Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.

Pluscarden Abbey and Monastic Buildings, excluding Scheduled Monument No 2144 'Pluscarden Priory, precinct walls', ElginLB8441

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 14206 57614
314206, 857614


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CHANCEL: some traces of Romanesque detail but this old fashioned style superseded (after the fire?)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: 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.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

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Printed: 26/05/2019 23:26