Monday, November 1, 2010

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey is a Gothic-style abbey in Melrose, Scotland. It was founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks, on the request of King David I of Scotland. It was headed by the Abbot or Commendator of Melrose. The ruins of Melrose are widely considered among the most beautiful of religious houses in the United Kingdom, being especially notable for a wealth of well-preserved figure-sculpture, and its architecture is considered to be some of the finest in Scotland.

I was extremely fortunate to have had such a phenomenally clear day to capture this building in photos.  My new high definition camera really made some fantastic shots that I am quite pleased with. The interior is extraordinary as the sunlight illuminates the sculptural details and casts amazing shadows everywhere. 
The east end of the abbey was completed in 1146. Other buildings in the complex were added over the next 50 years. The abbey was built in the form of a St. John's cross. A considerable portion of the abbey is now in ruins, though a structure dating from 1590 is maintained as a museum open to the public.
Alexander II and other Scottish kings and nobles are buried at the abbey. The embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce is also said to rest on the abbey's grounds, while the rest of his body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey. In 1812, a stone coffin that some speculated was that of Michael Scot the philosopher and "wizard", was found in an aisle in the abbey's south chancel.
It is known for its many carved decorative details, including likenesses of saints, dragons, gargoyles and plants. One of the most well known is the "bagpipe playing pig".
On one of the abbey's stairways is an inscription by John Morow, a master mason, that says: "Be halde to ye hende" (Keep in mind, the end, your salvation), which has become the motto of the town of Melrose.

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