Joanna Maitland



Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle gatehouse

Caerlaverock Castle is one of the romantic locations protrayed in my story Bride of the Solway. Here is the entrance to the castle. My lovers walked over the drawbridge and the moat, between the two huge gatehouse towers, and into the courtyard beyond.

The castle is triangular in shape and surrounded by a moat. It stands a little north of the Solway Firth, at the edge of the largest saltmarsh in Scotland, now a national nature reserve which provides a haven for wildlife. It is still a place to hear skylarks, in keeping with its name, the Castle of the Lark.

Caerlaverock Castle aerial view

The illustration below shows how the castle might have looked in its heyday in the 17th century.

Caerlaverock Castle 17th  century illustration

Sadly, only one of the towers is still standing and little of the south curtain wall is there to shelter the castle. This is the south-west tower, called Murdoch’s Tower after Murdoch, Duke of Albany, who may have been imprisoned here in the 15th century.

Caerlaverock Castle - Murdoch's Tower

Below is part of the interior of the triangular castle. On the right is the narrow passage from the gatehouse entrance. On the left is the entrance to the spiral staircase leading to the upper floors of the gatehouse and to the rooms along the west curtain wall (the west range).

Caerlaverock Castle  - courtyard interior

This picture gives a good impression of the local red sandstone of which the castle is built. Sweetheart Abbey was built of the same stone.

Find out more about Caerlaverock Castle here

Sweetheart Abbey: a story of undying love

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey is where Ross, the hero of Bride of the Solway, came to terms with the heartbreak he had suffered. It was a fitting place to set his moment of soul-searching, for it was founded in 1273 by the Lady Devorguilla of Galloway as a memorial to her beloved husband, John Balliol, who had died in 1269. For the rest of her life, she kept his embalmed heart in a casket of ivory bound with enameled silver.

Sweetheart Abbey presbytery

When she died in 1289, aged 80, her body was buried before the high altar and her husband’s embalmed heart was buried beside her. Her grave marker can just be seen, in the centre below the window, in the picture of the presbytery above.

Lady Devorguilla founded other religious houses, and endowed the stone bridge across the River Nith in Dumfries which is still used today. She also confirmed the endowment of Balliol College, Oxford, in 1282, which had been founded by her late husband before his death.

Sweetheart Abbey arches

The Abbey was given the name Sweetheart (Dulce Cor) by the Cistercian monks in memory of Lady Devorguilla and her undying love. It is now, even as a ruin, a place of great beauty and peace.

Find out more about Sweetheart Abbey here.

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This page was last updated on 17 August, 2007