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Melrose Abbey

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Melrose Abbey is situated in the Borders Town of Melrose, 39 miles southeast of Edinburgh.

The Abbey is popular for the Burial place of the Heart of King Robert the Bruce, views over Melrose from the Top, and the Commendator's House Museum that is across a narrow road from the Abbey.

The Abbey is open 1 April to 30 September: 9.30am to 5.30pm. 1 October to 31 March: 10am to 4pm. Postcode: TD6 9LG.

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Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 by Cistercian Monks for King David I.

King David I was the youngest son of Malcolm III Canmore by his wife Margaret of Wessex, later Saint Margaret. This family is known for uniting a number of small Scottish Kingdoms into the one Kingdom of Scotland.

The Canmore's used religion to unite the people, making it easier to control the entire country. The Canmore's were Kings of Scotland from 1058 to 1286, funding the construction of large Abbeys and Cathedrals in Scotland, such as the most important:

Dunfermline Abbey 1070

Kelso Abbey - 1128

Melrose Abbey 1136

Jedburgh Abbey 1147

Dryburgh Abbey 1150

St Andrews Cathedral 1158

Arbroath Abbey 1178

Elgin Cathedral 1224

With Melrose Abbey being close to the Border, it was damaged a few times during wars with England.

1322 - Melrose Abbey was damaged during the First War of Scottish Independence. King Robert the Bruce ordered the Abbey be repaired soon after.

1385 - King Richard II of England led an invasion into Scotland to put an end to attacks on England by King Robert II and his French allies. Richard's forces partially destroyed Melrose and other Abbeys in the area.

1530s - Henry VIII ended Catholic worship in England, with many of the Abbeys in England destroyed.

1544 - Melrose Abbey was partially destroyed after King Henry VIII of England sent forces into Scotland to destroy Abbeys and Castles in an attempt to have the Infant Mary Queen of Scots married to his young Son, a War known as the Rough Wooing.

1560 - the Scottish Parliament ended Catholic worship as well, leading to the destruction of many Cathedrals and Abbey's in Scotland.

Most Abbey's, and their land, were then run by a Commendator, until all the Monks had died.

Some Catholic buildings were used as Protestant Churches, saving them from being looted for their stone for other buildings.

1559 - James Stuart, the last Abbot, illegitimate son of King James V, died.

1590 - the last Monk at Melrose Abbey died, leading to stone being taken from the Abbey for buildings in Melrose.

1618 - part of the Abbey Church was converted for use as a Protestant Parish Church.

1650s - Melrose Abbey was bombarded by forces of Oliver Cromwell after the English Civil War spread into Scotland.

1810 - a new Parish Church was built in Melrose, west of the Abbey.

1822 - the Duke of Buccleuch, with the aid of Sir Walter Scott, carried out repair work to preserve the ruins of Melrose Abbey.

1908 - the new Parish Church was destroyed by fire.

1911 - the current Parish Church was built on the same site as the 1810 Church.

1918 - the Duke gifted the ruins of Melrose Abbey to the state, now run as a tourist attraction by Historic Environment Scotland.

1996 - an excavation at Melrose Abbey found a conical lead container that contained a human heart. The only record of a Heart being buried at Melrose Abbey was that of King Robert the Bruce in the 1300s.

1998 - the Heart was buried at Melrose Abbey with a small Memorial Stone on top.

Bruce had died in 1329 with his body buried at Dunfermline Abbey. His heart was cut out to be taken on a Crusade. On return from the Crusade, his heart was buried at Melrose Abbey.

650? - Old Melrose Monastery was founded by Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne. This Monastery was about 3 miles east of Melrose at a bend on the River Tweed. Scott's View, a top attraction in the area, looks down on where the Monastery once stood.

Melrose Abbey was to be built on the site of the Old Monastery, but the decision was taken to build the new Abbey 3 miles west, as the land there was more suitable for farming. The town of Melrose grew around the Abbey.

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