Look out for the famous bagpipe playing pig gargoyle in the stonework
Melrose Abbey is a partly ruined monastery of the Cistercian order in Melrose, in the Scottish Borders. It’s proximity to England has resulted in it being sacked numerous times over the centuries by unscrupulous Englishmen. However, being in the Gothic style, the ruins really just add to its effect.
This red-sandstone abbey was founded in 1136 at the request of David I of Scotland and was a key religious institution until the Scottish Reformation. Alexander II and may other Scottish kings and nobles are buried there. An inscription in the abbey reads, “Be halde to ye hende” ("Keep in mind, the end, your salvation”), which has since become the dour motto of Melrose.
The good, the bad, the ugly
During the famine of 1148, Waltehof, step son of David I and the abbot of Melrose, miraculously fed 4,000 peasants for three months. For such acts he was revered as a saint. He was buried at Melrose and you can still see fragment of his tomb.
But, according to legend, Melrose has some more sinister associations too. The 13th century wizard Michael Scott is said to be buried here, along with his books of magick. He allegedly prophesied his own death (a small stone fell on his head) and also split the Eildon Hills from one peak into the three we see today.
My heart is in the highlands
When Robert the Bruce died, his heart was sent on a crusade with ‘Good Sir James Douglas’. When confronted with a huge Moorish army while travelling through Spain, Sir James led the charge into battle, holding Bruce’s heart before him and crying, “Lead on brave heart, I’ll follow thee!” Another Scottish knight found the heart among the bodies the next day and sent it back to Melrose — it was since discovered during an 1998 excavation.
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