It was beguiling Border landscapes and legends that first fired the imagination of the young Walter Scott, providing a formative starting point for the remarkable journey that was to follow.
And it is impossible to overstate the importance of Sir Walter Scott.
The son of an Edinburgh solicitor he was sent to his grandparents’s farm in the Borders to recuperate after suffering from polio. At Sandyknowe, in the shadow of Smailholm Tower, he was taught to read and listened to local legends and folk tales. Later he studied at Kelso Grammar School – a building still standing next to the town’s ruined abbey.
It was to be the start of a love affair with the region that lasted all his life. He settled in the Borders when he was appointed Sheriff Substitute of Selkirkshire and his courtroom is preserved as a museum in the town of Selkirk.
Soon after his appointment, in 1811, he started work on building Abbotsford on the site of a run down farm called Cartley Hole.
Those who would know more about the man, and there are growing numbers who do, can follow a dozen tourist trails taking in Scott’s favourite Border haunts. They provided inspiration for storylines and characters for his books and poems.
But to understand more about the man all roads must surely lead to Abbotsford, his magnificent “conundrum castle” home tucked away amidst 100 picturesque acres between Melrose and Selkirk.
Here he assembled a treasure trove that clearly reflects the enlightened times in which he lived: a massive collection of books, artefacts, porcelain and paintings that also display an insatiable curiosity in the world at large and in particular Scotland.
His contributions to the world of literature and to Scotland, are only matched by the legacy he left for the Borders.
Explore the Borders is delighted to be working with The Abbotsford Trust to develop this special section dedicated to Sir Walter Scott.
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