Beauly Priory

Priory in Inverness

Beauly Priory is one of three priories founded in Scotland in about 1230 for monks of the Valliscaulian order. The Valliscaulians came from Val-des-Choux (‘Valley of the Cabbages’) near Dijon in France, and adhered to strict ideals of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Beauly, meaning ‘beautiful place’, must have seemed to the monks a wonderful location in which to devote themselves to worship. Only the abbey church still stands today, housing some fine funerary monuments.

The ruins today are still extensive and are one of the main visitor attractions in Inverness-shire. It is protected as a scheduled monument.

History of Beauly Priory

Beauly Priory was a Valliscaulian monastic community located at “Insula de Achenbady”, now Beauly, Inverness-shire. It was probably founded in 1230. It is not known for certain who the founder was, different sources giving Alexander II of Scotland, John Byset, and both. The French monks, along with Bisset (a nearby, recently settled landowner), had a strong enough French-speaking presence to give the location and the river the name “beau lieu” (“beautiful place”) and have it pass into English.

An alternative story about the naming of Beauly village told by locals is that ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ was said to have been travelling through the area, probably on her way to Dingwall in her late teens and popped her head out of the Carriage window and uttered the words ‘Beau Lieu’ (beautiful place).

It is not the best documented abbey, and few of the priors of Beauly are known by name until the 14th century. It became Cistercian on 16 April 1510, after the suppression of the Valliscaulian Order by the Pope. The priory was gradually secularised, and ruled by a series of commendatory abbots. The priory’s lands were given over to the bishop of Ross by royal charter on 20 October 1634.

 

Visiting Beauly Priory

Hours:

1 Apr to 30 Sept:

Daily, 9.30am to 5.30pm

Last entry 5pm


1 Oct to 31 Mar:

Daily, 10am to 4pm

Last entry 3.30pm


Duration: 20 minutes