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Melrose Abbey, Borders Region

Melrose Abbey, Borders Region, Scotland

This evening, my focus is on one of the great abbeys of the Scottish Borders, namely Melrose.

The origin of the name Melrose is of interest. The earliest recorded spelling is ‘Calkou’ and may mean ‘lime hill’.

There has been a religious community in the Melrose area for about 1400 years with the first such dating back to 650AD when a monastery was founded by St Aiden of Lindisfarne and populated by monks from Iona.

The deeply religious King David I of Scotland founded a new abbey at Melrose in 1136 AD  This was  built in the Gothic style and located about two miles away from the original monastery. The first abbot and contingent of monks were of the Cistercian order and came from Rievaulx in Yorkshire, England. Complement of monks eventually rose to 100.

Like nearby Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose’s location proved its  downfall as it was in the direct route of invading armies from England who cause considerable damage in 1322, 1385 and 1544. Final denouement was the Reformation in 1560.

Also like Jedburgh, part of the ruins were used to house the local Parish Church, which lasted from 1610 to 1810.

Melrose Abbey has connection two famous Scots, viz:

  • Romantic novelist, Sir Walter Scott who greatly admired the building and included a reference to it in his poem the Lady of the Lay Minstrel.
  • King Robert the Bruce  (1274-1329), whose heart is buried in the grounds.

This site is a ‘must’ for visitors exploring the Scottish Borders. Melrose is a very pleasant town close to the River Tweed which in turn is famous for salmon fishing.It is possible to climb up one of the Abbey towers and benefit from stunning views of Melrose and beyond. Read more on Visit Melrose Abbey, Visit Scottish Borders…



Medieval Jedburgh Abbey

Medieval Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland

This evening, my focus is on historic Jedburgh Abbey which is located about 1 hour drive south of Edinburgh. A stunning ruin on the way south to England. The name describes a fortified town on the River Jed.

This abbey was founded by King David I of Scotland for an Augustinian order in1138 and may well occupy the site of an earlier religious order.(One of the finest shrine fragments in Scotland comes from in or near Jedburgh and has been dated to the 8th century AD.) The fabric even incorporates some stones with inscriptions from the 2nd century AD Roman (military) era. It is believed that construction lasted 100 years with stone transported from the quarry at Ulston Moor, about 1 mile away.

This abbey features some of the finest Romanesque and Gothic architecture in Scotland. For 400 years it was home to a community of Augustinian canons.

The Abbey’s location was its downfall. Being situated on the  main route between England and Scotland it suffered at the hands of invading English armies who caused considerable damage in 1464, 1523, 1544 and 1545. However, the coup de grace was the Reformation of 1560 following which a section of  the Abbey was converted to become the parish church of Jedburgh. The church continued here until the late 1800s.

Overall, a fascinating and visually stunning site with much to offer the visitor. I invariably stop at Jedburgh during forays south to Hadrian’s Wall and beyond. Read more on Visit Jedburgh Abbey, Visit Scottish Borders…



Melrose Abbey, Scottish Borders

Melrose Abbey, Scottish Borders, Scotland

Today, I collected by small group from the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and proceeded as follows:

  • Firstly to Melrose Abbey, a stunning sandy pink coloured ruin built for Cistercian monks in the 12th century on direction of Kind David I of Scotland.. The building suffered heavy damage at hands of  English troops in 1322 and 1385 with final straw being 1545 under the ‘rough wooing’ policy of Henry VIII. The embalmed heart of King Robert the Bruce was found here in 1920. Read more on Tour Scottish Borders, Tour Scotland…

Read more on Tour Scottish Borders, Tour Scotland…