Monday, 17 October 2011

Dunfermline Abbey and Robert the Bruce

Dunfermline Abbey in Fife is the burial place of many Scottish kings and queens and it’s still an impressive sight today. The name of King Robert the Bruce is carved in stone on the four sides of the tall, square tower. Originally, Queen Margaret founded a Benedictine Abbey on the site in the 11th century but all that remains  are foundations under the nave of what is now called the ‘Old Church’, built in the 12th century. Adjoining the original church is the 19th century Abbey Church which is still used for services today.

Little remains inside the old church apart from its massive pillars, beautiful stained-glass windows and the ‘Old Nave’, although there is some fine carving around the outside of the south door. Of the five pillars on the left and six on the right, one pillar on each side has an interesting chevron pattern. A gallery runs the whole length of the building to either side. One of the stained-glass windows depicts the Coat of Arms of the mother of King James I of Scotland, Queen Anabella Drummond, consort of Robert III. Only a fragment of the great rood, or cross, has survived at the eastern end of the nave, before the entrance to the more modern church.
There is quite a contrast between the old church and new, especially with the light and brightness of the interior. The New Church has many features of historic interest, as well as stunning stained-glass windows, such as the McLaren Window of 1904 above the richly carved pulpit and lectern. The lower half of this window depicts the Last Supper.

The tomb of King Robert the Bruce is situated directly beneath the pulpit inside the church. Originally buried in Dunfermline Abbey in 1329, the exact spot was unknown for centuries. In 1818, workmen discovered the vault containing the King’s remains. This was verified when official inspection showed that the breastbone was severed to allow the heart to be taken to the holy land according to the Bruce’s wishes.
The remains were ceremoniously re-interred between the transepts and the magnificent medieval-type brass embedded in marble was made in 1889 to cover the tomb. The translated Latin inscription reads: “The tomb of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, fortunately discovered among the ruins in 1818, has been anew marked by this brass in the 560th year after his death.” A new memorial stained glass window was installed in 1974.



Vikki said...

Love walking around old buildings like this (I know I never appreciated doing that much when I was younger!) but they do have such an atmosphere and some of the architecture is amazing!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Yes - it's the architecture I love as well as the sense of history!

Linda Kage said...

Wow, even the pictures are amazing of this place, and I already know pictures never do a building justice. I bet its something else to see in person.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

These old buildings have such an atmosphere, Linda - and you're right, they're even better when you can walk around them!

Janice Horton said...

Wow - what a really interesting post - and great pictures. Thanks Romy!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for that, Janice!