History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 12th century Romanesque architecture in the abbey church
Unlike the Cistercians, the other great monastic order in Lowland Scotland and northern England, the Augustinians did not seek out remote places to build their priories. Rather they built close to important political centres. This was a deliberate policy that allowed the Augustinians to influence government and act as advisors to rulers, but also to minister directly to the local population. Augustian canons often acted as parish priests, and for this reason they tended to be more popular than more reclusive orders.
There was a royal palace at Jedburgh, and the abbot was a frequent advisor to Scottish rulers. Alexander III married Yolande de Dreux at the abbey church in 1285. According to a rather convenient legend, a spectral figure appeared at the wedding and prophecied the king's imminent death. Sure enough, Alexander suffered a fatal fall from his horse the following year. The coronation of Malcom IV also took place here.
Life was not always peaceful for the canons of Jedburgh; the border country between England and Scotland was criss-crossed by armies throughoughout the medieval period. The canons had to flee during the 14th century Wars of Independence under Robert the Bruce. There were further attacks in the 15th century, and again during Henry VIII's 'rough wooing' in the 16th century.
The finish came in the Scottish Reformation of 1560 and Jedburgh fell out of use. Building stones were robbed for other purposes, and the ancillary buildings gradually disappeared under mounds of turf. The striking abbey church, however, survived amazingly intact, and this is the most compelling feature of the abbey today.
After the Reformation a Presbyterian church was created out of the abbey church transepts and crossing. In 1671 another new church wa created at the west end of the nave. The parish church was removed entirely from the abbey after a collapse of the crossing arch in 1743.
Excavations on the site have unearthed numerous artefacts, including an 8th century Anglian shrine, and a beautiful ivory comb made around 1100 AD, plus a Roman altar slab and 9th century cross-heads and shafts. These are displayed in the visitor centre below the cloister buildings. In the abbey church is a 12th century tomb cover that may be that of John, Bishop of Glasgow, who was buried here in 1148.
12th century Jedburgh Comb
12th century west front
Restored cloister garden
It is hard to miss the abbey; it towers over the main road as you drive through the town. There is a small parking and a small visitor centre and shop. As of this writing the abbey is open daily except for Christmas and Boxing Day. Free entry to Historic Scotland members (as well as those with associated membership passes like Cadw and English Heritage).
While you're in Jedburgh don't miss Mary, Queen of Scots House, a short stroll from the abbey.
About Jedburgh Abbey
Address: Abbey Bridge End, Jedburgh, Borders, Scotland, TD8 6JQ
Attraction Type: Abbey
Location: On the A68/B6368
Website: Jedburgh Abbey
Phone: 01835 863 925
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Historic Time Periods:
Find other attractions tagged with:
12th century (Time Period) - 13th century (Time Period) - 15th century (Time Period) - 16th century (Time Period) - 8th century (Time Period) - 9th century (Time Period) - Augustinian (Historical Reference) - Henry VIII (Person) - Mary, Queen of Scots (Person) - Medieval (Time Period) - Reformation (Historical Reference) - Robert the Bruce (Person) - Roman (Time Period) -
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre - 0.1 miles (Museum)
Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum - 0.3 miles (Museum)
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Teviot Water Gardens - 5.5 miles (Garden)
Mertoun House Gardens - 7.3 miles (Garden)
Dryburgh Abbey - 7.9 miles (Abbey)
Smailholm Tower - 8.9 miles (Historic Building)
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