The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

The heart has always been important in Scottish history, but nowhere is it more important than in Douglas history.

In 1298 when Lord John Balliol died, his grieving widow, Dervorguilla of Galloway, had his preserved heart placed in an ivory casket which she then carried everywhere with her. When she died, she was laid to rest at Sweetheart Abbey clutching her husband's heart. That's not the only heart-wrenching tale though, Melrose Abbey was so beloved by Robert the Bruce that it was chosen as the final resting place for his heart!

Thirty years later, in the early summer of 1329, Robert Bruce, King of Scots, lay dying. He had been ill for some time and not even a pilgrimage in the spring to the shrine of Saint Ninian at Whithorn had eased his pain. Robert had long hoped to go on crusade against the enemies of Christ. He summoned the most powerful men of his kingdom and reminded them of his desire to go, like his grandfather, on crusade.

He asked that, after his death, his heart should be taken from his body, embalmed and carried on crusade by some worthy knight. Among those at Bruce's bedside was James Douglas, his closest companion. It was to this remarkable man that the task of carrying out Bruce's wish was given.

For more tales of romantic options, as well as some fun for all the family, have a look at our Valentine's Day page.

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The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

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'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

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