We have mentioned in our picture of Roche Abbey that it was built from a very high quality seam of white magnesium limestone, and the abbey was highly regarded for it’s beauty by other monastic houses of the time. When you look at our picture, you can see how bright the remaining transept walls are, they are reflecting the evening sun very strongly. However the rest of the stones look quite dark and dirty. The reason for this is that the whole monastic remains were “landscaped” by Capability Brown for the owner – the Earl of Scarborough, who destroyed much of the remains, including the cloisters, and completely covered them up with earth, leaving just the two towers showing. This act of vandalism caused an outcry even in the mid 18th century. The ruin remained under ground until the 1920’s when it was unearthed and restored to what we see today.
If you look at our super zoom link of Roche Abbey and zoom in on the stone work you can clearly see which parts of the ruin were left above ground. This is why much of the remains look very dark.