950 Years And She's Still Going Strong

Hi Frank here,

This year, 2022 marks the 950th anniversary of the founding of Dunfermline Abbey in 1072.

In 1972 the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust gifted a bell to the Abbey on the occasion of its 900th anniversary.

As such...

The Abbey is one of Scotland’s most important cultural sites.

Much of this medieval Benedictine Abbey fell into disrepair after the Scottish Reformation in 1560.


During the construction of Dunfermline Abbey Church in 1818 the remains of one of Scotland's most famous historical figures, King Robert the Bruce, were discovered.

More of Scotland’s royal kings and queens are buried here than in any other place in Scotland with the exception of Iona.

At its head was the Abbot of Dunfermline, the first of whom was Geoffrey of Canterbury, former Prior of Christ Church Canterbury, and it was Canterbury that provided the source of the first community of monks in Dunfermline.

The first picture (at the top of the page) is a view from the south looking up towards Dunfermline Abbey...

In the foreground can be seen the three water-powered Heugh Mills that were mentioned as far back as 1374. The remains of these mills, a flour mill, meal mill and snuff mill, can still be seen today by looking over the railings behind the First World War Memorial in Monastery Street.

George Lauder, uncle of Andrew Carnegie and founder of Lauder College, credited his upbringing working in the snuff mill that his father owned for inspiring his ambition to create a college in Dunfermline that would teach practical technical crafts and skills (that he referred to as 'hand-ucation').After a life long campaign he eventually succeeded in creating such a college that opened in 1899. Andrew Carnegie provided the funding and asked that the facility be named Lauder College in memory of his uncle.

Our next view is looking from the town towards the Abbey in the first half of the 19th century at a time when gravestones were much simpler memorials to the dead. In later Victorian times permission was given by church authorities for the more elaborate structures that are familiar sights in the burial ground today.

Below is a water colour painting by Dunfermline artist Adam Westwood who produced a large number of such paintings of Dunfermline. Westwood lived from 1844 to 1924 and his prolific output provides a record of what the town looked like at the end of the 19th century.

Our final shot is a view from the south looking up towards the Abbey over Bee Alley Gardens which contains a monument to the dead of the Second World War.

One theory for the unusual name of Bee Alley Gardens is given in this extract from the 'Annals of Dunfermline': 'This is evidently a corruption of the Baillie Garden, the garden on the east side of the Old Royal Bowling Green (back of the mill). It appears this garden belonged to the baillie of the monastery'.

I hope this gives you an historic snapshot spanning nearly 1000 years of an iconic view of Scottish Heritage here in Dunfermline.


Until next time, take care.

Frank Connelly

PS Would you like to enjoy a trip to Dunfermline Abbey? Then here's how to get there

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