Inchcolm Abbey

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Site Type ABBEY
Canmore ID 50895
Site Number NT18SE 7
NGR NT 18973 82656
Council FIFE
Former Region FIFE
Former District DUNFERMLINE
Former County FIFE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Architectural Notes

National Library 'Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton
Vol 1 No 14 - plan of the monastery of Incholm
Vol 1 No 13 - 2 views of 1784 & plan of island dated 1822

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Archaeological Notes

NT18SE 7 18973 82656.

(NT 1897 8265) Remains of Abbey (NR) (Augustinian - founded AD 1123)
OS 6"map, Fife (1967).

The Augustinian Abbey at Inchcolm, which may well have been erected over a Celtic settlement, was founded by Alexander I about 1123, and erected from a priory into an Abbey in 1235. The substantial ruins, which are fully described in the Official Guide book (J W Paterson 1950), date from the 12thc, with frequent additions and alterations up to the 15thc. The abbey and its lands were secularised in 1609.
D E Easson 1957; S Cruden 1960; J W Paterson 1950.

Inchcolm Abbey, as described, is in an excellent state of preservation.
Visited by OS(AC) 11 March 1959

Excavation in advance of a drain trench showed that the N wall of the 13th century chapter house belonged to an earlier building lying to the N. To the S fragmentary walls suggested buildings lying to the S of the chapter house and E of the gateway.
J Wordsworth 1984.

A watching brief was kept by Scotia Archaeology Ltd during the excavation of two pits to house bioplus treatment tanks: one (Trench 1) adjacent to the visitor centre; the other (Trench 2) against the custodian's house.
In Trench 1, 0.4m of modern materials overlay a deposit of massive boulders, some of them cement-bonded, which formed the rear of the modern sea wall. Below 0.3m of topsoil in Trench 2 was a thick layer of clayey soil containing animal bones and winkle shells but no oyster shells (which had been numerous in the topsoil). The lower deposit may have been midden material associated with the nearby abbey although more extensive investigation would be needed to confirm this.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland.
R Murdoch 1996

July 2010 to August 2010

Notes NT 18973 82656 This collection, which consists of a wide range of stones from arcades to window tracery, was assessed during July–August 2010. The arcade stones, of which there are four, form the springers for a series of arches. The profile of these stones is related to that of a string-course fragment, also in the collection. This string-course may have come from the chapter house exterior, and it is therefore possible that the arcade stones came from stalls on the interior of the chapter house.
A very unusual item was a mass dial, broken into two pieces. This has a series of incised radiating lines, and the remains of a gnomon in the centre. Although mass dials are well known in English churches they are relatively rare in Scotland.
This and other inventories of carved stones at Historic Scotland’s properties in care are held by Historic Scotland’s Collections Unit. For further information please contact
Mary Markus Archetype, 2010

Further details

External Links

Scottish Church Heritage Research (SCHR)

Books and References

Armit, I (1998i) Scotland's hidden history, Stroud, Gloucestershire
Page(s): 153-4 Fig 87 Held at RCAHMS E.2.1.ARM

Banks, V Inchcolm abbey in the Firth of Forth, restored by H M Office of Works Scot Country Life
Page(s): 211

Billing, R W (1901) The baronial and ecclesiastical antiquites of Scotland (with an appreciation by R Rowland Anderson), (Four Volumes)

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