Melrose Travel Guide

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Melrose Overview

Melrose is a small, historic town in the Scottish Borders, historically in Roxburghshire. It is in the Eildon committee area.

The town's name is recorded in its earliest form as Mailros, 'the bare peninsula' (Old Welsh or Brythonic), referring to the original site of the monastery, recorded by the Venerable Bede, in a bend of the river Tweed. The original monastery at Melrose is referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle with the name Magilros (at which time Melrose was part of Northumbria).

In the late Middle Ages, when the monastery had been re-founded in its present position, its name was symbolically represented by the visual pun of a mell (mason's hammer) and a rose (symbolising the Virgin Mary, to whom all Cistercian abbeys were dedicated).

Melrose is the location of Melrose Abbey, re-founded for the Cistercian order by David I in the early 12th century, one of the most beautiful monastic ruins in Great Britain. It is the site of the burial of the heart of Scottish king Robert the Bruce. An excavation was led to find a sealed casket, but it was not opened, and it was actually discovered by high school students involved in the dig. The casket was placed in a sealed lead cylinder, and was then re-buried in the abbey back at its proper resting place. The remains of the Abbey are cared for by Historic Scotland (open all year; entrance charge).

Nearby is the Roman fort of Trimontium, and Dryburgh Abbey. Melrose is surrounded by the small villages of Darnick, Gattonside, Newstead, and Bowden.

King Arthur is supposedly buried in the Eildon Hills, which overlook the town. A few miles west of the town lies Abbotsford House, the home of novelist Sir Walter Scott.

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