Royal Dunfermline

It is amazing to find that the history of Dunfermline and Dunfermline's Church seems to have been kept very quiet over the centuries. Although both played an import part in the history of Scotland from the earliest of times.

The fact that once Iona in the west was destroyed by the Vikings, and on Malcolm III making his home and the Church in Dunfermline in the east, The 'Royal Sepulture for Scotland' where he and his Queen and Saint Margaret IN 1093 along with at least twenty one of Scotland's Royals from his time, continued to be buried in this mausoleum, until the time of Robert the Bruce and when James VI had his baby son Prince Robert, Duke of Kintyre, who died 27th May 1602 buried there.

We are told that DUNFERMELITANE, was SCOTLAND'S ANCIENT CAPITAL, and that Dunfermline's history is much older than that of salted Scotland, for while we date the commencement of Scottish history from the time of Malcolm Canmore (Malcolm III) who unified the Kingdom in 1057, the city now designated Dunfermline was probably one of the principal church towns of the Picts, where no doubt the PICTISH KINGS were buried and the place revered in the same way as Icolmkill (Iona) was by the Scots in the West.

The name Dunfermline (DUNFERMELITANE) originated in Malcolm Canmore's time Dunfermellingtane meaning the foreigners` town on the hill, so called by the Gaelic-speaking population in the district to characterize the peculiar condition of affairs following Malcolm’s marriage to Margaret, the Saxon princess. On the defeat of the Queen’s brother, Edgar Atheling, by William the Conqueror, a large number of Northumbrian nobles crossed the Border and took up residence at the Scottish Court. So numerous were the strangers, it is recorded, that they outnumbered the native population, with the result that the town was called the foreigners’ town on the hill. (See “Guidi: A City of the Horestii, Appendix B. 34; The Journal Guide to Dunfermline by Mackie. Introduction by G.C. Meiklejohn B.S, C, (Arch.; F.S.P. Printed at the Journal Printing Works 1929. pp.15-16.)

Memorable Historical Events, not previously noticed, and chiefly such as have not been alluded to by other Writers on the Parish concerning the Picts, the original inhabitants of the eastern and northern parts of Scotland (so named, it is well know, from having been accustomed to paint or colour, for the sake of ornament, the exposed parts of their bodies, with the smearing of an azure herb), have left, it is thought, evidence of their existence here, in a fortification, on the summit of Craigluscar Hill, about two and a -half miles north-west from the Town. Some traces of its walls, now under the surface, still remain. (Hist. Acct. Hist. Dunf. by P. Chalmers V. 1. p.261.)

During the period of "the Roman occupation" (A.D. 83-440) our locality, like other districts, was ruled and defended by the tribes of Caledonians, Picts, Scots, &c., "who with considerable `savage address` frequently faced the Roman legions, and did havoc amongst them." For upwards of 350 years the locality on which Dunfermline now stands ever and anon "resounded to the tramp and tread of Roman cohorts and legions." (Dunf, Annals pp. 1-2))

Dr M’Gregor Chalmers tells us the first church that occupied the site upon which the Abbey now stands was a Culdee church. The colony at Iona was broken up by violence about the 7th century. At no great of time thereafter we find references to Culdee settlements along the east coasts of Scotland – Aberdeen, Brechin, Abernethy, St Andrews, Dunfermline, and so on, and it is possible that these religious settlements may have been, or, at any rate, some of them may have been established by fugitive or missionary members of the church at Iona. (Guide to Dunfermline p 72.)

All historians agree in stating that, from the fabulous times of Fergus until MacBeth, Iona was the burying place of the kings and nobles of the Scottish race. . . . There are still to be seen tombs bearing the arms of the Macdougals, Lords of Lorn, and Macleods, Mackinnons, Macquaries, and especially Macleans – that is to say, of all the chiefs of the clans of the adjacent districts, along with several tombs of bishops, priors and other ecclesiastics of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. ( From Controversial Issues in Scottish History by William H Gregg. N.Y. 1910 pp. 472-3.)

We know the early history of Dunfermline is uncertain being mixed with much tradition and superstition. The district would be a place of forests, swamps and moors where the wolf, deer and bear made their home. The early dwellers, painted and unclothed, lived in mud hovels, huts of turf or in holes in the ground. The coming of the Romans would be the first contact with the more civilized world. There is evidence to show the existence of a large Roman camp at Lochore and another at Carnock so doubtless the Roman legions often passed this way and may have been harried by the fierce, if unskilled guerrillas of these far off days. The early Christians of the district had a place of worship and the Culdee priests attended to the rites and practices of this primitive religion. The site of the Culdee church is thought to have been where the Abbey now stands. (Short History of Dunfermline by Jean Ritchie. p. 1.)

Dunfermline Abbey introduction - About the close of the Roman occupation of the Island of Britain (410 A.D.) and during the successive arrivals of the Teutonic tribes from the East side of the North Sea, there came hither certain pre-Columban missionaries, one of whom, by direction of Adamnan of Inchcolm, set out to visit Fife up to the Ochils. St Serf’s name is accordingly found in connection with Dysart, with Lochleven’s Isle, with Devon Valley, and beyond the hills with Logiealmond and Dunning, where he had a cave and died. He had visited Culross, and there he was buried. Somewhat later St Kentigern was connected with the same ancient town as well as with Strathclyde. So far as is known, neither of these early Christian pioneers set up any establishment on the site of our city.

The Scots - In the year 530 A.D. the Scots from Ireland landed in Cantyre and founded the kingdom of Dalriada. Thirty-three years after, they were followed by Columba and his twelve companions, who settled in Iona with the double purpose of ministering to their inflowing compatriots and instructing the Picts of the Isles and the Mainland in the elements of Christianity and the industrial arts. Successfully they pushed their way to the north and east, and were invited by a refugee Northumbrian Saxon prince to send one of their numbers to Lindisfarne when he was established in his sovereignty. Aidan went and prospered in his work.

Augustine - But in 597 A.D., the very year of Columba’s death, another and larger band sent forth from Rome by Pope Gregory, under the leadership of Augustine, landed in Kent, where they were welcomed by the King and Queen. Their converts were numerous in the land, and in due time reaching Northumbria, they came into contact with the messengers and message from Iona and triumphed. The Culdee or Columban forms of discipline, ritual and doctrine differed from those used by the Roman party. Division followed even in Iona, where a few monks fell in with the new teaching, some eighty years after Aidan had gone south to Lindisfarne. And so in this land there was from various causes a lapse from the distinctive doctrine and simplicity of life on the part of the Columban Church. During the five hundred that passed over North Britain, between the landing of Columba and the coming of the Saxon Princess Margaret to Dunfermline, there must have been many and great changes in the national, religious, and social life of the land. But her arrival marks a new and very distinctive era in Scottish history, such as led the distinguished historian, Sir Francis Palgrave, to ask – “Can any realm be found offering such paradoxes as Scotland? Results apparently so contrary to their causes; all the effects of conquest, without a conqueror; Caledonia, unsubdued by foreign enemies, yet vanquished by foreign influences; Scotland, her speech more Anglo-Saxon then English England; Scotland, more feudal then feudal Normandy; Scotland, peopled by a mixed multitude, yet in the hour of peril, united by the strongest national feeling. Scotland, the dependent of the Anglo-Norman Crown, and nevertheless protecting the Anglo-Saxon line, and transmitting that line to England.” . . . “Opposing England’s coercive dominion, she obeyed the English mind. Church and State became assimilate to the institutions of her foes and rivals.”

Malcolm Canmore derived his ancestry from a Dalriadic stem, but for fifteen years he grew up under Edward the Confessor, King of England. His predecessors had cherished their own people. For him Saxon Lothian was more attractive than Strathearn and the north and west. Dunedin was a strong fortress, yet he could not leave the Scots unwatched north of the Forth. Therefore, without quitting their bounds, he came to the southern margin of the Scoto-Pictish kingdom, and the Peel of Dunfermline became the Royal Tower, close to the Saxons of Northumbria and near means of escape, if need were to arise, from the restless Celts of the North. (Dunfermline Abbey by John Marshall p. 6.-7.)

Malcolm III. married, first, Ingebjorg, and the widow of Earl Thorfinn of Norway, she being the daughter of the Jarl Finn Arnison a descendant of Herald Harfagr. Ingebjorg's mother was a niece of St Olaf and of Harald Hardradi, King of Norway, whose wife Thora was Ingebjorg's cousin on her father's side. (Ibid.) By this marriage three sons were born, Duncan, Donald, and Malcolm. Ingebjorg died about 1067-1068. firmly that God had called her to serve Him. She held the cloisters and nunneries dear, but her court, not they, would serve her mission: that of bringing the Celts - the one people in all western Europe which still had been free into full communion with the See of Rome. Later when having won over Princess Margaret, King Malcolm Canmore III. took her for his second wife in 1070. (Ibid.) The marriage ceremony was performed by the bishop of St Andrews. St Margaret's mission in life was winning over her adopted country to the customs of the Church of Rome, supplanting the old Celtic Church. (A History of the Celtic Church by James Arthur MacClannahan Hanna. p. 59) It was in a church of the ninth or tenth century that Queen Margaret and Malcolm Canmore were married - a church small and primitive like those of Ireland in that era. They consisted of a simple oblong chamber with a single door and one small window. The walls were often built without mortar, and the wall apertures were finished with undressed stone. They might be either thatched or barrel-vaulted. "Until the Romanesque influence is felt, not a trace of any kind of ornament is to be found on these churches. Latterly a few details resembling Norman work are introduced."9 But still there were many stone buildings at the time of Malcolm Canmore and according to Boece, he did by the persuasion of Turgot, the Queen's confessor, and dedicate it to the Holy Trinity. Buchanan, too, says that he built it "at great expense; and Leslie, "magnificently" (templum, in civitate Dunfermlin - gensi magnifice suis impensis extructum, sanctiss, Trinitati diecavit.) Turgot relates, "that it was enriched with numerous ornaments, vessels of solid gold, and an inestimable crucifix, formed of gold, silver, and precious stones. But how much of the edifice Malcolm built, or of the original structure still remains, is uncertain. Additions were doubtless from time to time made to it, or portions of it replaced, particularly by Alexander I, who, according to Buchanan and Leslie, finished the abbey begun by his father, and greatly increased its revenues; as also by David I, Alexander III and James VI. (A Royal Abbey (Sermon) by Rev. James Cooper DD. p.5-6.)