Dryburgh Abbey - Encyclopedia

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DRYBURGH ABBEY, a monastic ruin in the extreme southwest of Berwickshire, Scotland, about 5 m. S.E. of Melrose, and 14 m. E. of St Boswells station on the North British railway's Waverley route from Edinburgh to Carlisle. The name has been derived from the Gaelic darach broach," oak bank," in allusion to the fact that the Druids once practised their rites here. The abbey occupies the spot where, about 522, St Modan, an Irish Culdee, established a sanctuary - a secluded position on a tongue of land washed on three sides by the Tweed. Founded in 1150 by David I. - though it has also been ascribed to Hugh de Morville (d. 1162), lord of Lauderdale and constable of Scotland - it enjoyed great prosperity until 1322, when it was partially destroyed by the English under Edward II. It suffered again at the hands of Richard II. in 1385, and was reduced to ruin during the expedition of the earl of Hertford in 1545. After the Reformation the estate was erected into a temporal lordship and given (1604) by James VI. to John Erskine, 2nd earl of Mar. At a later date it was sold, but reverted to a branch of the Erskines in 1786, when it was acquired by the II th earl of Buchan. In 1700 the abbey lands belonged to Thomas Haliburton, Scott's greatgrandfather, and, but for an extravagant grand-uncle who became bankrupt and had to part with the property, they would have descended to Sir Walter by inheritance. "We have nothing left of Dryburgh," he said, "but the right of stretching our bones there." The style in general is Early English, but the west door and the restored entrance from the nave to the cloisters are fine examples of transitional Norman. Though in various stages of decay, nearly every one of the monastic buildings is represented by a fragment. Of the cruciform church-190 ft. long by 75 broad at the transepts - there remain some of the outer walls, a segment of the choir, the east aisle of the north transept, the stumps of some of the pillars of the nave, the west gable, the south transept and its adjacent chapel of St Modan. The most beautiful of these relics is St Mary's aisle of the north transept, in which were buried Sir Walter Scott (1832), his wife, son, his son-in-law John Gibson Lockhart, and his ancestors, the Haliburtons of New Mains. Sir Walter's tomb is a plain block of polished Peterhead granite, inscribed only with his name and the dates of his birth and death. The next aisle is the burial-place of the Erskines of Shielhill and the Haigs of Bemersyde. On the south side of the church, at a lower level, stand the cloisters, about Ioo ft. square, bounded on the west by the dungeons, on the south-west by the cellars and refectory, in the west wall of which is an exquisite ivy-clad rose window, and on the east by the chapter-house, on a still lower level. The chapter-house, a lofty building with vaulted roof, is the most'complete structure of the group, and adjoining it on the south are, first the abbot's parlour and then the library, the three apartments communicating with each other, and constituting the oldest portion of the abbey. In the grounds are many venerable trees, a yew near the chapter-house being at least coeval with the abbey.

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