Saints and Stones: Sweetheart
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The story of the founding of Sweetheart Abbey is held to be a testament to the enduring power of love. On 10 April 1273, Lady Devorgilla signed a charter establishing a new Cistercian abbey here in memory of her husband, John Balliol, who had died four years earlier.

Lady Devorgilla's love for her departed husband extended to carrying his embalmed heart around with her in an ivory box with enamelled silver trimmings. After her death in 1289, she was buried in the sanctuary of the abbey church she had founded, and on her instructions the casket containing her husband's heart was buried beside her.

While the abbey became known as Sweetheart, the village that grew to serve it stuck with the original and more straightforward name of New Abbey. This was intended primarily to distinguish it from the not so distant Dundrennan, home of Sweetheart Abbey's mother house, Dundrennan Abbey.

The end of Sweetheart Abbey as an active religious community followed the Reformation of 1560

About Sweetheart

Historic Scotland: Sweeheart Abbey
Undiscovered Scotland: Sweetheart Abbey
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: New Abbey (Sweetheart Abbey)
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: Cistercians
Wikipedia: Cistercians

Journey to Sweetheart

Sweetheart Abbey is located on the A710 near the town of New Abbey in Dumfries in Dumfries and Galloway in southwest Scotland.

Ordnance Survey Map (NX9666)

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at the Historic Scotland Sweetheart Abbey website. General tourist information is at the Dumfries & Galloway website.

Additional Photos of Sweetheart

Descriptive Sign at Sweetheart Abbey
Sweetheart Abbey
Arched Doorway of West Cloister, Sweetheart Abbey
Arches in the Nave, Sweetheart Abbey
Arches in the Nave, Sweetheart Abbey
Arches, Sweetheart Abbey
Broken Rose Window in South Transept, Sweetheart Abbey
Rose Window in Nave, Sweetheart Abbey
Effigy of Lady Devorgilla with Embalmed Heart of Her Husband, Sweetheart Abbey
The Nave, Sweetheart Abbey
The Great East Window, Sweetheart Abbey
Looking Out to the Countryside from Sweetheart Abbey


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