Show Navigation

Politics & State

Lady Devorgilla Balliol

Sweetheart Abbey, from The Antiquities of Dumfries and its Neighbourhood Collected and Drawn by John McCormick

19th Century

This page of the sketchbook shows Sweetheart Abbey.  Lady Devorgilla Balliol built Sweetheart Abbey in memory of her late husband, John Balliol.  Erected between 1273 and 1280, it was also known as New Abbey to distinguish it from the Old Abbey of Dundrennan, near Kirkudbright, from which it was colonised.  The "White Monks" of the Abbey were assisted by lay brothers in agriculture, horse and cattle breeding, the wool trade, and the making of salt from sea water.  The monks owned a water mill for grinding corn.  Through their harbour on the Nith they imported building materials for the Abbey, including red sandstone from Caerlaverock.  Massive granite boulders removed from the monastery's 30 acre site were built into a 12 foot high precinct wall.  The Abbey buildings included a granary, a brewhouse, a bakehouse, a guest house, an infirmary, a church and a school.  Within the abbey grounds is the unmarked burial place of William Paterson, co-founder of the Bank of England.


These sketches of various buildings in and around Dumfries were mainly compiled through McCormick's own study of the area and by speaking to those who remembered the buildings, as the majority of them were no longer in existence or in a ruinous state by McCormick's time.  The drawings are all in pencil with extensive written notes.

pencil, paper
length 198mm, width 243mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Digital Number:
Dumfries & Galloway Council