Top Historic Sights in Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Explore the historic highlights of Dunfermline

Abbot House

To the north of the abbey, on the corner of Maygate and Abbot Street, is the Category A listed Abbot House. This is the oldest secular building still standing in Dunfermline. The house was originally built in the mid-fifteenth century as a residence for Abbot Richard Bothwell and this role continued until Commendator George Durie left to move into new apartments at the Palace in 1540. Highlights include a frescoed wall p ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Dunfermline Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey is one of the best examples of Scoto-Norman monastic architecture. The Abbey, built between 1128 and 1150 under David I, was a reconstruction of the Benedictine chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, founded by his mother, Queen Margaret. Despite much of the monastic buildings being destroyed by the troops of Edward I in 1303, there are substantial remains, with the lower stories of the dormitory and latr ...
Founded: 1128-1150 | Location: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Dunfermline Palace

Dunfermline Palace is a ruined former Scottish royal palace and important tourist attraction in Dunfermline. Dunfermline was a favourite residence of many Scottish monarchs. Documented history of royal residence there begins in the 11th century with Malcolm III who made it his capital. His seat was the nearby Malcolm"s Tower, a few hundred yards to the west of the later palace. In the medieval period David II  ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Malcolm's Tower

Malcolm"s Tower consists of the foundations of a rubble built, rectangular tower enclosed by an oval shaped modern wall. The tower stood on a highly defensible peninsular outcrop of rock above a deep ravine and is the site from which the city derives its name. It was effectively the seat of royal power in Scotland after Malcolm III of Scotland shifted the centre of government from Forteviot to Dunfermline in t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Fordell Castle

Fordell Castle is a restored 16th-century tower house. The earliest charter in the Henderson of Fordell papers dates from 1217. It is not known when the original castle structure was constructed, but the main entrance tower is believed to date from the 1400s. James Henderson, 3rd of Fordell, started to extend the castle in 1566. In 1568 the castle was damaged by fire, then rebuilt. Evidence of the fire can be seen to the ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).