Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey
We decided to try a small group tour with Rabbie’s for our visit to Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey. Thursday was a beautiful day and our energetic tour guide, Franziska, regaled us with stories and lively music throughout the drive. The passengers were all from the U.S., which made for interesting conversation. Franziska, who was from Baden-Baden, Germany, spoke English very well.
Our first stop was a photo op of the Eildon Hills from Scott’s View. At our next stop, we took a short 15-minute walk to view a statue of William Wallace. Back on the bus, it was a short drive to Melrose, where we had a delicious lunch at Marmions Brasserie. We both had the special of the day, beef casserole, which wasn’t really a casserole, but a tasty portion of slow cooked beef, with pearl onions, broccoli, mashed potatoes, and green beans with a small puff pastry on top. No matter what you call it…it was one of the best lunches we’ve had in Scotland! We toured Melrose Abbey and Cemetery, where I took lots of photos.
One of the most interesting photos was of the grave of Braveheart’s Heart. According to Franziska, local legend says Braveheart was really Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace as Hollywood depicted Braveheart in the movie starring Mel Gibson. Legend says that Sir James Douglas, “Black Douglas” fought alongside Robert the Bruce. After suffering a stroke and on his deathbed, Robert knew he would be unable to fulfill his solemn vow to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Robert asked his friend, Sir James to carry his heart there instead. Robert died on June 7, 1329 in Dumbartonshire. The following year, Sir James set out to fulfill his oath to the dying King. During his journey, he was staying in the village of Teba, in Spain when it was attacked by the Moors. Deserted by his Spanish allies, Douglas threw the heart of Robert the Bruce deep into the fighting, saying “Go first as thou hast always done.” Douglas was killed and his body was returned to Scotland. The heart of Robert the Bruce was carried back to Scotland by Sir William Keith of Galston and was finally laid to rest at Melrose Abbey.
Rosslyn Chapel was our final stop. The small, intimate chapel was filled with elaborate carvings and mysterious symbolism. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the chapel. One of the local guides gave an interesting presentation of the history of the Chapel, founded in 1446, by Sir William St. Clair. She also told the story of the filming of The DaVinci Code. Tourism generated by the book and movie has contributed greatly to the work being done to restore and maintain the Chapel.