This is the ninth volume of the Pevsner Architectural Guides to the Buildings of Scotland, and it makes a fascinating addition to the bookshelf of anyone with an interest in Scotland's buildings or in the Borders. As ever with the Pevsner series of guides, what you get is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the key buildings and settlements of the area, complete with a section of colour photographs of the most interesting places referred to in almost 800 pages of text.
And it does make a worthy addition to the series: the Scottish Borders have some of the most romantic countryside in Scotland, ranging from rocky coastline to rolling moors and farmland. The early buildings reflect a history of conflict, expressed in the plethora of castles and tower houses of the Anglo-Scottish Wars and their aftermath. As much a testament to a turbulent past are the ruins of the great Borders abbeys, a concentration almost without equal in Britain. The River Tweed provides the delightful setting for the burghs of Peebles, Galashiels, Melrose and Kelso. Here are fine Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian public buildings alongside the remains of the once mighty textile industry, ranging from small weavers' cottages to colossal nineteenth-century mills. Country houses of exceptional quality and importance include Thirlestane Castle, with its interiors of royal pretension; Traquair, perhaps the ideal of Scottish architecture; Palladian grandeur at Paxton; the stunning Adam interiors of Mellerstain; baronial wit at Playfair's Floors Castle; ducal comfort at Bowhill and Edwardian opulence at Manderston.
One man above all, however, has set his stamp: Sir Walter Scott, whose home, Abbotsford, is of world reknown as the fount of nineteenth-century Scottish Romanticism. Its atmospheric interior, rich in antiquarian relics, is one of the earliest to have been designed to receive tourists. This comprehensive and revealing guide also seeks out little-known shooting and fishing lodges, rural steadings, Arts and Crafts villas, Art Deco schools and even the extraordinary Sunderland House. Such ingredients make the Borders one of the most architecturally enticing regions of Scotland.