The monument comprises the remains of Dryburgh Abbey, founded in 1150 as the first Scottish House of the Canons Regular of the Premonstratensian Order. The buildings stand on three prepared, stepped levels on sloping land above the River Tweed with the abbey church, dedicated to St Mary, on the highest ground, the cloister on the middle level and the chapter house, principal day appartments, cellars and kitchens occupying the lowest part of the site. Within the precincts, which extended as far as the banks of the river to the S, lay the infirmary, abbot's lodging, guest house, bakehouse, brew-house, mill, barns, orchards and yards. Of these, only the lade and tunnel associated with the lade, and brewhouse survive.
The abbey was devastated by fire in 1322, 1385, 1461 and 1523 and the architecture of its component parts reflects periods of rebuilding as is seen, for example, in the reconstruction of the W front of the church following the conflagration of 1385. Of particular note is the 15th-century round-headed doorway in the middle of the W front and the well-preserved ruins of the E chapel of the N transept. The surviving portions of the E range are among the oldest of the conventual buildings and include the dormitory which originally extended the entire length of the first floor and was entered via the night-stair in the S transept. Around the cloister, linked to the church by the E processional doorway, stand the remains of the business and domestic apartments of the community while the adjacent cloister walk, once covered by a lean-to roof, encloses the square open space of the cloister garth.
The monument was first scheduled in 1917, but an inadequate area was included to protect all the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this. The area scheduled is irregular on plan and measures a maximum of 600m N-S by 490m E-W to include the remains of the abbey church and associated conventual buildings and an area of ground which formed part of the monastic precincts. The latter includes the burial ground, remains of the brewhouse and the lade and tunnel associated with the former corn mill. The boundary of the scheduled area runs, in a clockwise direction, ESE from the Abbey Lodge to the field boundary at the E side of the minor road which gives access to Dryburgh House. It then follows the line of the field boundary in a SSE direction, then turns to run E until it meets the banks of the River Tweed. From here, the boundary follows the line of the river bank S, then W, then WNW and finally N until level with the end of the S boundary wall of the part of the Abbey which is in the care of the Secretary of State. The scheduled area boundary then runs due E to meet this wall of the Abbey, and then almost immediately turns to run NNE for 70m before following the N perimeter wall of the Abbey through a curve SE, E, then NE, and finally runs E back to Abbey Lodge, all as marked in red on the accompanying map.
Specifically excluded are:
- All freestanding memorial stones in the burial ground,
- all plots where rights of burial exist,
- the Haig burial plot and memorial stones,
- the Cross of Sacrifice war memorial,
- the above ground elements of the Scott memorials in the north transept (St Mary's Aisle),
- the floor and subfloor deposits in the Erskine Vault,
- the King James obelisk,
- Dryburgh Abbey House and its sundial, dovecot, ice house and stables,
- Stables Cottage,
- the above ground elements of the Old Corn Mill,
- the above ground elements of all modern structures, fixtures and fittings,
- the top 300mm of all paths and roadways,
- all fences and boundary walls.