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Dunfermline Abbey, Remains of Palace and Kitchen

A Category A Listed Building in Dunfermline, Fife

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0695 / 56°4'10"N

Longitude: -3.4646 / 3°27'52"W

OS Eastings: 308919

OS Northings: 687261

OS Grid: NT089872

Mapcode National: GBR 1Y.PMLR

Mapcode Global: WH5QR.RPDX

Entry Name: Dunfermline Abbey, Remains of Palace and Kitchen

Listing Date: 12 January 1971

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 362436

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB25965

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dunfermline

County: Fife

Town: Dunfermline

Electoral Ward: Dunfermline Central

Traditional County: Fife

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Dunfermline

Description

Probably earlier 14th century; kitchen rebuilt and palace extended to NW circa 1500; palace remodelled and upper 2 storeys rebuilt circa 1540 for James V. Former 3-storey range comprising 2 long rectangular blocks: 8-bay palace/guest house running NW to SE and 3-bay kitchen adjoining at an angle to SE. Largely Gothic; tall buttressed S elevation built into sloping ground; vaulted undercroft to kitchen. Coursed dressed sandstone with sandstone ashlar dressings. Base course and band course beneath 2nd floor windows to palace. Small rectangular windows with splayed reveals to ground floor of palace; tall mullion and transom windows with splayed reveals to 1st floor; mullioned and transomed windows to 2nd floor. Lancet windows with splayed reveals to ground floor of kitchen.

PALACE: S ELEVATION: bays divided by stepped buttresses. Irregular fenestration to ground floor. Single window to each bay to 1st floor; 2nd bay from left projects forward between over moulded Gothic arch set between 2 buttresses; flanking lights to each return. Irregular fenestration to 2nd floor; canted oriel windows to 2nd bay from left and between 2nd and 3rd bays from right. Adjoins kitchen stair tower to right. W ELEVATION: only part of S portion of wall remaining; single window to ground floor. E ELEVATION: adjoins kitchen. Segmental-headed entrance to kitchen undercroft. N ELEVATION: only lower sections of walls remaining, built into sloping ground. INTERIOR: remains of rib vaults to ground floor to 5 bays to E; originally 2-aisled undercroft. Remains of later barrel vaulting inserted across entire ground floor. Ground floor fireplace towards centre of S wall; heavy corbels intact but hood missing; garderobe set within W wall; remains of turnpike staircase to N side. Segmental heads to 1st and 2nd floor windows (S wall). Later 14th century wall arcading visible to 5 1st floor bays to E; this comprised great hall; ceiling cornice above windows; window seats throughout. 2nd floor fireplace with large slab lintel to W end of S wall.

KITCHEN: S ELEVATION: bays divided by stepped buttresses; single window to each to ground floor; 2 bays to E extended at 1st floor level over pair of moulded ribbed arches set between buttresses. Stair tower projects to left of 1st and 2nd floors as upper part of buttress (single narrow window to each level). E ELEVATION: 2 ground floor entrances; that to left has moulded arch; that to right has altered segmental arch, formerly entrance to turnpike staircase; buttress to outer left. N ELEVATION: adjoins gatehouse on W side; lower part of 1st floor wall only to E; opening to street possibly on site of earlier entrance; pair of early 20th century cast iron gates with decorative wrought iron finials to major posts. W ELEVATION: adjoins palace. Dividing wall exists up to 1st floor level; parapet of early 20th century walkway above. Segmental-headed entrance to right to ground floor. Entrance (probably inserted) to left of 1st floor. Former 2nd floor entrance visible to upper left. INTERIOR: double aisled undercroft to ground floor. Quadripartite rib vaulting with roof bosses carved as flowers and faces; 2 octagonal piers to centre and one semi-octagonal pier attached to W wall. Remains of rib-vaulting to ground floor kitchen; segmental-headed arch across SW corner and turnpike staircase with segmental-headed entrance beyond probably 16th century (upper sections of staircase and walkway to gatehouse early 20th century). Remains of 2 fireplaces to N wall and large one to S. Segmental-headed former entrance to gatehouse to 1st floor (early 20th century 1st floor entrance to left of gatehouse). Basket-arched former entrance to gatehouse at 3rd floor level.

Statement of Interest

Property in care. A-Group with Dunfermline Abbey, Nave, New Abbey Parish Church, Gatehouse, Frater Range, Dorter and Reredorter and Entrance Gateways and Boundary Wall (see separate list descriptions). A Benedictine priory was established in Dunfermline in around 1070 by Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III. It was upgraded to an abbey by her son, David I in 1128. In 1304 the monastery buildings were partly destroyed by Edward I during the Wars of Independence. The palace, then the abbey guest house (albeit intended for royal guests) and the adjacent kitchen were both subsequently rebuilt. The kitchen served both the monastery refectory and the guest house. The monastery refectory could either be entered from ground floor level via the frater undercroft and NW turnpike or at 1st floor level via the gatehouse and hanging passage to the SW of the frater. The abbey was dissolved in 1560, although the palace continued in use as a royal palace. Despite being remodelled twice in the 16th century it appears to have soon after fallen into disuse. The last recorded major repairs to it were made in anticipation of a visit by Charles I in 1633.

Scheduled Ancient Monument.

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