Nave, Dunfermline Abbey, Scotland

This evening, I am reporting on a rich and compact site in the east of Scotland, about 18 miles N.W. of Edinburgh.Historically, this was a combined important ecclesiastic site and Royal Palace with origins in the 11th century.

The Abbey was incepted as a Priory, inspired by Princess Margaret in the 11th century, adjacent to the Royal Palace. The Priory was upgraded to Abbey status in the 12th century by David I. Image at foot of this post shows the current Abbey Church with two distinct architectural styles. The right half (east) was substantially rebuilt in the 19th century following structural collapse whilst the western section was preserved. As illustrated above, the interior of the western section features arcades of circular piers with spiral and chevron decoration. Note also impressive western doorway featuring in image no 3 below. The western section is a visitor attraction managed by Historic Scotland whilst the eastern section is a living Presbyterian church. In the latter section can be found the burial-place of legendary Scottish king, Robert the Bruce (1274-1329).

Image number 4 below shows the link between Abbey and Royal Palace. The monks refectory was to the left of the gate whilst the Royal Palace was on the right.

The former Royal Place is now a ruin but, up until its abandonment in the 17th century, offered stunning views over the Firth of Forth (estuary) to the south. The catalyst leading to decline of the Palace was the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603 when King James VI of Scotland relocated to London. After the unification Dunfermline Palace experienced only irregular use by royalty with last occupation by Charles II in 1650 after which the building fell into decline and the roof was removed.

Dunfermline Palace ruins, Scotland

Robert the Bruce burial place, Dunfermline Abbey Church

Tower of Dunfermline Abbey Church with ‘Bruce’ lettering

West Front, Dunfermline Abbey

Gatehouse and pend linking Palace and Abbey

Refectory and south end of dormitory undercroft

Dunfermline Abbey Church

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