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Fort Augustus Abbey, Monastery and School

A Category A Listed Building in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1447 / 57°8'40"N

Longitude: -4.6767 / 4°40'35"W

OS Eastings: 238148

OS Northings: 809154

OS Grid: NH381091

Mapcode National: GBR G9TV.4KW

Mapcode Global: WH2FK.4P95

Entry Name: Fort Augustus Abbey, Monastery and School

Listing Date: 5 October 1971

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 332621

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB1861

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Boleskine and Abertarff

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

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Fort Augustus

Description

The military Fort Augustus, constructed between 1729-42 is partially incorporated in the present Abbey buildings, which date variously between 1876 and 1980. Architects; Peter Paul Pugin and Joseph Hanson, father and son.

Large mainly 3-storey ranges of Gothic buildings grouped around cloistered square; all grey rubble with contrasting tooled ashlar sandstone dressings. Monastery; W entrance front; tall 2-storey and double attic, symmetrical building with advanced wide gabled centre bay containing stairwell, flanked each side by 3 narrow bays, lit at 1st floor by 4-light flat-headed cusped and traceried window with single

side lights; stair bay fronted by projecting single-storey porch/corridor oversailing former fort moat.

E garden front; long asymmetrical 3-storey and attic, 9-bay elevation with advanced and gabled outer bays; part 7-stage, part 5-stage tower (P. P. Pugin) with variety of stepped stair and Gothic windows; pyramidal roof, round-headed entrance in base.

Cloisters; P. P. Pugin, 1880. Cloister surrounds central square; Geometric Gothic tracery to each opening; wall-head parapet with continuous quatrefoil detailing.

Ribbed vaulting to cloister, paved with geometric tiles.

School; N elevation, J. Hanson father and son. Wide 3-storey irregular facade with centre advanced tower rising 7 stages with open porch in base, oriel windows in 1st and 2nd floors; penultimate stage has heavily corbelled crenellated parapet to 3 sides within which rises octagonal crenellated clock tower with clock faces on 4 sides above louvred round-headed openings; circular stair turret at SE. Tall wide gabled bays flank tower with ground and 1st floor windows linked in

vertical panels (more elaborate to left). Varied fenestration, some mullioned and transomed, some with cusped detailing in upper lights and mainly with 2-pane glazing; tall coped ridge stacks; steeply pitched slate roofs with contrasting banding of differing slates and apex cross

finials.

Triangular military fort bastion survives at NE angle; tall rubble wall with pulvinated string course and former angle bartizan replaced by square stack.

INTERIOR: not seen. Contains Roman stone sculptured slab, circa 21 inches long and circa 19 inches high with relief of 3 'Mother Goddesses', set into wall in high ceilinged entrance passage of monastery over door to small meeting room. Moved from Hailes House, Colinton, 1925 (see Notes).

Statement of Interest

Established as a Scottish Benedictine community. Cloistered hollow square in centre of monastery on site of former fort parade ground. Fine large scale model of original fort on display within monastery. The Roman sculpture bears details which suggest it was set up by Roman auxiliary troops in the 1st or 2nd centruy AD. It is mentioned by W Lockhart in 1873, and identified by Dr Curle in 1917 at Hailes House. It was moved from a garden wall at this house, 1925 (via a bank vault), and was probably originally from Cramond. The top right corner of the sculpture has been lost (hence one of the goddesses is headless) and the surrounding border has gone.

Up-graded category B to A 7 May 1999.

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