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King's tomb cover to be repaired

26 August 2008

Repairs are to be carried out on the section of King James III’s tomb cover recently vandalised at Cambuskenneth Abbey.

The shattered section of the Tournai marble cover will be removed from the tower of the abbey church and taken to the Historic Scotland conservation centre in Edinburgh.

The damage was done earlier this month when a piece of the stone that had already been cracked by vandals earlier in the year was broken into many pieces.

Richard Welander, Historic Scotland head of collections, said: “I am very pleased that the experts at our conservation centre believe they can repair the shattered section of the tomb cover.

“What’s sad is that due to vandals we will have to invest an estimated £2,000 in staff time and materials in undoing the damage.

“We also feel that it is wise to temporarily lock away the rest of the tomb cover to keep it safe from attack.”

The bell tower door is being kept locked until the removal has been carried out.

The other sections of the tomb cover will be then be moved elsewhere on the site where they can be kept under lock and key.


  • The tomb cover is of blue Tournai marble, but is otherwise quite plain. It would originally have had a brass effigy of the king on top.

  • It is a very rare survival of a Scottish medieval royal tomb.

  • The grave site itself is in the nave of the abbey.

  • Cambuskenneth Abbey belonged to the Augustinian canons and was the scene of Robert the Bruce’s parliament in 1326.

  • The abbey is unstaffed but the bell tower remains locked overnight. It is a mile east of Stirling off the A907 and is open in summer only.

  • James III was born in 1451 and came to the throne in 1460 after his father was killed by an exploding cannon. James married Princess Margaret of Norway/Denmark with the promise of a large dowry King Kristian I. As much of the dowry remained unpaid Scotland annexed Orkney and Shetland. James III fell out with his nobles and was defeated in battle at Sauchieburn in 1488. The king fled but fell from his horse, took shelter with a miller and his wife, but was killed under circumstances that remain unclear.

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