Tracing Roman history in Melrose, Scotland’s most appealing Borders town

Robin McKelvie goes back two millennia to discover what the Romans found most appealing about the market town of Melrose

Thursday 25 February 2021 15:18
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<p>Walking by the banks of the River Tweed</p>

Walking by the banks of the River Tweed

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ou can see why the Romans made a beeline for Melrose when they bashed north into Caledonia. They were drawn to the trio of sentinel peaks that preside over what today is the most appealing of the Scottish Borders market towns.

Atop the Eildon Hills I’m similarly beguiled, looking out over the cinematic sweep of the Tweed Valley unfurling below. I’m not just here in search of the Romans, though: this is a landscape alive with tales of King Arthur, Robert the Bruce and Sir Walter Scott. Swirl in the Fairy Queen and the imminent arrival of the Great Tapestry of Scotland and this is quite a year to follow in the sandalled steps of the Romans.

As a proud Scot it’s tempting to take pride in the fact that the Romans never conquered Caledonia, instead strapping a Trump-style wall (the Antonine) across the central belt to keep our brave warriors out. The more I explore, though, I reckon maybe they just liked Melrose.

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