Founded 1230. Abbey Church originally planned as cruciform church but it is unlikely that the nave ever existed above the surviving footings. Serious fire circa 1390 and subsequent rebuilding in 15th century. Built in squared rubble and ashlar.
NORTH TRANSEPT: most visible survival of 13th century work; lancet windows with large rose window in each gable, clerestory passage in north wall thickness. Glass by Sadie McLellan (Glasgow). 2 chapels originally opened from north wall, arches now filled and chapels with 13th century detail and stone vaulted roof now form transepts to the chancel.
CROSSING: remains of massive shafted columns now mainly encased in later masonry, possibly applied after the fire, supporting solid squat tower with blind cusped panels below parapet. Original rood screen gone but traces of small stair survive; across the chancel arch is a gallery with arms of the 8 secular families who owned the Abbey between 1560 and 1943.
SOUTH TRANSEPT: probably 14th century with elaborate and progressive detailing to the clerestory and passage, the latter spanning the 3-light windows and with subsiduary pointed arches flanking the shafts on the intervening wall space. 2 original vaulted side chapels more elaborate but reoriented as at north. Night stair leads from south transept, stepped, 5-light window in south gable head.
CHANCEL: some traces of Romanesque detail but this old fashioned style superseded (after the fire?) by a daring arrangement of windows, the mouldings of the reveals, show the vast planned size of the windows now filled with later masonry and smaller intersecting traceried windows on south wall (possibly for stability). East window now 4 lancets with large 3-light traceried window above, vesica and apex opening. Finely carved sacrament house and 3 sedilia. Modern timber panelled ceiling. Considerable remains of 15th century wall painting can be found around the chancel arch, the chancel transepts and the Lady Chapel.
LADY CHAPEL: to south of south transept, a squint opens from the chancel transept, groin vaulted roof.
DUNBAR SACRISTY: later (?) 16th century addition at northeast with vaulted roof. Monastic range (east side of original cloister). 2 storeys, now with attic rooms.
LADY CHAPEL: (a) south of Chapter House with paired doors deeply recessed and flanked by elaborate arrangement of nook shafts; central trumeau, (b) the Slype, (c) the Calefactory.
Remains of cloister garth and Prior s House to southwest of Abbey Church.
Statement of Special Interest
House of Valliscaulian Monks founded 1230 by Alexander II. United 1454 with Urquhart Priory (also Moray, now demolished) of Benedictines. After 1560 monks continued in decreasing numbers to inhabit Priory until circa 1590. 1594 sold to Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail. 1662 to Brodies of Lethen. By 1710 Pluscarden property of Duff of Dipple who became earl of Fife; purchased by 3rd Marquis of Bute in 1889 and gifted to Benedictines of Prinknash by his heirs in 1943. Reroofing and restoration followed, by late Ian Lindsay and W Murray Jack (still in progress 1987).
'Pluscarden Priory, precinct walls' is Scheduled Monument No 2144 and is excluded from the listing.
Listed building record and statutory address updated in 2015. Previously listed as 'Pluscarden, Abbey, Monastic Buildings and Precinct Walls.'
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/canmore.html CANMORE ID 16094
Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1870, Published 1874) Elgin Sheet XII.9. 25 Inches to the Mile Map. 1st Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.
MacGibbon, D. & Ross, T. (1896) The Ecclesiastical Architecture Of Scotland, Edinburgh: D. Douglas. Vol 2. pp.146-160.
Young , R. (1879) Annals Of The Parish And Burgh Of Elgin. Elgin: R. Young. pp.28-39.
Anson, P. F. (1959) Monastery In Moray. London: SPCK.
Skinner, B. & Hay, G. (1981) Guide Book to Pluscarden Abbey.
We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shep-dec2011.pdf, Annex 2, pp74-76.
The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.
Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.
Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see www.historic-scotland.gov.uk.
Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.
Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk.