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Vandalism at Cambuskenneth Abbey

12 August 2008

An incident of vandalism took place at Cambuskenneth Abbey, near Stirling, at the weekend involving damage to the stone which once covered the grave of James III.

A piece of the stone, which had already been cracked in a similar incident earlier in the year, has now been split completely in two.

The tomb cover has been in pieces for many years but is a valuable part of Scotland’s cultural history.

Richard Welander, Historic Scotland head of collections, said: “We regret that vandalism has caused further damage to the already fragmentary remains of the blue marble stone which was once the cover for the tomb of King James III.

“Earlier this year one of the pieces had been cracked and, following an incident last Sunday, it has now been broken in two.

“The stone, which used to be in the nave of the ruined abbey church has been kept on the ground floor of the bell tower for many years in order to keep it as safe as possible while still allowing visitors to see an interesting and significant piece of Scottish history.

“We have reported the latest incident to the police and would encourage anyone with information to contact them so appropriate action can be taken.”

Notes for editors

  • 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.

  • The incident took place between 9.30am and 6.30pm while the tower was unlocked for visitors.

  • 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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