Dunfermline Abbey and Palace

Located in a spectacular position overlooking Tower Glen and Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline Abbey boasts an unusual history. Site of a Benedictine monastery in the 11th century, the grounds once included extensive monastic buildings, the Royal Palace and the Abbey Church. The buildings and ruins which lie here are now a testament and a tribute to the days of the Scottish Kings and Scotland's turbulent past.

The ecclesiastical community which grew up at Dunfermline largely owes its conception to Saint Margaret. She was married to King Malcolm Canmore at Dunfermline and shortly after her instatement as Queen set about changing things around her. Rather appalled by the persistent Celtic traditions in the church she was married in, she invited some Benedictine Monks from Canterbury to Dunfermline and commenced the town's status as a religious centre.

Dunfermline Abbey was not founded till 1128. Built by Margaret's son, Kind David I of Scotland, the original Benedictine Priory was raised to the rank of Abbey. The Abbey would grow into a magnificent structure but little remains of the original Royal Palace and monastery today. As you tour the ruins of the monastery, you'll see the former refectory. The most important room in a monastery, Dunfermline's Refectory was one of the great achievements of medieval Scottish architecture. Facing the Abbey Church across the cloister, it was sited on a steep slope with the main hall resting upon two levels of vaulted undercroft so as to put it on the same level as the surrounding cloister buildings.

Charitable institutions that they were, monasteries generally had guest houses which offered their hospitality to visitors. All but one of Dunfermline's are now long gone but the remains here are of the finest, the Royal Guest House. Its majestic arched windows offer spectacular views over Tower Burn and what remains here today will give you an impression of the former grandeur of the building.

Destruction came to Dunfermline Abbey in 1303. Having resided in these buildings, Charles I had the place torched on his departure but fortunately spared the nave of the Abbey Church. Robert the Bruce provided funds for its reconstruction but it would fall victim to the turbulence of the Reformation never to be rebuilt.

Address: St Margaret Street
Postcode: KY12 7PE
Town/city or near: Dunfermline
County: Fife
Adults: 3.50
Children: 1.75

Historic Scotland

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