Dunfermline (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phàrlain) is a town and former Royal Burgh in Fife. It sits on high ground three miles from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth, northwest of Edinburgh, and was an ancient capital of Scotland.
At the centre of Dunfermline is an historic abbey which is now a parish church situated beside the ruins of its former monastic buildings and the Royal Palace of Dunfermline. It is the burial place for a number of Scotland's monarchs, including Malcolm III, Saint Margaret and Robert I. The poet Robert Henryson, one of Scotland's most important literary figures, was also associated with the abbey. Dunfermline's most famous son in modern times was the wealthy industrialist, businessman, and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Traditional industries in the Dunfermline catchment area principally involved textiles, engineering, defence and electronics. Today this has increasingly diversified into the service sector, including tourism.
The earliest record of Dunfermline was as a centre for the Culdee faith in the early 9th century and it derives it's name from the hill on which this community built their church. The name is a composite of the Celtic terms Dun (fortified hill), fiaram (bent or crooked) and lin (pool or waterfall). This translates as the hill by the winding stream and corresponds with the landscape around the tower hill in Pittencrieff Park today where the stream crooks and drops down the 15 foot cascade of the Ferm burn. The name Dunfermline was officially adopted in 1609 but references had been made previously in the seals and badges of the royal coat of arms.
Documented history for Dunfermline begins with King Malcolm III in the mid-11th century. He relocated the seat of power of Kings of Scots to the town from its previous centre at Forteviot in Perthshire. When, in 1069, Malcolm III took the Saxon princess, Margaret as his second wife, his new queen's devout catholic faith was to have a profound effect on the town. Queen Margaret encouraged Malcolm III to convert the small Culdee church into a Benedictine priory, this was to prove a major factor in the romanisation of the church in Scotland. The new church was inaugurated around 1072 with Lanfranc, then-Archbishop of Canterbury sending Benedictine monks on the insistence of Margaret who not only dedicated the priory to the holy trinity. Another dedication to the priory was also made to the "crucifix of the holy saviour" made of ebony, gold and silver and covered in gems from her own homeland. After her death in Edinburgh Castle on 10th November 1093 her body was taken back to Dunfermline for her burial on a site near the Rwde Awtre (the Altar of the Holy Cross or Rood) via the Queen's Ferry but this was journey was made with great difficulty particularly when the castle was under siege by Donald Bane with the only exit in the from of a secret door in the abbey church.
The Benedictine priory - for which she had started - was raised to the rank of an abbey in 1128 by her son, David I of Scotland, with Priory Geoffrey in place as the first abbot. During the course of several decades, the abbey gained power and wealth in Dunfermline with the dedication of 26 altars being gifted by the individuals and guilds; at the peak of the abbey's power, it controlled areas of land from Moray in the north all the way to Berwickshire close to the English border, including four burghs and three courts of regality.
Dunfermline would remain the de facto capital of Scotland until the brutal murder of James II at Perth, Scotland in 1436. The royal family felt safer in Edinburgh Castle, as burghs such as Dunfermline and Stirling could not provide protection in defense of the nobles.
Relocation of the Scottish courts to London after the 1603 Union of the Crowns saw the loss of the town's royal connections. A subsequent fire in 1624 left a large part of the town in ruin , as a result of this and with the reformation depriving the town of its ecclesiastical importance, Dunfermline quickly declined.
In the 18th century, the town impressed Daniel Defoe as showing the "full perfection of decay" but soon regained prosperity with the introduction, in 1718 by James Blake, of the weaving of fine damask linen - a commodity of which the town would eventually become the world's leading producer . Dunfermline became one of four main centres of the industry alongside Kirkcaldy, Dysart and Leslie in 1810. In a report in the Ordnance Gazette in 1894, it was stated: "The damask manufacture of Dunfermline is probably unequalled in the world for design and beauty of finish".
Among other industries that have contributed to the economic life of the town were dyeing, bleaching; soap (from 1790s); rope-making (from 1830s); iron founding; textile milling; distillery and brewing.
The city and burgh of Dunfermline once had a town council in operation until 1975. Under the new acts, Dunfermline District Council was established to cater not only for the city but also surrounding areas from Kincardine to Aberdour. More recently, this was replaced by a single-tier authority - Fife Council which was now based in Glenrothes despite some areas like planning issues still in control locally.
Among the more modern listed buildings is Dunfermline City Chambers, constructed in a blend of French, Gothic and Scots baronial styles by James C Walker between 1879 and 1881 The City Chambers were designed to be the centre for local government in the area and still house the Burgh Court and the City Chambers.
Dunfermline town centre has a prominant skyline which can be seen from surrounding towns and villages. Many of the prominant buildings on the skyline are historic churches of Kirks including St Leonard's Parish Church (1902-4), adjacent to the town centre railway station, which features an imitation Pictish tower. The United Free church in Queen Anne Street founded by Ralph Erskine, and the Gillespie church, named after Thomas Gillespie (1708—1774) are of notable since both Erskine and Gillespie were important figures in the Secession movement. Erskine is commemorated by a statue in front of his church and a sarcophagus over his grave in the abbey churchyard; Gillespie by a marble tablet on the wall above his resting-place within the abbey.
Dunfermline is also popular shopping centre and records some of the highest footfalls in Fife . The main shopping thoroughfare is located along a traditional, pedestrianised High Street that includes a newly extended shopping mall, the Kingsgate Centre. Improvement works are currently being undertaken to enhance the public realm and historic streetscape.
Public facilities in and around the centre include the Carnegie Theatre, the Carnegie Library, the Carnegie Sports Centre and the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum. Dunfermline police station, sheriff court and fire station are located at various points on Carnegie Drive to the north of the town centre. Other important structures are the County buildings, St Margaret's Catholic church, the Music Institute, the Carnegie hall, the Carnegie public baths, the high school (founded in 1560) and the school of science and art.
Theatre: Dunfermline is fortunate to have been bequeathed with two theatres, the Carnegie Hall Theatre and the Alhambra.
Museums: Dunfermline has three museums located in and adjacent to the town's centre. The Carnegie Birth Place Museum is located at the southern gateway to the town centre. It contains artefacts relating to Dunfermline's most famous son, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The Abbotts House Heritage Centre is located in the historic core of the town centre on Maygate. It contains exhibits relating to Dunfermline and its place in history. The Pittencrieff House Museum is located in Pittencrieff Park adjacent to the town centre. It contains exhibits and artefacts relating to the history and formation of the Park over 350 million years.
Dunfermline is home to four secondary schools, several primary schools, two schools for learning difficulties and a college. Intially, Dunfermline High School served as the main school in the city until the introduction of the comprehensive system. Around this period also saw a new Catholic secondary to serve West Fife. There were also many new primary schools such as Bachlaw, Pitchorie, Linburn and Touch built between 1958 and 1970 to serve the new housing developments because of the poor access and locations of many of the already existing ones.
Carnegie College, originally known as Lauder College is the only college in the city which is a partner and has links with Dunfermline Business Centre.
Notable residents include: