About Royal Dunfermline Royal Crest

The History of Dunfermline from the Earliest Records by A. Mercer in 1828 tells us "Shakespeare has by his genius perpetuated the memory of two important events in the history of Scotland," - the assassination of King Duncan, and the consequent usurpation of Macbeth, as his successor.

Duncan was murdered either personally or by direction of Macbeth in the year 1040, and left two sons; Malcolm afterwards surnamed Ceanmore, or great-head, and Donald Bane, or the white. Malcolm sought refuge in Cumberland and Donald fled to the Hebrides.

Macbeth reigned for seventeen years during which Malcolm resided in England and obtained the protection of Edward the Confessor. Macbeth was defeated and killed by Malcolm at Lumphanan, Aberdeen-shire in 1057.

Malcolm III (c.1031-93) now ascended to his father’s throne, and was crowned at Scone, 25th April, 1057. He married Ingibjorg, daughter of Earl Thorfinn of Orkney, and then in 1069 Margaret of England, later to become Saint Margaret.

Malcolm III Canmore made it his seat of residence in 1065, when he was not away fighting in wars. His second Queen Margaret (Saint) who he married in 1070, has left her mark and became Scotland's national saint, making Dunfermline a place of pilgrimage.

Dunfermline's Great Abbey is the Royal Sepulture of Scotland. God’s acre here contains at least twenty Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses along with other important families and ordinary people. It is our Little Westminster.

The palace is now in ruins. The Monastery and Fratery are in ruins, but our great Abbey Nave was saved at the time of the Reformation of 1560. The choir was ruinous but rebuilt and dedicated in 1821 to the present Abbey Church. Round the top of this new church reads KING ROBERT THE BRUCE, and his burial place is under the pulpit and reminds us of what and who he fought for in this Scottish Nation.

Dunfermline Abbey

Our recorded history of both the church and people is one of the best surviving in Scotland. History was made here. The surviving Abbot's House can tell some of the stories.

Famous people were born here and have left their mark in history at home and abroad. Descendants of the original families still live here, so tradition is strong in Dunfermline, the old capital of Scotland.

Hamlets developed and arose, the size of which would be determined by the dignity of the chief and the number of his followers. In those ages the kings and great barons were zealously devoted to the church. The clergy possessed great power over their minds and sedulously attached them to their interests. To found a religious house and to endow it more or less was an object of ambition. They were taught to believe that such pious grants procured their sublunary success and comfort, and would obtain their future salvation. Hence, in the middle ages, the kings founded and endowed monasteries or chapels adjoining their places of residence, whence they derived immediate spiritual comfort while they lived and a hallowed sepulcher on their death.

Dunfermline had its origin in the reign of Malcolm Canmore, from the united domestics of the tower in the glen, and of the adjacent convent.

The site of Malcolm's tower was strikingly adapted for a stronghold, and could not fail to attract a rude engineer of the eleventh century. Fordun says, "It was a place extremely strong by natural situation, and fortified by steep rocks; in the middle of which there is a pleasant level, likewise defended by rock and water, so that it might be imagined that the following words were descriptive of this place. - Non homini facilis, vix adeunda feris. It is difficult to men, scarcely accessible by wild beasts. The venusta planities, or pleasant level on which the tower was built, forms the summit of a very steep eminence that rises abruptly out of the glen, and causes the rivulet to wind round its base, forming a peninsula. The whole substructure of the glen on both sides is formed of freestone, which projects in many places from the surface, and these rugged declivities must have been clothed with thick impervious woods, rendering the summit extremely difficult of access on three sides. (A small fragment of this Tower remains; it is part of a wall almost level with the ground. It has been very thick; and the stones which are small are strongly cemented with lime mixed with sea-gravel, now as hard as the stones themselves."

The ruins of the tower can be visited to-day; the north view would have shown the glen woods stretching as far as Clackmannanshire and the south view would have stretched over the River Forth known as Scots Water in days gone by.


Dunfermline seal City seal

In days o' yore, as reads the lore
O' mony a weel-kent story,
A King – wha lang owre Scotland rang,
And crooned himsel' wi' glory –
Aince gaed to raise the gallant chase,
Whar stag and brawn were snarlin':
And sattlet at Dumfarlin.

The rare auld toon, the fair auld toon.
May failure touch it never;
The auld grey toon, the bauld grey toon.
Dumfarlin toon for ever!

A castle fair he biggit there,
Whar ran the wimplin' burnie,
Doon frae the linn, wi' merry din,
And mony a thrawart turnie;
There England's Rose forgot her woes,
And reared the fane, whar lang she’s lain
Saint Marg'ret o' Dumfarlin.

The rare auld toon, etc.

And a' the men wha've leeved since then, Within the city royal,
Ha'e never socht to be but ocht
That gallant is and loyal;
Tho' east or wast Dame Fortune cast
Their lot, the fickle carlin,
As traders keen they've ever been
A credit to Dumfarlin.

The rare auld toon, etc.

There's no' in Fife, whar worth is rife,
Nor yet in a' the nation,
Sae braw a toon, throo princely boon
The envy o' creation:
Then may we lang the gratefu' sang
Lilt like the lark or starlin';
And ever be its chorus free,
Oor guid auld toon, Dumfarlin!

The rare auld toon, the fair auld toon.
May failure touch it never;
The auld grey toon, the bauld grey toon
Dumfarlin toon for ever!

From Royal Dunfermline by Alan Reid.

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For further resources relating to Royal Dunfermline, please visit the Resources page.


History of Bridge Street, Dunfermline

History of Bridge Street, Dunfermline

Town Clerks

Town Clerks

Dunfermline as an early burgh

Dunfermline as an Early Burgh

Lands of Dunfermline

Lands of Dunfermline

Baldridge Lands

The Lands of Baldridge

History of the Streets

History of the Streets of Dunfermline

Notes on the Burgh of Dunfermline

Notes on the Burgh of Dunfermline