Melrose Abbey

Tiny, charming Melrose is a polished village. This little enclave is a complete contrast with overbearing Galashiels, whose urban sprawl laps at its western edges. Sitting at the feet of the three heather-covered Eildon Hills, Melrose has a classic market square and its most famous resident is one of the great abbey ruins. Perhaps the most interesting of all the great Border abbeys, the red sandstone Melrose Abbey was repeatedly destroyed by the English in the 14th century. The remaining broken shell is pure Gothic and the ruins are famous for their decorative stonework – see if you can glimpse the pig gargoyle playing the bagpipes on the roof. You can climb to the top for tremendous views. The abbey was founded by David I in 1136 for Cistercian monks from Rievaulx in Yorkshire. It was rebuilt by Robert the Bruce, whose heart is buried here. The ruins date from the 14th and 15th centuries, and were repaired by Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century.

The adjoining museum has many fine examples of 12th – to 15th – century stonework and pottery found in the area. Note the impressive remains of the ‘great drain’ outside – a medieval sewer- age system.

Melrose Abbey is a must see on your tours of Scotland.