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Melrose abbey

Melrose abbey (Roxburgh) was the first Scottish Cistercian abbey. A religious community had been established nearby (at Old Melrose) from Iona in the 7th cent. but by 1074 it was deserted and the site came into the hands of Durham cathedral. About 1136 David I of Scotland obtained the property by exchange and colonized his foundation from Rievaulx. David's stepson Waltheof became its second abbot and enjoyed a reputation for sanctity. With four daughter houses and an income in the mid-16th cent. of over £5,000, Melrose was the most influential of the Scottish Cistercian houses. It attracted considerable royal support: Alexander II was buried here in 1249, as was the heart of Robert I Bruce. However, its position near the Anglo-Scottish border made it vulnerable and it was sacked several times in the 14th cent. and again in 1545, and never fully recovered. It fell under lay commendation from 1541. The surviving ruins (celebrated by Scott) are amongst the finest Cistercian remains in Scotland.

Brian Golding

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