Monday, September 23, 2013


Welcome back to my dream holiday to Scotland and the next part of our exciting journey.
After leaving the formidable Threave Castle, my husband and I returned east. These are some of the inland sights we saw along the way.
                 Highland Cattle                    
Black-Faced Sheep
We left the luscious green rolling hills and pastures and continued along the Solway Coast Road.
A rather murky looking Solway Firth
And arrived at our next destination. Though not a castle, we couldn't pass by as this destination has both a romantic history and a romantic name.
Sweetheart Abbey North Transept & Great Arches of the Nave
The Story Of Sweetheart
On the 10th of April 1273, Lady Devorgilla, a lady of the blood royal of Scotland, signed a charter establishing a new Cistercian abbey on a site close to where the River Nith flows into the Solway Firth and is overshadowed by a great granite mountain, Criffel.
Her beloved husband, John Balliol, had died four years earlier and the abbey was intended as a lasting memorial to him.
Great East Window & Cemetery
On her husband's death in 1269, the grieving widow had his heart embalmed and placed in a casket of ivory, bound with enamelled silver.
On Lady Devorgilla's death in 1289, in her eighty-first year, the casket was buried with her in the sanctuary of the monastery church she had founded.
The Cloister - grassy foreground. The Choir - far right
The Choir is on the right and is the holiest part of the church. A modern stone marks the approximate place where Lady Devorgilla was buried with her husband's heart.
It was a fitting tribute to her undying love that the monks there chose the beautiful name of Sweetheart, or Dulce Cor, for the abbey.
The Cistercian Order
The Cistercians or the 'white monks' as they were more generally known by the colour of their undyed woollen habit, established their first monastery in 1098 at Citeaux in France and arrived in Scotland at Melrose, in Tweeddale, in 1136.
 Looking east down Nave into Presbytery and Central Bell Tower
Outside the church, the Cistercians were famed for their farming skills. They specialised in agriculture and in horse and cattle breeding. They also held great interest in the wool trade. They controlled certain fisheries and were involved in the manufacture of salt from sea-water.
West Front of the Abbey Church
Sweetheart was the last of the 12 Cistercian monasteries set up in Scotland.
War With England
Lady Devorgilla and John Balliol had a son, also John. In 1292, he became the King Of Scots, but his was to be a short, tragic reign. The English king stripped him of his regalia in 1296, heralding the bloody and prolonged war that bedevilled the country for the next fifty years.
Archibald The Grim
The war with England had impoverished Sweetheart and reduced its buildings to a state of disrepair. In 1352, David II, Robert the Bruce's son and successor, returned from a lengthy captivity in England and began the task of returning the country to prosperity.
A new patron had to be found for the abbey and King David turned to his close friend, Archibald Douglas, who was more popularly known as 'Black Archibald' or 'the Grim' and had earned his by-name fighting against the English.
West Range - Above this arch is a shield bearing the Douglas Arms
The Final Years
The last abbot of Sweetheart was Gilbert Broun, who stolidly refused to embrace the reformed religion. His determination to keep the Catholic faith alive saw him arrested and exiled to France several times between 1587 and 1608 where he eventually died in 1612.
Destruction of the Buildings
In 1731 a new church was built against the south wall of the nave. This was demolished in 1877, by which date all but the magnificent church had been removed to provide stone for the villagers and farming folk. The church had been saved in 1779 by local subscribers 'desirous of preserving the remainder of that building as an ornament to that part of the country'.
In 1928 their successors entrusted the beautiful ruin of Sweetheart into State care.
Thanks for dropping by. I hope you've enjoyed this part of our Scottish adventure as much as I've loved reliving it. I hope you return to see where we stop next ~
Information care of Historic Scotland


alissa callen said...

Hi Alli,

so enjoy seeing all your stunning Scottish photos and can't wait to see where you visit next!

Allison Butler said...

Hi Alissa,

So glad you're enjoying our Scotland adventure. Thanks so much for stopping by:)

Suzi Love said...

I loved reading more about Scotland and loved the photos of castles. Wouldn't it be fun to all spend a few days there? Together?

Allison Butler said...

Hi Suzi,

A group of us would have an awesome time together exploring Scotland. So pleased you're enjoying the info and the photos. Thanks for dropping in and saying hi:)

Cheryl Leigh said...

Don't you just love the little black faced sheep and hairy coos! Great photos, Allison. Thanks for the trip to Scotland!

Allison Butler said...

Hi Cheryl,

You know I love everything about Scotland, the sheep, the coos, even the pesky midges:) Glad you like the photos. Thanks for popping in:)

Christina Phillips said...

Alli, I was scrolling through, loving your photos and becoming lost in the beautiful scenes when I suddenly read - Lady Devorgilla! I nearly fell off my chair. That's the formal name of my Pictish princess! I know you'll have a giggle at that!!!

Allison Butler said...

Hi Christina,

WOW! I think Devorgilla is a brilliant name for a Pictish princess:) I'm glad you only 'nearly' fell off your chair. So happy you're loving the photos. I love sharing them, too. Thanks for dropping by:)