Dunfermline Abbey West Door

Dunfermline Abbey West Door

Dunfermline Abbey Nave

Dunfermline Abbey Nave


Dunfermline Abbey is a Church of Scotland Parish Church located in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. In 2002 the congregation had 806 members. The minister (since 2012) is the Reverend MaryAnn R. Rennie. The church occupies the site of the ancient chancel and transepts of a large medieval Benedictine abbey, which was sacked in 1560 during the Scottish Reformation and permitted to fall into disrepair. Part of the old abbey church continued in use at that time and some parts of the abbey infrastructure still remain to this day. Dunfermline Abbey is one of Scotland's most important cultural sites.


The Benedictine Abbey of the Holy Trinity and St Margaret, was founded in 1128 by King David I of Scotland, but the monastic establishment was based on an earlier foundation dating back to the reign of King Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (i.e. "Malcolm III" or "Malcolm Canmore", r. 1058-93) and his queen. At its head was an abbot, the first incumbent being Geoffrey of Canterbury, former prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, the Kent monastery that probably supplied Dunfermline's first monks. At the peak of its power it controlled four burghs, three courts of regality and a large portfolio of lands from Moray in the north down into Berwickshire.


In the decades after its foundation the abbey was the recipient of considerable endowments, as seen from the dedication of 26 altars donated by individual benefactors and guilds and it was an important centre of pilgrimage after Dunfermline became a centre for the cult of St Margaret (Malcolm's wife and David's mother), from whom the monastery later claimed foundation and for which an earlier foundation charter was fabricated. The foundations of the earliest church (the Church of the Holy Trinity) are under the present superb Romanesque nave built in the 12th century. During the winter of 1303 the court of Edward I of England was held in the abbey, and on his departure next year most of the buildings were burned.


During the Scottish Reformation, the abbey church was sacked in March 1560. Some parts of the abbey infrastructure still remain, principally the vast refectory and rooms over the gatehouse which was part of the former city wall. The nave was also spared and it was repaired in 1570 by Robert Drummond of Carnock. It was the birthplace, in 1600, of Charles I, the last British monarch born in Scotland. It served as the parish church till the 19th century, and now forms the vestibule of a 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. Also of the monastery there still remains the south wall of the refectory, with a fine window. Next to the abbey is the ruin of Dunfermline Palace, also part of the original abbey complex and connected to it via the gatehouse. Dunfermline Abbey, one of Scotland's most important cultural sites, has received more of Scotland’s royal dead than any other place in the kingdom, excepting Iona. One of the most notable non-royal names to be associated with the abbey is the northern renaissance poet, Robert Henryson. The tomb of Saint Margaret and Malcolm Canmore, within the ruined walls of the Lady chapel, was restored and enclosed by command of Queen Victoria.


The old building was a fine example of simple and massive Romanesque, as the nave testifies, and has a beautiful doorway in its west front. Another rich Romanesque 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 Second Boer 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 publicly, and private munificence has provided several stained-glass windows. The architecture of Afghan church in Mumbai (dedicated to St. John the Baptist) has the door & the right side of the church taken from the Dunfermline Abbey.

Dunfermline Palace

Dunfermline Palace

Dunfermline was a favourite residence of many Scottish monarchs. Documented history of royal residence there begins in the 11th century with Malcolm III who made it his capital. His seat was the nearby Malcolm's Tower, a few hundred yards to the west of the later palace. In the medieval period David II and James I of Scotland were both born at Dunfermline. Dunfermline Palace is attached to the historic Dunfermline Abbey, occupying a site between the abbey and deep gorge to the south. It is connected to the former monastic residential quarters of the abbey via a gatehouse above a pend (or yett), one of Dunfermline's medieval gates. The building therefore occupies what was originally the guest house of the abbey. However, its remains largely reflect the form in which the building was developed by James IV in a refabrication around 1500. Throughout the sixteenth century, Scotland's monarchs and royal family members were frequently in residence.


In 1589 the palace was given as a wedding present by the king, James VI, to Anne of Denmark after their marriage. She gave birth to three of their children there; Elizabeth (1596), Charles (1600) and Robert (1602). After the Union of Crowns in 1603, the removal of the Scottish court to London meant that the building came to be rarely visited by a monarch. Ten tapestries from the royal tapestry collection were still there in 1616, left from the time the infant Prince Charles resided at the Palace. When Charles I returned in 1633 for his Scottish coronation he only made a brief visit to his place of birth. The last monarch to occupy the palace was Charles II who stayed at Dunfermline in 1650 just before the Battle of Pitreavie. Soon afterwards, during the Cromwellian occupation of Scotland, the building was abandoned and by 1708 it had been unroofed. All that remains of the palace today is the kitchen, its cellars, and the impressive south wall with a commanding prospect over the Firth of Forth to the south.


On-street parking (no accessible bays) is available about 100m from the gatehouse entrance, Visitors can be dropped off at the site entrance. The site is in two parts: the abbey nave and the palace. Both are reached via pavements, which are mostly level. The abbey nave has several entrances. Only the north entrance has level access. The visitor centre is about 25m from the site entrance along a narrow, 125cm-wide gantry surfaced with wooden slats. There are then 2 steep stone steps down into the ticket office (no handrail). It’s possible to access a level tarmac path that overlooks the palace by requesting the key from the visitor centre. Access to the palace from the visitor centre is down a very narrow spiral staircase of 23 steps (no handrail). The lower level of the palace is reached down further stone steps (no handrail), has raised thresholds and projecting archaeological remains. The refectory is reached up 3 wooden steps (with handrail) and then down a stone spiral staircase (no handrail). Access to an exhibition on the history of the abbey and palace is up 18 wooden steps (with handrail). A carved stone exhibition is reached down 4 stone steps (with handrail). Nearest adapted toilet is at: Debenhams, Kingsgate Shopping Centre, Dunfermline KY12 7QA. Assistance dogs are welcome.


Location : Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, St Margaret’s Street, Dunfermline, Fife KY12 7PE

Transport: Dunfermline Town (National Rail) then bus or 12 minutes. Bus Routes : 3, 5, 6 and F6 stop nearby

Opening Times : 1st October - 31st March, Wednesday to Saturday, 10:00 to 16:00.

Opening Times : 1st April - 30th September, Daily, 09:30 to 17:30.

Tickets : Adults £4.50;  Concessions £3.60;  Children (5 - 15) £2.70

Tel. : 01383 739 026