Melrose Abbey and Scott

Learn about Sir Walter Scott's love of Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey is a magnificent ruin on a grand scale in the Scottish Borders. It was a highly desirable place to be buried - so much so that Robert the Bruce chose it as the final resting place for his heart.

Walter Scott loved Melrose Abbey, partially modelling his house at Abbotsford on its architecture. His 1818 poem 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel' brought many tourists to the site, and work soon began to protect the ruins. 
In 1822, he wrote ‘I am quite delighted with commencement of the Melrose repairs, and hope to report progress before I leave the country, though that must be on Monday next. Please God, I will be up on the roof of the old Abbey myself when the scaffolding is up’.

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Listen to Some Fairy's Hand

Walter Scott waxes lyrical about Melrose Abbey’s east window in 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel'.

Read 'Some Fairy's Hand'

The moon on the east oriel shone
Thro’ slender shafts of shapely stone,
By foliaged tracery combined,
Thou would’st have thought some fairy’s hand
“Twixt poplars straight, the osier wand
In many a freakish knot, had twined,
Then framed a spell when the work was done,
And changed the willow-wreaths to stone.

Sir Walter Scott - Celebrating 250 Years

In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This online exhibition and audio trail of his legacies is part of the celebrations.

'Some Fairy's Hand' has been performed by actor Kirsty Stuart for Pitlochry Festival Theatre, in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland. You may have seen Kirsty in TV productions of Call the Midwife, Shetland or Outlander.