Dervorgilla, Lady of Galloway, and her Abbey of the Sweet Heart

Dervorgilla, Lady of Galloway, and her Abbey of the Sweet Heart

by Wentworth Huyshe

One of the treasures of Dumfries and Galloway is the ruined Sweetheart Abbey, founded by Lady Dervorgilla in memory of her husband.

Dervorgilla was one of the greatest and wealthiest ladies of Scotland and England in the thirteenth century, being the daughter of Alan of Galloway and having in her ancestry the Earls of Chester and Huntingdon, and through the latter in the direct line of succession to the Scottish throne. She married John de Balliol, Lord of Barnard Castle and remained devoted to him through twenty years of widowhood, keeping his embalmed heart in a precious casket that accompanied her even to the grave.

This biography tells of her life and her times, her complex network of relationships, and the works of charity that led to the foundation of Balliol College at Oxford, the Greyfriars Convent and the Bridge of Dumfries, and chantries in Glasgow Cathedral.

A chapter is given to the development of the Cistercian Order, leading in to the second half of the book which is devoted to the Abbey of the Sweet Heart, describing its foundation, structure, history and dissolution.

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