Sneha Girap (Editor)


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Languages spoken  OS grid reference, NT105875
Area  50,380 
Points of interest  Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline Abbey, Blackness Castle, Hopetoun House, East End Park
Colleges and Universities  Fife College, Carnegie College, Adam Smith College

Dunfermline ( Scots: , Scottish Gaelic: ) is a town and former Royal Burgh in Fife, Scotland, on high ground 3 miles (5 km) from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. The 2011 census recorded the towns population at 49,706, however figures released in 2012 estimate Dunfermlines population as 50,380, making it the largest locality in Fife and the tenth largest in Scotland. Until the 17th century, the town served as the royal capital of Scotland.


Map of Dunfermline

The area around Dunfermline became home to the first settlers in the Neolithic period, but did not gain recognition until the Bronze Age as a place of importance. The town was first recorded in the 11th century, with the marriage of Malcolm III, King of Scotland, and Saint Margaret at the church in Dunfermline. As his Queen consort, Margaret established a new church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which evolved into an Abbey under their son, David I in 1128. Following the burial of Alexander I, the abbey graveyard confirmed its status as the mausoleum of Scotlands kings and queens.

The town is a major service centre for west Fife. Dunfermline retains much of its historic significance and provides numerous retail and leisure facilities. Fife College, formally Carnegie College, also have a campus at Halbeath. Employment is focused in the service sector, with the largest employer being BSKYB. Other large employers in the area include Amazon (on-line retailer), Best Western (hotels), BSKYB (home entertainment and communications), CR Smith (windows manufacturing), FMC Technologies (offshore energy), Lloyds and Nationwide (both financial services).

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Dunfermline has undergone constant unprecedented expansion since 1999, in what is called the Dunfermline Eastern Expansion, known locally as DEX. The expansion has seen the town grow eastward towards the M90 corridor and is planned to continue until 2022. Major developments include the creation of Dunfermlines Duloch and Masterton neighbourhoods, three new primary schools, new community infrastructure and Fife Leisure Park. The expansion has seen the towns population rise dramatically, with some community groups calling the new suburbs a dormitory town for Edinburgh commuters. Fife Council have begun drafting plans for an expansion of a similar scale on Dunfermlines south-west, west and north sides, which will see the creation of 4,000 homes, a new high school and three new primary schools in the first phase.

The peacock is strongly associated with Dunfermline, and is considered a local icon. Linked to the towns Pittencrieff Park, free-range peacocks and peahens have had the freedom of Dunfermline since the 1900s. In 2014 the park became home to a peacock sanctuary.


There have been various interpretations of the name, "Dunfermline". The first element, "dun" translated from Gaelic, has been accepted as a (fortified) hill, and is assumed to be referring to the rocky outcrop at the site of Malcolm Canmores tower in Pittencrieff Glen (now Pittencrieff Park). The rest of the name is problematic. The second element, "the ferm" may have been an alternative name for the Tower Burn according to a medieval record published in 1455 and that, together with the Lyne Burn to the south, suggest the site of a fortification between these two watercourses.

The first record of a settlement in the Dunfermline area was in the Neolithic period. This evidence includes finds of a stone axe, some flint arrowheads and a carved stone ball which was found near the town. A cropmark which is understood to have been used as a possible mortuary enclosure has been found at Deanpark House, also near the town. By the time of the Bronze Age, the area was beginning to show some importance. Important finds included a bronze axe in Wellwood and a gold torc from the Parish Churchyard. Cist burials from the Bronze Age have also been discovered at both Crossford and Masterton, the latter of which contains a pair of armlets, a bronze dagger and a set necklace believed to have complemented a double burial.

The first historic record for Dunfermline was made in the 11th century. According to the fourteenth-century chronicler, John of Fordun, Malcolm III, King of Scotland (reign 1058–93) married his second bride, the Anglo-Hungarian princess, Saint Margaret, at the church in Dunfermline between 1068 and 1070; the ceremony was performed by Fothad, the last Celtic bishop of St Andrews. Malcolm III established Dunfermline as a new seat for royal power in the mid-11th century and initiated changes that eventually made the township the de facto capital of Scotland for much of the period until the assassination of James I in 1437. Following her marriage to King Malcolm III, Queen Margaret encouraged her husband to convert the small culdee chapel into a church for Benedictine monks. The existing culdee church was no longer able to meet the demand for its growing congregation because of a large increase in the population of Dunfermline from the arrival of English nobility coming into Scotland. The founding of this new church of Dunfermline was inaugurated around 1072, but was not recorded in the towns records.

King David I of Scotland (reigned 1124–53) would later grant this church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, to "unam mansuram in burgo meo de Dunfermlyn" which translates into "a house or dwelling place in my burgh of Dunfermline". The foundations of the church evolved into an Abbey in 1128, under the reign of their son, David I. Dunfermline Abbey would play a major role in the general romanisation of religion throughout the kingdom. At the peak of its power the abbey controlled four burghs, three courts of regality and a large portfolio of lands from Moray in the north down into Berwickshire. Dunfermline had become a burgh between 1124 and 1127, if not before this time. Dunfermline Palace was also connected to the abbey and the first known documentation of the Auld Alliance was signed there on 23 October 1295.

The Union of the Crowns ended the towns royal connections when James VI relocated the Scottish Court to London in 1603. The Reformation of 1560 had previously meant a loss of the Dunfermlines ecclesiastical importance. On 25 May 1624, a fire engulfed around three-quarters of the medieval-renaissance burgh. Some of the surviving buildings of the fire were the palace, the abbey and the Abbots House.

The decline in the fortunes of Dunfermline lasted until the introduction of a linen industry in the early 18th century. One reason for which the town became a centre for linen was there was enough water to power the mills and nearby ports along the Fife Coast. These ports also did trade with the Baltic and Low Countries. Another reason was through an act of industrial espionage in 1709 by a weaver known as James Blake who gained access to the workshops of a damask linen factory in Edinburgh by pretending to act like a simpleton in order to find out and memorise the formula. On his return to his home town in 1718, Blake established a damask linen industry in the town. The largest of these factories was St Leonards Mill which was established by Erskine Beveridge in 1851. A warehouse and office block was later added around 1869. Other linen factories were built on land to both the north and south ends of the burgh. During the mid-19th century, powerloom weaving started to replace linen damask. The latter did not survive, going into decline straight after the end of First World War. In 1909 the Royal Navy established Scotlands only Royal Naval Dockyard at nearby Rosyth. Post-war housing began in the late 1940s with the construction of temporary prefabs and Swedish timber houses around areas such as Kingseat and Townhill. Additional provisions were made for electricity, water and sewage systems. Council housing was focused towards Abbeyview, on a 97-hectare (240-acre) site on Aberdour Road; Touch, to the south of Garvock Hill; Bellyeoman and Baldridgeburn. Private housing became focused to the north of Garvock Hill and on the site of West Pitcorthie Farm.

Today, Dunfermline is the main centre for the West Fife area, and is also considered to be a dormitory town for Edinburgh. The town has shopping facilities, a major public park, a main college campus at Halbeath and an-out-of-town leisure park with a multiplex cinema and a number of restaurants. The online retailer has opened a major distribution centre in the Duloch Park area of Dunfermline.


Dunfermline is at 56°04?17?N 3°27?42?W on the coastal fringe of Fife. The medieval town rose from approximately 51 metres (167 ft) above sea level in the south, where Nethertown Broad Street can now be found; 69 to 67 metres (226 to 220 ft) west to east along what is now Priory Lane; to 90 to 101 metres (295 to 331 ft) up the High Street, from west to east; to 92 to 105 metres (302 to 344 ft) between Bruce Street and Queen Anne Street from south to north.

Temperatures in Dunfermline, much like the rest of Scotland, are relatively moderate given its northern latitude. Fife is a peninsula, between the Firth of Tay to the north, Firth of Forth to the south and the North Sea to the east. Summers are relatively cool and the warming of the water over the summer, results in warm winters. Average annual temperatures in Dunfermline range from a maximum of 18 °C (64 °F) to a minimum of 9 °C (48 °F).


During the industrial revolution and victorian period industry in Dunfermline was concentrated to the north of the town centre around Pilmuir Street and to the south along sections of the Lynn Burn at Elgin and Bothwell Streets with textiles being particularly important to the towns economy. After the end of the Second World War traditional industries, particularly linen and coal mining, declined and eventually became obsolete in the town with many factories ceasing production. Manufacturing in the town rejuvenated by the early 1960s when Monotype Corporation opened a new factory on Halbeath Road. The completion of the Pitreavie Industrial Estate (now known as the Pitreavie Business Park) opened in the mid-1970s, following the arrival of Philips and the re-location of the offices of the Dunfermline Press. Smaller industrial estates were focused on Elgin Street, Halbeath Drive and Primrose Lane.

Landmarks and notable buildings

The Category A listed Dunfermline Abbey on the Kirkgate is one of the best examples of Scoto-Norman monastic architecture. The Abbey built between 1128 and 1150, under David I was a reconstruction of the Benedictine chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, founded by his mother, Queen Margaret. Despite much of the monastic buildings being destroyed by the troops of Edward I in 1303, there are substantial remains with the lower stories of the dormitory and latrine blocks on the east side of the cloister being the earliest surviving parts, dating back to the early 13th century. The Abbey parish church, designed by the architect William Burn, was built between 1818 and 1821 on the site of the medieval choir and transepts which had been the eastern part of the abbey.

The main Dunfermline War Memorial on Monastery Street was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, Sir Ralph Anstruther in 1925. A Second World War Memorial and garden of remembrance were added in 1958 on a site assumed to have been home to the Apiaries of the Monastery. The memorial lists 632 of those killed in the First World War and another 275 in the Second World War.

To the north of the abbey, on the corner of Maygate and Abbot Street is the Category A listed Abbot House. This is the oldest secular building still standing in Dunfermline. The house was originally built in the mid-fifteenth century as a residence for Abbot Richard Bothwell and this role continued until Commendator George Durie left to move into new apartments at the Palace in 1540. Along Abbot Street is the Category B listed Dunfermline Carnegie library which was built between 1881–1883. This library was the first in the world to be funded via donations by philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. A total of 2,811 free public libraries were eventually built altogether. At the top of Moodie Street is the Category B listed handloom weavers cottage, the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie which dates from the early 18th century. An adjacent memorial hall was added to the birthplace in 1928.

The Category A listed Guildhall on the High Street was erected in 1807 by the guilds of the local merchants who were ambitious for Dunfermline to become the county town of Fife. Lack of funds forced the building to be sold, but in 1811 funds were available to add the 40-metre-high (130 ft) steeple. At the west end of the High Street is the Category A listed City Chambers with its 36-metre-high (118 ft) high central clock tower and turrets, designed by James Campbell Walker and built between 1876–1879 .

In the car park between Bruce Street and Chambers Street is St Margarets Cave, a place where she would retreat to pray in peace and quiet. The cave was re-opened in 1993 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of her death. Forming the main entrance to Pittencrieff Park at the junction of Bridge Street and Chalmers Street is the Category A listed Louise Carnegie Memorial Gates, otherwise known as the Glen Gates. The gates which opened in 1929 were paid for by the Dunfermline Carnegie Trust and named after Louise Carnegie, the wife of Andrew Carnegie. They lead up a path to a bronze statue of Andrew Carnegie which was unveiled in 1914.

In the subsequent development of the modern park, the Category A listed Pittencrieff House, built around 1610 for Sir William Clerk of Penicuik, was designed as a centre piece. Two of the bedrooms were converted to create two long galleries for museum and art exhibition space in a restoration programme undertaken by Sir Robert Lorimar between 1911 and 1913. Work on the building was completed in 2010 to repair and reharl the property, restoring the original ochre-coloured limewash exterior. The project was funded through the £1.7 million Dunfermline Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) under a partnership between Fife Council and Historic Scotland.

A number of stately homes also exist on the outskirks of the town. The Category A listed Pitfirrane Castle, to the west of Dunfermline, was once the seat of the Halkett family. The castle which dates from the 16th century, was purchased by the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust in 1951 for the use as a clubhouse for Dunfermline Golf Club. To the south of Dunfermline is the Category A listed Hill House and Pitreavie Castle. Both dating from the mid-17th century, Hill House was built as a residence for William Monteith of Randford and Pitreavie Castle as a manor house by Sir Hendry Wardlaw. To the south-west of Dunfermline is the Category A listed Logie House, built as an Edwardian residence and seat for the Hunt family.


Pittencrieff Park forms the western boundary of the town centre covering 31 hectares (76 acres). It was given to the people of Dunfermline in 1903 by Andrew Carnegie. The park is known locally as the Glen and was created from the estate of Pittencrieff and the lands of the house, owned by the Lairds of Pittencrieff. A £1.4 million project to regenerate, restore and re-establish the park began in 2009 and is ongoing. In December 2011 Pittencrieff Park was awarded £710,000 through the Heritage Lottery Funds Parks for People programme for essential maintenance work. A previous award of £27,000 was made under this scheme in 2010. The work will include the restoration of historic buildings and bridges; new lighting and the refurbishment of the greenhouse to create a classroom. A separate £1 million project will revamp and extend the Glen Pavilion to provide a new 120 seat cafe and linking corridor to the rear of the building.

The Bruce Festival is an annual attraction held in Pittencrieff Park every August. The festival which promotes Robert The Bruces links to Dunfermline centres on a medieval village and is home to a food fayre, battle reenactments and displays of arts and crafts.

The Andrew Carnegie birthplace museum at the corner of Moodie Street and Priory Lane is dedicated to the well-known businessman and philanthropist. The museum is made up of two buildings; the weavers cottage, his birthplace and the memorial hall which tells his life story. Annual heritage walks organised by the museum take place each summer. The Abbot House heritage centre on Maygate tells the story of the history that the house played within Dunfermline over a period of five and a half centuries. There is also a cafe on the ground floor and part of the garden recreates the feel of a 17th-century herb garden.

Despite its rich history, Dunfermline has never had a museum to highlight this. Plans are in progress to create a £10 million Museum and Art Gallery for the town on land between a disued Victorian bank and the existing Carnegie library building. Both the library and former bank buildings will be redeveloped with a new extension creating a substantial development which will include the museum, art gallery, archive and library space. Fife Council have pledged £6.8 million towards the project with a further £2.8 million of the costs being met by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dunfermline has two theatres, Carnegie Hall on East Port and the Alhambra on Canmore Street. Carnegie Hall hosts a range of theatrical and musical productions including an annual Christmas show. The Music Institute, adjacent to the Hall also provides workshops, classes and childrens groups. The Alhambra, which opened in 1922, originally served as a dual-purpose role hosting both theatrical productions and films. In 2008, the theatre re-opened as a theatre and live music venue. Since 1938, Dunfermline has also been home to the Kinema Ballroom a ballroom/dancehall which has evolved into a famous live music performance venue and nightclub which has hosted many internationally acclaimed artistes. Local groups include the Dunfermline Folk Club, Dunfermline Abbey Choir and Dunfermline district pipe band.


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