Church of Scotland

THE Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland visited Culross Abbey in September as part of its 800th anniversary celebrations. The Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning visited the Abbey, not once, but twice, to join in with the special events to mark 800 years of unbroken worship within the historic Fife coastal village. He attended a celebratory concert by the Heart and Soul Swing Band on the evening of Saturday September 23. The concert was free, but donations were accepted by the Swing Band which has raised more than £18,000 for the Church of Scotland HIV/Aids project with performances the length and breadth of the country. Dr Browning then led worship at the Church on the morning of Sunday September 24.

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During the visit, Dr Browning also met Lord Bruce, son of the Earl of Elgin and a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce, whose bones are buried in nearby Dunfermline Abbey. In 2010, Life and Work’s John R Hume reflected on the history of Culross Abbey, writing: “It was founded as a Cistercian house by Malcolm, Earl of Fife, who brought monks from Kinloss Abbey, Moray to establish the community. “At first, in common with other Cistercian monasteries in Scotland there were both monks in full orders and lay brothers, who did work outside the abbey precincts.

The monks worshipped in the choir of the abbey church, and the brothers in the nave. “By the late 15th century there were no lay brothers, and the nave, surplus to requirements, was demolished. In about 1500 a massive tower was built at the west end of the choir, on top of the two masonry screens (the rood screen and the pulpitum) which had separated the nave from the choir. “It is probable that material from the nave was used to build the tower, which was probably intended in part as a sea mark, for Culross was an important port on the Forth. “The present form of the top of the tower dates from 1823. “After the Reformation what was left of the abbey church was taken over as the parish church (unofficially at first) and the rest of the monastic complex was abandoned.” Locum Minister, the Rev Liz Fisk said she was “absolutely delighted that the Moderator has found time in his very busy schedule to attend two celebratory events at Culross Abbey this weekend”. The weekend was the highlight of a year of celebration for the Culross Abbey congregation.

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