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Dunfermline Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, from south

Summary description

The parish was housed in the nave of the Benedictine abbey church, which was rebuilt on an ambitious scale between 1128 and 1150. When complete the church was cruciform with an eastern apse and three towers; it was augmented by an extended east limb and feretory chapel in the mid-thirteenth century, and by a north chapel in the fourteenth century. The east limb and transepts were abandoned after the Reformation, and a new parish church built on their site in 1818-21.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

Although the very large medieval parish of Dunfermline was served for most of the pre-Reformation period by services at an altar located in the nave of the abbey church, a church of Dunfermline was amongst the properties confirmed in possession of the monks by King David I.(1)  The church seems to have been fully appropriated to the abbey from an early date as no reference to it is made in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in the 1270s.  The appropriation of both parsonage and vicarage to the monastery is confirmed by the arrangement made in 1300 whereby Bishop William Lamberton annexed the vicarage revenues to the office of sacristan in the abbey, and permitted the cure of souls thereafter to be served by a suitable chaplain.(2)  At the Reformation the parsonage remained appropriated to the abbey and its revenues noted as amounting to £53 6s 8d assigned to the sacristan, while the vicarage was listed separately, valued at 20 merks.(3)

The relationship between the parish and the sacristanship is confirmed on a number of occasions.  In 1395, William Reid, sacristan of the abbey, was described as ‘in possession’ of the parish church, a church united with his office and the cure of which was discharged by a secular priest.(4)  In 1398, on Reid’s death, William Reston, monk of Dunfermline, petitioned for provision to sacristanship and perpetual, the latter of which he valued at £60 annually, which was said by him to be ‘governed by a monk’ of the abbey.(5)  A claim that it was the sacristan in person as vicar rather than a secular priest who discharged the cure was made in 1434 by the then sacristan in a petition for him or his deputies to be given the powers to hear the confessions of the parishioners.(6)

While the ‘parish church’ itself was probably represented by the principal altar in the nave, or less likely by one at the east end of the north aisle, there is a suggestion that additional altars or chapels were provided within the ‘parochial’ space of the monastic church.  In 1434 reference is made to a chapel of St Mary of Pity (or Piety) within the parish church, to which the devoted reportedly flocked and for which indulgences were sought as a reward for those who contributed towards its repair and maintenance.(7)  Additional endowed services rather than altars, chapels or chaplainries were also recorded, one of Abbot Richard Bothwell’s special institutions being daily masses and prayers in the parish church at Dunfermline funded from annual rents assigned from properties in and around the burgh.(8)

Additional altars and chaplainries proliferated within the parish church in the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  The altar of St Mary of Pity first referred to in 1434 acquired additional dedications, services and chaplainries before 1500.  Around that date, one David Stanley demitted his chaplainry at the altar of Our Lady of Pity and St Nicholas in the parish church into the hands of its patron, Henry Bothwell.(9)  Reference in 1499 to an altar of St Nicholas, of which Henry Bothwell was patron, is perhaps to the same altar, although the chaplains named in association with it are different.(10) A bequest of 35s annually from rents to the altar – described as founded by David Bothwell - was made in 1531 by Elizabeth Christianson, the gift also referring to the keeping of a perpetually burning lamp before the image of Our Lady and Christ Crucified.(11)  It may be this altar that was referred to as ‘Bothwell’s’ in the parish church in 1560.(12)  What appears to be a distinct altar of Our Lady, St Michael and St Katherine rather than a service at the altar of Our Lady of Pity is mentioned in 1517 as having been recently founded and erected in the parish church.(13)

The oldest certainly separate altar in the parochial component of the abbey church was that dedicated to St Margaret of Scotland, first mentioned in 1487 and with named chaplains recorded into the late 1520s.(14)  A bell of St Margaret is also mentioned in association with this altar.  The next in sequence is the altar of St Salvator, first mentioned in a surviving source in 1492 and which was specifically described as located in the parish church in a charter of 1504.(15)  An altar of St Ninian, associated with a ‘St Ryngane’s bell’, is mentioned first in 1500 when its rental income was inventoried.(16)  In an endowment of 1506, William Hert bequeathed to the chaplain, William Cowper, one day of work weekly to the chaplain of St Ryngane’s bell to say mass at the altar, which was in the patronage of the burgh council and community.  Chaplains at St Ninian’s altar are named between 1508 and 1527.(17) A final altar, that of the Holy Blood, occurs in 1502.  A chaplainry founded there was held by James Wilson, vicar of Carnbee and dean of Christianity of Fife.(18)

The above outline of altars and chaplainries located within the parochial nave of the abbey church suggests that far from drawing away all endowment from the secular component of the establishment, that the parish church at Dunfermline enjoyed significant lay patronage throughout the later pre-Reformation period.  In the flourishing of cults which included some of the most popular saints of later medieval Scotland (e.g. Ninian) as well as the more exotic late medieval universal cults (e.g. Holy Blood or Our Lady of Pity), Dunfermline appears little different from the parish churches of any of the larger burghs in Scotland.  This substantial spiritual investment in the nave of the abbey church in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries most probably accounts for the post-Reformation retention of that part of the monastic building as the parish church for Dunfermline.


1. Registrum de Dunfermelyn (Bannatyne Club, 1842), no.2 [hereafter Dunfermline Registrum].

2. Dunfermline Registrum, no.121.

3. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 68, 72.

4. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F.McGurk (Edinburgh, 1976), 34 [hereafter CPL Benedict XIII].

5. CPL Benedict XIII, 88.

6. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1447, eds A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (Glasgow, 1983), no.152 [hereafter CSSR, iv].

7.CSSR, iv, no.160.

8. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.1322.

9. Protocol Book of John Foular, 9 March 1500 to 18 September 1503, ed M Wood (Scottish Record Society, 1930), no. 144.

10. The Burgh Records of Dunfermline, ed E Beveridge (Edinburgh, 1917), no.105.

11. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 266.

12. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no.297.

13. NRS Dunfermline, Protocol Book of John Cunninghame, 1556-7, B20/1/1, fol. 14r.

14. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, nos 45, 47, 49, 109.

15. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, nos 32, 138.

16. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no.114.

17. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, nos 154, 168.

18. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no.125.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to the abbey by David I, 1124x53. The vicarage was annexed from 1300 onwards to the sacristy of the abbey, cure served by a chaplain.(1)

Place Names of Fife vol. 1: Dunfermline is second largest medieval parish in Fife; see David I charters, 33; St Andrews Library, 32; Register of the Great Seal of Scotland  II, 320 & 429.

1395 William Rede provided to the sacristy of Dunfermline, in possession of the parish church of Dunfermline united to the sacristship of said monastery, and the cure which is wont to be served by a secular priest.(2)

1398-1423 On death of Rede, William de Restoun collated; church described as ‘wont to be ruled by a monk’. Restoun holds church until death in 1423 despite attempt to have him deprived by Richard de Bothwell (later abbot 1444-68) in 1420. Bothwell accuses William of dilapidating the goods of the sacristy, disponing them unprofitably and shamefully consuming them, as well as being a conspirator against current abbot William Anderston.(3)

1423-45 On Restoun’s death Bothwell collated to sacristy. On Bothwell’s promotion to abbacy in 1444 he held the sacristy and church in commendum for 1 year before being succeeded by William de Boys.(4)

1477 David Ruch becomes sacristan on death of John de Bennale; further reference to parish church being annexed to the benefice.(5)

Altars and chaplaincies(6)

Our Lady of Piety and St Nicholas

c.1500 David Stanle demits the chaplaincy founded at the altar of Our Lady of Piety and St Nicholas, situated in the parochial church of Dunfermline, into the hands of its patron Henry Bothwell.(7)

1531 Bequest of 35 shillings annual rents by Elizabeth Christianson; mentions altar in the parish church founded by David Bothwell.(8)

Further reference in same charter to a lamp before the image of Mary and the crucified Jesus at the said altar which was to be kept illuminated day and night

1556 (8 Aug) James Clerk is perpetual chaplain of the altar of Our Lady in Dunfermline.(9)

Our Lady, Michael and Katherine

1517  Evidently mentioned as founded and erected by the late William Laud of Ross situated in the parish church. [The triple dedication seems to be associated with one particular altar] .(10)

Holy Blood

1502 Reference to chaplain James Wilson, vicar of Carnbee and dean of Fife, (1502-04) at altar situated in the parish church.(11)

Bothwell’s altar

1560 (17 Apr) Alexander Walned, chaplain of Bothwell’s altar situated in the parish church of Dunfermline, sets various lands pertaining to chaplaincy.(12)

St Margaret of Scotland

1487 Altar mentioned as situated in the parish church, further reference to St Margaret’s bell associated with the altar.(13) Chaplains Andrew Pearson (1494-1510), Thomas Malcolm (1527).

St Nicholas

1499 Henry Bothwell, patron of the altar situated in the parish church [same patron as Our lady and Nicholas altar, perhaps same altar?].(14) Chaplains John Mason (1500), David Stanley (1501)

St Ninian

1500 Rental of altar mentions various annual rents of altar in the parish church.(15)

1506 Bequest to the chaplain of the altar William Cowper by William Hert who pledges one day of work every week in return for the chaplain of St Ryngans bell to say mass at the altar. Patrons mentioned as the burgh community.(16) Chaplains John Robertson (1507-8), Andrew Robertson (1524-27)

St Salvator

1492 Payment to St Salvator’s altar mentioned; 1504 charter specifies that it is situated in the parish church.(17)


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage revenues with Dunfermline, pertain to the sacrist, value £53 6s 8d.

Vicarage valued at 20 marks.(18)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £13 6s 8d.(19)

1571 (15 Jan) The Minister is nominated to be one of the 21 members of the chapter of the Archbishop of St Andrews.(20)

1577 (1 Apr) Complaint made that against the acts of the Assembly James MacGill, clerk of register, and the young Laird of Rosyth, caused the burial of the late Lord of Rosyth to take place in the kirk of Dunfermline (clerk warned to answer the following month). On 1 May the clerk register stated that the provost and baillies had agreed to bury the Lord of Rosyth in the church and it was not his fault.(21)

1587 (6 Feb) General Assembly cites Dunfermline as one of three kirks that are ‘ruinous, and without hastie repair, are not able to be remedied’ (others were Glasgow and Dunblane). Assembly suggests that James VI be implored to mend Dunfermline with the help of the Earl of Huntly and Abbot.(22)

1703 (3 Feb) Repair of the church of Dunfermline. Report by William Inglis and George Wall (wrights), Lawrence Henderson (glasier), John Simpson (slater) and William Anderson (smith) note ‘that to repair the tofalls of the church to take the garrons off the south tofall that are largest and make them serve the north tofall’. Total cost £2030 14s 8d.(23)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Revs Allan Maclean and John Ferrie, 1791): Detailed description of the parish church in 1791.(24)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Peter Chalmers, 1844): Detailed information on the new parish church built in 1821.(25)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1821 William Burn, architect; repaired 1835; 12th century nave and part claustral buildings extant. Part of Fife tower tradition, most capped by corbelled parapets, known locally as bortizers.(26)


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 52.

2. CPL, Ben, 34.

3. CPL, Ben, 88, CSSR, i, 198-99.

4. CSSR, iv, nos. 1155 & 1169, CPL, ix, 417.

5. CPL, xiii, 577.

6. For future reference, altars in the conventual church (rather than parish) include Holy trinity/Margaret (high altar), Our Lady, Andrew, Benedict, Cuthbert, John the Baptist, Katherine, Katherine and Margaret of Antioch, Laurence, Mary Magdalane, Mary of Pity, Michael, Peter, Stephen, Ursula, Corpus Cristi and chapels of Ninian, Katherine, Leonard and Mary, see Burgh Records of Dunfermline, passim.

7. Prot Bk of John Foular, 9 March 1500 to 18 September 1503, no. 144.

8. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 266.

9. NRS Prot Bk of James Dalrymple, 1551-57, NP1/19, no. 68.

10. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 297.

11. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 125.

12. NRS Dunfermline, Prot Bk of John Cunninghame, 1556-7, B20/1/1, fol. 14r.

13. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, nos. 45, 47, 49 & 109.

14. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 105.

15. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 114.

16. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, no. 154 & 168.

17. Burgh Records of Dunfermline, nos. 32 & 138

18. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 68 & 72.

19. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 12 .

20. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, i, 222-23.

21. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, i, 388 & 390.

22. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, ii, 706.

23. NRS Presbytery of Dunfermline, Minutes, 1696-1704, CH2/105/3, fols. 261-262.

24. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), xiii, 454.

25. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1844), ix, 896.

26. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, p. 26, 116, 129 , 177, 191, 207, 216 & 256.


NRS Dunfermline, Prot Bk of John Cunninghame, 1556-7, B20/1/1.

NRS Presbytery of Dunfermline, Minutes, 1696-1704, CH2/105/3.

NRS Prot Bk of James Dalrymple, 1551-57, NP1/19.

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1839-45, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Burgh Records of Dunfermline, 1488-1584, 1917, ed. E. Beveridge, Edinburgh.

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 1893-, ed. W.H. Bliss, London.

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, ed. F. McGurk, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1418-22, 1934, ed. E.R. Lindsay and A.I. Cameron, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

Donaldson, G., 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh.

Hay, G., 1957, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, 1560-1843, Oxford.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, Edinburgh and London.

Protocol Book of John Foular, 9 March 1500 to 18 September 1503, 1930, ed. W. McLeod (Scottish record Society), Edinburgh.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh.

Architectural description

It was at the royal residence of Dunfermline that King Malcolm III married (St) Margaret  in about 1070. Turgot, Margaret’s biographer, says she built a church in honour of the Holy Trinity at the location of her marriage, to which Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury sent Goldwine and two other monks,(1) the first establishment for Benedictines in Scotland. This nucleus of a monastic community was dispersed in the troubles following Malcolm III’s death in 1093, but a further group was sent 1100x07 by Archbishop (St) Anselm at the request of King Edgar.(2) Excavations beneath the east end of the nave in 1916 located the footings of an early church of four compartments that had evidently been constructed in two phases.(3) The first phase appears to have consisted of a small square tower/nave (?), with a narrower but longer rectangular cell to its east. To the east of that was added a longer and wider cell that was interpreted as having had an apse on its east side, though the evidence for that apse is less certain than is often thought. It seems most likely that the earlier part represents the church built by Margaret and the later part an extension by Edgar.

The community was re-established by David I on a far more ambitiously endowed scale, and in 1128 Prior Geoffrey of Canterbury was sent as the first abbot of the enlarged establishment.(4) Construction of a major new church was evidently started at the same time, and there was a dedication in 1150, by which time it is assumed that the main body of the building was largely complete. A master Ailric the mason was granted a portion of Dunfermline’s lands in about 1153,(5) though we do not know if this was because he had been responsible for the design and construction of the new abbey church.

Further construction was in progress in 1226, when Pope Honorius III referred to the making of noble structures, and a bull of 1231 mentions great expenses in building works.(6) The thirteenth-century works on the church culminated in 1249, when there was a papal ruling that a fresh dedication was not required.(7) Since St Margaret was translated to her new feretory chapel in the following year, it is likely that construction of that chapel had been the main focus of the later phase of those activities.(8) The work appears to have involved the squaring off of the east end of the eastern limb, perhaps to provide an ambulatory beyond the presbytery, with the construction of a low rectangular feretory chapel beyond; the lower east and south walls of that feretory partly survive. Amongst the earliest of subsequent medieval works may have been the construction of a large chapel on the north side of the east limb, which in that position is assumed to have been a Lady Chapel.

It is thought that structural difficulties were the reason for major works of reconstruction at the west end of the nave, which can be attributed to Abbot Richard de Bothwell (1444-68); his arms are carved on the boss of the rebuilt vault in the sixth bay from the east of the north nave aisle, on the vault of the north porch and on a buttress tabernacle of that porch.(9) Bothwell’s work entailed rebuilding much of the sixth, seventh and eighth bays from the east of the north nave aisle and arcade wall, the reconstruction of the north-west tower, and the addition of a porch over the north nave doorway. It probably also extended to reconstruction of much of the upper parts of the west front, all of which had a significant impact on the Romanesque work. Other later medieval works that have had an impact included the insertion of a doorway, in the seventh bay from the east of the south nave aisle, the insertion of traceried windows in the second, fifth and sixth bays from the east of the north nave aisle and the reconstruction of much of the south aisle vaulting.

A number of post-Reformation events or operations have had further implications for the medieval fabric. A two-bay burial vault was built against the south side of the second and third bays from the east by Queen Anne of Denmark, within the area of what had been the north cloister walk; this had possibly been intended as her own burial place, but in 1616 an inscription records that it was granted to Sir Henry Wardlaw. In 1620 and 1625 arched buttresses were built up against some of the bays of the south and north nave aisle respectively, and it was probably at the same time that the roofs over the nave galleries were rebuilt to a steeper pitch. In 1672 much of the eastern limb collapsed. In its final post-Reformation state, a view of 1805 by the Rev’d John Sime shows that there was a ceiling above the level of the arcade, with two levels of timber lofts within the arcades and further lofts at each end of the central vessel.(10) The upper level of lofts in the aisles was lit by a number of windows cut through the aisle walls, some of which involved paring back of the vault webbing, and although much of this was reversed in 1845-55, traces of some of those openings are still discernible. The principal focus of worship at that time was the pulpit, which Sime shows was set against one of the north arcade piers, where it was given some prominence by being surmounted by a large sounding board.

In 1753 the central tower collapsed and concern was expressed about the condition of the south-west tower, the stump of which eventually collapsed in 1807. In 1811 the latter tower was rebuilt to a simplified design by William Stark, though as early as 1809 it had been decided that the provisions for the parish in the nave were inadequate, and the local presbytery ordered the heritors to provide a new church. In 1818-21, after lengthy discussions, the required new church was built over the site of the eastern limb, to the designs of William Burn; he also made proposals for restoration of the nave, involving the enrichment of its upper storeys, though those proposals were not acted upon. In 1829 Robert Reid, Master of the Works in Scotland, made more conservative proposals for dealing with the nave on the assumption that it was crown property,(11) though it was only from 1845 that the state began to assume responsibility. In 1848 three of the south nave arcade piers were rebuilt, the outer walls of the south gallery and the roofs over the galleries were rebuilt to their assumed original height and pitch, and a flat ceiling was installed over the central vessel of the nave, all under the direction of William Nixon, Clerk of the Works in Scotland.(12)

In 1905 the Wardlaw burial vault was reduced by one bay to reveal the processional doorway in the second bay from the east of the south nave aisle, which had been rediscovered two years earlier.(13) In 1916 Peter Macgregor Chalmers carried out the excavations referred to above, which also incidentally exposed the lower courses of the choir screen, and in 1917 the outline plan of the early church was marked out on the nave floor at the expense of the Carnegie Trust.

The Romanesque abbey church started in about 1128 was built of buff-coloured sandstone. The principal surviving part is seven bays of the originally eight-bay nave, and it was this part that served as the place of worship of the parish of Dunfermline.(14) The site of the eastern limb and transepts is now largely occupied by the early nineteenth-century church. No detailed record was made of the evidence for the plan of the eastern limb before the early nineteenth-century church was built, but on the limited evidence of such plans as were made, it is thought that it was initially of four aisled bays, with an apse projecting beyond the central vessel, and perhaps with enclosed apses at the east ends of the flanking aisles. The church was probably the first in Scotland to have three towers, though none of them has survived in Romanesque form. The central tower is altogether lost, and the north-west tower is part of the mid-fifteenth-century work carried out for Abbot Richard de Bothwell, while the south-west tower dates from 1811. An early nineteenth-century view by John Clerk of Eldin,(15) and another made for General George Henry Hutton,(16) appear to show the already truncated south-west tower before its collapse and replacement as having a massive stair turret at its south-west corner. The only part of the medieval church to remain in place east of the early nineteenth-century building is a fragment of the feretory chapel of St Margaret, which is presumed to have been built in about 1249, and of which the lowest parts of the east and south walls partly survive.

Externally, there are three tiers of windows along the south and north flanks, which light the aisles at the lowest level, the galleries over the aisles, and the clearstorey. In considering the existing fabric, it should be borne in mind that the roofs over the galleries are known from pre-restoration views to have been rebuilt to steeper pitches at some stage after the Reformation. On the south side this evidently meant that the upper part of the gallery walls was reduced in height, truncating or possibly completely destroying the windows at that level, while the lower part of the clearstorey windows was blocked. On the north side the gallery windows appear not to have been altered, with the new roof instead rising to mid-height of the clearstorey windows. These changes to the gallery roofs and walls were reversed during restorations of 1845-55, however, when some of the details of the gallery and clearstorey windows may have been modified. Structural evidence for the changes is to be seen in masonry changes, the later work being marked by the use of a fine-grained grey stone rather than the buff-coloured stone of the medieval work. the two nave aisles are now braced by arched buttresses along much of their length, one of those on the south side dated to 1620, and one on the north side dated to 1625. The two nave aisles are now braced by arched buttresses along much of their length, one of those on the south side dated to 1620, and one on the north side dated to 1625.

The Romanesque nave aisle windows, rest on a string course. On the south side that string course is an undecorated moulding that covered the junction of the cloister walk roof with the aisle wall. On the north side the string course survives in the second to the sixth bays from the east, and wraps around the pilasters between the bays. In the second, fifth and sixth bays, however, it has been re-set at a lower level to accommodate the enlarged late medieval windows in those bays. The face of the string course had a band of low-relief foliage carving (now badly eroded) between top and bottom chamfers.

The Romanesque aisle windows survive in the second to seventh bays from the site of the transept on the south side and the third and fourth bays on the north. They all have a plain inner order, which may have been pared back to increase the daylight opening. Framing that opening in the jambs are en-délit nook shafts (largely renewed) supporting cushion or scalloped capitals with a roll necking and plain abaci that have a quirk between the two planes. Those abaci extend outwards to form a string course that meets the flanks of the pilasters between the bays. In the arch the shafts support an order in which chevron wraps around a curved profile. Framing that order is an outer order decorated with a label moulding, around which there is a hood mould with a chamfered soffit. The exceptions to this, which are both on the south side, are the second window from the east, which is above the south-east doorway from the cloister, where the hood mould appears to have been enriched with low-relief carving, and the seventh window from the east, where there is no hood mould.

Those nave gallery windows that may preserve their Romanesque appearance are in the second to the seventh bays from the site of the transept on the south side, and in the second and third bays on the north side. All those on the south side, however, were renewed in the 1840s, and are now blind; the renewal is identifiable from the use of finely grained grey stone. Initially the two-light gallery windows appear to have been most unusual in having triangular heads composed of two stones set at an angle to each other, which are carried on en-délit nook shafts with cushion capitals. Within that frame is a pair of triangular-headed openings with a lozenge shaped opening in the spandrel, all those openings having chamfered arrises to the reveals. In the fourth, fifth and sixth bays from the east on the north side they have been replaced by small single-light windows, probably of fifteenth-century date, though the ghosts of the Romanesque jambs are still detectable in parts. It may be speculated that the triangular window heads could be a pointer to the possibility that the gallery storey was originally intended to be finished externally by a series of lateral gables, as is known to have been the case at Durham Cathedral, though at Dunfermline there is no other evidence to support this possibility.

The nave clearstorey windows are all of the simplest kind, having semicircular arches, with the reveals of both jambs and arch being relieved by no more than a narrow rebate. They have no hood mould. The corbel tables to the gallery and clearstorey levels on the south side of the nave appear to have been entirely renewed in the mid-nineteenth century, following the form of those on the north side. On the north side the corbels were evidently part of modifications carried out in the first half of the thirteenth century, and are of the type sometimes referred to as masks.

Three Romanesque doorways survive in the nave: the south-east entrance from the cloister, in the second bay from the east; the north doorway, in the seventh bay from the east; and the west doorway, at the centre of the west front.

The south-east nave doorway is the most finely decorated feature of the surviving part of the abbey church. It has survived remarkably well through being protected initially by the north cloister walk, and later by the burial vault of Sir Henry Wardlaw, until it was rediscovered in 1903 and exposed by the removal of one bay of the Wardlaw vault in 1905. At that time there was some renewal of masonry in the jambs, and perhaps some limited re-tooling of the inner caps; unfortunately, as a result of over a century of re-exposure, the doorway is now showing some signs of weathering. The door opening is framed by four orders, albeit the third order is little more than an extension of the second. In the arch the three inner orders are decorated with chevron that wraps around both the face and soffit of the curved profile of the orders; in the soffit face the chevron is set point-to point, with crosses carved in the resultant spandrels. The outermost order, which is of shallower projection and is edged with a narrow quirked angle roll, is decorated with low-relief square flower, in which eight petals radiate around a central knop. Since the doorway was intended to be within the protection of the cloister walk there is no hood mould. In the jambs the innermost order has a pair of engaged shafts separated by a spur to the flanks. The second order has an en-delit nook shaft on each side, while the two outer orders are of simple rectangular profile. The bases on the west side have been renewed, but on the east side that of the innermost order is in the form of a roll and a hollow above the sub-base; the base of the en-delit shaft of the second order has a sequence of roll, hollow, roll and hollow above the square sub-base.

The finely carved paired capitals to the innermost order on the east side of the south-east doorway have their carving organised around semi-circular bands decorated with pellets that relate to designs found in both manuscripts and cast metalwork as well as in stone sculpture; their looped form makes reference to the lunettes of scallops. The areas within the loops are chamfered back, and rich tendrils of foliage rise from the shafts and the intermediate spur to interweave with the loops. These eastern capitals of the inner order are considerably more richly finished than their western counterpart, and, since they appear to have been found in this condition in 1903, there must be the suspicion that they were never more than blocked out. The east capital of the second order has a small grotesque head at the angle, from the mouth of which fronds of foliage emerge; that head corresponds to the angle volutes of corinthianesque capitals. Since the angle of the west capital of this order is damaged, it is no longer clear if it ever had a head at the angle. There is a reference to the lunette of a cushion capital in the circular tendril of foliage that is the chief element on the two exposed faces of each capital; but whereas the circle of the western capital of this order is filled with a bifurcating frond of foliage that breaks across the underlying circle and terminates in a trifoliate leaf, in the eastern capital each circle is filled with a flower of the type sometimes referred to as ‘Byzantine blossom’. The neckings of the outer order are cable-moulded. There is a continuous stepped abacus that is decorated with foliage composed of a series of palmettes.

The north nave doorway appears to have been of five orders, but the fifth order is now largely covered by the walls and tierceron vault of the porch added in the mid-fifteenth century by Abbot Richard de Bothwell. The innermost order framing the opening, which is of plain masonry with a simple arris, supports a largely reconstructed tympanum carried on a segmental arch, the field of the tympanum now containing a tablet of the 1840s recording the dedication of the abbey church in 1150. The second, third and fourth orders have face and soffit chevron in the arch, but the arch of the fifth order is now obscured. The orders of the second to fourth orders of the arch are carried on en-delit nook shafts of alternating circular and octagonal section, one of those shafts on each side being a modern replacement. The capitals are of simple cushion form, with a roll necking and plain abaci that have a quirk between the two planes. The bases of the shafts are now partly obscured by the raised pavement, and what remains is too eroded to describe. The doorway was set within a salient, the superstructure of which is weathered back a little below the aisle cornice, and which is now framed by the buttresses of the mid-fifteenth-century porch. The upper part of the salient, which is partly obscured by the roof of the porch is decorated with a blind arcade of seven unmoulded arches carried on en-delit shafts with cushion capitals. The details of the caps and bases of that arcade are now too eroded to describe.

The west doorway is the largest of the three. It has five orders of alternating round and octagonal en-delit shafts, two of which on the south side and three of which on the north side are modern replacements. It  is set within a salient that is weathered back below the window inserted at mid-height of the west front in the mid-fifteenth century. The south capital of the innermost order is of cushion form, but with both the areas within the lunettes and the cones beneath those lunettes recessed. The innermost north capital is also a cushion, but with the features outlined by incisions. The second south capital is scalloped, with three lunettes to each face, while its northern counterpart is a variant on a cushion, with pairs of angle ridges. The third capital on each side is of simplified Corinthianesque form, with blade-like leaves on each side of a broad leaf at the angle from which the crocket-like volute emerges. The fourth capital on the south is scalloped, with recessed lunettes and a ridge between the pairs of cones, while the fifth and outermost capital on the south is scalloped with nested V-shaped angle ridges between the cones and the lunette emphasised by an incised line. The two outer capitals of the north jamb are very eroded, though both were of cushion form. The interconnected abaci have chip carving in the form of square flower.

In the arch of the west doorway the first, second and fourth orders have chevron decoration which in the second and fourth orders curves round the profile of the orders. The soffit of the first, innermost order is flat. The third order has two parallel bands of low-relief eight-petal square flower set on an angled plane. The most richly detailed order is the fifth, which, like the third, has its carving set on an angled plane. In this order much of the detail has been lost through erosion, but it can be seen that heads carved in mid-relief, with prominent eyes, cheeks, and in some cases moustaches, alternate with a range of other motifs. Those other motifs include rather loosely contrived interlace designs, foliage, a triquetra and there is a bird near the arch head on the south side. The arch is framed by a chamfered hood mould with low relief carving that is too eroded to describe, and that terminates at each end well above the arch springing in a badly weathered head corbel.

Within the nave there is a striking contrast between the decorative treatment of the arcade storey and that of the gallery and clearstorey levels, the former being treated with great richness and the latter with extreme plainness. It is thus likely that, while the arcade storey of the nave was built as a continuation of the campaign on the eastern limb and transepts, the upper storeys were completed following a change of design. However, views drawn for Francis Grose and General Hutton in the later eighteenth and earlier nineteenth centuries respectively indicate that the gallery level in the easternmost nave bay was treated more richly than the bays to its west, evidently with four sub-arches within each opening, suggesting that as part of the first campaign an abuttal for the central crossing was provided at gallery level. There may then have been a slight hiatus before construction of the rest of the upper storeys of the nave, after which work was continued in a more frugal manner. Nevertheless, it is assumed that work on the nave was largely complete by the time of a dedication recorded in 1150.

The nave arcade piers are of cylindrical form, the two eastern ones on each side being decorated with incised patterns, but those beneath the towers are (or were in the case of the central and north-west towers) of compound form. The north-west tower pier was replaced by a solid wall terminating in a respond across the arcade arch towards the nave as part of Abbot Bothwell’s work in the mid-fifteenth century, and the pier to its east was also rebuilt to. The south-west tower pier is composed of elements that reflect the form of the wall responds along the aisles, except on its north face, towards the central vessel, where it has a plain face with no engaged shafts or pilasters. Thus, on each of the east, south and west sides there is the combination of a half-shaft on the face of a pilaster, flanked on each side by a set-back half roll.

The first cylindrical pier west of the crossing on each side (each of which is now engaged with the walls of the early nineteenth-century parish church vestibules) is decorated with a spiralling pattern of sunk roll mouldings; the second pier west of the crossing on each side is decorated with a chevron pattern of sunk hollows, with an arrow-head or leaf motif at the angles of the chevron. The piers have octagonal cushion caps with abaci that have a quirk between the two faces; the bases have a compressed roll below a chamfer, above square sub-bases that rise from a bottom chamfer. The semi-circular arcade arches are of two orders: the inner order has a soffit half-roll flanked first by sunk three-quarter rolls and then by a segmental hollow towards the central vessel, but a chamfer towards the aisle. The outer order has a pair of sunk rolls to the soffit, and on the side towards the central vessel there is a segmental hollow to the face that is framed by a label moulding. The exception to this is in the third to the sixth bays from the east of the south aisle, where the second order towards the aisle has a simple rectangular profile. Beneath the east side of the south-west tower, where there is also a surviving Romanesque transverse arch, there is a second order to that arch, with a pair of rolls to the soffit and a segmental hollow to the face.

The aisle bays are articulated along the outer walls by massive responds in the form of a half-shaft on the face of a pilaster, flanked on each side by a set-back half roll. The respond caps are all scalloped, with two or four lunettes to the leading face of the principal shaft. In the western bays of the south aisle many of the faces of the lunettes are recessed. The bases have a range of combinations of rolls.

The lower walls below the windows of the north and south aisles, and across the west front, were initially decorated throughout with blind arcading, except in the second bay from the east of the south aisle, where there is the doorway from the cloister. However, the arcading has been removed in the seventh and eighth bays from the east of the north nave aisle, which were largely rebuilt by Abbot Bothwell in the mid-fifteenth century. It has also been almost entirely lost below the south-west tower, when it was rebuilt in the early nineteenth century, and in the seventh bay from the east of the south nave aisle, where a later medieval doorway was inserted. In addition, it has been removed or partly obscured in the fifth bay from the east of the south aisle, and in the second and fourth bays of the north aisle, due to the insertion of post-medieval memorials.

The three arches of the decorative arcading that was originally provided in each bay have chevron decoration that wraps around the curved profile, and they are carried on renewed single shafts at each end of the formation and paired intermediate shafts. The capitals are generally of cushion form, which, above the paired shafts, take on a scalloped appearance, though in the fifth bay of the south aisle one of the capitals is fully scalloped. Exceptionally, the easternmost cap in the third bay from the east is covered with a fish-scale pattern, and capitals of the same type have been restored in one case in the fourth bay on the south and in another case in the third bay on the north. The arcade across the interior of the west front is interrupted by the rear-arch of the west doorway, which is supported by tall en-délit shafts. On the south side the shaft supports a cushion cap, and on the north side a volute cap.

The rich detailing of the Romanesque aisle window rear-arches is one of the clearest indicators of the high aspirations behind the first phase of construction at Dunfermline. These rear-arches have survived in the second to the seventh bays from the east of the south nave aisle, and in the third and fourth bays from the east of the north nave aisle. Framing the daylight openings is an inner order of plain masonry that may originally have been widely splayed, but that may have been pared back to increase the opening. The plain inner order is itself framed by two further orders, the inner of those orders being carried by en-delit nook shafts with cushion caps, while the outer order in the jamb is plain. The arches are decorated with chevron that follows the curved profile of the arches, and that is closely embraced by the aisle vaulting.

In the south nave aisle the string course on which the windows rest survives in the second to the seventh bays from the east, though in the second bay there are only short stretches on each side of the doorway rear-arch in that bay. The string course is chiefly decorated with low-relief triangular leaves; the exceptions are in the eastern part of the second bay, all of the fourth bay, and the western part of the seventh bay from the east, where the carving is in the form of square flower. In the north nave aisle the string course below the windows has survived only in the third and fourth bays from the east, where it is decorated with low-relief eight-petal square flower, though much of that in the third bay is restored.

Other than within the early nineteenth-century south-west tower, the aisles are covered by ribbed quadripartite vaulting, initially with transverse arches with a flat soffit and sunk angle rolls between each bay. There has been considerable reconstruction at a range of dates, and the only bays of aisle vaulting that now appear to retain their Romanesque state are over the second to fifth bays from the east of the north aisle, where the webbing is of heavily plastered rubble. The manner in which the construction of the ribs in these bays necessitated cutting into the arcade arches might suggest that the original intention had been for there to be no ribs, meaning that the vaults would have been simply groined. The Romanesque diagonal ribs have a soffit roll flanked by segmental hollows cut into their angles. Diagonal ribs of this kind are also to be seen down the length of the south aisle, though the form of the transverse ribs, together with the ashlar construction of the webbing, makes clear that the vaults on that side have been reconstructed at some stage.

As already indicated, at gallery and clearstorey levels the detailing is very much more austere than at arcade level. The round-arched gallery openings, which rest on a string course a short way above the arcade arches, have plan arrises towards both the central vessel and the galleries. The only enrichment is a narrow single arch order carried on each side of the opening by an engaged half-shaft at the centre of the wall thickness, though it may be assumed that the original intention had been for the half-shafts to support the end of a number of sub-arches, as is known to have been the case in the easternmost nave bay. Each half-shaft has a scalloped cap and a base with a chamfer or compressed roll above a lower roll, all above a square sub-base. There is some variety in the treatment of the gorge between the cones of the scalloped capitals. Most have an inverted V-shaped motif, which in some cases is flat, and in other cases of concave profile. But in the third bay from the east on the north side there are nested Vs in the eastern capital and shafted arrows in the west capital. The arch is of a similar profile as the diagonal ribs of the aisles, having a soffit roll flanked by segmental hollows cut into their angles.

Like the gallery openings beneath them, the clearstorey windows rest on a string course. They have a single nook shaft carrying a cushion capital on each side in the jambs, and the abaci of the nook shaft capitals are interconnected to form a string course. There are plain arrises to the round arches. The upper storeys of the sixth to the eighth bays from the east on the north side were rebuilt as part of Abbot Bothwell’s reconstruction of the north-west corner of the nave, and are even more simply detailed than their Romanesque counterparts.

There is a wall passage at clearstorey level, which appears to have continued across the west front. Within the south-west tower traces survive of a lower wall passage that would have run across the west front a little below gallery level, within the lower of the two tiers of windows that lit the west front. Both of those levels of windows were replaced by a single window, presumably as part of the works carried out for Abbot Richard de Bothwell in the mid-fifteenth century, though traces of the blocking of the lower passage are to be seen within the masonry of the south flank of the later window rear-arch. The central vessel of the nave is now covered by a flat panelled ceiling braced by transverse timber arches dating from the mid-nineteenth century.

In the design of Dunfermline Abbey there appears to be an awareness of a number of English buildings, from the abbeys of Selby and Southwell to that of Waltham, suggesting that its designer - and perhaps also its patron – was closely involved in the exchange of ideas taking place between all these centres of creativity. But the building with which Dunfermline shows the closest relationships is Durham, and here it should be remembered that Scottish monarchs since Malcolm III had been leading patrons of the see of Cuthbert; indeed, the Rites of Durham records that there were images of Edgar, Alexander I and David I on the pulpitum.(17) It should also be remembered that Durham was one of the northern English counties which David considered to be part of his kingdom, and over which he was able to exercise effective control during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda. 

The many borrowings from Durham are seen in features such as the label moulding around the nave arcade arches, a motif that was introduced in the course of building Durham’s nave, and that was soon afterward also to be copied at Kirkwall. Is it also a possibility that the triangular gallery windows of Dunfermline might point to the middle storey having been designed for lateral gables to each bay as are known to have existed in the nave at Durham? The feature that shows the most specific debts to Durham is Dunfermline’s south-east nave doorway. In the detailing of its capitals there are clear parallels with the rear-arch capitals of the south-west nave doorway and with the chapter house corbels at Durham Cathedral. There are also parallels with a number of manuscripts produced in the Durham scriptorium, such as a twelfth-century copy of Jerome’s commentary on Isaiah.(18)

The west doorway is of particular interest for its relationships with a number of buildings that appear to have followed its lead, and which therefore highlight Dunfermline’s role as a channel for the introduction and dissemination of new ideas. Of particular significance in this is the richly detailed fifth order, which has heads carved in mid-relief alternating with motifs that include interlace, foliage, a triquetra and a bird with outspread wings. Partial parallels for such forms may be found in the south nave door at Dalmeny Church and a destroyed door at Edinburgh St Giles that is now known only through drawings.

If much of the arcade level of Dunfermline appears to show the adaptation of ideas developed at Durham for the needs of a church of about half its size, in which there was no requirement for high vaulting, the internal treatment of the gallery and clearstorey levels of Dunfermline’s nave shows virtually no parallels with Durham. It seems likely that the stripped-down austerity of those upper levels must have been necessitated by financial difficulties, at a time when David was involved in the dauntingly costly construction of a number of other major buildings. At some of those other buildings, including Augustinian Jedburgh and Tironensian Kelso, it seems that a need for financial restraint was a factor in a pause in construction after the eastern limb and some of the lower parts of the nave had been completed. However, at Dunfermline, which was of outstanding importance for David because of its role as a royal shrine and mausoleum, it may be that it was felt better to complete the building to a less costly design than to leave it in a half-finished state. If the design of the upper storeys was the consequence of more than simply a rejection of costly detailing, is it possible that its patron was looking to the north-west rather than the north-east of England? In that area the nave of Carlisle Cathedral was being built to a very much more stripped-down form, that shows some similarities with Dunfermline in the rejection of vertical articulation and in the unmoulded arrises of the openings. The diocese of Carlisle had been established by Henry I in 1133, despite the fact that, like Durham, it was within the counties that David I considered to be part of Scotland. However, David was able to re-establish control over Cumbria after Henry’s death, and it is known that he undertook major construction works on Carlisle castle, where he died in 1153. It would therefore not be surprising for masons to be drawn from Carlisle, and indeed, David might not have been entirely unhappy to be the creator of some difficulties at a cathedral whose foundation he had not supported.

Architectural evidence for a number of later medieval changes to the Romanesque building is to be seen at a number of points. The modified parapets of the clearstorey and of the north gallery, with their mask corbels, are likely to belong to the campaigns recorded between the 1220s and ’40s. The feretory chapel at the east of the later church must have been in place by the time of the translation of Margaret’s relics in 1250. The fragmentary remains of its east and south walls, with the series of finely detailed bases associated with the bench that runs along those walls, suggests that the south wall had a dado with blind arcading, punctuated by single mast-like vaulting shafts.

The works carried out at the north-west corner of the nave by Abbot Bothwell in the mid-fifteenth century were the most extensive to have left any record of themselves, and it may be suspected that they were necessitated by structural problems in this area. Rebuilding must have started from ground level, since a new high base course, of ogee profile above a chamfer, runs around both the tower and the new porch. The design of the tower was strikingly simple, with a three-light window of intersecting tracery at the west end of the north aisle, a round-arched window on each stage of the belfry stage and large extents of blank wall between. The tower is capped by a machicolated and crenellated parapet, behind which rises a splay-foot spire with an almost vertical lower section below the tapering upper sections. There are two string courses around the spire, the upper one having cresting and supporting miniature lucernes. This tower must have been significantly less massive in scale than its predecessor, assuming that the predecessor was of a similar scale to the south-west tower as depicted by Clerk of Eldin, and the wall face had to be chamfered back from the central part of the west front to meet it. The new porch was a single-storey structure, its round-headed entrance arch surmounted by a tabernacle rising up into a gable; the roof behind this gable partly obscures the arcaded superstructure of the earlier salient of the doorway. There are also tabernacles at the topes of the gabletted buttress that flank that earlier salient. The small pointed-arched windows at gallery level in the three bays east of the porch presumably also belong to this campaign.

It was perhaps during this campaign that the twelfth-century windows to the west front were replaced by a single four-light intersecting-traceried window, which has sub-arches at the light heads like those in the inserted aisle windows. It can be assumed that the blocked circlet with cusped cross-tracery at the height corresponding with the roof, together with the row of cusped arches above it, were also part of this campaign. Both Slezer and Clerk of Eldin show that above what is now an open arcade the wall was flat-headed, rather than gabled as we now see it. What appears likely from the masonry evidence is that those four cusped arches were originally glazed, and that the lit a space of unknown use which ran between the two west windows at a height above the nave roof, and which was itself covered by a transverse roof of low pitch. How the east wall of that space was supported is unclear. At a later stage lines against the inner flanks of the two towers show that a double-pitched roof was constructed at the same height as the main nave roof, but at right angles to it, leaving the four arches standing without any apparent function above that roof.

Internally, as part of this campaign the north-west tower pier was replaced by a solid wall terminating in a respond across the arcade arch, and the pier to its east was rebuilt to octofoil clustered shaft form. The walls above were reconstructed with simple round-arched openings at gallery and clearstorey levels, and the only string course was one that was continued from the bays further east at the level of the arch springings of the clearstorey arches, and which was carried around those arches as a hood mould. Within the west bays of the north aisle the wall shafts were cut away and the wall refaced, while new quadripartite vaults were inserted that rose to a higher level than their predecessors and were provided with slender ridge ribs in both directions as well as diagonal and transverse ribs. The vault above the aisle-level stage of the new tower, is an example of the revived interest in sexpartite ribs that is also seen around this time in the towers of the burgh churches at Stirling and Linlithgow. The most complex vaulting of this campaign is in the north porch, where there are two bays of tightly concentrated tierceron vaulting.

 Little evidence remains of the medieval liturgical arrangements in the nave. Most significant of what does survive are fragments of the screen on the west side of the easternmost nave bay. Before the Reformation, the principal parochial altar was presumably placed between the two doorways that pierced the screen across the central vessel, and the lowest courses of the middle part of that screen, terminating in traces of the jambs of the two doorways, remain in place. There are also fragments of the screens across the aisles, incorporated in later masonry. Any evidence for the pulpitum in the bay to the east of those screen walls, within the west crossing arch, was lost when the early nineteenth-century church was built. But it appears to be depicted in a view of the nave from the north-east by Henry Cave, where a round-arched door surmounted by what appears to be a heraldic tablet is depicted.(19) Possible pointers to the location of side altars in the nave may survive in the provision of a number of enlarged windows along the north nave aisle, and perhaps also in the survival of painted decoration to the vault of the easternmost surviving bay of the north aisle. That painting includes depictions of Sts Peter and Paul, along with two other saints, one of whom is evidently Andrew.   


1. Vitae Sanctae Margaretae Scotorum Reginae, in Symeonis Dunelmensis Opera at Collecteana, (Surtees Society), 1868, vol. 1, pp. 239-39; Early Scottish Charters prior to 1153, ed. A.C. Lawrie, Glasgow, 1905, no ix.

2.. Lawrie, Charters, no xxv.

3. National Records of Scotland, file MW/1/901 (SC 21971/2B pt II).

4. Registrum de Dunfermelyn, ed. Cosmo Innes, (Bannatyne Club), 1842, no 1.

5. Regesta Regum Scottorum, vol. 1, Edinburgh, 1960, ed. G.W.S. Barrow, no 112.

6. Registrum de Dunfermelyn, nos 130 and 137.

7. Registrum de Dunfermelyn, no 40.

8. Scotichronicon by Walter Bower, ed. D.E.R. Watt et al, Aberdeen or Edinburgh, vol. 5, 1990, pp, 297-99.

9. A chevron between two mallets in chief, a trefoil slip in base.

10. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, DP 034792.

11. National Records of Scotland, file MW/1/342 (SC 21971/2C pt I), report of 30 November 1829.

12. National Records of Scotland, file MW/1/342 (SC 21971/2C pt I), report of 15 May 1848.

13. National Records of Scotland, file MW/1/901 (SC 21971/2B pt I).

14. Amongst published accounts of the church are: P. Chalmers, Historical and Statistical Account of Dunfermline, Edinburgh and London, 1844-59, pp. 112-157; David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1896, vol. 1, pp. 230-258; Francis Eeles, ‘The development and internal arrangement of the abbey church of Dunfermline’, in E. Beveridge, Burgh Records of Dunfermline, 1488-1584, Edinburgh, 1917, pp. xxxi-xlvii; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, Edinburgh, 1933, pp. 106-121; J.M. Webster, Dunfermline Abbey, Dunfermline, 1948; France Sharratt, Écosse Romane, La Pierre-Qui-Vire, 1985, pp. 193-205; John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Fife, London, 1988, pp. 175-185; Neil Cameron, ‘The Romanesque Sculpture of Dunfermline Abbey: Durham versus the Vicinal’, in John Higgitt ed., Medieval Art and Architecture in the Diocese of St Andrews, (British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions), Leeds, 1994, pp. 118-123; Eric Fernie, ‘The Romanesque Churches of Dunfermline Abbey’, in J. Higgitt ed., Medieval Art and Architecture in the Diocese of St Andrews, pp. 25-37; Richard Fawcett, ed., Royal Dunfermline, Edinburgh, 2005.

15. In the National Galleries of Scotland.

16. National Library of Scotland Adv MS 30.5.23 9b.

17. Rites of Durham, ed. James Mickleton and J.T. Fowler (Surtees Society), 1903, pp. 20-22.

18. Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.8.

19. In York Art Gallery, YORAG: R2466(67).



Click on any thumbnail to open the image gallery and slideshow.

  • 1. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, from south

  • 2. Dunfermline Abbey, composite plan

  • 3. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave from south

  • 4. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave north flank, 2

  • 5. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave, north flank 1

  • 6. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave, from north

  • 7. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, west front 1

  • 8. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, west front 2

  • 9. Dunfermline Abbey, crossing area (Cave)

  • 10. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior from north (Billings)

  • 11. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior from south east (Grose)

  • 12. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, from south west (Slezer)

  • 13. Dunfermline Abbey, interior proposal for nave restoration, 1820

  • 14. Dunfermline Abbey, ex situ chip carved arch stone

  • 15. Dunfermline Abbey, ex situ diaper carved shaft

  • 16. Dunfermline Abbey, ex situ nail head decorated cushion cap

  • 17. Dunfermline Abbey, ex situ statue 1

  • 18. Dunfermline Abbey, ex situ statue 2

  • 19. Dunfermline Abbey, ex situ statue 3

  • 20. Dunfermline Abbey, ex-situ cushion cap

  • 21. Dunfermline Abbey, ex-situ string course fragment

  • 22. Dunfermline Abbey, ex-situ volute cap

  • 23. Dunfermline Abbey,ex situ mask corbel

  • 24. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave north door

  • 25. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave south east door

  • 26. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave, south aisle window

  • 27. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave, south east door, east caps

  • 28. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, nave, south east door, west caps

  • 29. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, north porch

  • 30. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, west door

  • 31. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, west door, north caps

  • 32. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, west door, south caps

  • 33. Dunfermline Abbey, nave, north door

  • 34. Dunfermline Abbey, exterior, shrine chapel

  • 35. Dunfermline Abbey, shrine base

  • 36. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, shrine chapel

  • 37. Dunfermline Abbey, St Margaret's Chapel

  • 38. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave from south west

  • 39. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave north aisle vault 1

  • 40. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave north aisle vault 2

  • 41. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave, elevated view from north west

  • 42. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave, from north west

  • 43. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave wall arcade, fish-scale cap

  • 44. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave, north gallery cap 1

  • 45. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave, north gallery cap 2

  • 46. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave, north gallery cap 3

  • 47. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave, painting on north-east vault bay

  • 48. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, nave, south aisle bay

  • 49. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, north nave arcade wall 1

  • 50. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, north nave arcade wall 2

  • 51. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, north nave arcade wall 3

  • 52. Dunfermline Abbey, interior, porch vault

  • 53. Dunfermline Abbey, plan of excavated earlier churches

  • 54. Dunfermline Abbey, plan, showing walls of medieval east limb (Chalmers)

  • 55. Dunfermline Abbey, restoration study