Last week I attended the official launch of Fife’s Pilgrim Way. Jack and I were drafted in at the last minute to represent the local Community Council.
I had been under the impression that it was taking place in Dunfermline Abbey but it turned out that it was in the oldest part of it, the nave which was apparently originally the priory which was founded by Queen Margaret of Scotland (King Malcolm’s wife) – or Saint Margaret as she’s sometimes called.
They had an actress speaking as Queen Margaret and some musicians playing appropriate music on old style instruments. It looks rather empty but it did fill up, some people had walked the eight mile stretch of the Pilgrim Way from North Queensferry to the Abbey, they definitely deserved a seat, we stood though, not realising we would be there for over an hour.
The ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a Fife MP and lives close to the Pilgrim Way at North Quensferry so he was one of the speakers, the photo of him below is very grainy, zoomed in too close I think.
It was really the stone columns that impressed me though, the ones with chevrons are similar to those at Durham Cathedral but have more details, very elegant.
The nave isn’t huge but it is impressive. We didn’t go into the actual abbey where a short religious service was to take place. It is where Robert the Bruce is buried and if you’re interested you can see a previous blogpost of mine about the abbey here.
Fife’s Pilgrim Way is 64 miles long and I intend to walk it all – but in various stages. I think I can manage eight miles or so at a time, if I get the bus back home!
A conversation with Peggy (Peggy Ann’s Post) our visitor from the US about knickerbockers led to me mentioning the ice cream Knickerbocker Glory and I was surprised that Peggy didn’t know what I was talking about although I’m sure they aren’t a particularly Scottish thing. Anyway, the first weekend she was with us we were invited down to Peebles by Evee of Evee’s Blog and when I spotted an ice cream parlour in the town I thought it would be a good chance for Peggy to experience an ice cream indulgence. Jack, Peggy and I had the glories and Evee opted for the Banoffee Split which has a slight nod to healthy eating in that at least you are eating a banana. Mind you the glories contained quite a lot of fruit too.
After that it was time to take a stroll around the town and work off some of those calories. In truth we had to wait in the shop until the worst of the rain had passed but that gave us an opportunity to watch a large posse of people of all ages riding along the high street on their horses. Peggy said they would have closed the street off for that in the US and she came to the conclusion that in Scotland we are a lot more relaxed about things like that. Sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo of them, or the couple who high stepped it along the road in a horse drawn buggy.
The Cross Kirk was our destination, the sort of place which you would never find if you were a casual visitor to Peebles so we were grateful to have Evee as our guide. The ruin dates back to the late 1100s and it’s in amongst a lot of houses a shortish walk from the high street, but it’s still atmospheric. I especially liked the stone carving of a knight’s head which you can see above the doorway below if you look carefully.
And here we are, what is the collective noun for a group of bloggers? A bevy, bunch, blah or maybe we’re besoms.
If you want to see some photos of our visit to Dunfermline Abbey hop over to Jack here.
Dunfermline Abbey is just a few steps away from Dunfermline Palace and by the time we started to go around it was quite dark inside, not so much because of the time but it was the grey dreich weather which was the culprit. The abbey is very old, both the abbey and the palace were probably built around about the same time.
We had the place entirely to ourselves and I must say that I enjoyed looking around it, I don’t always like these massive old religious structures as they often have a quite menacing atmosphere to me, but this one isn’t used for religious services and I didn’t feel any ‘fear of God’ vibes about it!
I particularly like the chevron design pillars, they remind me of the ones at Durham Cathedral, another religious place with a good feeling about it, despite it still being used for worship.
I just love the colours in the stained glass windows, but I have no idea what they depict, I must take a closer look next time I go.
Below is a photo of Dunfermline Abbey Church which is still in use and is where Robert the Bruce and others are buried. It isn’t really very old (1821) and it has been built on to the old abbey, probably covering old foundations, but at the moment it is only open for church services so I’ll have to wait until the tourist season starts up again before I can go in and take some photos.
You can see more images of the abbey here.
We visited Dunfermline Palace the other day. You know what it’s like, you go and visit far-flung places of interest and never get around to visiting those ones more or less on your doorstep. We were given membership of Historic Scotland by our sons for Christmas so we took the first opportunity to use it after New Year.
The palace is right next to Dunfermline Abbey but I’ll blog about that another day. Both buildings date back to around about 1070. At this time I believe that Dunfermline was the capital of Scotland, it hasn’t always been Edinburgh.
As you can see it’s really just a ruin, but for those of us with an imagination it’s still well worth a visit.
I did see a comment online that it wasn’t very interesting, but I think that was harsh. I enjoyed looking around it even although it was a dreich winter’s day and it was sleeting off and on.
There are bits and pieces of ancient stonework on display which has obviously been found around the site, as well as information boards explaining exactly who lived and died there.
Charles I was born in the palace and Robert the Bruce is buried in the nearby abbey church but I won’t be able to blog about that until it is opened again during the week. During the winter the abbey church is only open for church services.
The first line of the poem Sir Patrick Spens refers to Dunfermline as the capital. You can read it here.
During the Easter holidays we had a good look around Dunfermline which is so close to where we live that it had been completely ignored by us for years, as you do. This is a full view of the Abbey with a closer view below.
This is the Palace archway.
There is a plaque on the Abbey’s boundary wall commemorating King Charles I.
There is actually a lot to see at Dunfermline, certainly more than I thought. The history of the Abbey can be traced back as far as 1070 when King Malcolm III married Queen Margaret in a church there and there is still quite a lot left to see if you go. If you are interested you can read all about it here.