Things to Do in Southern Scotland
One of the most famous ruins in Scotland, Melrose Abbey is a fascinating monument known for its remarkably intact ruins and lavish sculptures including a bagpipe-playing pig. Founded in the early 12th century by Cistercian monks, Melrose Abbey may be most famous for being the burial site of King Robert the Bruce’s heart.
Named for Scotland's greatest Romantic novelist of the late 18th century, Sir Walter Scott, Scott's View affords travelers an epic panorama that spans southern Scotland's green landscape. The writer lived nearby while completing his greatest works, includingRob Roy andIvanhoe, and his favorite spot in nature (of many) was at the top of Bemersyde Hill above a meander in the river.
From here, travelers can see the three peaks of the Eildon Hills, the sparkling water of the River Tweed and the heather-clad hills, as well as the rolling Tweed Valley laid out below. In spring, the foreground is covered in jasmine-colored gorse, while in fall the view glows russet and brown. Sir Walter Scott so loved this view that his hearse pulled up here one final time on the way to his funeral.
These days a simple stone plinth and plaque marks the spot, which is included on a range of cycling and walking routes, plus many day trips from Edinburgh into the Borders area. Scott's View is a favorite local spot for newly married couples to be photographed.
With rugged mountains in the north and gentle rolling hills in the south, the Isle of Arran encapsulates the diverse beauty of the Scottish landscape. Visitors will find an array of attractions, including Neolithic standing stones, pretty fishing villages, castles, whisky distilleries, and beaches, as well as numerous hiking trails.
Lochranza Castle is a medieval castle on the Isle of Arran in southwestern Scotland. It sits on a narrow strip of land that juts out into Loch Ranza, and even though it is in ruins, it is still a fascinating castle to visit. Originally the castle was an old hall house built in the 1200s, but in the late 1500s it was incorporated into a newer tower house. The older castle had its main entrance one level up from the ground level. It was accessed by wooden stairs that could be removed if the castle was under attack. When the castle was rebuilt, the entrance was moved to the ground level.
Lochranza Castle was most likely owned by the MacSween family at one time, though ownership changed around the time of its reconstruction. When the tower house was built, the tower stood five stories tall. Today it is possible to access the ground level at the north and south ends of the castle as well as parts of the upper level.
Machrie Moor Standing Stones (Machrie Moor Stone Circles) is a collection of six prehistoric monuments dating back to the Neolithic period and the early Bronze Age. They were found and first recorded in 1861 by Irish naturalist James Bryce, who numbered them from 1 to 5. In addition to the standing stones, there are hut circles, ancient cisterns and burial cairns on site. It is believed that the most prominent stone circles were strategically placed so as to be as widely visible from every vantage point nearby. Rising starkly from the middle of rural fields, the three tallest pillars are made of red sandstone with the tallest at 18 meters. It is estimated that the stones were used for astrological purposes, often representing legendary figures in ancient folklore. The mystery and ancient history surrounding these stone structures makes for them particularly fascinating to visit. Summer Solstice is a notable time to see them, as they are specifically lit at sunrise at this time — which historians claim may point to their significance.
The award-winning Devil’s Porridge Museum pays homage to HM Factory Gretna, also known as the Greatest Munitions Factory on Earth. Experience the work of this important wartime site with interactive exhibits and virtual reality headsets, and learn about the history of this area of Scotland.
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