Every year in April the border town of Melrose becomes the focus of international attention.
The occasion is the Melrose Sevens, a rugby event devised and first played in the town in 1877. Cue TV cameras, about 16,000 visitors (that’s six times the resident population) and rugby union’s red carpet for some of the sport’s top players,
The Sevens is one of the biggest events held in the Borders and attracts followers from all over the world.
But this small town has plenty of other claims to fame and is well used to welcoming visitors from all over the world. Its enduring appeal can be measured by the number of excellent hotels and guest houses it supports.
Close by is one of the biggest Roman presences in Scotland, the supply camp of Trimontium, and wherever you go in Melrose the Abbey is sure to be not far away.
The abbey was founded in 1136 by the Cistercian monks from Rievaulx in Yorkshire. They were know as white monks because of the unbleached wool of their habits.
St Cuthbert was part of the abbey community before he moved on to the island of Lindisfarne off the Northumberland coast and eternal glory at Durham as one of the north’s best loved saints.
Melrose is the starting point of the 64-mile St Cuthbert’s Walk which criss-crosses the borders on its way to Holy Island.
The abbey is also reputedly the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart, after it had been taken for use as a talisman by Scots fighting to remove the Moors from Spain.
The mason’s who helped build the abbey have been linked to the freemasons’ Lodge of Melrose – St John No 1. It houses a plaque bearing the mason’s coat-of-arms with the date 1156 and proven antiquity with a minute book dating back to 1674.
Melrose Lodge, standing in the High Street, was the last independent lodge to join the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1891.
A visit to Melrose will not disappoint.