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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A for Abbeys, Abbostford & Armstrongs in "My Scottish Borders"

Welcome to a Look Around 
"My Scottish Borders" 

 See my preview here 

A is for 

The four ABBEYS of Dryburgh, Jedburgh, Kelso and Melrose were founded by King David ! of Scotland in the 12th century. Up to the mid sixteenth century, they suffered repeatedly from attack during the course of the many English invasions  

Melrose Abbey  
Melrose Abbey, founded in 1136 by David I, was the first monastery of the Cistercian order established in Scotland. The heart of King Robert the Bruce is  said to be buried there.  The exterior of this  ruin is decorated by unusual sculptures, including hobgoblins, cooks with ladles and a bagpipe playing pig. 

ABBOTSFORD - the home of Sir Walter Scott, (1771-1832),  historical novelist and poet, regarded in his lifetime as  the most renowned world-wide writer of his day.    Scott built Abbotsford on the banks of the River Tweed, near Melrose   in 1822.  You can still see today his library of over 9000 volumes, his writing desk and his treasure trove of  Scottish artifacts and historyLast year a new visitor centre, telling the story of his life,   was opened by the Queen

Abbotsford Morris edited.jpg

Gilnockie Tower, the Armstrong stronghold
In the period of general lawlessness and cross Border raids,  the Armstrongs were one of the most powerful  Border families. 

 In 1530 Johnnie Armstrong,  infamous as a Border reiver (raider),   was persuaded by a royal writ of safe passage,  to meet James V at Caerlanrig, south of Hawick. But Johnnie was  seized and hanged along with many of his supporters. A memorial to Armstrong and his men stands in the Caerlanrig chapel graveyard.  

The murder inspired the Border ballad "Johnnie Armstrong" whose evocative last verse told:

The  trees on which the Armstrangs deed [died]
Wi' summer leaves were gay,
But lang afore the harvest tide 
They wither'd a' away. 


In 1972,Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, visited  Langholm, near Gilnockie Tower,  to become the town's first and only Freeman.   The Tower now holds the biggest archive of Armstrong history in the world 

Clan member crest badge - Clan Armstrong.svg
Armstrong Crest
Armstrong Tartan

Some more fascinating facts on the Scottish Borders:
  • A royal wedding took place at Jedburgh Abbey in 1285 when King ALEXANDER  III  married there his second wife,Yolande de Dreux. Alexander died a year later after falling off his horse in the dark and his only surviving heir, granddaughter  Margaret "The Maid of Norway" died at sea in 1290,  on her way to claim the throne - events which sparked a  long period of instability and warfare in Scotland  with competing claims to the Scottish throne.
  • John AINSLIE (1745-1828) was born and buried in Jedburgh Abbey.  He has been de3scribed as Scotland's greatest cartographer, both for the quality  and quantity of his work.  His outstanding achievements include the 1789 map of Scotland, which was the first to show the Scottish coastline with any accuracy.
Follow the next stage of this A-Z Journey 
through the Scottish Borders

B is for 
Border Reivers, Border Ballads, and Blackmail 

The Scottish Borders 
The old counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire & Selkirkshire
Scottish Borders in Scotland.svg


  1. Having Crosier blood I can't wait to see where all this goes.

  2. You can never trust those offers of safe passage. Looking forward to ballads tomorrow.

  3. Hi Sue your blog topic is very timely for me as I am a volunteer guide at the Ballarat art gallery and we have a Scottish Australian exhibition starting next week.
    A great start to your AtoZ challenge
    Best wishes
    Anne from Ballarat

  4. Loved your pictures and your words, as usual. Looking forward to reading your posts!

    Ros at GenWestUK

  5. This is rich. I'd love to visit these places someday.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  6. I love your part of the world and want to see it all! Glad you're taking part in the A to Z!

    River Fairchild – A to Z Challenge, a Jeremy's Angels Co-Host Minion
    Seasoned With Words

  7. Thank you all for your kind comments - enjoy further posts on "My Scottish Borders"


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