Dundrennan Abbey is perhaps the most complete Cistercian monastery in Scotland and features some of the best Gothic architecture in the country. The abbey was founded in 1142 by Fergus, the first Lord of Galloway, under the patronage of King David I of Scotland, as a daughter house of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. The same Cistercian monks from Rievaulx went on to found further abbeys in Galloway at Glenluce and Sweetheart. Dundrennan, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, DG6 4QH
Glenluce is a wonderfully scenic Cistercian abbey dating to the late 12th century. The abbey was founded sometime between 1190 and 1192, by monks from either Melrose or Dundrennan, depending on which historian you listen to. The patron was probably Roland, the Lord of Galloway. The abbey was no stranger to royalty, being visited at various times by Robert the Bruce, James IV, and Mary, Queen of Scots. Glenluce, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, DG8 0AF
The name of this wonderfully atmospheric ruined abbey tells you a lot about its history. Sweetheart Abbey was founded in 1273 by Lady Devorgilla of Galloway, the widow of John Balliol, one of the most powerful noblemen of his day. When Balliol died in 1268, Devorgilla had his heart embalmed and placed in an ornate ivory casket, which she carried with her wherever she went for the next 22 years.
New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, DG2 8BU
The site of the first Christian church in Scotland, founded by St Ninian in the 5th century. It later became the cathedral church of Galloway. Perhaps the best feature of the ruins is a beautifully carved Romanesque doorway. Beside the Priory is Whithorn Museum, which houses a wonderful collection of early Christian carved stones and crosses. Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, DG8 8PY