367: Dunfermline

OS Explorer map 367, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy & Glenrothes South: Methil & Culross – I do not own this map, and had not visited it before starting this blog. Visited for this post 6th July 2018. (This is the fourth of fourteen posts concerning my July 2018 trip to Harris and Galloway with my Cambridge friends.)

So, as you read in my previous post, Queenie, Millicent, Erithacus, Vesper, Cheremy and I departed from our overnight stop at Slamannan with the objective of reaching Ullapool in time for our 17:30 ferry. Since we had a fair bit of time, it had been decided that we would stop on the way in this map, at Dunfermline, to see the sights. We arrived by about 11am, parked up, and duly tramped up the hill to the Abbey.

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Dunfermline Abbey

The Abbey was a medieval Benedictine foundation, of particular note for  its prominent role in Scottish royal history, as the tomb and shrine of St Margaret, and the burial place of many Scottish monarchs. There’s a good amount of stuff still present – the nave of the abbey church has survived due to carrying on as a parish church post-Reformation, and there are significant ruins of the monastery, including the royal palace that developed out of the abbey’s guest lodgings.

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The remains of the royal palace

We bought admission tickets and duly walked around the site while Millicent, who is by far the most knowledgeable about such things, told us all about appropriate parts of Scottish history. After seeing the various surviving bits of the monastery – kitchens, the palace, etc., and admiring the stonework exhibition, we entered the church itself, which was suitably impressive.

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Dunfermline Abbey church

(That photograph is taken looking east; we’re in the nave, which is all that survives of the medieval church. The wooden doors you can see at the end lead into the nineteenth-century church that’s built on the old choir.)

After the church, we admired St Margaret’s shrine from the outside, and a decision was reached on a matter we’d been considering for a while: what to name the car we were travelling in? The car was my dad’s seven-seater Toyota Previa which we’d borrowed so that all six of us could fit, [1] but that meant that, unlike on trips in my own car Hilda, we had no name to use! It was decided that Margaret would be a most appropriate name, as a saint, and a Scottish saint for a car named on a Scottish trip. [2]

It was then time for just a quick toilet trip (which involved going to a nearby public library) before we had to pile back into Margaret for the first time since her absentee christening, and be back on the road, heading north towards Ullapool!

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[1] This was the same car we took on January’s ASNC trip to Argyll (and discussed in my Newark post), but we didn’t name her then.

[2] Previous proposals had included Clement, since the best medieval church on Harris is dedicated to St Clement. However he’s not a local saint, so we abandoned that. Maelrubha was also suggested, a Gaelic saint whom we knew well from previous trips, but also abandoned. It might have been appropriate, since St Moluag’s Church that we visited later on this trip, used to be dedicated to him (see my North Lewis post, in five posts time).

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