It is most famous for its association with the Declaration of Arbroath.
The abbey fell into ruin after the Reformation. From 1590 onwards, it became a source of building stone for the town of Arbroath. This continued until 1815 when steps were taken to preserve the remaining ruins. It is now under the supervision of the Government and is open to the public.
Since 1947, a pageant commemorating the signing of the Declaration has been held within the roofless remains of the abbey. This is run by a local group, the Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, and tells the story of the events which led up to the signing.
On April 11, 1951, the missing Stone of Destiny was found on the site of the altar by the abbey's custodian. It had been taken from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1950 and a massive, but unsuccessful, search for it had been undertaken in the intervening months.