A weekend in Dunfermline

I don’t remember the last time I was in Dunfermline, and it’s always struck me as one of those bland, drearily post-industrial places that is commuterland for either Dundee or Edinburgh.

In my ignorance, I write off much of Fife as such.

It’s easy to forget, though, that Dunfermline is a place with deep and rich history – it was capital of Scotland for a few centuries, with significant royal connections, and its story goes back to medieval times, and no doubt before.  In more modern times, it was the birthplace of world-famous industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

I was vaguely aware of this history, but had no idea, until I visited, that it manifested itself in one or two remarkable things – the huge Pittencrieff Park that puts Kelvingrove Park to shame, the phenomenal Abbey and surrounding ruins, and a stunning medieval old town that conjures up an atmosphere similar to St Andrews, Old Aberdeen or other such places.

In amongst it all you almost expect to find the culture, wealth and stripe-scarfed youth associated with an ancient university, and even though it is quite close to St Andrews I wonder why a place with such important royal and ecclestiastical connections did not gain such a seat of learning.

Now of course, there’s two sides to every town, and I also saw the grimmer side of Dunfermline. It’s doubtless a place with numerous blights – drugs, crime, faceless retail sprawl, Dunfermline Athletic FC, proximity to Kirkcaldy and so on.

But the atmosphere and history of the Abbey and surrounding park and town reminded me that this little country of ours is full of history, beauty and many surprises, even to those who live here. You can read much more the town’s Undiscovered Scotland and Wikipedia pages.

As you can see, I took several photos. The medieval architecture lent itself to moody black and white, while the bright winter sunshine and clear skies cried out for colour – I am not sure which captured things better.

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