Moray could lose historic site unless action is taken

Bid to fund repairs to Abbot's House at Kinloss (pic: Patsy Goodsir)
Bid to fund repairs to Abbot’s House at Kinloss (pic: Patsy Goodsir)

A HISTORIC MORAY site could be turned into a visitor centre – or else be allowed to lose some of its most recognisable features.

These conflicting scenarios are being highlighted by an action group pledged to protect the future of Kinloss Abbey, an 850-year-old historic site that has been assessed may not survive one more bad winter.

The Kinloss Abbey Trust are urging Moray Council to act by helping to fund vital repairs with councillors today being asked to back a £20,000 funding bid. Enough cash has already been collected by the Trust for a feasibility study into its future potential as a tourism centre – however, a Historic Scotland report has said that in its present state it may not even be safe for the public to walk through.

Chair of the Trust is Kirsteen Mitcalfe, who said: “Essentially, we are keen to stop the abbey from falling down – we do have a few ambitions for it but before anything can be done we need to make sure it is safe.

“The tower is so unstable at the moment that in bad weather it could collapse. Historic Scotland said it was in a very bad condition and as a voluntary body we do not have the funds to halt further damage.”

Councillors will receive an update on the condition of the abbey at a meeting of the policy and resources committee this morning, when they will be asked to approve £6600 for scaffolding to be erected around the tower at the Old Abbot’s House to halt further damage.

They will also be asked to pledge a further £15,700 towards works that would improve the safety of the structure while the scaffolding is in place.

A spokesman for the Moray Coast Tourism Group last night urged councillors to give due attention to the importance of the abbey: “It would be a shame that at a time when so much effort and funding is being put into relatively recent buildings in Moray at least the same consideration is not given to a much older one with the historic importance of Kinloss Abbey.

“We are currently striving to promote sites all along the Moray coast and Kinloss Abbey is one of our landmark sites that needs to be preserved for future generations.”

The Abbey was built in the 1200’s with the Abbot’s House added later. It ceased to be used following the Reformation in the 1500s but remained a place of worship for over 100 years.