A wooden carved heart

Valentine’s Day traditions

A Scottish tradition was for young unwed men and women to write their name on bits of paper, place them in a bonnet and each draw one of them. If one name was read out three times, it meant a marriage would take place.

The City of Love

After his violent death on the 14th February 273 AD, Saint Valentine was buried near Rome, but it is said that his disciples later retrieved his body to bring him home. Today, churches across Europe lay claim on his remains. It is believed that his forearm is kept in the Church of Blessed St John Duns Scotus in Glasgow – a little-known fact that has led to Glasgow styling itself as the ‘City of Love’ in recent years.

A real sweetheart

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey

In 1268, Lord John Balliol died. His grieving widow, Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway, had his embalmed heart placed in an ivory casket. Unwilling to part with him, she is said to have carried it with her everywhere. She undertook many charitable acts in her late husband’s memory, including the founding of Sweetheart Abbey in 1273. When she too died in 1289, Dervorgilla was laid to rest in front of the abbey church’s high altar, clutching her husband’s heart to her bosom.

An unlucky suitor

Poet Pierre de Bocosel de Châtelard fell in love with Mary Queen of Scots after meeting her in 1561. Twice he tried to win her affection: On February 14th he hid under her bed as she stayed at Rossend Castle, then again by bursting unannounced into her bedchamber at St Andrews. Far from being won over by his enthusiasm, Mary had him tried and executed for treason.

Love in pictures

To celebrate Valentine’s Day we have searched our collections for our most romantic images – from a heart-shaped island to a 198th century photograph, scroll through the gallery below to discover love through the ages.



About Author


Donna Laidlaw

Donna works in the Digital Team and looks after our websites, making sure they are kept up-to-date. She's also managed several projects, including the new Edinburgh Castle website.