Photographer's Note

A search through some archive images unearthed another photograph which I took seven years ago of the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders.

Perhaps not so well known as Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh is a delightful place nonetheless. Founded around 1150 A.D. by Hugh de Moreville as part of the royal patronage for church reform, Dryburgh Abbey was home to a community of Premonstratensian canons and was the first and largest of six monasteries established by the order in Scotland. Hugh de Moreville was the main and wealthiest landowner in the area, his family having come across from Normandy a century earlier with William the Conqueror.

Dryburgh's location meant it inevitably became caught up in the wars between England and Scotland. In 1322 it is said that Edward II's army, retreating south to England, took exception to the sound of the bells of Dryburgh Abbey being rung to celebrate their defeat. So they burned it down.

What emerged from a rebuilding process that probably took another 100 years was even bigger and better than before, despite further destruction by another English army in 1385. But the completed abbey of the 1400s would only see a further century of active use. The end effectively came on 4 November 1544 when some 700 English troops mounted a raid across the border, destroying both Dryburgh Abbey and the nearby town of Dryburgh.

Hot on the heels of the marauding English came the Reformation in 1560. At the time there were eight monks or canons still at the abbey, plus the sub-prior. They were allowed to live out their lives at Dryburgh, but all had died by 1600. And that was the end of this Abbey whose ruins are now cared for under the auspices of Historic Scotland.

Here we are looking eastward along the line of the north wall of the nave of the Abbey church to the church's north transept, the best preserved part of the Abbey while, opposite to that on the right we can see the south wall of the south transept with its great south window.

As is common in ruined abbeys and churches, these ruins have since become a burial place for the rich and/or famous. In the north transept (near where the man in blue is walking) lies the grave of Sir Walter Scott, a famous Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet, who did much to transform the image of Scotland both at home and overseas. Amongst the most influential writers of the 19th Century, he is believed by many to be most renowned as the founder of the historical novel genre. He lived most of his life in the Scottish Borders at nearby Abbotsford House and prior to his death in 1832 it had been his wish to be interred at Dryburgh.

And also in the north transept are two apparently small and less flamboyant gravestones - those of Douglas Haig and his wife. Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig of Bemersyde was a British senior officer during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from 1915 to the end of the War. He was also commander during the Battle of the Somme, the battle with one of the highest casualties in British military history, the Third Battle of Ypres, and the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the armistice in 1918. He died in 1928 and both his grave and that of his wife are small and simple and identical to those graves of his soldiers who fell in battle.

ISO 200, 1/100 sec at f/14, focal length 19mm.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1985 W: 427 N: 7659] (30513)
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