Cambuskenneth Abbey, which stood in Clackmannanshire at the time it was built, lies within sight of Stirling Castle and the National Wallace Monument.

Situated one mile north-east of Stirling, the abbey was founded by King David I and, at the time, came under the Diocese of Glasgow.

The Augustinian monks who lived and worked there had travelled to Scotland from Aroise in the Artois region of France.

In all the Augustinians had 28 monasteries in Scotland, more than any other denomination. Within Stirling itself there were also Dominican and Franciscan monks.

The Abbey was sometimes called the Monastery of Stirling, or simply Stirling Abbey, and it was dedicated to St Mary.

The first abbot of Cambuskenneth was Alfridus and as such, he was in charge of overseeing the administration of the vast estates owned by the abbey and dealt with the income from the local tenant farmers. His status was on a par with a feudal lord and this remained the case until 1552.

Other abbots of historical note include Henry, who was raised to the office of High Treasurer of Scotland having been involved in an embassy in England for a time.

Although he did not hold that office for long, he was the abbot for thirty years and died in 1502. He was succeeded by David Arnott then Patrick Panter, Painter or Panther, followed. He was reckoned to be one of the most accomplished scholars of the age

He became secretary to James IV then a member of the Privy Council. He was also appointed precentor to Alexander Stuart, the king’s son, who went on to become Bishop of St Andrews.

When James V succeeded his father, he threw Panter into gaol for treason, but there was no evidence of this, so he was freed. He became charge des affaires in the French court where he died in 1519. Alexander Mill or Mylne followed, who was later the first President of the Court of Session. David Panter became commendator, or lay administrator, in 1549 but in 1552 he became Bishop of Ross and left.

At the time of the Reformation, a charter dated 30th June 1562, granted the lands and abbey to John Erskine, Earl of Mar.

That same year, Adam Erskine became commendator until 1608, followed by Alexander Erskine, third son of John, Earl of Mar. John, the 2th Earl, who had a close relationship with James VI and tutored his son Prince Henry, bestowed the lands on Alexander Erskine, his nephew, who became the last commendator between 1608 and 1617.

The Erskines held the lands of Cambuskenneth Abbey until 1700 when Stirling Town Council acquired them on behalf of Cowane’s Hospital when Sir John Erskine of Alva House, as well as others, signed them over.

In the inventory of the title deeds, there was an Instrument of Sasine in favour of Charles Erskine, the eldest son and heir of Thomas Erskine of Cambuskenneth dated 16th April 1673.

The lands, as well as fishing rights, ended up being sold on 29th August 1709 by Sir John Erskine of Alva to the Master of Cowane’s Hospital. In 1785 John Francis Erskine, 7th Earl of Mar, regained fishing rights on the River Forth at Cambuskenneth.

It was said that when the Erskines took over they took some of the stones from the abbey and used them to build Mar’s Wark at the top of Broad Street in Stirling.

What was left was the 70-foot tower, which was repaired by the patrons of hospital. They also repaired the old doorway to the church yard but little else remained of what was once a substantial building.

The abbey was the site of some important events in Scottish history. The name Cambuskenneth means the Creek or Field of Kenneth. King Kenneth MacAlpine’s son Kenneth II made this the rendezvous point to avenge his father’s death.

Over the years English marauders attacked the abbey. During the reign of David II, it was pillaged losing most of its most valuable furniture and books, vestment, cups and ornaments on the alter.

To recompense the loss the Bishop of St Andrews William Delandel granted to the community the vicarage of Clackmannan.

Edward I of England is said to have prayed there and in 1308 Sir Neil Campbell and Sir Gilbert Hay, among others, met there and entered into an agreement to defend their liberty and their county, as well as Robert Bruce’s claim to the throne, which they swore before the great alter.

Bruce held his first parliament there following the Battle of Bannockburn and 18 years later, many of Scotland’s nobles swore fealty to David, Robert Bruce’s son and heir apparent at the abbey.

In 1559 the monastery was ripped apart by the Reformation and with only a few monks left, it closed, and its lands were forfeited to the crown.

During excavations in 1864 the remains of King James III, who was killed at the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488, and his wife Margaret of Denmark, who had predeceased him, were discovered.

They were carefully reinterred, and a memorial stone was erected by order of Queen Victoria.