Bective Abbey

Bective Abbey Panoram 1

Bective Abbey (1)

Bective Abbey (2)

Bective Abbey (3)

Bective Abbey (4)

Bective Abbey (5)

I have to admit, the large medieval Abbey ruins of Bective are probably the nicest I have had the chance to explore to date, with the exception of the Baltinglass Abbey in Wicklow, but Baltinglass has been a personal favourite of mine for many years so I may be biased. Bective Abbey or Mainistir Bheigthi in Gaelic was the second Cistercian monastery founded in Ireland. It was built on the banks of the Boyne river for the Cistercians in 1147AD, by the then King of Meath Murchadh O’ Melaghin as a ‘daughter house’ of Mellifont Abbey, and was dedicated to the ‘Blessed Virgin’. The Abbey was not only a center of religious creativity and learning, but also a place of great influence. The Abbot was a spiritual lord and held a seat in the Parliament of the Pale, thus influencing the politics of the day. These monks were responsible for preserving and passing on precious texts and for the creation of some of the world’s most imaginative and fanciful Christian art.

Bective Abbey Panoram 2

Bective Abbey (6)

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 The abbey along with the Abbey of St. Thomas in Dublin were granted to Hugh de Lacy. After his death in 1186 both abbey’s wanted his body to be buried at their site, finally it was decided that his body was buried at Bective and his head in Dublin. This decision caused great feuding between the monks and in 1205 the Bishop of Meath along with two judges decided that the body should be moved to Dublin. Following the English invasion in 1228AD the abbey underwent some modifications, and was fortified to be used as a safe haven for the English and visitors from Europe. By the 15th century there was a decline at the abbey and buildings had to be remodelled on a significantly reduced scale.

Bective Abbey Panoram 3

Bective Abbey (37)

Bective Abbey (36)

Bective Abbey (35)

After the Suppression of the Abbeys by Henry VIII in 1536AD, the abbey and its 1600 acres of land, a water mill and a fishing weir on the Boyne, were leased to the civil servant, Thomas Asgarde, whom converted it into a Tudor Mansion house. In 1552AD the abbey was bought by Andrew Wyse, after which it then passed into the hands of the Dillon and then the Bolton families, before eventually falling into ruin. By 1540AD the roof had be removed for use in another of the king’s properties and was left abandoned.

Bective Abbey Panoram 4

Bective Abbey (12)

Bective Abbey (17)

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Bective Abbey (13)

The Abbey rests within a walled section of pasturelands. In 2012, The Office of Public Works, bought some of the land from a local farmer, converted it to a large car park with a walkway from the abbey to the car park. The main part of the fortified abbey is built over three floors and includes cloisters and a tower giving it the appearance of a fortress rather than an abbey. The ruins contain a combination of both Monastic and defence features. The Cloister is the best preserved of the buildings and there is a pillar of a figure carrying a crozier. There are also some beautiful arches which are still intact. The majority of the site consists of buildings from the 15th century with a few monastic details such as the sculpture of a kneeling monk, which can be seen in the south cloister.

Bective Abbey (18)

Bective Abbey (25)

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Bective Abbey (19)

Most of the individual rooms have been closed of with Iron gates, but the rest of the site is open to explore, If you are feeling adventurous it is even possible to ascend part of one of thetowers and get out onto part of what would have been the first floor. Caution must be taken though as the steps have been badly worn over  time. You may not know this but Bective Abbey was used as a location during the shooting of the 1995 historical action-drama movie Braveheart, based on the Scottish hero William Wallace, which was both directed by and starred Mel Gibson in the title role.

Bective Abbey (26)

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Bective Abbey (27)

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Castles, Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Landscape, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Religious Sites, Ruins and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Bective Abbey

  1. Great series, Ed! very well captured. Cheers, harrie.


  2. It does seem in reasonably good shape – glad it is being taken care of. That’s quite an interesting bit of history…”Hey I’m the King, I want your roof” 🙂


  3. David says:

    Great compositions.


  4. Jo Woolf says:

    Fascinating place, and great pics!


  5. It does look good Ed. Thanks for sharing. MM 🍀


  6. Rajiv says:

    Wow! I love your black and white photography. And, the history!
    How do you add the copyright mark in that neat fashion?


  7. mengeleblog says:

    very well captured ! thanks for sharing.


  8. jamoroki says:

    I often wonder why we have such fascination for ruins. Yet we would never think of building one. And Bective looks so neat and clean, like a new house. Maybe it’s the mystery of what they once housed many moons ago!! Well done Ed. You are a busy man.


    • Funny you should say that James, I have always wanted to build my own castle, the problem is I can never find enough slaves to get started, 😛
      Oh well I guess I shall just have to wait until I win the lottery, then I can just buy one. Bective is quite remarkable, I have always had an attraction to these old places even as a child. Thanks again James 🙂


  9. Looks like you had quite an expedition here! Thanks for sharing the history of the place with us as well as the photographs. My favorites are the underground shots and the towering perspectives at the base of the central keep. Have you considered photographing someone in period costume at sites like this?


    • Funny, I used to be involved in re-enactment myself some years ago, but the group I believe have disbanded. Its something that I will have to look into? There are a few groups still knocking about, I might see if they would be interested in a TFT project. Thanks for the great idea R.C. 🙂


  10. kiwiskan says:

    imposing architecture and history – but I couldn’t find the kneeling monk…


  11. acuriousgal says:

    Just amazing pics in bnw, Ed!! Wonderful history as well!!


  12. bmyshot says:

    Intersting architecture


  13. Pieces of 8 says:

    Some really lovely detail in your shots of how the abbey changed over time.


  14. Beautiful photos. Makes me think of Camelot and days of chivalry.


  15. Anny says:

    Oh yes, just my sort of ruin! We see the same kind of post-Reformation history at lots of historic houses in England, although I wonder if we should now consider the taking of roofs, stone etc less as wanton destruction and more as early recycling…


  16. Timothy says:

    Love your work. We don’t have a lot of opportunities like this one that hasn’t been turned into a tourist trap. Well, nothing ancient at all, except maybe the Grand Canyon and Old Faithful, but again, “step into the gift shop before you leave!”


  17. Wow-this is another terrific series. The images are so evocative and atmospheric-again the b/w really pulls the viewer right in. Well done!


  18. Java Girl says:

    Great angles and shots! Love all the pictures. I felt like I was there just by all the pictures you took of the place I especially like the arch picture. 🙂


  19. DKN999 says:

    Incredible, you’ve taken me back to our recent vacation when we toured ruins in Visegrad, Hungary this summer. Though the venue is different, you’ve evoked wonderful memories. These photographs are exquisite, makes me think of Ansel Adams with the look & feel. I’ll definitely be sharing this with my wonderful wife – she’s going to “Oooh & Ahhhh” over them… for good reason. This post should have more than just five stars to click to rate it – you’ve done more than take photos, you’ve captured/presented art…


  20. karmami says:

    awesome photography and those children in the previous post are just adorable .


  21. Princess of Eboli History Masquerade says:

    OMG, this pictures are incredible beautiful !!!!!!!! Great!!!!!


  22. Pingback: Re-work Wednesday 40 | EdMooneyPhotography

  23. Pingback: Capturing History Challenge Week 13 | Ed Mooney Photography

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