Melrose Abbey, Scottish Borders
Beside the wide and often wild River Tweed in Roxburghshire, in the heart of Scotland’s Border region, lie the Eildon Hills and in their shadow lies the town of Melrose.
Melrose is not a large town and within its boundary are the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey now know as Melrose Abbey. They are substantial remains of what was one of several important and prosperous Abbey’s within the Borders region.
Founded by the Cistercian Order under the instruction of King David I of Scotland it dates from 1136. I always wonder and admire the skills of the stonemasons and engineers who created these places of worship. From concept to creation the imagination and skills employed must have been enormous.
The Abbey is the resting place of several of Scotland’s Monarchs and a good number of its Noblemen…..most notable I suppose is the Memorial Stone that marks the ‘present’ Burial place of Robert the Bruce’s Heart. The embalmed heart was discovered during excavation works, …his body is interred in Dunfermline Abbey
From around the time of the Reformations the Abbey suffered greatly, with stone being a valuable building material, much of the building was robbed.
Old as Melrose Abbey is it only marks one mile stone in the regions history. The valley and its hills have been populated since 1500bc by the Celts. Later the Romans tried to establish a community here. Going under the Roman name of Trimontium a substantial Camp was built. To mark the spot there is an engraved granite marker pillar.
In more resent times Sir Walter Scott had associations with the town. Today one of its claims to fame are the Melrose Rugby Sevens Championships. Fiercely contested by teams from across Scotland this ‘reduced team’ game of Rugby was invented in 1883 by Ned Haig a local Melrose butcher.
A beautiful Scottish Border Town that demands a visit.
The Commendator’s House, Melrose Abbey
(Now a Museum with much of local interest)
(C) David Oakes 2017