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Melrose Town Trail

Ormiston Institute


The Ormiston Institute

Next door is the Ormiston Institute, bequeathed to the town for recreational purposes by Charles Ormiston. Above the entrance there is a memorial clock dates which from 1892, dedicated to the physician and surgeon John Meikle. Inside is the Trimontium Exhibition, run by the local group the Trimontium Trust, showing many features of life on the Roman frontier and this is open from April until the end of October. The exhibition houses a variety of finds from the site of the Roman fort and camps and no visit to Melrose would be complete without a visit to this museum. In addition, guided walks are organised and led by members of the Trimontium Trust on Thursday afternoons from Easter to September. These take in some of the local sites associated with the Roman occupation of the Borders. Opposite is the red sandstone Bank of Scotland with its high round headed gable.

The importance of Melrose as a visitor attraction and market town is reflected in the number of hotels around the Square. Notable examples include 'Burts', 'The George & Abbotsford', 'King's Arms' and 'Millars'. The latter of these was once the family home of Catherine Helen Spence whose family emigrated to Australia in 1839 when she was 14 years old. Once there, she became a social and political reformer, eventually being called "The Grand Old Woman of Australia". It was here also that a meeting took place between Generals Eisenhower, Montgomery and Sikorsky prior to the D-Day landings in 1944.



Tourist Information Centre

One of the most colourful events in the town involves trying to catch and hide a rugby ball (called the marriage ball) which is kicked in to the crowd by a bride on her wedding day. Whoever catches the wedding ball has to hide it for three days, after which it becomes theirs and a much treasured object. This custom is derived from the ancient game called Handba' which is still played in some Border towns.

The Melrose Festival was inaugurated in 1936, based on the earlier local event known as the "Dingleton Picnic" which was held on Melrose Common. In 1937, the girl dux of the local school became the first Melrose Festival Queen. In 1938, the first Melrosian - the town's principal - was appointed. The Festival is held each June and, like many other Border towns that hold common ridings, the week-long event is keenly awaited. On the Saturday, the festival cavalcade visits the sites associated with the history and culture of Melrose, places such as: Trimontium; Gattonside; Darnick Tower; Abbotsford and the Abbey. During the celebrations, the Melrosian, his supporters, the Festival Queen and her court are welcomed at nearby Abbotsford, the former home of Sir Walter Scott. The party then returns to the Abbey where there is a re-enactment of the granting by King David I of the charter to Melrose Abbey.

From the corner of Market Square, turn down Abbey Street and head back towards the Tourist Information Centre and the end of this walk through Melrose, its architecture and history. Being a short walk, it has not been possible to include everything of interest but we hope that this has been enough to give you a flavour of the town and trust that you will return soon.


Melrose Town Trail

Walking in Melrose

walking in scotland with scottish walks.co.uk