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Melrose is beautifully situated near the River Tweed, famous for its salmon, and with the triple peaked Eildon Hills rising just to the south, are the picturesque remains of what is perhaps the finest and best known ruined Scottish Abbey. Meirose itself is the “Kennaquhair” of Scott’s “Abbot” and “Monastery,” while the Abbey was described by him in the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel.” There are some old houses in the town, and the Cross, which carries the arms of Scotland, dates from 1642. The tower of the Parish Church dates from 1810.

An old custom kept up is the “ Masons’ Walk” from the
Cross to the Abbey and back by torchlight, on St. John’s
Day, December 27th. The Cistercian Abbey was
founded in 1136, but was almost wrecked by the English
during several invasions, more especially in 1322 and 1385, while in 1545 it suffered further serious damage. Parts of the nave and choir date from a rebuilding of 1385, and represent the best and most elaborate work of this period in Scotland. The flying buttresses, pinnacles and rich window tracery, wrought of red sandstone, are all of much interest. The five-light window in the south transept, with its flowing flamboyant tracery, is the finest in the Abbey. A gargoyle on the roof shows a pig with a set of bagpipes. On a west buttress of the south side are carved the Royal Arms.

The heart of Robert Bruce is said to have been
interred under the east window of the chancel, after it had been brought back from Spain. In the chancel is also the supposed tomb of Michael Scott, the Wizard, associated with Deloraine in “The Lay.” The ground plan of the cloisters and other parts of the monastic buildings has been revealed by recent excavations. The Abbey museum is housed in a 15th to 16th cent. building,
possibly the former Commendator’s house. There are
interesting tombs in the old graveyard, including those of
Scott’s wood-forester, Tom Purdie, and of his coachman,
Peter Matheson. The whole of the Melrose district is redolent with memories of Sir Walter Scott.

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