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A Cistercian retreatGlenluce Abbey was founded around 1192 by Roland, Lord of Galloway. The white-clad Cistercian monks who settled in this secluded valley of the Water of Luce most probably came from Dundrennan Abbey, near Kirkcudbright. They brought with them not only the austere way of life for which the Cistercians were renowned, but also the sombre splendour of their architecture.
Church and cloisterThe plan of the abbey conforms more or less to the standard format laid down by the Cistercian order. The cruciform church was placed on the north, to ensure its great size did not block out the sun from the domestic ranges that nestled beside it. These domestic buildings were organised around an open cloister. Substantial parts of the abbey church of St Mary the Virgin remain. They include the south transept and part of the presbytery.
A museum of monastic lifeGlenluce Abbey came into State care in 1933, and the work of conservation and repair began. During clearance of the rubble, many artefacts were discovered. These are now on display in the little visitor centre beside the ruined abbey. They combine to cast a wonderful shaft of light on the daily lives of the monks across the four centuries they were here. The treasures include decorated clay floor tiles from their church and pottery. Most unusually, there are clay and lead pipes from the abbey’s unusual water-supply system, which can still be traced on site.