The Royal Burgh and Ancient Capital of Scotland

The Royal Burgh of Dunfermline is the ancient capital of Scotland. It is a place so steeped in fascinating royal history, with some really amazing architecture.

If you are going to the Highlands of Scotland or to have a round of golf, the chances are you will practically pass Dunfermline en route.

It's only a short drive to Edinburgh the current Capital, over the Forth Road or Rail Bridge. It is accessible from Stirling, Glasgow and of course also from the north. To the east, there is the delightful Culross with its ancient palace. But go north up the M90 Motorway and then east you'll discover my village of Auchtermuchty and 3 miles from there is lovely village of Falkland. Keep going north-east until you reach the 'home' of golf at St Andrews. Dunfermline is only 45 - 55 minutes drive from St Andrews and around the same time to the fishing ports of Pittenweem (home to the annual Art Festival) and Anstruther with its famous Fish and Chip shop. Before going any further, I suggest you also check out the Things to do in Fife pages. It will help you with what to do in Dunfermline, but also I'm sure you'll find plenty of things for the whole family.

I know I boast about the Kingdom of Fife, and believe there are so many gems in this little crown of Scotland, and Dunfermline is one of them! It's built on a hill and on a clear day you can certainly see the famous Bridges and beyond.

As I said, Dunfermline is the ancient capital of Scotland from the reign of King Malcolm III and Queen (otherwise known as 'Saint') Margaret in the 11th century.

Within one square mile, you will discover exciting history and incredible buildings. You can wander from one part to the next and really soak up the atmosphere. Guides are available, and in the summer months you can take part in the Heritage Walk. But if you're like me - it can be fun just getting a Guide Book and having a good wander yourself.

One of the buildings you'll see is the Royal Palace, although in ruins today, is still a amazing site. The 12th century Abbey has been beautifully restored, and the Abbey Church is famous for being the final resting place of the remains of King Robert the Bruce.

Dunfermline Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey

You'll discover the delightful restored 15th century Abbot House, which is just full of treasures and exhibitions. Of course if you're feeling a bit tired with all this walking around and soaking up history, stop for a wee while in Abbot House Tea Room (either outside if weather permits, or inside); indulge in a nice 'cuppa' and maybe a piece of shortbread or some other treat.

Just a short distance from Abbot House is the cave that Queen Margaret used to pray and bathe the feet of the poor.

Abbot House

Abbot House

King Malcolm held court in the fortified tower (now in ruins) after the death of Macbeth.

Dunfermline kept its royal presence for years, but the 'Union of the Crowns' in 1603 led to King James VI moving his court down to London.

When this happened the town went into a bit of a decline, but it began to rise again during the 18th century when the weaving industry brought jobs to the area; but then this was greatly influenced by the the Industrial Revolution, bringing unemployment to many hand -weavers.

This is some of the ancient and rich history. But Dunfermline has one very famous son, Andrew Carnegie, whose name and legacy is all around the town. (If you want to know more about this great philanthropist, please click the link).

A short walk down the hill from the Abbey is the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie and the museum there is certainly worth a visit. I spent hours there, and if you are a Robert Burns fan, or interested in Homecoming Scotland, the Carnegie Museum houses huge collection of Burns' works.

Carnegie Birthplace

Carnegie Birthplace

However, if by now, you're head is spinning with all this history and buildings, why not go for a stroll through Pittencrieff Park. The Park (along with many other things) was given to Dunfermline by Andrew Carnegie. The Park is a real delight and attracts many locals from around Fife.

Here you'll find delightful walks through woodland and along burns (wee streams), and you'll be greeting by colourful and noisy peacocks, as well as rabbits and squirrels. There is a superb museum, a fabulous display of flowers and plants; and of course, there is the inevitable cafe where you can stop for another cuppa.

The Glen Pavilion within the park is the venue for some exciting cultural events - just check out the local Tourist Board when you visit to see what is on. If you have young children, there is a modern play area including a miniature train.

Entrance Pittencrieff Park

Entrance Pittencrieff Park

But Dunfermline is not just a town of old buildings and ruins. Today it is a modern, busy place. It has become large and sprawling and you'll see the name Carnegie everywhere you go. There is the Carnegie Leisure Centre with it's public swimming pool, the Carnegie Hall, venue for a variety of different cultural events from music to drama and dance.

The Kingsgate Shopping Centre (under-cover shopping) is in the middle of the town is currently undergoing development, and a new huge shopping centre is being built, with plans to open in 2008. But wander up and down the High Street or side roads for some bargains.

Of course there are also some great coffee shops, tea rooms, restaurants and hotels around too.

Dunfermline High Street

Dunfermline High Street

If sport is your 'thing' - you'll find many different sports in the area - from watching a good game of football (soccer) at the local stadium at East End Park, to golf courses, water sports and many more, such as fishing at Loch Fitty. But perhaps one of the most surpising things is that just to the north of the town is Townhill Country Park, home to lovely forest walks and the National Waterski Centre.

On the outskirts of town you'll come across the new Carnegie Housing Estate, and just near there is the huge Cinema complex. This is an area that is developing all the time.

Another interesting fact you may not know is that Dunfermline was represented in Parliament for a good number of years by Gordon Brown the new Prime Minister.

The lovely singer and actress Barbara Dickson also comes from Dunfermline, and began her career here.

A few miles along to the west, you can visit the delightful Royal Burgh of Culross (pronounced Cue-ross), with its ochre-coloured Palace, its 13th century Abbey and 17th century picturesque cottages. It is defintely like taking a 'walk back in time'.

See also the following pages:-

Maps and Weather - Find your way around and be prepared for the weather!
Anstruther - Explore this lovely fishing village and treat yourself to some delicious Fish and Chips.
Auchtermuchty - This lovely place (my home) is also home to a great Festival every year in August.
Bridges - See the lovely and even awesome bridges that might be your way into the Enchanting Kingdom for things to see and do in Scotland!
Falkland - Let the enchanting Falkland Palace transport you back a few centuries. Go for a walk up the Lomond Hills and stop for a 'yummy' bit to eat in Falkland.
Glenrothes - Visit this New Town with all its amazing modern sculptures, or pop into the Markinch Highland Games.
Kirkcaldy - The 'Lang Toun', one of the largest towns in Fife.
St. Andrews - The 'Home' of golf, and the oldest University in Scotland, wonderful beaches, and the the history of St Andrew and the saltire.
Pittenweem - Visit this scenic fishing village and home to Pittenweem Arts Festival.
Andrew Carnegie - the great Philanthropist from Dunfermine made his fortune in the Steel Industry and went on to give away much of his money.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown - Britain's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was raised and educated in Kirkcaldy, but used to reperesent Parliament for Dunfermline, Fife.
Barbara Dickson - The famous singer and actress also came from Dunfermline.

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