"Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

"The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again, I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what has yet to be...

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"

Friday, January 1, 2016

Melrose Abbey View

View to the Eildon Hills
(photo taken by Beth Kotkin, 8/2004)

From high on the roof of Melrose Abbey, statues remain that were not destroyed by the zealotry of the Scottish reformation. You can look out over some of the gardens. The Eildon Hills are in the backround.

These three hills were home to Celtic worship for many years. Fires burned from their three peaks during the high holidays of the wheel of the Celtic year.

When the Romans invaded, they built the fort known as "trimonitum" (or three hills) near here.

It is also said that King Arthur and his men still slumber in a cave in these hills. According to a tale told in the Borders, Thomas the Rhymer appeared to a horse-dealer and showed him a secret cave in the Eildon hills where King Arthur's army of ancient ghostly warriors lay sleeping. The horse dealer blew a horn to wake the army, but he ran in fright before blowing the second blast on the horn that would have brought them out of the cave.

So there they remain, still waiting in slumber and exile here to come to the aid of their descendants.

Or so says the legend.

Watching Over Ancient Graves

(taken by Beth Kotkin, 8/2004)

When we visited Melrose Abbey, we were allowed to climb to the roof up a very narrow and small ancient staircase that the monks had once used. It was so small that we had to go one at a time, and crouch down so as not to hit our heads. This a view from the stairs to the graves outside.

Melrose Arches

Melrose Arches
(photo taken by Beth Kotkin, 8/2004)

Interior view of the ruins at Melrose Abbey.

"When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go - but go alone the while-
Then view St. David's ruined pile;
And home returning, soothly swear;
Was ever scene so sad and fair;"

----by Sir Walter Scott "Lay of the Last Minstrel"

An Ancient Ancestor

Melrose Abbey 
(shot taken by Beth Kotkin 8/2004)

My most ancient Scottish ancestor, William de Somerville, descended from a Norman family that traveled to England from Normandy with William the Conquerer in 1066. William de Somerville came north from England in 1107 with King David I of Scotland to conquer and settle the Borders area of Scotland. He was buried somewhere here in this cemetery at Melrose while the church was first being built in 1142.

So many of the graves are so old that their markings have worn off, so I do not know which one was his. I walked the length of the graveyard to look at as many headstones as I could. I know he was there somewhere.

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