Ceremony At The Grave of Sir Walter Scott by Alasdair Hutton

At Dryburgh Abbey today (21st September 2016) our former Chairman, Alasdair Hutton held a ceremony at the grave of Sir Walter. 

dryburghabbey21stsept.2016.jpgOn this day in 1832 the greatest of all Scottish writers, Sir Walter Scott, died at his beloved home at Abbotsford only a little way from here further up the Tweed, a day which ironically was only a day after the 320th anniversary of Flodden by the calendar which we use today. He was only 61 but he left us and his country a legacy of writing unsurpassed by any writer before or since.

Just over two hundred years ago in 1813 Scott had moved in to the little farmhouse which was to become the Abbotsford he loved and two hundred years ago he faced the agonising decision of which way to turn as a writer. He was slipping out of favour with the public as a poet and decided to turn his hand to prose with the astonishing results we have with us today.

And when his business decisions turned sour he did not blame anyone else but displayed a sense of honour unequalled in our history writing himself to death to pay off the debts which he took on his own shoulders.

Now his remains lie here in this lovely, sanctified place in a bend of the River Tweed. He built his magnificent and now happily reborn Abbotsford to overlook the Tweed and it was from its windows he was able to watch the River as he slipped from this world 184 years ago.

 So, it is right that today we should remember Sir Walter here at his graveside and I thought that a handful of his own lines in his Coronach from Lady of the Lake, very slightly adapted, would be fitting.

CORONACH by Sir Walter Scott

He is gone on the mountain,

He is lost to the forest,

Like a summer-dried fountain,

When our need was the sorest.

The font reappearing

From the raindrops shall borrow,

But to us comes no cheering,

To Sir Walter no morrow!


The hand of the reaper

Takes the ears that are hoary,

But the voice of the weeper

Wails manhood in glory.

The autumn winds rushing

Waft the leaves that are searest,

But our flower was in flushing

When blighting was nearest.


Fleet foot on the corrie,

Sage counsel in cumber,

Red hand in the foray,

How sound is thy slumber!

Like the dew on the mountain,

Like foam on the river,

Like the bubble on the fountain,

Thou art gone; and for ever!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Stockdale