Melrose could well be described as the perfect place to take your family on vacation. Nestled in the Scottish Borders there’s so much to do—sports, biking, hiking and fishing. However the ruins of Melrose Abbey also lie in this idyllic setting, and Melrose Abbey is the setting for a story that has terrified the locals for hundreds of years.
Founded in 1136, the Cistercian monks built Melrose into one of the richest monasteries in Scotland. It survived wars and, even when damaged by the British, was rebuilt—a magnificent building that was meant to last forever. Beyond its magnificence, however, lies something more sinister. The story of the “Hundeprest,” or you could say the Vampire of Melrose.
There once was a local chaplain who, by all accounts, liked all of life’s pleasures and was nicknamed, because of his love of hunting and his pack of dogs, “Dog Priest,” or Hundeprest. When this less-than-holy chaplain finally died, his soul could not find rest, and his evil spirit was seen wandering the streets of villages and towns in the area searching for victims. The local folk turned to monks of Melrose for help, and after praying, fasting and challenging the vampire, they fought it. Its mortal body was thrown into a fire and turned to ashes.
However, it is said that the creature tried to enter the abbey late at night in the form of a bat and then turning into a vampiristic creature. The monks managed to defeat him again through the power of prayer. Denied entry to the abbey, the creature stumbled upon the home of a lady who once worked for him. It is reported that he stayed close to her home screeching at her and causing unrest. She had no other choice but to call one of the most experienced monks from Melrose Abbey to investigate what was happening and to perform an exorcism.
The expert older monk bought along another monk and two novices to begin investigating the woman’s plight. They decided to watch the chaplain’s grave, and when day turned to night, the chaplain levitated out of his grave in vampire form, throwing the gravestone aside. A frightening sight, he began to approach the expert, wizened monk watching his grave. The monk retreated and lifted his staff and proceeded to smite the vampire over and over again until the grave opened with a terrible crash and the Hunderprest was swallowed into it.
The expert monk knew then that he was dealing with a great evil. He was fighting a true vampire, and he knew that he would have to open the grave as the first strains of sunlight entered the sky. They waited until morning, and the expert monk sent one of the novices to fetch tools to open the grave. When he returned, they starting digging and eventually opened the coffin—they found the Hunderprest, or Vampire Chaplain lying dead, grinning, with blood covering his cold lips. The expert monk ordered his body removed and to be burnt and his ashes scattered to the winds.
Today there are still those who say they can hear the screams of the chaplain who had, through the misdeeds of his life, become the very epitome of ungodly evil.