Historic Houses and Abbeys

Category page: History Houses and Abbeys Around The Scottish Borders.

The Borders has a wealth of historic house to view, from Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford at Melrose to the largest inhabited castle in Scotland, Floors Castle at Kelso. As well there are Mellerstain House nr Earlston, Manderston House nr Duns, Paxton House nr Berwick on Tweed, Traquair House nr Peebles, Thirlestane Castle nr Lauder, Harmony House in Melrose, Monteviot House nr Jedburgh and Bowhill House nr Selkirk. All have their grandeur or charm in different measure. Even older examples of our heritage exist in Neidpath Castle, Roxburgh and Hermitage Castle.

The famous four ruined abbeys of Dryburgh, Melrose, Jedburgh and Kelso were all destroyed by King Henry V111’s armies in a process called Rough Wooing in the 1540’s. Kelso Abbey, one of the grandest was subjected to sustained cannon fire. Dryburgh, the most remote and atmospheric abbey is a fine example of Gothic architecture. At Jedburgh Abbey explore the herb garden and see the artifacts on display. Melrose Abbey is reputed to be the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart. For details of opening times go to www.historic-scotland.gov.uk


The home of Lord Palmer, Manderston is the last of the supreme country houses of the Edwardian era. When the architect, John Kinross, was re-modelling the house to Sir James Miller’s taste he asked for a budget and was told that he could spend as much as he wanted “it simply doesn’t matter”. He was charged with creating a house as cooly elegant as neo-classical Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire where Lady Miller had lived as a child, large enough to house an army of servants and grand enough for entertaining.

Floors Castle

Home of the Duke of Roxburghe, Floors Castle. The castle is not only a Duke’s family home, but also the heart of the diverse Roxburghe Estates in a beautiful part of the Scottish Borders, outside Kelso. Just over an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and Newcastle, visit this stunning Castle and see for yourself the collection of fine art, porcelain, newly restored tapestries, grand rooms and superb views. Originally a grand Georgian house it was re-modelled in the mid 1800’s to become what it is today.

The estate has woodland and riverside walks, formal and informal gardens, including a garden centre and lots of places to sit and watch the world go by.

Traquair House

Traquiar House is the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland, originally a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland. Whilst not strictly a castle, it is built in the style of a fortified mansion and predates the Scottish Baronial style of architecture, and may have been one of the influences on this style. It contains a brewery, originally the house brewery, re-discovered in the 1960’s, which makes Jacobite Ale and House Ale. Traquair is approx. 5 mile from Peebles.

Mellerstain House

A William and Robert Adam masterpiece in the heart of the borderlands, one of Scotland’s finest stately homes and family residence of the 13th Earl of Haddington. Paintings by Gainsborough, Van Dyke, Ramsay and Aitken, embroidery, china and furniture collections are all on display.Admire classical perfection of Robert Adam’s architecture and interior decoration, and be inspired by the friendly atmosphere and romantic location of one of Scotland’s greatest Georgian houses.
The gardens and grounds offer a play area, cafe and walks.

Thirlestane Castle

Grandeur that’s distinctively different. Fairytale Thirlestane has the look of a Bavarian castle and yet curiously Scottish.The central part of the present castle was completed in 1590, remodelled in the 1670s, and then again in the 1840s. Nestled in an idyllic part of Lauder in the Scottish Borders, the keen eyed will spot Thirlestane Castle as the blaze of red turrets reaching skyward above the line of the trees just off the A68. An annual Historic Motoring Extravaganza is held in the grounds of the castle more information on their website http://www.bvac.org.uk/

Paxton House

This 18th Century Mansion situated by the River Tweed is surrounded by exquisite gardens and woodland. Built by architect John Adam this stunning house boasts some incredible rooms, such as the Picture Gallery. Thought to be the largest private gallery of any country house in Scotland having over seventy paintings from the late 18th and early 19th century. The Paxton Trust now takes care of the property in order to preserve its wonderful history.


Situated in the heart of the Ettrick Valley this hidden treasure is set in an ancient Royal hunting forest. Boasting glorious grounds surrounded by heather covered hills and winding glens this estate is a rural treat for anybody. The house itself is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleugh and tours of the famous Buccleugh art collection, tapestries and fine furnishings are offered on select days throughout the year.

Abbotsford House

Discover the home of Sir Walter Scott situated on the banks of the River Tweed. Learn about Scott’s life and see for yourself the inspiration behind some of Scott’s poetry and novels. Wonder the grounds and the nearby woodlands and take a tour of the Visitors Centre.

Monteviot House

Overlooking the River Teviot this stunning house holds a fascinating history. Not only set up as a hospital during the war, but also as a rest home for missionaries the following 12 years, this house has also been lived in by diplomats, farmers and artists. The grounds are extensive at 30 acres, surrounding the house on all sides with a mixture of gardens, woodland and parkland.

A wealth of history awaits you in the Borders, whether it be Abbey ruins, stately homes or ancient castles and monuments. The turbulent Border country has history from Roman times, early Christianity, the Border Reivers to the present day and all have left a mark on the area. The beautiful countryside and coastline offer a glimpse of a different way of life today and yesterday. Come and stay and stay longer (for you will need the time).

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