Consultancy Report

Arbroath Abbey - Final Report



Oram R & Hodgson V (2019) Arbroath Abbey - Final Report. Historic Environment Scotland. Stirling: University of Stirling.

This report focuses on the abbey precinct at Arbroath and its immediately adjacent appendages in and around the burgh of Arbroath, as evidenced from the documentary record. It is not a history of the abbey and does not attempt to provide a narrative of its institutional development, its place in Scottish history, or of the men who led and directed its operations from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries. There is a rich historical narrative embedded in the surviving record but the short period of research upon which this document reports did not permit the writing of a full historical account. While the physical structure that is the abbey lies at the heart of the following account, it does not offer an architectural analysis of the surviving remains but it does interpret the remains where the documentary record permits parts of the fabric or elements of the complex to be identified. This focus on the abbey precinct has produced some significant evidence for the daily life of the community over the four centuries of its corporate existence, with detail recovered for ritual and burial in the abbey church, routines in the cloister, through to the process of supplying the convent with its food, drink and clothing. Some evidence for the interactions between the monks of the abbey and the inhabitants of the lands around it and on its more widely dispersed properties is also considered, but this is not a social history and both the abbey’s extensive estates and its relations with neighbouring landowners lie beyond the scope of this present study. As one of the greatest monastic foundations in medieval Scotland and with a rich surviving documentary record, it is to be hoped that this present study of Arbroath Abbey can be built upon to produce the full historical and architectural analysis which it so richly deserves.

monastic history; precinct; cloister; regality jurisdiction

Commissioned report funded by Historic Environment Scotland in advance of the redesign of the visitor interpretation at Arbroath Abbey and the commemoration of the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath in April 2020.

FundersHistoric Environment Scotland
Publication date31/03/2019
Place of publicationStirling

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Professor Richard Oram
Professor Richard Oram

Professor, History