The tiny village of Balmerino in north Fife grew up round a 13th century abbey, beautifully located on the gently sloping fertile agricultural banks of the River Tay. The Cistercian monastery was founded by William the Lion's widow, Ermengarde, in the early part of the 13th century and the first monks, who came to Fife from Melrose, took up residence in 1229, although construction continued for many years after. The monks led a peaceful life until 1547 when the abbey was torched during an invasion by the Earl of Hertford. Twelve years later it was sacked during the Reformation. Parts of the chapter house, sacristy and parlour survived and there are markers in the grounds showing where various elements of the abbey, such as the altar, once stood.

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