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Dunfermline, St Margaret's Street, Dunfermline Abbey, Palace And Kitchen

Palace (14th Century), Palace (Medieval)

Site Name Dunfermline, St Margaret's Street, Dunfermline Abbey, Palace And Kitchen

Classification Palace (14th Century), Palace (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Guest House

Canmore ID 49323

Site Number NT08NE 1.06

NGR NT 08919 87261

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NT08NE 1.06 08919 87261

(NT 0891 8726) Palace (NR) (Rems of)

OS 25" map (1926)

The guest-house of Dunfermline Abbey has been in two portions, apparently contemporary, and dating from the 14th c. The western part, extending to the present limit of the range, was lower in height than the eastern part, which contained the hall, but few details of the original arrangement remain, for the walls were reduced to the lowest floor and rebuilt to their present height when the palace was reconstructed for Anne of Denmark, queen of James VI. The undercroft of the western part was not vaulted originally, while that of the eastern portion was a vaulted hall, seven bays in length and two in width. Both undercrofts were subsequently subdivided and at a still later time covered with barrel vaults.

The fine newel stair on the N is not original and may date from the time of the internal division.


From Malcolm III's time Dunfermline became a constant residence of the Scottish kings. The buildings must have been of considerable extent at the time of Edward I's invasion in 1296 although whether they as yet included a royal palace is unknown. The abbey was restored by Robert the Bruce (after its destruction in 1303) and he is stated to have added a royal palace. His son, David II, was born here in 1323. The palace was apparently used frequently until the reign of James VI, and Charles I was born here in 1600.

Only the SW wall, 205' long and 60' high externally, and part of the kitchen and its undercroft at the E end, still remain. In this part of the building (E end) the mixture of round and pointed arches seems to point to the transition period from Norman to Early English or the beginning of the 13th c. The lower part of the walls of the whole S front most likely represented the work done by Bruce and perhaps continued by his successors in the 14th c. The upper part of the S wall belongs to the latter half of the 15th c.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887

The Palace is as described.

Visited by OS (DWR) 18 February 1974

NT 089 872 Prior to the installation of a new drainage system, a watching brief was carried out by Scotia Archaeology Limited to assess the nature and extent of archaeological deposits outside the S wall of the S range of the palace during the excavation of six trenches by HS' DEL squad. The depth of deposits below the topsoil increased towards the W of the area where possible midden materials were encountered. These deposits are not threatened by the proposed developments and hence were not excavated.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

R Murdoch 1994

NT 089 872 The surviving capstone of the E oriel window of the palace appears to have a carved underside, possibly similar to the celebrated depiction of the Annunciation, on the fallen capstone from the W oriel window.

C A-Kelly 1997

In the past 23 years much archaeological work has taken place in Dumferline, Fife. A wealth of information has been uncovered on the medieval burgh, revealing aspects of its development, society, trade and industry. In particular, the recently restored Abbot House has been found to contain a complex architectural and archaeological history.

D Perry 1999.


Antiquarian Observation (1857 - 1861)

Mason's marks from Scottish churches, abbeys and castles recorded between 1857 and 1861 on 29 drawings in the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Collection.


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