Old Melrose - Early Christian Community

The main image is taken from Scott's View looking south west. The open land in the foreground is Old Melrose with the Eildons Hills behind. Melrose site to the right hand side of the hills beyond the ploughed fields.

This page provides information on Old Melrose the early Christian community that St Cuthbert joined in 652.

St Cuthbert (635 - 87) is thought to have been brought up in Lauderdale, and he became a shepherd near to the small community of Oxton. At the age of seventeen Cuthbert saw one night in a vision a great light in the sky, with a Christian soul being escorted to heaven by angels. He discovered the next day that St Aidan, the founder of the Old Melrose and Lindisfarne communities had died. He resolved at this stage to join the monastery at Old Melrose and then shortly became its third Prior.

St Cuthbert was the third Prior of Melrose following St Eata and St Boisel or Bossil. In reality the first community was in Old Melrose some two miles downstream from the present Abbey. It was not until 1136 that the Abbey and monastery of Melrose were built by Cistercian Monks from Rievaulx.

Map of Tweed and surrounding areas of Melrose and Old Melrose with St Cuthbert's Way maked by red dots. This is taken from out of copyright Bartholomew's Tweeddale Map

Old Melrose is east of Melrose and not directly on the Way. It is however close and is on a land peninsula surrounded by the Tweed. This was a relatively isolated area and was seen by the Monks as a place of peace and closeness to God. This site is recognised as one of the original and most important Holy Sites in Scotland and Northern England.

Parts of this loop in the Tweed are not open to the public except on special occasions. These photos were taken in June 2003 at an Eccumenical Service around the site of the original Christian Community.

Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3

Photo 1 - The current 18th Century buildings on the site of the Monks community
Photo 2 - The community extended as far as the woods to the west.
Photo 3 - Looking towards the eastern end of the community and the river bend at Scott's View

Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 6

Photo 4 - The most likely site of the St Cuthbert's Chapel
Photo 5 - Present day buildings of Old Melrose
Photo 6 - Low land below Old Melrose on the River Tweed

What is open to the public are the Old Dairy location, the Summerhouse with exhibition and the Monks Trail. What is not accessible is the Chapelknowe unless this is undertaken with a group guided by an approved guide. If this is of interest please contact Walking Support for further details.

A considerable percentage of the walkers on St Cuthbert's Way are walking it as a form of Christian Pilgrimage. For them knowledge of where St Cuthbert started his monastic life may be of considerable interest. If you are part of a Pilgrimage Group or Church related organisation and are looking for more support in planning and walking this route as a Pilgrimage then we suggest you link to Walking Support's Pilgrimage section where you may find items of help and interest.

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