Jedburgh Abbey – situated in the Scottish Borders town of Jedburgh – is a striking example of Gothic and Romanesque architecture that was built nearly 1,000 years ago.
The abbey is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to the public for self-guided tours. Discover everything you need to know about Jedburgh Abbey with this complete visitor guide.
|Address:||4/5 Abbey Bridgend,
|Opening Hours:||1 Apr to 30 Sept:
Daily, 10 am to 5 pm
Last entry 4.15 pm
1 Oct to 31 Mar:
Daily, 10 am to 4 pm
Last entry 3.30 pm
|Admission Price:||Adult £7.00
|Parking:||Paid car parks in Jedburgh|
|Contact:||01835 863 925|
|Facilities:||Toilets, shop, disabled access, bike rack, picnic area, water refill, visitor centre|
Jedburgh Abbey is a ruined Augustinian abbey in the pretty historic market town of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders, not far from Northumberland.
The abbey is one of four that were established in the Borders in the 1100s, and while it’s mainly in ruins today its scale and beautiful blend of gothic and Romanesque architecture make it a must-see attraction for anyone with an interest in historic buildings.
This great abbey is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) who maintain the main building and the surrounding graveyard, and they’ve also installed a visitor centre that serves to educate tourists about the importance of the abbey in Scotland’s religious past.
The visitor centre is an interesting place and I enjoyed reading the information boards and looking at the miniature version of the abbey that shows what it would have looked like in 1510.
There are also a few costumes in there so you can (I mean so the kids can) dress up and run around like loons. I guarantee you’ll leave the visitor centre having learnt something new, like the fact the abbey took 70 years to build but was abandoned completely in 1560.
Obviously, not everyone is going to leave the building skipping merrily down the street having gained that wee snippet of information, but if you’re a history nerd like me you’ll be glad HES go the extra mile in educating visitors about their sites.
I honestly reckon you’ll enjoy this attraction, and although the roof of Jedburgh Abbey has long gone and some of the walls have disappeared you can still get a sense of the wealth and importance of the site. It’s a very atmospheric place, and coupled with the fact there are lots of artefacts to discover it has to be one of the best places to visit in the Scottish Borders.
1: Jedburgh Abbey is a beautiful ruin that’s fun to explore, especially for children. Ask the ticket office for a children’s fact-finding quiz when you enter.
2: There’s a lot of information to discover in the HES centre exhibition. Likewise, the information boards dotted around the site are full of fascinating snippets about the history of the abbey.
3: Jedburgh and the surrounding Scottish Borders are jam-packed with picturesque walking trails. There are lots of downloadable routes that can be followed with an OS Maps subscription.
1: After a visit to the abbey make sure you wander around Jedburgh – it’s a lovely wee place with lots of arts and crafts shops and independent coffee shops.
2: If you’re looking for another historic attraction in the area take a look at Melrose Abbey.
3: Attractions within the Scottish borders are spread out far and wide, making it difficult to plan a sightseeing tour. With that in mind, I recommend joining a guided tour if you’re in the area for a short amount of time. The best tours, by far, are with Get Your Guide (link to their website).
Today, visitors can not only explore the abbey ruins but also wander through the ancillary buildings where the monks would have eaten, slept and worked in the enormous kitchens, accommodation blocks, and cellars that were needed for an abbey of this size to function.
There’s also a faithfully recreated cloister garden which is much the same as it would have been over 800 years ago, with sweet-smelling herbs and flowers filling the air as you make your way through it.
Lastly, there’s a visitor centre that contains lots of information and displays about the history of the abbey as well as a selection of interesting objects from the days when the monks inhabited the site all those hundreds of years ago.
Facilities at the attraction are decent enough for a HES site with toilets in the entry building along with a small shop, but there’s no café so if you’re feeling peckish you’ll need to go elsewhere. If you’ve brought a picnic with you you’ll find picnic benches in the abbey grounds but I recommend popping into Jedburgh for a bite to eat in one of the many coffee shops in the town centre.
Jedburgh is quite a picturesque rural town and you’ll find plenty of free parking spaces so you can have a good explore and find out what else it has to offer – like Mary Queen of Scot’s house where she recuperated after falling victim to a life-threatening fever.
If you’re heading through The Borders on your way to Northumberland, or even if you’ve just come to Jedburgh to explore its quiet streets, a visit to the abbey is well worth making time for.
As I already mentioned, this abbey took more than 70 years to build and once you step foot inside its great hall it’s easy to understand why.
Giant columns of carved stone swoop up into the air so high that you struggle to take them all in, while huge archways line the hall along enormous walls that instantly bring Rome’s Colosseum to mind. This is one religious site that was obviously built to impress, and that’s a feat it accomplishes very well even today.
Jedburgh Abbey actually started life with the slightly lower status of a priory in the early 12th century where St. Augustine monks worshipped for over 300 years. During that time the monastic site at Jedburgh was elevated in importance several times, first to a monastery in 1139 and finally to an abbey in 1153.
Because the abbey had the backing of Scottish kings numerous valuable artefacts were stored there, but that was not enough to protect it from political turmoil.
First, the English ransacked Jedburgh in 1297 as retribution for their defeat at the hands of William Wallace at Stirling, and second, when the Scottish Reformation arrived in the late 15th century the abbey was converted for use as a parish kirk.
By the end of the 19th century, Jedburgh Abbey had been left to deteriorate so badly that it was considered to be unusable.
Thankfully, Historic Environment Scotland took ownership in 1917 and since that time it has been enjoyed by visitors from around the world, curious to discover its history and see its interesting blend of architectural styles.
Things to Do
Explore the Abbey’s History: Immerse yourself in the history of Jedburgh Abbey, a 12th-century Augustinian abbey in the Scottish Borders. Explore the ruins, admire the stunning architecture, and learn about the monks who once lived there.
Interactive Family Fun: Engage your children in the abbey’s history with interactive games and puzzles. Jedburgh Abbey offers a fun-filled family trail that not only keeps the kids entertained but also educates them about the site’s history in a fun and engaging way.
Audio Guide: If you want to learn more about the abbey, consider picking up one of the free audio guides from the ticket office. These guides come in a range of languages and take visitors through each area while explaining facts about the abbey and discussing some of the events that occurred there over the years.
Visitor Centre: The visitor centre at Jedburgh Abbey displays a collection of stone carvings and artefacts that have been discovered during excavations of the site. It’s a must-visit for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of life in medieval times.
Take the Abbey Walk: Enjoy a leisurely walk around the Abbey grounds, savour the peace and quiet, and take in the scenic views of the surrounding countryside. The footpaths around Jedburgh offer several walking routes of varying lengths that pass by the Abbey which are perfect for a peaceful stroll on a sunny afternoon.
Things to Do Nearby
Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre. Queen St, Jedburgh TD8 6EN. 4-minute walk.
A museum dedicated to the famous Scots queen, set in a 16th-century tower house. There is a collection of original tapestries, paintings and objects from Mary’s time as well as large garden grounds.
Jedburgh Castle Museum and Jail. Castle Gate, Jedburgh TD8 6AS. 9-minute walk.
An original 19th-century jail that is now a 4-star tourist attraction. The jail contains displays that show visitors what life was like in an 1820s prison and the original cell blocks can be explored on a self-guided tour.
Fatlips Castle. Hawick TD9 8SB. 15-minute drive.
An iconic traditional tower house perched on top of Minto Crags and surrounded by woodland deep in the heart of the Scottish Borders countryside. The walk to the tower passes through fields and low-lying hills and the view from the top of the crag is often regarded as one of the best in the Borders.
Monteath Mausoleum. A68, Jedburgh TD8 6TZ. 10-minute drive.
This is a historic landmark located close to the A68. This grand Victorian monument to General Sir Monteath Douglas is located in a secluded setting behind woodland. The crypt is now open to the public having been recently restored after suffering years of neglect.
Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre. Harestanes Cottage, Ancrum, Jedburgh TD8 6UQ. 9-minute drive.
Harestanes is a family-oriented visitor park that is also a starting point for walks into the Teviot Valley. The centre offers a play park, café, gift shop, an agility trail, a picnic area and much more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Jedburgh famous?
Jedburgh, a town in Scotland, is famous for several reasons. The town is home to the ruins of the Jedburgh Abbey, a 12th-century Augustinian abbey which was one of the grandest monasteries of medieval Europe. It also houses Mary Queen of Scots’ House, where the queen stayed in 1566.
Moreover, Jedburgh is well-known for ‘Jethart Snails’, a traditional sweet treat made from sugar and peppermint. Additionally, it’s famous for the annual Jedburgh Hand Ba’ game, a traditional version of football which has been played in the town since the early 19th century.
Is Jedburgh Abbey free?
Jedburgh Abbey is not free and is accessible by paid admission only. Visit the Historic Environment Scotland tickets page for the latest entry prices.
Who is buried at Jedburgh Abbey?
Famous burials in Jedburgh Abbey include Eadulf Rus (11th-century Northumbrian noble), John Capellanus (15th-century Bishop of Glasgow), and Hugh de Roxburgh (12th-century Chancellor of Scotland).
When was Jedburgh Abbey destroyed?
Jedburgh Abbey was damaged several times, specifically during the Wars of Independence in the 1300s. The abbey saw serious damage in 1305 when Edward I of England had the lead lining stripped from the roof, and again between the 1520s and 1540s when English and Scottish forces fought for control of Jedburgh.