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The History of Melrose

Northumbrian Melrose and the Ionan Abbey of Mailros

In the sixth century AD the Anglo-British kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira were united to form the core of Northumbria. In the Seventh Century aggressive kings spread the Northumbrian empiry north east as far as Dunothar Castle, near Aberdeen, and to the south west to Chester on the Welsh border.

Melrose receives it's first mention in history when in 631 AD King Oswald on Northumbria invited Aidan of Iona (Saint to be) to set up a monastery at Lindisfarne with a daughter-house at Mailros, now Old Melrose. The first prior was Boisel, after whom the village of St Boswell is named. The site is on private land but may be best viewed from the famous Scott's View.

Lindisfarne and Mailros were missionary houses to convert the pagan Angles and Britons of Northumbria to Christianity, so Mailros and it's surrounding district must have been a major centre of population at that time. St Cuthbert, greatest holy man of Northumbria, a shepherd-boy in nearby Lauderdale, was novice, then monk then prior of Mailros Abbey. The confidant of Northumbrian kings, his relics are finally at rest in Durham Cathedral.

St Cuthberts name is preserved locally in St Cuthberts Chapel of which nothing now remains. Very recently, a long distance public walk of great interest was named St Cuthberts Way, stretching from Melrose to Lindsisfarne.

During the Northumbrian empire, a great dynastic battle of three days duration was fought in 761 AD at Eldunum near Mailros. Again a large and important population is implied. But this battle heralded the end of Northumbria.