We had a quick walk around Edinburgh this morning before heading out of town. It’s a cool place, but we definitely knew we were in a big city – lots of people and cars. Which is weird because Edinburgh has about the same population as Christchurch, but it feels like a much bigger and busier city – more metropolitan than ours, even before the earthquakes.
Our next stop for the day was Melrose Abbey, founded in 1146 by Cistercian monks. It is the final resting place of a number of Scots kings, and Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried there too. The ruined abbey was lovely – made of rose stone so a lovely pinky-red colour. Like many others abbeys around the borderlands, it was sacked during the 16th century Reformation.
Jedburgh Abbey was just up the road, so we popped in there too. Another lovely ruin, this one had been subject to intensive archeological investigation in the 1980s, so a lot of the below-ground buildings that were ruined and buried have been quite well preserved. This abbey was founded by the Augustinians, also in the 12th century. It suffered the same fate as Melrose during the Reformation. It’s hard to imagine how people could desecrate such lovely places as these.
Something that amazes me about these old buildings is that they continue to be used after they are ruined. Both abbeys we saw today continued to be used as churches even though they were sacked repeatedly. At Jedbugh the church just moved to the most upright end of building and kept going, and at Melrose they actually built a new church and columns inside the buildings over top of the old ones. It looks really weird.
Melrose Abbey. You can see the new columns and ceiling tucked inside the old building
We got to our hotel in Langley with plenty of time for a lazy afternoon. It’s been a busy couple of days of driving, so it’s nice to have days when we don’t do too much. We are truly staying in style tonight – in a 14th century castle, carefully restored and turned into a hotel after WWII. It is very cool. We are staying in one of the fancy rooms on the second floor, accessible by a spiral staircase. It is very well appointed, with a big cosy four-poster bed, our own wall alcove, and a heated bathroom floor. Tonight we live like kings!