In the days before newspapers and television, this was Dunfermline’s main meeting place. Official proclamations were made here atop the stone platform.
The first Mercat Cross dates from 1396 while this present cross dates (in part) from 1626 when it was re-erected after the Great Fire of Dunfermline in 1624 and consists of a stepped octagonal base with a cylindrical column, finished with a Unicorn atop a square carved stone with the Royal and Burgh Coats of Arms.
It now resides approximately in its original position at the junction with Crosswynd having been moved several times to accommodate road changes etc.
In 1752 it was built into the wall of an adjacent building, in 1868 it was re-erected in a corner near to the Guildhall and moved closer still in 1924, in 1985 it was temporarily moved to Maygate and in 1992 replaced to its original and current position.
Behind the Cross, at the bottom of the High Street, is the clock tower of the 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 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.
There are many features of historic and architectural significance in the building. The structure includes heraldic stones recovered from the demolished 1771 Town House. These are plausibly believed to have originated from the now derelict Royal Palace of Dunfermline a few hundred yards to the south. 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.
Dunfermline City Chambers is an Historic Scotland, Category A Listed Building. HB Number 25973).
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