By a loop of the Tweed

By a loop of the Tweed

By a loop of the Tweed beside Dryburgh Abbey on an April day

By a loop of the Tweed sits Dryburgh Abbey, another of the twelfth century Borders abbeys. Like the others it was prey to cross-border and Reformation fighting and burning. Like the others its impressive ruins still draws visitors. Established in 1150 by white-clad Premonstratensian canons, an order hailing from Prémontré in north-east France, Dryburgh became the order’s premier house in Scotland.

Dryburgh Abbey

Dryburgh Abbey’s impressive ruins

The grounds around the abbey were laid out in the 18th century by the eleventh Earl of Buchan, and the sculptural trees now provide an appropriate backdrop to the sculptural abbey.

Trees at Dryburgh Abbey

Sculptural trees by Dryburgh Abbey

We went on a day of sun and wind when daffodils were in bloom and long shadows spilled across the grass. The arched doorways, the great windows, the remains of fluted pillars and mighty carved bosses, vaulted ceilings and last resting places, all are worthy of exclamation though not dissimilar to the other abbeys. Apart from the Chapter House with plaster and paintwork that dates back to its inception (a rarity in Scotland’s climate), it’s the little things that give the place its own character.

The Chapter House, Dryburgh Abbey

The Chapter House with painted plasterwork that dates back to the building’s inception. Now covered in glass which gives reflections, and difficult to make out never mind photograph.

A glimpse of medieval fashion is apparent in this head.

Head of a woman, Dryburgh Abbet

She was probably quite a beauty in her day. Wonder who she was?

According to Historic Scotland, which has responsibility for the care of the abbey, this large niche was the book cupboard, complete with slots in the stone for wooden shelves.

The Book Cupboard, Dryburgh Abbey

The Book Cupboard – obviously built to hold something larger than paperbacks. Presumably they were vellum manuscripts.

A carving of Adam and Eve beneath an apple tree.

Adam and eve carving on stone

Adam, Eve, the serpent and that apple tree…along with a nice shadow of presumable the window bars.

A lamb on a mound covered in ivy.

Stone carving of lamb on ivy

Appropriate season for lambs.

Lots of basins are in evidence.

Display of stone basins, Dryburgh Abbey

Display of stone basins. Many others were to be found nestling in the walls.

In the grounds beside the abbey stands a pillar in memory of its founder Hugh de Moreville. This was erected by David Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan who was attracted to Dryburgh’s ivy clad ruin, purchasing it in 1786 along with Dryburgh House. Images of James 1st and 2nd of Scotland are carved into opposite sides of the pillar.

Carving of James 1 of Scotland

James 1 of Scotland

James 2nd carving on pillar at Dryburgh Abbey

I presume this is James 2nd of Scotland. Love the little cannon and pile of cannon balls at the top. And what about his headgear!

Buchan was also responsible for the erection, near the abbey, of the 21.5 feet high red sandstone statue of William Wallace whom most people now associate with the film Braveheart. He doesn’t look much like Mel Gilson, does he?

Statue of William Wallace near Dryburgh Abbey

William Wallace was very tall and well built.

When Buchan died in 1829, he was buried within the abbey. Three years later, Buchan’s friend, the novelist Sir Walter Scott, was buried in the north transept.

Scott's grave in the north transept at Dryburgh Abbey

The abbey’s north transept where the novelist Sir Walter Scott is buried. He stayed not far off at Abbotsford.

Its days of being pillaged and destroyed far in the past, Dryburgh is now a place of peace and tranquillity where the only sounds are the wind swishing the branches of trees, the chirping of visitors’ voices and the haunting rhythm of monastic chanting that seeps from the Chapter House.

Daffodils in bloom at Dryburgh Abbey

Dryburgh Abbey – a place of peace, tranquility and, on the day we visited, swathes of daffodils.


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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12 Responses to By a loop of the Tweed

  1. Rita Kay says:

    Your photo’s are beautiful, as always. I would love to go through the abbey, it must be quite an experience to see it. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful place.

    • I think we are surrounded by so many ruins here, of abbeys and tower houses, that we take them for granted. It’s only when you visit again with a camera do you appreciate them anew.

  2. Sheila says:

    Beautiful ruins. I love imagining the past in places like that. Mel Gibson might have made William Wallace look at little crazier than that statue. 🙂

    • The past is all around us here, a very bloody past at that. Many centuries of armies marching back and forward, doing all the things armies did at that time when at war. It’s a very peaceful place now but you can still sense the history.

  3. This would make the ultimate backdrop for an event, apart from high heels on the lawns… It’s beautiful!

    • What a wonderful idea. If only! You posted a photo recently of a shop window in Tokyo with models wearing striking hats. I could see a shot like that beside the woman’s head I posted. The past and the present.

  4. Beautiful pictures of nature and history.

  5. Cr says:

    I once spent six weeks visiting ruined abbeys in England and Scotland. Your post brings back wonderful memories. I live in San Francisco where such things do not exist. I wish I could go back, but alas I doubt I will be able.

    • That must have been really interesting. Sn Francisco may not have ruined abbeys but I’ve spent time looking into Fanny Stevenson’s life there. She married Robert Louis Stevenson the Scottish writer. Quite a lady with quite a tale to tell.

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