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Dunfermline

Dunfermline (in Gaelic, the fort on the crooked linn (glen)), is a burgh (City) in Fife, Scotland that sits on high ground 3 miles from the shore of the Firth of Forth, northwest of Edinburgh. The city is intersected from north to south by Pittencrieff Glen, a deep, picturesque and tortuous ravine, from which the city derives its name and at the bottom of which flows Lyne Burn. In 1991 Dunfermline had a population of 55,100.

Dunfermline is the site of the naval base of Rosythe. And major industries in Dunfermline include. engineering, electronics, and textiles.

The history of Dunfermline goes back to a remote period, for the early Celtic monks known as Culdees had an establishment here; but its fame and prosperity date from the marriage of Malcolm Canmore and his queen Margaret, which took place in the town in 1070. The king then lived in a tower on a mound surrounded on three sides by the glen. A fragment of this castle still exists in Pittencrieff Park, a little west of the later palace.

Under the influence of Queen Margaret in 1075 the foundations were laid of the Benedictine priory, which was raised to the rank of an abbey by David I (see Dunfermline Abbey). Robert the Bruce gave the town its charter in 1322, though in his Fife: Pictorial and Historical (ii. 223), A. H. Millar contends that till the confirming charter of James VI (1588) all burghal privileges were granted by the abbots.

In the 18th century Dunfermline impressed Daniel Defoe as showing the "full perfection of decay", but it regained prosperity. A staple industry was the manufacture of table linen. The weaving of damask was introduced in 1718 by James Blake, who had learned the secret of the process in the workshops at Drumsheugh near Edinburgh, to which he gained admittance by feigning idiocy; and after that date the linen trade advanced by leaps and bounds, much of the success being due to the beautiful designs produced by the manufacturers.

Among other industries that have largely contributed to the welfare of the town are dyeing and bleaching, brass and iron founding, tanning, machine-making, brewing and distilling, milling, rope-making and the making of soap and candles.

The town is well supplied with public buildings. Besides the New Abbey church, the United Free church in Queen Anne Street founded by Ralph Erskine, and the Gillespie church, named after Thomas Gillespie (1708—1774), another leader of the Secession movement, possess some historical importance. Erskine is commemorated by a statue in front of his church and a sarcophagus over his grave in the abbey churchyard; Gillespie by a marble tablet on the wall above his resting-place within the abbey.

The Corporation buildings, a blend of the Scots Baronial and French Gothic styles, contain busts of several Scottish sovereigns a statue of Robert Burns, and Sir Noel Paton’s painting of the “ Spirit of Religion.” Other structures are the County buildings, the Public, St Margaret’s, Music and Carnegie halls, the last in the Tudor style, Carnegie public baths, high school (founded in 1560), school of science and art, and two hospitals.

Several distinguished names have connections with Dunfermline. Robert Henryson[?] (1430 - 1506), the poet, was long one of its schoolmasters. John Row (1568 - 1646), the Church historian, held the living of Carnock, 3 miles to the east., and David Ferguson (d. 1598) who made the first collection of Scottish proverbs (not published till 1641), was parish minister; Robert Gilfillan (1798—1850), the poet, and Sir Joseph Noel Paton (18211901), painter and poet—whose father was a designer of patterns for the damask trade - were all born here.

Andrew Carnegie, however, is in a sense the most celebrated of all her sons, as he is certainly her greatest benefactor. He gave to his birthplace the free library and public baths, and, in. 1903, the estate of Pittencrieff Park and Glen, rich in historical associations as well as natural charm, together with bonds yielding £25,000 a year, in trust for the maintenance of the park, the support of a theatre for the production of plays of the highest merit, the periodical exhibitions of works of art and science, the promotion of horticulture among the working classes and the encouragement of technical education in the district.

 
See A. H. Millar’s Fife: Pictorial and Historical (2 vols,, 5895); and Sheriff Alneas Mackay’s History of Fife and Kinross (189?).

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