Late October isn’t really the recommended time to visit Scotland. It’s cold up there and it rains quite a lot, both of which are only worse in the late autumn. Nevertheless, this is just the time that we decided to take our first trip to Edinburgh, with my mom in tow.
We set off from Chester first thing in the morning, with the plan to stop where and when we wanted along the way, which is really the only way to road trip. Not too long after crossing the border, and a short visit to the infamous Gretna Green, we stopped in the picturesque town of Melrose to explore its famous abbey.
The Crumbling Bricks of Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey has sat proudly on the border between England and Scotland since 1136, and today serves as an example of some of the best late 14th-century church architecture to be found in the British Isles. It may be crumbling, but the magnificence of its past is evident despite the centuries of deterioration.
It was a crisp day when we visited, and we also got caught in a brief rain shower, but one of the best parts of travelling out of season is that you can sometimes get a place like this all to yourself, which we did.
Melrose Abbey has played an important role in the history of the British Isles, mainly due to its strategic location right near the border between the two countries. The Abbey was attacked by both Edward I and II in the 13oos, and is said to be the final resting place of the heart of Robert the Bruce, the King of the Scots who lead Scotland during the wars of independence against England.
I didn’t know much about Robert the Bruce or William Wallace (of Braveheart fame) before visiting Scotland, but stories and legends abound about them both within the borders of Scotland. The two men are legendary characters here, and in our short time in the country I lost count of all of the references made to one or the other.
If, like me, your knowledge of Scottish history doesn’t extend far beyond Mel Gibson in Braveheart, I can give you one piece of advice – yelling FREEDOM! and throwing your fist into the air never goes down well in Scotland, so don’t do it. I can say this with complete confidence.
One of my favourite parts of Melrose Abbey was the sculptures that dot the exterior. They aren’t your standard gargoyles, these sculptures have character. My personal favourite? The bagpipe playing pig, of course!
On the Historic Scotland website you can download audiotours to take with you when you visit Melrose Abbey, which would be very helpful in helping to decipher both the historic and religious significance of the site.
1 April – 30 September open everyday 9:30am-5:30pm
1 October – 31 March open everyday 9:30am-4:30pm
Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Adult £5.50, Child £3.30, Concession £4.40