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Kilwinning Abbey

A thoroughly-ruined abbey lying in the centre of Kilwinning (North Ayrshire), what remains includes parts of the abbey church and chapter house, and dates mostly from the 13th century. Kilwinning Abbey was a Benedictine foundation by Hugh de Morville, Constable of Scotland, around 1150. Dedicated to St. Winning and the Virgin Mary, it drew Tironensian monks from Kelso and soon became one of the wealthiest of the Scottish monasteries - endowed with large estates and a revenue said to amount to £20,000 per year.

The abbey fell into disrepair following the Reformation, its last abbot, Gavin Hamilton, having been killed near Edinburgh in 1571 and its buildings were quarried for stone between the 1560s and 1590s. Cartographer Timothy Pont visited in the late 16th century and described the extent of the property and stating that its church was in good condition. Soon after the abbey and its estates passed to the Earl of Eglinton, whose successors were responsible for preserving the remains of the abbey buildings, which include the great west doorway with window above, the lower part of the south wall of nave, and the tall gable of south transept with its three lancet windows.

The Abbey Tower, which is open to the public in summer, was the last of three steeples which formed part of the ancient abbey, but destroyed by lightning in 1809 and rebuilt 1814-16.

The abbey is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.


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