Dunfermline Abbey, New Abbey Nave And Parish Church

Abbey (12th Century), Nave (11th Century), War Memorial(s) (20th Century)

Site Name Dunfermline Abbey, New Abbey Nave And Parish Church

Classification Abbey (12th Century), Nave (11th Century), War Memorial(s) (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Abbot Street; Maygate; Monastery Street; St Catherine's Wynd; Boer War Memorial: War Memorial Chapel

Canmore ID 49315

Site Number NT08NE 1

NGR NT 08964 87310

NGR Description NT 08964 87310 and NT 08996 87309

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Dunfermline
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District Dunfermline
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NT08NE 1.00 08964 87310 and 08996 87309

NT08NE 1.01 c.0907 8730 Entrance Gateways and Precinct Wall

NT08NE 1.02 08940 87254 The Pends (Gatehouse)

NT08NE 1.03 0918 8710 Gate

NT08NE 1.04 0896 8737 Gate

NT08NE 1.05 0894 8734 Gate

NT08NE 1.06 08919 87261 Palace and Kitchen

NT08NE 1.07 08963 87261 Frater Hall

NT08NE 1.08 09036 87379 Abbot's House

NT08NE 1.09 0896 8728 Cloisters

NT08NE 1.10 090 871 Mill

NT08NE 1.11 0895 8721 Barn; Stables; Mill

NT08NE 1.12 0903 8737 Trial Excavations; Burial Ground; Culvert

NT08NE 1.13 089 872 Watching Brief

NT08NE 1.14 0903 8731 Chapel

NT08NE 1.15 0904 8128 Cemetery

NT08NE 1.16 08994 87243 Dorter and Reredorter

NT08NE 1.17 08947 87346 New Abbey Parish Church, Boundary Wall and Railings

NT08NE 1.18 09079 87308 New Abbey Parish Church, East Gateway

NT08NE 1.19 08964 87377 New Abbey Parish Church, North West Gateway

NT08NE 1.20 08937 87310 New Abbey Parish Church, West Gateway

NT08NE 1.21 09068 87320 New Abbey Parish Church, Gatehouse.

(NT 0898 8731) Abbey (NR) (remains of)

OS 6" map (1967)

The remains of the Benedictine Abbey founded by David I in 1128 overlying the foundations of the Church of the Holy Trinity, founded by Queen Margaret c. 1070, in which a priory was apparently established. The plan of Queen Margaret's church is outlined on the floor of the nave of the later church and parts of the foundation can be seen through gratings. The plan, recovered by excavation about 1916, consists of a nave with a square set tower. A choir and apse appear to have been added at a slight later date and on a slightly different axis.

Of the Benedictine Abbey, the nave of the church, also dedicated to the Holy Trinity, remains, now used as a vestibule to the parish church which was built in 1819 on the site of the choir, transepts and crossing tower of its predecessor. The remains of a 13th century chapel, dedicated to St Margaret, which was attached to the E end of the Abbey Church, still survive at the E end of the modern church.

Of the conventual buildings only the under-buildings of the frater, dorter and rere-dorter remain (NT08NE 1.07) to the S of the graveyard which now occupies the site of the cloister (NT08NE 1.09) and most of

the E range. These are all 14th century, the earlier buildings having been destroyed in 1303 by Edward I who spared only the church.

On the south, these buildings are separated by a terrace, crossed by a late 14th century gatehouse (NT08NE 1.02) from the kitchens and the guest-house. These also are 14th century although in the late 16th or early 17th century's the guest-house was raised in height, substantially altered and transformed into a royal palace (NT08NE 1.6). The 16th century Abbot's House (NT08NE 1.08) is now occupied as tenements.

The Abbey precinct (NT08NE 1.01 and NT08NE 03 -05) was surrounded by a wall 12' high and 4' - 5' thick with ports and posterns, enclosing an area of 360 acres. The Abbey mill was about NT 0903 8719 (NT08NE 1.10).

RCAHMS 1933; D E Easson 1957; E Henderson 1879

The Abbey Church is still in use as a vestibule to the parish church.

Visited by OS (DWR) 18 February 1974

Reports on excavations at Dunfermline Abbey in 1975 and 1977, the latter exposing what may be part of the south wall of the early church.

T M Robertson, G H Williams, G Haggerty and N Reynolds 1982

Correspondence relating to the discovery of stone sarcophagi in 1847, and correspondence, drawings and photographs relating to P MacGregor Chalmer's 1916 excavations are held in the National Archives of Scotland (MW/1/901).

Information from RCAHMS (IF), 19 August 2002.

NT 089 873 A watching brief was undertaken in February 2005 during the excavation of a trench to repair a drain serving the abbey toilets, running from the E wall of the abbey, underneath a tarmac path to the S of St Margaret's Shrine, and joining the main sewage system in the nearby street. The excavations revealed a site that had obviously been disturbed at least four times in the past in order to provide drainage, water and lighting facilities to the early 19th-century abbey. Nothing of archaeological interest was discovered.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsors: HS A, Kilmadock Development Trust.

S Hogg 2005

Architecture Notes

NT08NE 1.00 08964 87310 and 08996 87309


William Burn 1818

(Plan by William Stark for a gallery)

Sir Robert Rowand Anderson 1892 (Steps and entrance gates - decoration of interior of Parish Church).

Hon. Dashwood Preston Bruce by Noble General Bruce by Foley

NMRS Print Room

W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection Acc No 1997/39

7 prints, 2 exterior views.



Tack by the commandator and convent to Patrick Buttar of Gormack and others of the Kirks of Muling and Stratherdill etc. In consideration of ?1050 marks paid to them for the reparation and "bigging" of this Abbey and specially for the W quarter of the cloister now in bigging and to be thekyt with lead.



A note concerning the replacement of diamond-shaped panes of glass in many of the windows of the abbey and the making of some new windows in the rooms. James Hendersone to do the work.



Estimates for the repair of windows and a report on their ruinous state from James Henderson, glazier.



Account for glasswork. (?25.10.1 Scots). Glazier: James Henderson.



Receipt for slater work. (?12 Scots). Slater: James Aeson.



Receipt for glass work. (?23.1.0 Scots). Glazier: James Henderson.



Receipt for wright work. (?5.16.0 Scots). Wright: Walter Potter



Receipt for wright work. (?700 Scots). Wright: James Baine.



Receipt for slater work. (?37.5.4 Scots). Slater: James Andersone.



Account for demolishing and then rebuilding the tofall (a 'lean-to) in the Abbey. Receipt by John and Walter Pottir for ?7.0.0 Scots



Discharge for work done at the Abbey in the name of Lord Yester by David and John Cuninghame, smiths. (?65.8.0)



Discharge for wright work done at the Abbey by James Wilson. (?19 Scots)



Discharge for slater work done at the Abbey in the name of Lord Yester by William Easone. (?45.5.0 Scots).



The gatehouse and turnpike of the baylerie house of the Abbey. Discharge for wright work done by John Mackie and granted to Lord Yester's factor.



Discharged account by John Henderson, glazier, for work done by him. It amounts to ?10.13.0 and was paid by the Earl of Tweeddale's factor.



Discharge for wright work done at the Abbey in the name of Lord Yester by Hew Tait. (?47.16.0 Scots).



Dunfemrline Abbey. Letter from David Wilson, provost of Dunfermline, referring to discovery of bones wich 'may be part of the remains of the ancient Royal Family of Scotland'.

1820, June 24


Note from Miss Adam to Mr Loch.

She explains how work on the site uncovered the body of Robert the Bruce.



Plans: Stored (1941) at 163 Harle Drive, Mile Hill, London NW7, plans elevations & sections of doors window Mr D by John C. Todd 1931.

In the National Library of Scotland, Vol.I., No.41, of Water Colour Sketches by Thomas Brown, Advocate, is a view of part of the Abbey buildings. Reference "Adv. Mss. 34.8.1-3".

See under "Water Colour Sketches, Series of, by Thomas Brown, Advocate."

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, contains, among the 'Uncatalgued Mss of General Hutton', and numbered 9 and 10, Vol.1 several rather eneffective Views (one in colour) of Dunfermline Abbey; a Plan and section of the Abbey Church, drawn in pencil tot he scale of three quarters of an inch to ten feet as it was prior to the 19th August (year not given, but may be 1812), on Page 12; and numbered 13, Vol.1 Plan and Reference by Alex. Morton, Builder, 1812.

The Plan and Section on Page 12 shew the Abbey Church prior to the time when the part of the Tower fell.

National Library of Soctland: Scots Magazine, March 1810 - text and photographs.

For details of excavation archive by Scotia Archaeology Limited in 1993 see ARCHAEOLOGY



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