Visiting Historical Towns South of Edinburgh

By travellingwithmynikon | Nov 1, 2020
Europe > United Kingdom > Scotland

If you're based in Edinburgh, you could spend a day driving south and visiting the historical towns of Jedburgh, Melrose and Roslin.

Robert the Bruce and Mary, Queen of Scots, feature here in stories significant enough to rival its counterparts.

This blog was done during isolation and is why the maps are saying that the attractions are temporarily closed. I also haven't included opening times as they could change when everything reopens.

Jedburgh

Jedburgh is an hour and a quarter south of Edinburgh. This is the town that I drove down to first, to start my journey exploring these three towns.

You can easily find the attractions in Jedburgh walking from one to the other. You can park at the large car park on Canongate near the VisitScotland iCentre. In this town, you will find a lot of Scottish history, and the walls don't have to talk to learn about it.

Mary, Queen Of Scot's House

Just a short walk from the car park is Mary, Queen of Scot's House, a residence where she only spent a month of her life.

Mary, Queen of Scot's House

Mary, Queen of Scot's House

You are free to wander around this three-storey house, which has yet another spiral staircase from the period. This one is a left-handed spiral. The Kerr's who owned the house were left-handed, and it was the best way to defend yourself if needed.

Paintings, documents and jewellery bring her story to life, which also includes one of the surviving death masks on display.

Mary, Queen of Scots Death Mask

Mary, Queen of Scots Death Mask

2020 Opening Times

2 Mar 2020 - 30 Nov 2020

Monday 09:30-17:30
Tuesday 09:30-17:30
Wednesday 09:30-17:30
Thursday. 09:30-17:30
Friday 09:30-17:30
Saturday. 09:30-17:30
Sunday. 10:00-15:00

Admission is free, although donations are welcomed.

Jedburgh Castle Jail And Museum

The Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum is the longest walk you'll take in this town, and it's uphill to the Jail and Museum. You could also park here in their large car park.

Jedburgh Castle and Jail with the museum inside

Jedburgh Castle and Jail with the museum inside

Inside you'll find cells with prisoners' stories of how they lived during their incarceration, and plenty of interactive activities, especially for the kids.

In the museum, you'll find an audio-visual guide as well artefacts telling tales of those who occupied these lands over the centuries. For the kids, there is a chance to dress up and feel what it was like for kids a couple of hundred years ago, incarcerated.

Artefacts and information boards give you an insight into this site through the ages

Artefacts and information boards give you an insight into this site through the ages

Jedburgh Jail and Museum is an excellent attraction for the whole family as the kids will be entertained as well as you.

Opening Hours:

  • Thursday: 10:00 – 16:30
  • Friday: 10:00 – 16:30
  • Saturday: 10:00 – 16:30
  • Sunday: 10:00 – 15:00
  • Monday: 10:00 – 16:30
  • Tuesday: 10:00 – 16:30
  • Wednesday: 10:00 – 16:30

Admission is free, although donations are welcomed.

Jedburgh Abbey

Part of Historic Scotland, Jedburgh Abbey can be used with your Explorer Pass if you have one. It is well worth getting a pass if you are visiting Scotland, as even visiting a few of their sites to help save you money.

The visitor centre has displays of artefacts and stone carvings dating back 1300 years that have been excavated from the grounds.

The Abbey belonged to the Augustinian monks who lived a secluded life but still helped the community in the 1100s.

Jedburgh Abbey complete with picnic tables

Jedburgh Abbey complete with picnic tables

Its demise was down to the disputes between Scotland and England. Being on the Borders, the Abbey was always in the firing line and of course there was the Protestant Reformation of 1560, which signalled the end.

Walking through the beautifully carved architecture gives you a sense of its grandeur

Walking through the beautifully carved architecture gives you a sense of its grandeur

Even in its ruined state, you can get an idea of how big this Abbey was. As you walk through its archways and around the grounds, it really is a marvel of its time.

Opening Hours:

1 Apr to 30 Sept:

  • Daily, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • Last entry 5pm

1 Oct to 31 Mar:

  • Daily, 10am to 4pm
  • Last entry 3.30pm

Admission:

Member/Explorer Pass holder: FREE
Adult: £6.00
Child aged 5-15: £3.60
Child under 5: FREE
Concession: £4.80

Melrose

At just over an hour south of Edinburgh, Melrose is the second place I stopped at on my way back up to Edinburgh.

Melrose Abbey

Another Historic Scotland site, Melrose Abbey is another example of how big and grand the Abbeys were in their time.

The ruins of Melrose Abbey are impressive even in their present state

The ruins of Melrose Abbey are impressive even in their present state

Once again its history is marred by the constant battles between the Scots and the English.

In the carved stoneworks up high on the walls, keep a lookout for the famous bagpipe-playing Melrose pig.

Melrose Abbey was also a favourite place for Robert the Bruce who declared that he would like his heart to be buried here. In 1996 during excavations, the urn containing his heart was found. He is now buried somewhere within the Abbey without a marker.

The stone marker, which represents where Robert the Bruce's heart, was buried

The stone marker, which represents where Robert the Bruce's heart, was buried

Opening Hours:

1 Apr to 30 Sept:

  • Daily, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • Last entry 5pm

1 Oct to 31 Mar:

  • Daily, 10am to 4pm
  • Last entry 3.30pm

Admission:

  • Member/Explorer Pass holder: FREE
  • Adult: £6.00
  • Child aged 5-15: £3.60
  • Child under 5: FREE
  • Concession: £4.80

Roslin

Roslin is the closest town at only a 20-minute or so drive south of Edinburgh, but has just as much to show you as the others.

Rosslyn Chapel

Known as being a star in The Da Vinci Code, Rosslyn Chapel attracts around 200,000 visitors a year with a car park large enough to accommodate everyone.

Interactive information boards are in the visitors centre as well as information talks inside the Chapel regularly during the day. It is in these talks that you hear about the secrets that Rosslyn holds in its carvings and how the Chapel came about.

The intricate stonework of Roslyn Chapel

The intricate stonework of Roslyn Chapel

I cannot begin to describe what it is like inside. The intricate work on the stone really does have to be seen to be believed, and there is so much of it.

I can understand why you can't photos as there are people everywhere looking up and around and it wouldn't be pretty if you added cameras to the mix.

The stonework is just as impressive outside the Chapel as inside

The stonework is just as impressive outside the Chapel as inside

Outside in the grounds, you can learn what it was like to live during the late Middle Ages into the Renaissance.

You can learn all about make-up in the Middle Ages from the informative staff

You can learn all about make-up in the Middle Ages from the informative staff

The Chapel is open every day of the year except 24, 25 December and 1 January, but once again check the website for opening times before you visit.

Admission:

  • Adults £9.00
  • Concessions £7.00
  • Under 18s with family FREE

Roslin Glen Country Park And Rosslyn Castle

Just a short walk from the Chapel is the Roslin Glen Country Park and Rosslyn Castle.

The ruins of Rosslyn Castle also include the "new" house, which is private but is used for rental accommodation. You can walk across the bridge and see what is left of the old castle before heading down the path to the Roslin Glen Country Park for a walk in nature.

The remains of old Rosslyn Castle and the stone bridge to it

The remains of old Rosslyn Castle and the stone bridge to it

You could also drive down to Roslin Country Park to explore the many walkways that it contains.

Cross over the river via the bridge to take you into the parkland

Cross over the river via the bridge to take you into the parkland

Wander beside the river and amongst the trees in this nature oasis. Enjoy a picnic before exploring the grounds and find the spot that was used in season one of Outlander, at the Old Gunpowder Mill.

Enjoy a picnic before continuing on your walk

Enjoy a picnic before continuing on your walk

If you only have the time to visit one of these towns South of Edinburgh, then I would recommend Roslin and the Rosslyn Chapel. If you're interested in architecture, then this is definitely the place for you and not to be missed.

You can read more of my blogs on Scotland here Exploring the Highlands, Family Fun in Falkirk, Spend a Few Days in Fife, Surprising Lanarkshire, Visit Perthshire and What to See and Do in Glasgow.

Melrose Edinburgh Jedburgh History Things to do Roslin

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Written by travellingwithmynikon
Hi. My name is Kim and I love to travel especially getting about in nature. I have only really started this seriously at the end of 2018 but I'm loving the lifestyle and community.

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