Sweetheart Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway
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A longstanding ode to love. Sweetheart Abbey
These romantic ruins in the Scottish village of New Abbey stand as a testament to the enduring power of love. Sweetheart Abbey, just south of Dumfries, was founded way back in 1273 by Lady Dervorguilla of Galloway, to commemorate her love for English nobleman John Balliol on his death in 1268.
Her devotion didn’t end there. It’s said she had his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket bound with silver. She then carried it with her everywhere she travelled for the rest of her life. Dervorguilla and the heart were eventually laid to rest alongside John at the abbey when she passed in 1290. As time progressed, sadly, the lovers’ graves were lost to war.
The ruins of Sweetheart Abbey aren’t the only remnants of this ancient love still standing today. Dervorguilla, far wealthier than her husband, paid off one of his debts after he died by founding Balliol College of the University of Oxford. She also provided the capital for a permanent endowment for the college, which still exists today - the history students' society is even called the Dervorguilla Society.