Bective Abbey, Meath, Ireland

Bective Abbey really is in an amazing state of preservation considering its age and the amount of years it has been uninhabited  It was founded in 1147 by Murchadh O’ Melaghin, King of Meath as a ‘daughter house’ of Mellifont Abbey.It was a Cistercian Monastery with an Anglo-Norman population, in fact by 1386 men of Irish birth could no longer enter the Abbey. During the 15th century part of the abbey was rebuilt and fortified heavily, this included the building of a large defensive tower at its southern edge. By the end of the renovations it became the most fortified Abbey in Ireland, this would have been necessary at the time as the Abbot sat in the Parliament of the Pale. In 1195 the headless body of Hugh De Lacey was interred here but this caused a rift with St Thomas’ Abbey in Dublin where his head was being held, eventually his body and head were reunited and he was buried in St Thomas’ Abbey!. The abbey fell into decline in the early 16th century and was dissolved as part of Henry VIII’s attempt to gain more control over the wealth and power of the church.

After its dissolution the Abbey was turned into a Tudor Manor house by Thomas Agard in 1552, it changed hands over the next two hundred years eventually falling into ruin. It was recently used in the film Braveheart and excavations this year have uncovered more external walls and cells.

GPS: 53.58313, -6.70251

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