Just to the south of Dunfermline’s High Street lies one of Scotland’s most unusual churches. The Abbey Church of Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland is two very distinct churches, joined in the middle. The effect is unexpected but attractive. The Abbey Church, as the name suggests, was the church serving Dunfermline Abbey.
A church probably already existed on this site in 1070, when King Malcolm III married Queen Margaret. Margaret liked Dunfermline so much she set up a Benedictine foundation here. This was later transformed by her son King David I into what was intended to become the most important abbey in Scotland. Work was started in 1128 on the Abbey Church and the nave still survives as the western half of the building on view today.
During the building of the new Abbey Church in 1819 bones believed to be those of Robert the Bruce, because of their position and because of a cut breastbone (to allow the removal of his heart), were discovered. Robert was reinterred in the centre of the new Abbey Church, 560 years after his death.
His grave now lies under the magnificent pulpit covered by a large brass grave marker. And to celebrate his presence the words “KING ROBERT THE BRUCE” were formed with large stone lettering around the four sides of the crown of the tower. Subtle it isn’t, but striking it most certainly is.
To the right of the shot is the gothic tower of Dunfermline City Chambers. This building was historically designed to be the centre of local government in Dunfermline. In more recent times most of these functions have been devolved to other locations, but [as of 2008] the impressive edifice still houses the Council Chambers, the Burgh Court and Dunfermline’s Registrar Office.
The building, constructed in the period 1875-79, was created by James C Walker who also designed the first Carnegie Library. It employs a harmonious composite of French, Gothic and Scots baronial architectural styles and features a prominent four-face clock tower. It was constructed on the site of an older Town House of 1771 which was in its turn built to replace the 17th century Town House, demolished as part of 18th century improvements to make way for Bridge Street.
The structure includes heraldic stones recovered from the demolished 1771 Town House. The finely designed interior of the City Chambers incorporates many notable features, in particular the oak hammer beam roof which provides the ceiling for the Council Chamber itself. The historic police cells, although no longer in use, have also been preserved.
Furnishings include a number of notable artworks including busts of several Scottish sovereigns, a statue of Robert Burns, Sir Joseph Noel Paton’s painting, Spirit of Religion, and an early twentieth century portrait of King Malcolm and Queen Margaret.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Digital Rebel XSi in the USA)
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Three bracketed JPGs converted to HDR using Details Enhancer in Photomatix.
Related shots can be found at: Dunfermline.
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