It is possible to view the upper parts of Melrose Abbey via a spiral staircase on the west side of the south transept of the church.
A series of drains cut across the site of Melrose Abbey. On the north side of the site, running south-east, is the Great Drain. It passes the Commendator’s House. The water was derived from the river Tweed.
On the east site of the abbey is the latrine pit for the reredorter for the monks’ dorter, that is connected to the Great Drain.
Melrose Abbey was a Cistercian foundation from Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. It was placed in State Guardianship in 1919.
The first guidebook was prepared by James S. Richardson and Marguerite Wood (1932). A second edition was prepared in 1949, and this continued into the period when the abbey was cared by the Department of the Environment. This phase coincided with a short card guide (1963), and a wider illustrated guide to the Border Abbeys (1964).
The guide by Richardson and Wood was revised by C. J. Tabraham (1981; revised 1989). This was illustrated in black and white, and contained a plan of the abbey inside the back card cover. This was further revised in 1995 and then reprinted in 2003.
This Historic Scotland guide has been revised by the ‘Official Souvenir Guide’ prepared by Chris Tabraham (2005). It is fully illustrated, much in colour. The guide includes the reconstruction by Alan Sorrell.
The infirmary at Rievaulx lies on the south [east] side of the complex, adjacent to the infirmary cloister. It consisted of a hall running east-west [north-south], with an arcade on the south [east] side of the wall where the columns can still be seen. Cuttings suggest that there were internal wooden partitions.
In the late 15th century, when John Burton was abbot, the infirmary was converted into the abbot’s house.
The rood screen separated the lay brothers’ choir (at the west end of the abbey church) from the retrochoir. The nave altar stood at this point.
Note the square ends to the columns in the lay brothers’ choir.
I have noted before the souvenir guide for the Border Abbeys, published in 1964: Dryburgh, Kelso, Jedburgh and Melrose. A small card guide (with colour printing) to Melrose Abbey was issued by MPBW in 1963. On the reverse was a tour of the abbey, ending at the ‘attractive museum’. The cost was 4d (with the adult entry to the site at 1s). The suggested station was Melrose.
The MPBW card guide (monochrome on blue card) to Jedburgh Abbey is less elaborate with the tour inside with small sketches to illustrate the key features. The cost of this guide was 2d (with the adult entry to the site at 1s).
A further leaflet was available for Kelso Abbey.
The route from the car park at Sweetheart Abbey allows visitors to make a choice: the churchyard or the abbey ruins.