In 1068 AD, following The Battle of Hastings, the defeated English royal party with Margaret (born circa 1045 AD), daughter of Edward Atheling, claimant to the English throne, arrive at Dunfermline at the court of Malcolm III.
Margaret was married to King Malcolm III in a church at Dunfermline in 1070 AD. She liked the place so much she decided to set up a religious community here, bringing in Benedictine monks from Canterbury to form its core.
This first priory at Dunfermline centred on a church, probably built by extending the existing church in which Margaret and Malcolm had been married. The community remained a modest one in Margaret’s time and it was her son, David I, who turned it into an abbey in the years following 1128.
The abbey’s domestic buildings were destroyed by the English troops of Edward I in 1303 during the Wars of Independence. It is interesting that the English, who were much less squeamish in their treatment of the Border Abbeys at around the same time, did not touch the Abbey Church. Perhaps respect for the memory of St Margaret and for her strong links with the Benedictine Order in Canterbury and with Rome gave even Edward I some scruples.
The Gatehouse is an Historic Scotland, Category A listed building. HB Number 25963.
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