May 2010 - Melrose Scotland
The following information is provided by Historic Scotland whose photos have a lot more blue sky than we had on our visit.
It was founded by King David I in 1136, as the first Cistercian monastery in Scotland. The spot was chosen due to its association with the early Christian monastery at nearby Old Melrose founded by St Aidan in about 640.
The abbey grew rich on the wool trade, suffered through the Wars of Independence, and was substantially rebuilt in the 1380s. It continued in use as an abbey until the Protestant Reformation of 1560. After that, the existing monks were allowed to stay on: the last one died in 1590.
The abbey is the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart, which is marked with a commemorative carved stone plaque.
The exterior is decorated with some of the most beguiling sculpture to be found on any medieval church building. It includes demons and hobgoblins, lute-playing angels, cooks with ladles, and of course the famous bagpipe-playing pig.
The famous pig piper! He was quite an elusive figure as we searched and hunted for him (along with other visitors) until we finally spotted him.
Apparently this was a very popular image in the medieval Celtic world. Pigs with bagpipes show up again and again in carvings and illuminations from Ireland, Scotland, and North England–and nobody is sure why. One reason I found, and like, is that bagpipes sound like a pig squealing. I, personally, like the bagpipes!!
John climbed the tower and took some great shots.