Plans to transform a crumbling 13th-century Moray abbey into a visitor centre have been revealed.
Kinloss Abbey could be opened and turned into a top attraction to teach locals and visitors about the area’s history and building’s “dramatic” past.
The vision has been unveiled by action group Kinloss Abbey Trust, which was set up to preserve the 850-year-old monument’s future.
And after a recent assessment by Historic Scotland revealed just one bad winter could cause some of the landmark’s most recognisable features to topple to the ground, the group is now urging Moray Council to step in to fund vital repairs.
This week, councillors will be asked to pledge more than £20,000 towards saving the building from collapse.
The trust has collected enough money to perform a feasibility study into potential future uses, but has said that at present the abbey is not even safe to walk around.
Chairwoman Kirsteen Mitcalfe 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.”
She added: “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.
“But we’re desperate for it to stay up.
“We ultimately want to conserve the abbey and make it open to the public on a long-term basis.
“It’s a fascinating building with all sorts of architectural and archaeological excitement, which we’ve not yet been able to fully explore.
“We’d really like to set up a visitor centre where we can teach youngsters about the area’s history, and the building’s dramatic past.”
Tomorrow, councillors will receive an update about the condition of the abbey.
The policy and resource committee will be asked to provide £6,600 for scaffolding to be erected around the tower at the old Abbot’s House to halt further deterioration.
They will also be urged to pledge £15,700 towards masonry works to improve the structural safety of the building while the scaffolding is in place.
The scaffolding works would include a steel wire being placed around the tower, which will provide it with temporary stability, while the masonry works should ensure it remains upright on a permanent basis.
Les Morgan, the chairman of Findhorn and Kinloss Community Council, last night backed the Kinloss Abbey Trust’s vision for the future of the site.
He said: “We support the Kinloss Abbey Trust’s aims and objectives for the site, and hope they are successful in attracting funding.
“I’m sure these plans would be welcomed by the wider community as well.”
The abbey, located three miles east of Forres, was built in the 1200s and its accompanying Abbot’s House was added in later years.
After the reformation in the 1500s it was no longer used as an abbey but continued to serve as a place of worship until 1657, when a church was created in Kinloss.
Over the following decades large chunks of stone were gradually removed from the disused edifice by locals and farmers, leaving it as the ruins visible today.
If the building is protected from further damage, the Kinloss Abbey Trust will look into arranging a community asset transfer so that it can independently run the ancient attraction.