Valentine's Day Season
"Let me call you sweetheart
I'm in love with you
Let me hear you whisper
That you love me too."
~ "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," Leo Friedman and Beth Slater Whiston, 1910
Sweetheart Abbey was founded in 1273 by Lady Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her beloved husband, John de Balliol, the founder of Balliol College at the University of Oxford. It is said that Lady Dervorguilla was so heartbroken by the loss of her husband that she carried his embalmed heart with her in an ivory box with enameled silver trimmings, calling it her ‘sweet silent companion.' The traditional Sottish love token for one's sweetheart is a Luckenbooth brooch. These silver brooches, consisting of entwined hearts, or hearts with a crown on top, were originally sold at the Luckenbooths or Locking Booths on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
The tartan was created as a tribute to Sweetheart Abbey, situated in the area of Dumfries and Galloway in southwest Scotland. Dr Michael Robert Young, the Baron of New Abbey commissioned the tartan to recount the story of the Abbey’s origins.
The Abbey was founded in 1273 by Lady Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her beloved husband, John de Balliol of Castle Barnard (the founder of Balliol College at the University of Oxford). It is said that Lady Dervorguilla was so heartbroken by the loss of her husband that her grief extended to carrying his embalmed heart with her in an ivory box with enameled silver trimmings. She called it her ‘sweet silent companion’.
Upon her own death in 1289, she was laid to rest at the Abbey, clutching the heart of her husband to her breast. It was in tribute to her love for her husband that the Abbey first came to be called (in Latin) Dulce Cor, or Sweetheart Abbey.
The Galloway tartan has been used as the initial starting point of the design because of its direct links with both the location of the Abbey and Lady Dervorguilla, whose father was Lord of Galloway.
Colours: the red reflects the embalmed heart of John de Balliol while the silver over-checks represent the elaborate silver and ivory casket. The pink shades recount Lady Dervorguilla’s romantic love for her husband. And the dusty orange appearance of the tartan provides a sense of the striking sandstone walls that confront each visitor to the Abbey.
For more about Sweetheart Abbey, click the Luckenbooth Ring, a traditional Scottish love token.