progress.

JULY 20TH 2023 – The Kinloss Abbey Trust has just acquired funding from several sources for the work to be done at the Abbot’s House.  There follows a Press Release which gives details

The Kinloss Abbey Trust has been extremely fortunate in acquiring grants towards the next phase of the conservation of the Abbot’s House at Kinloss Abbey.  This will enable the consolidation of the vaults which were temporarily supported by wooden beams some five years ago.  The new works will make them permanently safe and waterproofing will be a further protection.  The aim of the Trust has always been to enable the Abbot’s House, which is currently fenced off from the rest of the Abbey precincts, to be open to everyone.  There is still some work to do.

The main funder is The Wolfson Foundation who have awarded Kinloss Abbey Trust the sum of  £38,300. The Foundation is an independent charity with a focus on research and education.  Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage and the arts.  It was established in 1955 and have made awards to more than 12,000 projects throughout the UK supporting them with about £1 billion.  The Kinloss Abbey Trust is extremely grateful for the Foundation’s interest in the work it has already achieved and the means to go forward to preserve this important historical building.

A grant funded by Moray Council through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund is most welcome.  They have supported us before and it is good to see that they have faith in what we are trying to achieve to grant us more aid. The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation and Historic Environment Scotland are also supporting this next phase of conservation and the Kinloss Abbey Trust is putting in some of its own funds which are mainly from fund raising and donations from local people.  A legacy from Sir James Dunbar-Nasmith, a valued trustee who died earlier this year, will help towards this.  It is hoped that the work will start before the end of July.  If the weather is clement it should be finished by the end of September. 

Chair of the Kinloss Abbey Trust, Kirsteen Mitcalfe, said “We are so thrilled with these generous awards which will allow the Trust to progress with the ongoing project to make the Abbot’s House open and available to everyone”.

Masonry and Lime, from Elgin, have again been awarded the contract and Nick Brown of Nbplanning, from Cullen, is the supervisory conservation architect.  Moray Council, who own the site, have always been extremely supportive of the Trust’s efforts to conserve this group of buildings, the largest complex of its type in the north. Mia Scott Associates are acting as funding co-ordinators.

Project Three – The CloistersConvervation

Kinloss Abbey Trust is attempting to keep the cloisters free of ivy while undertaking the more urgent work on the Abbot’s House.

It is hoped that the conservation of this beautiful area will be the next project.