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Meet Mark Gillie from Dryburgh Abbey – HES

July 18th 2018

Near the foot of the Eildon Hills with the River Tweed meandering around it lies the most picturesque of all the border abbeys, Dryburgh. As you stroll through the grounds, stop and listen to hear the birds chirping and see the squirrels jumping from tree to tree. If you are lucky to get there early enough when it’s quiet you might even hear woodpeckers and cuckoos in the morning.

The wildlife and Abbey, whilst exceptional, are only part of this historic site. There are also many stunning trees and an abundance of flowers. The site is home to Atlas Cedars, California Redwoods, Tibetan Cherry’s and Alpine Laburnums.


It is also home to the Dryburgh Yew, a tree that was allegedly planted by a monk in 1136. This tree is in fact considered to be amongst some of the most important trees in Scotland.

But getting away from the trees and heading down towards the Tweed, you can hear the ducks quacking away and the fish splashing around. I’ve been lucky enough to see some otters down there as well as an osprey!

There’s also a dedicated space for wildflowers near the abbey. Last year, we started to leave areas of the grass down at the bottom of the site to see how it would look like with some paths cut through it. As it grew, there were plenty of buttercups creeping in, along with some forget-me-nots and yarrow. When summer started to approach, we sowed various wild flower seeds like poppy, yellow rattle, red and white campion and ox eye daisy to name but a few! We’re fully expecting the entire area to start bursting with colour as summer goes on!

But we don’t spend all our time focusing on areas outside the abbey. Inside the abbey, our seasonal monument custodian, Scott Barden, has sown some wild poppy seeds. We’re expecting these to burst into colour any day now, so make sure you pop along.

Poppies in Britain are more commonly associated with Remembrance Sunday in November, and Dryburgh Abbey is the burial site of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, who served as Commander of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front.