Of Scotland, Dunfermline Abbey
at the centre of Dunfermline in West Fife, Dunfermline Abbey stands
on a ridge that falls steeply on the south and west to the course
of the Tower Burn which flows through Pittencrieff Park. The original
Benedictine priory was founded in the 1070s by Queen Margaret
on the site of an earlier chapel of the Celtic Church and in 1128
her son David I extended the building and increased its status
by making it an abbey. The western part of the present building
is the nave of the Abbey church built by David I between 1128
and 1150. The eastern end, with the tower bearing the words 'King
Robert the Bruce', is the new parish kirk that was built on part
of the ruins of the old abbey in 1818-21. In medieval times the
abbey became a major ecclesiastical centre and was the burial
place of several Scottish monarchs including Malcolm Canmore,
his wife Queen Margaret and Robert the Bruce whose tomb was rediscovered
in 1818. Queen Margaret was canonized in 1250 and a chapel and
shrine were built at the east end and centre of the abbey. Subsequently
in 1303, the abbey was destroyed by Edward I of England who recognised
the significance of the site as a focal point of Scottish nationalism.
The adjacent royal palace of Dunfermline grew out of the guest
house of the abbey after its closure during the Reformation and
was given as a wedding present to Anne of Denmark by her husband
James VI in 1589. Prior to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 Anne
of Denmark stayed here from time to time, and in 1600 her son,
later to become Charles I, was born here. Today there is a Dunfermline
Abbey and Visitor Centre.
“the fort on the crooked linn “). It is situated on
high ground 3 miles from the shore of the Firth of Forth. The
town is intersected from north to south by Pittencrieff Glen,
a deep, picturesque and tortuous ravine, from which the town derives
its name and at the bottom of which flows Lyne Burn.
history of Dunfermline goes back to a remote period, for the early
Celtic monks known as Culdees had an establishment here; but its
fame and prosperity date from the marriage of Malcolm Canmore
and his queen Margaret, which was solemnized in the town in 1070.
The king then lived in a tower on a mound surrounded on three
sides by the glen. A fragment of this castle still exists in Pittencrieff
Park, a little west of the later palace.
the influence of Queen Margaret in 1075 the foundations were laid
of the Benedictine priory, which was raised to the rank of an
abbey by David I. Robert Bruce gave the town its charter in 1322,
though in his Fife: Pictorial and Historical, A. H. Millar contends
that till the confirming charter of James VI. (1588) all burghal
privileges were granted by the abbots.
the 18th century Dunfermline impressed Daniel Defoe as showing
the “full perfection of decay,” but it became one
of the most prosperous towns in Scotland. Its staple industry
was the manufacture of table linen. The weaving of damask was
introduced in 1718 by James Blake, who had learned the secret
of the process in the workshops at Drumsheugh near Edinburgh,
to which he gained admittance by feigning idiocy; and since that
date the linen trade advanced by leaps and bounds, much of the
success being due to the beautiful designs produced by the manufacturers.
other industries that largely contributed to the welfare of the
town were dyeing and bleaching, brass and iron founding, tanning,
machine-making, brewing and distilling, milling, rope-making and
the making of soap and candles,while the collieries in the immediate
vicinity were numerous and flourishing.
town is well supplied with public buildings. Besides the New Abbey
church, the United Free church in Queen Anne Street founded by
Ralph Erskine, and the Gillespie church, named after Thomas Gillespie
(1708—1774), another leader of the Secession movement, possess
some historical importance. Erskine is commemorated by a statue
in front of his church and a sarcophagus over his grave in the
abbey churchyard; Gillespie by a marble tablet on the wall above
his resting-place within the abbey. The City buildings, a blend
of the Scots Baronial and French Gothic styles, contain busts
of several Scottish sovereigns a statue of Robert Burns, and Sir
Noel Paton’s painting of the “Spirit of Religion.”
Other structures are the old County buildings, the Public, St
Margaret’s, Music and Carnegie halls, the last in the Tudor
style, Carnegie public baths, high school (founded in 1560), school
of science and art, and two hospitals.
distinguished men have been associated with Dunfermline. Robert
Henryson (1430—1506), the poet, was long one of its schoolmasters.
John Row (1568—1646), the Church historian, held the living
of Carnock, 3 miles to the E., and David Ferguson (d. 1598) who
made the first collection of Scottish proverbs (not published
till 1641), was parish minister; Robert Gilfillan (1798—1850),
the poet, and Sir Joseph Noel Paton (18211901), painter and poet,
whose father was a designer of patterns for the damask trade,
were all born here. Andrew Carnegie (b. 1837), however, is in
a sense the most celebrated of all her sons, as he is certainly
her greatest benefactor. He gave to his birthplace the free library
and public baths, and, in 1903, the estate of Pittencrieff Park
and Glen, rich in historical associations as well as natural charm,
together with bonds yielding £25,000 a year, in trust for
the maintenance of the park, the support of a theatre for the
production of plays of the highest merit, the periodical exhibitions
of works of art and science, the promotion of horticulture among
the working classes and the encouragement of technical education
in the district.
Abbey is one of the most important remains in Scotland. Excepting
Iona it has received more of Caledonia’s royal dead than
any other place in the kingdom. Within its precincts were buried
Queen Margaret and Malcolm Canmore; their sons Edgar and Alexander
I., with his queen; David I. and his two queens; Malcolm IV.;
Alexander III., with his first wife and their sons David and Alexander;
Robert Bruce, with his queen Elizabeth and their daughter Matilda;
and Annabella Drummond, wife of Robert III. and mother of James
heart rests in Melrose, but his bones lie in Dunfermline Abbey,
where (after the discovery of the skeleton in 1818) they were
reinterred with fitting pomp below the pulpit of the New church.
In 1891 the pulpit was moved back and a monumental brass inserted
in the floor to indicate the royal vault. The tomb of St Margaret
and Malcolm, within the ruined walls of the Lady chapel, was restored
and enclosed by command of Queen Victoria.
the winter of 1303 the court of Edward I. was held in the abbey,
and on his departure next year most of the buildings were burned.
When the Reformers attacked the abbey church in March 1560, they
spared the nave, which served as the parish church till the 19th
century, and now forms the vestibule of the New church. This edifice,
in the Perpendicular style, opened for public worship in 1821,
occupies the site of the ancient chancel and transepts, though
differing in style and proportions from the original structure.
The old building was a fine example of simple and massive Norman,
as the nave testifies, and has a beautiful doorway in its west
front. Another rich Norman doorway was exposed in the south wall
in 1903, when masons were cutting a site for the memorial to the
soldiers who had fallen in the South African War. A new site was
found for this monument in order that the ancient and beautiful
entrance might be preserved. The venerable structure is maintained
by the commissioners of woods and forests, and private munificence
has provided several stained-glass windows. Of the monastery there
still remains the south wall of the refectory, with a fine window.
palace, a favourite residence of many of the kings, occupying
a picturesque position near the ravine, was of considerable size,
judging from the south-west wall, which is all that is left of
it. Here James IV., James V. and James VI. spent much of their
time, and within its walls were born three of James VI.’s
children—Charles I., Robert and Elizabeth. After Charles
I. was crowned he paid a short visit to his birthplace, but the
last royal tenant of the palace was Charles II., who occupied
it just before the battle of Pitreavie (20th of July 165o), which
took place 3 m. to the south-west, and here also he signed the
National League and Covenant.