Historical Pocket Sized Prayer Book Heads Home To D&G

The “Sweetheart Breviary” is book of prayer which was made for the Cistercian or “white monks” of Sweetheart Abbey in the 14th century. It is being loaned to Dumfries Museum by the National Library of Scotland and it will be the first time that the breviary has been part of a public exhibition.


Written by hand in black and red ink on 200 vellum leaves the breviary is a rare survivor of the Scottish Reformation when many Catholic possessions were burned. It was in a private collection in 1715 and then disappeared for 300 years before appearing for auction in 2016.


This pocket size book is described by The National Library of Scotland, as their “most important medieval manuscript acquisition in 30 years”.


The exhibition “Lost & Found – The story of Sweetheart Abbey’s 14th century breviary” will be at Dumfries Museum from Saturday 24 June until Saturday 31 August 2017.


Sweetheart Abbey was founded c1273 by Lady Devorgilla, mother of the Scottish king John Balliol. The Abbey was founded in memory of her husband John de Balliol and is where his embalmed heart was buried with her when she died in 1290.


Councillor Tom McAughtrie, Chair of our Council’s Communities Committee said:


“It is excellent news that this rare manuscript will go on show in Dumfries – so close to its place of origin at Sweetheart Abbey. The fact that it has survived intact for over 700 years is astonishing – it is older than the stone Devorgilla bridge in the town! It is a direct link to the monks who were such an important part of our communities in early medieval times. ”

Dumfries Museum is working in partnership with The National Library of Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland, who look after Sweetheart Abbey in the village of New Abbey, as well as local community organisations and businesses to create a programme of activities and events relating to the breviary and the abbey. It is hoped that the exhibition will be a highlight in Scotland’s Year of History Heritage and Archaeology – an opportunity to celebrate our shared historic environment and past.

Latest Articles