Many thanks to HES and Emma Aviet for inviting us to participate in a workshop exploring British women writers and what they’ve had to say about Melrose Abbey. Every writer present also had something to say. The surroundings, history, and camaraderie inspired our creative minds to produce an amazing selection of rich and varied prose and poetry on 23rd July 2022.
Approximately twelve local writers took part despite a few spits of rain.
The Borders Writers Forum (BWF) members are always looking at innovative opportunities to learn
and experience new writing techniques, and to collaborate with organisations which are supportive
of this. So, it was no surprise to discover that the majority of the 13 people who attended a
Workshop on Historical Writing, held by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) at the ruins of Melrose
Abbey, on Saturday 23 rd July, 2022 were in fact members of the BWF. Some were also members of
the Kelso Writers Forum.
During the event, there was an opportunity to walk the grounds and to stop and read out loud some
relevant historical writing, poetry and prose, by Miss Anne Bannerman, Dorothy Wordsworth and
Felcia Dorothea Hermans. This had been researched by the co-ordinator at HES, Miss Emma Aviet.
Miss Aviet, is American and is here in Scotland for her PhD as well as a journey of discovery. She is a
student of Edinburgh University and is currently doing a SGSAH-funded internship with Historic
Each person had the opportunity to take in the information at their own pace, as we read out each
of the historic pieces written by female contemporaries of Sir Walter Scott. It is believed that they
were acquainted with Scott and it was interesting to speculate how these female writers, who were
often encouraged to write under a male pseudonym in those days, could have been influenced by
Scott or indeed may have had an influence on the writer himself.
After around 45 minutes exploring the grounds of the Abbey, including a stop at the place where
the heart of Robert the Bruce lay buried, and to lament on the historical importance of this King. We
had a break for coffee before being asked to write in our own words what came via the inspiration of
this tour. The workshop for writing was held indoors, but some chose to go outside to be further
inspired by the tranquillity of the surroundings for further inspiration.
Miss Aviet, recorded each person work as they were read out and it was clear that the superbly
executed workshop was indeed an inspiration for all. Miss Aviet was happy with the outcome of the
workshop, and thanked everyone for their efforts. She also sent an email sent afterwards saying “ I
found it very inspiring to listen to the work you produced during our session together.”
Inspiring writers are welcome to join the BWF who can be contacted by email on
Historic Environment Scotland is a membership organisation, based in Edinburgh and is the lead
public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment. Details
can be found at Historicenvironment.scot