Kelso - 'The Abby of Kelso'

Kelso Abbey was in ruins by the time John Slezer visited it. The abbey had been established in 1128 by Tironensian monks, a Cistertian Order based at Tiron in France. Once considered the grandest of Border abbeys, it suffered badly from repeated attacks by English forces. This was due to its closeness to the border with England, and was a particular problem in the 1540s.

In Slezer's time, part of it had been restored and was being used as the parish church. This prospect shows some of the rebuilding that had been done. A school building was even added, on the right, in the 1600s. These buildings were cleared away early in the 19th century.

Image from Theatrum Scotiae by John Slezer, 1693.

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  Read what Robert Sibbald wrote in Theatrum Scotiae about Kelso


To the Right Honourable the Earl of Roxburgh, Lord Kerr of Cessford and Cavertoun, &c.


A Town in Teviotdale, situated near the Mouth of the River Tweede. It was lately almost wholly destroyed by Fire, but is now rebuilt and adorned with most stately Buildings. It is surrounded with several Noblemen's Mannors, and most pleasant and fruitful Fields.

Here are to be seen the Ruines of an Ancient Monastery founded by King David, and possess'd by the Cistercians, an Order instituted about the Year 1000, under Pope Urban the II by Robert, Abbot of the famous Monastery of Cisteaux in Burgundy, whence the Observers of that Order were called Cistercians.

Who was Robert Sibbald?

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