Walking Around Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland

Tour of Holyrood Abbey Edinburgh Scotland


When I traveled to Scotland, one of the things that I was hoping to see was the ruins of an Abbey.

I was a little disappointed that our timeline was not going to leave room to head south of Edinburgh to see the “Four Border Abbeys” [Kelso Abbey, Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, and Jedburgh Abbey].


Holyrood Abbey.

After our experience of touring the city of Glasgow using the hop-on hop-off bus tour, we decided that when we returned to the second stay in Edinburgh we would also purchase a hop-on hop-off bus tour there.

We ended up opting for the 48-hour Royal Edinburgh ticket because it gives you fast-track admission to Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Yacht Britannia, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse along with the hop-on hop-off bus tours.

I had not done much research on the Palace of Holyroodhouse prior to our trip, so it was a delightful surprise to learn that there was an Abbey and that we would be able to tour it with our admission to the Palace.


The Holyrood Abbey was founded by King David I in 1128.

The Legend is that King David was hunting nearby during the Feast of the Cross. He was thrown from his horse after it was startled by a stag. The King was saved from being gored by a miraculous appearance of a cross that caused the stag to back down.

Rood means cross, hence the name being “Holy Cross”.


The original Abbey church was constructed for the Augustinian Canons.


Holyrood Abbey was the site for the coronations of James II in 1437, Margaret Tudor in 1504, Mary of Guise in 1540, Anne of Denmark in 1590, and Charles I in 1633.


There are also royals and non-royals interred at the abbey.

The photo above is of a vault.

The sign reads:

“This simple vault was built after the eastern part of the Abbey Church, enclosing the Royal tombs was destroyed by the English army in 1544. Here were placed the coffins of James V. Magdalen his first Queen and his infant sons by his second marriage to Mary of Guise. In 1688 the tomb was violated during the riots at the end of James VII’s reign. Its contents were left in disorder. In 1898 Queen Victoria ordained a repair of the vault. The remains of those previously interred here were re-buried in one coffin. The Vault also contains the coffin of Mary of Guilders, Queen of James II, which was moved in 1848 from Trinity Church in Edinburgh.”

Royal Weddings.

Some Royal weddings also took place here.

Of course, one of the most famous marriages to take place happened in 1565. That was when Mary, Queen of Scots wed Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.


Although the Abbey is in ruins, it still showcases some impressive architecture in the structure that remains.


I was very happy that we opted to tour the Palace rather than just admire the exterior.

Have you toured the Palace of Holyroodhouse? If so, what was your favorite part?

If you’ve ever visited the ruins of an Abbey, which one is your favorite?

I hope to get back to Scotland again someday and am curious what you would consider “can’t miss” sites.

Be sure to check out my other wanderings through Scotland.

Tour of Holyrood Abbey Edinburgh Scotland


Let your light shine!



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20 thoughts on “Walking Around Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland

  1. These ruins look amazing, so impressive!! I live near some beautiful ruins in Bury St. Edmunds and also some in York, it’s great to be surrounded by history like that. Love your blog, some great photos!

    1. Thanks so much! I did find all of the architecture that I was able to see while in Scotland to be absolutely stunning.
      I looked up Bury St. Edmunds and those ruins do look beautiful. In fact, the surrounding town looks amazing.
      York looks like it has some impressive abbey’s as well! How awesome that you are surrounded by such beautiful history! And the stories those places could tell…!

  2. Stunning photos of the Abbey Amy, you’ve done Scotland proud!!! And an excellent bit of history too! 🙂 Hopefully, you’ll manage to get to see the four Border Abbeys next time, I gather they are well worth a visit.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I only wish my visit to Scotland had been longer. I hope that I do get to return to see the Border Abbey’s….and the Highlands…and the Standing Stones…and… 🙂

      1. Lol!!! It looks like your next visit is going to be jam packed with sightseeing again! In fact, if you like standing stones and other such archaeological sites, you should also give Dorset, Avon, Wiltshire and Somerset in SW England a look, along with Cornwall, which is where I grew up, there’s stacks of standing stones, stone circles, quoits and fougous to see 🙂

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