The monument comprises the remains of Kilwinning Abbey, visible as an upstanding ruinous structure. It was first scheduled in 1921 and the claustral ranges are in the care of the Scottish Ministers. It is being re-scheduled to extend protection to cover the whole of the archaeologically sensitive area.
The monument is situated c.70m S of Main Street and some 270m W of the River Garnock, at about 20m OD.
The Tironensian Abbey of Kilwinning was founded by Richard de Morville in c.1162, reputedly on the site of a church built around the 6th century AD by the Irish St Wynnin (possibly Finbarr of Moyville, d.579). Excavations carried out by the DoE in 1961-3 showed that the work of building the abbey was well advanced by the end of the 12th century, but was suspended before the W end of the church or the W claustral range were completed. Work was restarted on a more ambitious plan in the 13th century, but this also was never fully carried out. The abbey was secularised in 1592.
The extant remains consist of the S wall and gable of the S transept and its E aisle; the doorway from cloisters to nave; the chapter house entrance, the wall of the S aisle of the nave; and some parts of the W end of the nave and SW tower. The church appears to have been built early in the 13th century. The buildings of the abbey appear to have been destroyed shortly after the Reformation, although part of the church was repaired and used as the parish church until 1775. After this date it was removed and the present parish church was built over part of the site of the choir. The NW tower at the W end fell in 1814 and was rebuilt on a smaller scale. At the same time considerable restorations were made on the choir of the abbey church and in parts of the nave.
The masonry is all of ashlar. The gable of the S transept has three large pointed windows, the bases of which are stepped, with a wheel window above. Parts of the cloister had been colonised with domestic buildings following the Reformation, although these were removed in the 19th century, revealing three vaulted compartments on the W side of the cloister garth. The churchyard contains some 17th century gravestones. The planning of the medieval monastic precinct is reflected in the current boundaries of the cemetery to N and E of the abbey buildings.
The scheduled monument extends up to but does not include the rear of the buildings on the north and west, the clock tower, abbey church and all boundary walls and fences. It specifically excludes the top 300mm of all paths and gravel areas to allow for their maintenance, the above ground elements of all modern signage, floodlights, handrails, modern fixtures and fittings, all memorials and lairs for which burial rights survive. As shown in red on the amended plan annexd and executed as relative hereto.