Thursday, June 13, 2013

Amazing Scotland - Dunfermline Abbey and Palace

Dunfermline Abbey

One of the largest and most impressive building complexes in medieval Scotland, Dunfermline Abbey and Palace ruins stand as a monument of the wealth of the Scottish monarchs, many of whom are buried there. In 1070, Queen Margaret founded a religious community at the site where she and Malcolm Canmore were married. At that time, Benedictine monks were brought to form the core of the first European monastic community in Scotland.

The palace and most of the abbey are in ruins, though the main vestibule still stands and is a Presbyterian Church of Scotland and beneath the pulpit lies the tomb of Robert the Bruce:

Tomb of Robert the Bruce

By the time of the Protestant Reformation in 1560, there were about 25 monks in the abbey. But the abbey, being close to Edinburgh, was affected early. By 1559, furnishings associated with Catholic worship had been destroyed and in 1560, the building was ransacked. Three years later, the choir was roofless and the nave was close to collapse. It's continued use as a parish church saved it from complete ruination.

Despite disasters to the abbey, royalty continued to use the abbey guest house (palace), During the Reigns of James IV and James V, major building campaigns. The largest renovation took place during the reign of Jame VI when his queen, Anna of Denmark had it remodeled.
Dunfermline Nave

Sequence of events:

1070: Margaret and King Malcolm are married in a small church on the site of the abbey.

1093: Malcolm is killed fighting the Normans in the north of England. Heartbroken, Margaret dies soon after. Both are buried at Dunfermline.

1124: David I succeeds his elder brother, Alexander I and embarks on many abbey building projects. In 1153, King David is buried beside his parents at Dunfermline.

1128: Prior Geoffrey becomes the first abbot of Dunfermline.

1180: Queen Margaret's remains are transferred to the north side of the high altar.

1249: Pope Innocent IV canonises Queen Margaret as St. Margaret. Her body is moved to the shrine chapel the following year.

1303: King Edward I of England sacks Dunfermline to create his winter campaign headquarters.

1329: King Robert the Bruce rebuilds the abbey, shortly before his death and burial in the choir.

1559/60: The Protestant Reformation takes hold.

1589: King James VI gives Dunfermline to his new bride, Queen Anna of Denmark. The future Charles I is born there 11 years later. Note: After James VI became James I of England and moved to London, the decay of the royal residences in Scotland began.

1818: The remains of Robert I are discovered during building works at the abbey.

1821: The new parish church is designed by William Burn (with the KING and BRUCE in the spire...


  1. Awww, I don't like when awesome structures get ruined. Like the Colosseum. Did you see pics of how awesome it must have looked before? Pic here:

  2. It's so sad when such incredible buildings are ruined. I love old structures. The house where I grew up is over 100 years old. It took the original owner more than 3 years to build it. It was so majestic.

    1. Wow, it must have been a wonderful place to live!

  3. I've never seen anything like that spire, with King Bruce spelled out in it. It just seems sort of...modern for back then. Must've been a forward thinker! =)

  4. Fantastic, Amy. You really are whetting my appetite to go to Scotland - I haven't been there since I was a girl. Cheers

    1. Yes! I'm already planning my next trip, especially since my last five manuscripts have taken place there :-)

  5. I love visiting old buildings! This looks awesome.

    1. It was whole three weeks in Scotland was a dream come true :-)