Dunfermline Abbey and Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace

Dunfermline, Scotland, United Kingdom

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace is a medieval site first established in the 11th century. Over its long and fascinating history it played host to some of Scotland's most famous monarchs, becoming the resting place of many including Robert the Bruce.

Lily Johnson

16 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dunfermline Abbey and Palace

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace is a medieval site first established in the 11th century. Over its long and fascinating history it hosted some of Scotland’s most famous monarchs, becoming the resting place of many including Robert the Bruce.

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace history

Dunfermline Abbey’s royal connection dates back to the 11th century, when a priory was established there under Queen Margaret, wife of Malcom III, and now known as St Margaret. This was elevated to abbey status in around 1150 by her son David I, who brought stonemasons from Durham Cathedral to construct its magnificent new form.

In the 14th century Robert the Bruce repaired the Abbey following its destruction by Edward I during the Scottish Wars of Independence, adding the vast monks refectory. Within Dunfermline Abbey’s mausoleum are buried Queen Margaret, David I, and Robert the Bruce, all instrumental in constructing the brilliant Abbey, as well as a host of Scotland’s other famous monarchs.

In 1560, it was transformed into a royal palace by Queen Anna of Denmark, wife of James VI and later James I of England. Its monastic guesthouse remained at the heart of the building, and over time it would host many important events. In particular, the cloister of Dunfermline Abbey would become the birthplace of King Charles I in 1600, making him the last monarch to be born in Scotland.

The palace fell into disrepair in 1603 however, when James VI and Anna of Denmark left Scotland to assume the English throne. Though sacked in 1560 during the Protestant Reformation, parts of the Abbey continued to be used as a parish church and survive into the modern day.

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace today

Today Dunfermline Abbey and Palace are managed by Historic Scotland and are open to the public. The picturesque remains of the Abbey now consist of its impressive Romanesque nave, which is similar in style to that of Durham Cathedral. Inside, the tomb of Robert the Bruce may be viewed, with its 19th-century brass cover depicting the famous king.

Outside lies the shrine of St Margaret, the remains of the huge monks refectory, and the ruined royal palace, each with their own fascinating stories. With nearly 1,000 years of religious and royal history, Dunfermline Abbey and Palace provide an atmospheric visit to one of Scotland’s most culturally significant sites.

Getting to Dunfermline Abbey and Palace

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace are located in Dunfermline, 18 miles northwest of Edinburgh. Dunfermline can be reached by taking the A823 off the M90, and there is parking adjacent to the Abbey at the St Margaret Street Car Parks.

Dunfermline Town train station is a 10-minute walk to the site, while a number of bus services stop on Maitland Street, from which a 10-minute walk through Pittencrieff Park will take you to the site.

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