Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.

The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.

The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.

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Founded: 1273
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Alex Drago (9 months ago)
Characteristic place with interesting history and sites. The old abbey is currently under restoring but still worth visiting. Nice walks around the area with rural views and friendly people.
joe shaw (9 months ago)
Lovely little partially ruined Abbey in southern Scotland.. If in the area near Lockerbie then pop by and have a look at how they used to build amazing buildings.. The masonry is outstanding and I within a few mins drive from the coast
lex c (10 months ago)
Pretty cool. Covered in scaffolding when I went but that cant be helped.
Chris French (11 months ago)
Very pretty ruin in a lovely setting. Welcoming staff, free parking and toilets.
Jay Corbett (15 months ago)
At the time I visited alot of scaffolding had been erected around the building (see photos) but not enough to spoil the view. Nice historic place that's pleasant to wonder around in peace and quite. Worth a visit.
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