Scottish Borders Road Trip: Part 3 – Melrose and Dryburgh

After visiting the great Abbey’s at Jedburgh and Kelso, we moved to the town of Melrose. It’s only a small town, and it’s main feature is the fantastic Abbey at it’s centre, along with the nearby hamlet of Dryburgh…

Melrose:

Status: Scottish Borders Council Area (historically Roxburghshire), Town, Scotland

Date: 01/06/2013

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, William Wallace Statue etc

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Melrose Abbey is the third ruined Abbey we have seen so far in the Scottish Borders region, and is open to the public to look around. It was just closing as we arrived, so we walked around the outer fence of the Abbey and got a few pictures looking in. It’s quite extensive, and a good deal of the main building survives.

Founded in 1136 under order of King David of Scotland, the Abbey contains the remains of a few famous figures in Scottish history, including the heart of Robert the Bruce and supposed wizard, Michael Scot.

In 1322 the Abbey was attacked and severely damaged, but with the support of Robert the Bruce, it was rebuilt, until in 1385 it was burnt down by an English Army. Over the next 100 years it was once again rebuilt, until in 1544 the same thing happened again and this time the ruins were left in their state at the time. What was left of the Abbey was attacked by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War, and parts of it were converted into a new parish church in 1610.

The casket containing the heart of Robert the Bruce was found in 1921, and located again in 1996, and subsequently reburied.

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Up the side of the building, is an interesting gargoyle, in the shape of a Pig playing the Bagpipes. There is one surviving on the building, and is situated in the middle of the picture between the two ribs, at the bottom of the slanted roof. It was an unusual design feature, and one I found quite fascinating. It’s a sculpture from the 14th century that still graces the structure today.

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It was only a quick stop in Kelso, to look at the beautiful Abbey. Elsewhere in the town is the Trimontium Museum, the site of an old Roman Fort, which is now just green fields and hills.

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After looking around Melrose Abbey, we moved on up the road and I found in the AA Road Map another site of interest in the area, a giant statue of William Wallace, the ancient Scottish King.

We did find it eventually, and a small car park. There is a path leading from the car park and you have to walk  down it to find the statue, but when you do it’s well worth it. It towers above visitors, at least three times as tall as us and looks out across the hills, standing guard against any potential invaders.

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After this we moved on to Dryburgh, to look for the next Abbey of the day. Dryburgh Abbey was shut when we visited so we pulled into the Car Park of the adjacent hotel, and found a wall we could see over to get a good picture of it.

Founded in 1150, this Abbey also went through periods of destruction, being burnt in 1322 by the English, and subsequently rebuilt, before it’s final destruction in 1544, and only a few walls remain today, in remarkably good condition.

We had one more stop on our Scottish Border’s journey, in the town of Selkirk. Watch out for the final part of our journey!

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