Photos and the City

Slow travel & photography

Kinloss Abbey is a Cistercian abbey at Kinloss in the county of Moray, Scotland.

I´ve driven by Kinloss Abbey a few times and decided to take a closer look. The ruins of the  Cistercian abbey near Kinloss stand in the midst of a graveyard surrounded by fields. There isn´t too much left today but Kinloss Abbey used to be one of the finest and wealthiest of all of Scotland’s abbeys.

Kinloss Abbey is a Cistercian abbey at Kinloss in the county of Moray, Scotland.

Kinloss Abbey was founded in 1150 by King David I of Scotland and he stayed long enough at the nearby Duffus Castle to direct the beginning of the building works. Then Cistercian monks from Melrose Abbey continued to oversee the construction and occupied it once finished. It probably was fully finished in 1214 when it hosted a meeting of the General Chapter of the Prelates of the Cistercian Order.

In 1217 a daughter house, Culross Abbey in Firth, was founded and another one in 1219, Deer Abbey in Aberdeenshire.

In 1312 Robert the Bruce granted the Abbey fishing rights on the River Findhorn and it had quite a few royal visitors.

Kinloss Abbey is a Cistercian abbey at Kinloss in the county of Moray, Scotland.

In the years around 1400s the abbey became the subject of scandalous stories about the conduct of the monks and an envoy was sent from Cîteaux Abbey, the headquarters of the Cistercian order in France, to resolve matters. Expansion of the abbey followed in the late 1400s, though in 1492 a second scandal struck when a monk, William Butler, murdered a boy in the cloister. (Undiscovered Scotland)

Kinloss Abbey is a Cistercian abbey at Kinloss in the county of Moray, Scotland.

Out of the 24 abbots of Kinloss Abbey, one of the most notable was Robert Reid, appointed abbot in 1528. Reid brought the Italian scholar Giovanni Ferrerio of Piedmont to Kinloss and they established a centre of academic excellence. But Reid also undertook diplomatic missions for James V and he spent time in England (discussing peace terms with Henry VIII) and France.

In 1541 he became Bishop of Orkney, as soon as he had arrived in Kirkwall he started an extensive rebuilding of the Bishops Palace. He also became Lord President of the Court of Session (the highest jurisdiction in Scotland) in 1543 and spent his time between Edinburgh, Kinloss and Kirkwall.

After Reid’s death in 1558, he left big funds for the founding of a seat of learning in Edinburgh, which later on developed into the University of Edinburgh.

Kinloss Abbey is a Cistercian abbey at Kinloss in the county of Moray, Scotland.

Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Kinloss Abbey in 1562 and even after the Reformation the Abbey still seemed to have bloomed during her stay. But over the following years, the lands and buildings slowly declined until it was given to Edward, Lord Bruce of Kinloss in 1601.

Most of the stones of the abbey were later on sold to Cromwell’s army to built their citadel in Inverness.

 

Sueno´s Stone

Just a short drive from Kinloss Abbey towards Forres is the tallest and most complex piece of early medieval sculpture in Scotland.

Sueno’s Stone is a gigantic Pictish cross-slab measuring 7m tall. Its carvings are ornate and unique. We see here a rare and complex narrative depiction of a battle, and a wholly unique scene interpreted as a royal inauguration.

The stone would have once overlooked the marshy floodplains of the rivers Mosse and Findhorn. Unusually, it’s still associated with the place it was first erected, though we know little of its wider context. (Historic Enviroment of Scotland)

suenos stone, a pictish sandstone in moray scotland

Visiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.

Only a mile far from Culloden lies another link with Scotlands past, dating back to around 2000BC. A short drive along some minor roads will take you away from the busy visitor centre of Culloden to the very quiet and impressive Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, shortly called Clava Cairns, set on a terrace above the River Nairn.

Visiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.

Clava Cairns is a group of three Bronze Age cairns dating back around 4000 years.

The cemetery was used in two periods. At around 2000 BC a row of large cairns was built, three of which can still be seen today. A thousand years later the cemetery was reused and new burials were placed in some of the existing cairns and three smaller monuments were built including a ‘kerb cairn’. Traces of a smaller cemetery can also be seen at Milton of Clava, a short distance up the valley to the west. The cairns at Balnuaran of Clava extended along a gravel terrace raised above the River Nairn. (Visit Scotland)

Visiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.

The land was used for farming before the cairns were built and the stones were probably taken from demolished houses.

There are two different types of cairns and you can see both at Clava Cairns:

The North East and South West Cairns are knows as passage graves. Here the inner chamber remains linked to the outside world by a passage. Both are no more than a metre or so in height, but when originally constructed the cairns are likely to have been around 3m or 10ft in height. (Undiscovered Scotland)

Visiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.

Both of the passage cairns have a surrounding circle of widely spaced standing stones.

The central cairn is a ring cairn and has so connecting passageway linking the central chamber with the outside. And again it is surrounded by a ring of standing stones.

The Clava Cairns are a type-site for a group of around 50 similar cairns found only in the region of the Moray Firth and Inverness. The form of these burial monuments uniquely combines aspects of ring cairns, passage graves, and stone circles. (Historic Enviroment of Scotland)

Visiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.

Midwinter seemed to be an important turning point of time of the year for the Bronze Age society, the three cairns form a line running north-east to the south-west. The passageways are also aligned towards the south-west looking towards the winter sunset.

Visiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.

It is assumed that Clava Cairns inspired the fictitious Craigh na Dun standing stones, which send the main character of the books and tv show “Outlander”, Claire, back in time.

Destination portraits of actress Mikaila Shearer near Inverness, Scotland

I met actress Mikaila at this magical place for some “Highlander” inspired pictures showing off her and her Scottish roots.

Destination portraits of actress Mikaila Shearer near Inverness, ScotlandDestination portraits of actress Mikaila Shearer near Inverness, Scotland

We continued in the surrounding areas and enjoyed some fabulous views.

Visiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.Destination portraits of actress Mikaila Shearer near Inverness, ScotlandVisiting the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a 2000 year old burial place near Culloden, Scotland.