The Wonder of Melrose Abbey

December 17, 2014 by Keith Savage
Melrose Abbey, Melrose, Scotland

Last week I wrote one of my unabashedly florid Picture This posts about Melrose Abbey, but the abbey deserves a more complete survey as it is perhaps the finest abbey ruin in all of Scotland. Few ruins can rival the completeness of the remaining structure and evoke the grandeur of what it must have looked like during the height of Melrose Abbey’s power. The simple fact is that this is the big daddy of them all, the primary draw of visitors to the Scottish Borders, and I’m happy to say it delivers. Does it ever. Each footstep upon the emerald turf crushes history from the ground, and the wind whistling over the Eildon Hills weaves it into a cloak of wonder draped over the abbey’s impressive shoulders. Read more...

Picture This: Melrose Abbey, Heart of the Borders

December 10, 2014 by Keith Savage
Melrose Abbey in April, Melrose, Scotland

Be halde to ye hende. I am ascending the staircase when I spot the words carved into the stone, the mark of a stonemason, not a vandal, by their neatness. The words fade, their meaning inscrutable, as I gaze across the Tweed Valley from the ruins of Melrose Abbey. The Eildon Hills stand in shadow wheezing tales of Trimontium and the Queen of Elfhame while dignified Melrose town clings to the River Tweed like a child upon its mother’s frock.

Here in the heart of the Borders, Melrose Abbey is an edifice that defies you to believe the best is yet to come.
Read more...

A Visit to Dryburgh Abbey at the Hour of Nones

December 3, 2014 by Keith Savage
Dryburgh Abbey, Scottish Borders, Scotland

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my visit to the south of Scotland became something of a pilgrimage to the ruined abbeys that stand as testament to the destructive powers of faith and sovereignty. As my journey took me from Dumfries & Galloway to the Scottish Borders, so my gaze shifted from Dundrennan, Glenluce, and Sweetheart abbeys to their famous Borders brethren. While most of the abbeys in this part of Scotland share similar stories – founded in the Middle Ages, risen to power during the Wars of Scottish Independence, and ruined during the Reformation – it is their situation and their gorgeous architecture that separates them today. Read more...

State of the Savage: November 2014

November 25, 2014 by Keith Savage
Cave Point, Door County, Wisconsin

It may come as a surprise to you to learn I am not Scottish nor do I live in Scotland. I am of Scottish descent (and also German and Italian), but I spend the vast majority of my time at home in Wisconsin where I was born and raised. Most people who contact me assume I’m a Scot living in Scotland, and many are downright shocked to learn I’m an American. I get it – those reactions make sense. After all, it makes sense logistically, financially, and, well, by default to be living in and from the place one passionately writes about.

But travel shows us otherwise. How else can we explain the deep desire to go elsewhere… Read more...

To the Point of Scott’s View

November 19, 2014 by Keith Savage
Scott's View of the Eildon Hills, the Scottish Borders, Scotland

Just east of Abbotsford lies one of the Scottish Borders’s greatest viewpoints: Scott’s View. This was the place where Sir Walter Scott would stop on his way home to Abbotsford and take in the gorgeous Tweed Valley and Eildon Hills. He halted here so often, the story goes, that his horse would stop of its own volition, and, in fact, this is said to have happened after his death as the horses carried his body to Dryburgh Abbey.

Over time the view acquired his namesake, and I imagine it is as stunning today as it was back in the early 19th century. There are few places that provide a better feel for the heart of the central Borders. Read more...