Scottish Borders' history

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  • Floors Castle at dusk, Kelso
    Floors Castle, Kelso
  • Looking across moorland to Hermitage Castle, north of Newcastleton
    Hermitage Castle, north of Newcastleton
  • The remains of Jedburgh Abbey
    The remains of Jedburgh Abbey
  • Front facade of Traquair House, south of Innerleithen
    Traquair House, south of Innerleithen

It’s hard to believe that the rolling hillsides and picturesque towns of the Scottish Borders have witnessed centuries of fierce conflict and anarchy. For a long time after the erection of Hadrian’s Wall by the Romans in AD 122, the history of this serene region was plagued with violence.

The magnificent ruined abbeys of Melrose, Kelso, Jedburgh and Dryburgh still have the power to overwhelm with their sheer size, but their crumbling walls bear the scars of the Scottish Wars of Independence when they were a frequent target for invading English armies.

Marvel at these breathtaking testaments to medieval architecture while imagining what life would have been like for the Augustinian and Cistercian monks who lived here from the 12th to the 16th century.

The region is home to plenty of castles and stately homes that played a pivotal role during some of the most tumultuous periods of Scottish history. Traquair House is said to be the oldest inhabited residence in Scotland and was visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 before his infamous defeat at the Battle of Culloden the following year. To this day, a legend persists that its imposing gates will remain shut until there is a Stuart on the throne.

Hermitage Castle harks back to the lawless era of the Border Reivers when it was a formidable fortress. Set amongst lonely moorland, this eerie ruin boasts a history saturated in legend, intrigue and murder.

No visit to the Scottish Borders would be complete without seeing the splendid interior of Floors Castle. Admire its priceless collection of artworks and look for the Holly tree in the grounds that marks the spot where King James II was killed during a siege.

There are also plenty of attractions that shed light on the region’s industrial and local heritage such as Eyemouth Maritime Centre, Mary Queen of Scots House, Halliwell’s House Museum, and Robert Smail’s Printing Works