Fort Augustus Abbey, Catholic center of power
Fort Augustus Abbey – once one of the ancient Catholics homes of Scotland. The impressive building belonged to the Lovat family for generations, they lost it and regained it, only to give it away again for good. Catholic centres of worship and power were rare in Scotland after the Reformation. Fort Augustus was one of them. The monks graveyard between the impressive building and the shore of Loch Ness lies hidden behind a hedge, you have to look for iit to find it.
Lord Lovat and government troops
In the 13th century the building was given to Beauly Priory. In the 16th century it was granted to Lord Lovat, the family lost it after being forfeited in the 18th century and the monastic building was used as barracks for government troops subduing the Highlanders and any Jacobite within reach.
Abertarff was turned into Fort Augustus
Fort Augustus used to be called Abertarff, the name was changed to honour the Duke of Cumberland, who bore the name Augustus. The barracks could house a considerable number of soldiers and weapons, nevertheless it was taken by Prince Charlie in March 1746. But only for a short time. Cumberland’s luck changed and he hat it restored. Government sold it again to Lord Lovat in the 19th century. His son gave it to the Benedictine Order.
Benedictine monastery, college and hospice
The massive building could house forty monks and came with a farm and considerable land. A college, monastery and hospice were founded in 1876.
Allegations of child abuse
The private school for boys started in 1880 and closed on 1993. The monks faced allegations of abuse ten years later, after the BBC “uncovered allegations that pupils had suffered physical and sexual abuse at the schools over a three-decade period.” (BBC)
luxury accomodation and spa
Many monks and few pupils are buried in the graveyard behind the vast building that now houses apartments (The Highland Club), high class self-catering accomodation for tourists, including a restaurant, a spa and a health centre.
the monk’s graveyard
Luxury and leisure have replaced frugality and self-discipline. The army and the monks and pupils of the former Catholic college upheld other values, some of them failed with severe consequences for their victims, others lead lives of honour and virtue. The graves all look the same.
The crosses bear the inscription vivas in pace at the back, live in peace.
Who is to know if they rest in peace, too.
soures and further reading:
Odo Blundel: Ancient Catholic homes of Scotland. London, Burns & Oats, 1907
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