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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Melrose, Scotland

Melrose (pop. 2,300), a pleasant little town and a good starting point for tours of the central Borders region, nestles between the Tweed, much-favored by anglers, and the Eildon Hills.

Melrose Abbey

The ruins of Melrose Abbey.
Many regard Melrose Abbey as the finest of the Borders region abbeys. Built from red sandstone for Cistercian monks in 1136, it was later plundered and desecrated on several occasions with some of the stones re-used in other buildings nearby. However, what remains - mostly from the 15th century - makes an impressive sight. The artistic stonework, the ornate carving on the capitals and sculptures including a well-known water fountain in the form of a bagpipe-playing pig are particularly fine. The tracery for the transept windows and the east window are also much admired. The German writer Theodor Fontane spoke in glowing terms of the "herbarium scoticum in stone" containing flowers, leaves, lilies, thistles, oak leaves and clover leaves. The heart of Robert the Bruce, who authorized the reconstruction of the abbey after its destruction by Edward II, is said to have been buried beneath the east window - a mummified heart was in fact found in the chapterhouse in 1920. Part of the popularity of the abbey stems from William Turner's evocative drawings and Sir Walter Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel".

Motor Museum

Vintage cars in the Motor Museum on Annay Road include a 1909 Albion and a 1926 Arrol Johnston, both of which were built in Scotland.

Scott's View

Scott's View, the famous novelist's favorite panoramic viewpoint, lies about 2mi/3.2km east of Melrose and should not be missed. The scenery includes the Eildon Hills and the green Tweed valley, where in spring the slopes are smothered in yellow broom.

Eildon Hills

Michael Scott is also linked with the Eildon Hills, a three-pointed peak of volcanic origin that rises to a height of 1,387ft/423m. The magician/mathematician is said to have caused the hill to break into three. The view from the top is truly magnificent.

Smallholm Tower

On a small hill about 2mi/3.2km east of Scott's View stands a 16th century rectangular peel tower about 60ft/18m in height, which appears in one of William Turner's sketches. An exhibition inside contains dolls and wall hangings that relate to Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel".
Address: Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Jedburgh TD8 6JQ, Scotland

Abbotsford House

At the heart of "Scott's country", as the Borders are sometimes known, lies Abbotsford, a house by the banks of the Tweed where Sir Walter Scott wrote the majority of his poems and historical novels and where, in 1832, as a consequence of years of overwork he finally died. As the estate and ford below the house once belonged to the abbots of Melrose, Scott called it Abbotsford. The royalties from his highly-successful novels went towards converting the farmhouse into a Scottish-style mansion or in his own words a "romance in stone and mortar". William Atkinson was enlisted as architect and he added the little oriel windows and turreted corner towers.
The entrance is in the style of the main portal at Linlithgow Castle, part of a door came from the Tolbooth in Edinburgh, the courtyard wall resembles the cloisters at Melrose Abbey and the wooden ceiling in the library is a copy of Rosslyn Chapel. The house is crammed full of reminders of the best-selling writer, including manuscripts, Border ballads, portraits and curiosities such as "Bonnie Prince Charlie's" scotch glass (quaich) and the sword reputedly used by the outlaw Rob Roy of the Trossachs. There is also a collection of weapons and armor and in the study Scott's death mask can be seen.

Thirlestane Castle

Thirlestane border fortress lies 11mi/18km north of Melrose and was built in the 13th century. In the 16th century it was converted for use by the Maidlands family. This picture-book castle is fitted out with splendid 17th century wooden ceilings and now belongs to the Lauderdale family. It houses a collection of old toys and the Border Country Life Museum that documents in some detail the turbulent past of the Borders region.
Address: Thirlstane Castle Trust, Lauder, Melrose TD2 6RU, Scotland

Priorwood Garden

Priorwood Garden is located in Melrose. It features flowers which are suitable for drying. Day courses in flower drying are offered throughout the year.
Visitors may also stroll through the adjacent orchard yard that contains many varieties of historic apple trees.

Harmony Garden

Harmony Garden is an attractive walled garden set around Harmony Hall in Melrose. The garden is comprised of lawns, herbaceous and mixed borders, vegetable and fruit areas and spring bulbs.
Address: 12 Northgate, Scotland

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