Pluscarden Priory near Elgin, Morayshire, was founded in 1230 by Alexander II, King of Scots, for monks of the Valliscaulian Order, whose mother house at Val des Choux in Burgundy had been established a mere thirty years earlier. The only other Valliscaulian houses outside France were also in Scotland, at Beauly in Ross-shire and Ardchattan in Argyll. Both dated from the same year, 1230, but unlike Pluscarden they were not royal foundations: Beauly was founded by Sir John Bisset, Lord of the Aird, Ardchattan by Sir Duncan Macdougal of Lorn. Alexander II granted Pluscarden Priory extensive estates between the rivers Ness and Spey, along with mulcture, fishing rights and tithes. However, the original foundation charter for Pluscarden has not survived.
Pluscarden was damaged during Edward I's invasion of Scotland in 1303, and allegedly suffered depredations at the hands of the 'Wolf of Badenoch', Alexander Stewart, in 1390. In 1398 Prior Thomas Fullonis resigned, informing the Bishop of Moray that the priory had fallen upon hard times and that his successor had been tasked with repairing the church. On 12 March 1453 Pope Nicholas V issued a papal Bull authorizing the merger of the priories of Urquart and Pluscarden; by then, Urquhart had only two monks and Pluscarden six. Thereafter, Pluscarden became a daughter-house of Dunfermline Abbey, of the Benedictine Order.
Alexander Dunbar, the last prior of Pluscarden (1533-60), alienated large swathes of the priory's estates, much to his own family. Dunbar died in 1560 and the community became the responsibility of a succession of lay commendatory priors who managed the monastic revenues and the welfare of the remaining monks. The last monk recorded at Pluscarden was Thomas Ross, who witnessed a document in 1586. During the 17th century the priory buildings fell into ruin.
A new Benedictine foundation was established at Pluscarden in 1948, as a dependency of Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire. Pluscarden gained independence in 1966, and was elevated to abbatial status in 1974.