After a week of greyness, yesterday morning was bright and dry. Sunshine! In November you know it’s not going to last long, partly because sunset is around 3 o’clock in the afternoon (exaggerating only slightly!) – if you plan a day out it’s best not to go far, or else darkness will fall before you get there. With this in mind, we took ourselves across the Forth Bridge, to have a look at Dunfermline Abbey and Palace.
As far as Scotland’s royalty goes, Dunfermline has a long and sparkling pedigree. I will tell you more on The Hazel Tree as soon as I can. A priory was founded here by Queen Margaret (wife of Malcolm III) in 1070; and their son, David I, raised its status to that of an Abbey. The Reformation had a pretty disastrous effect on its fortunes, but James VI had a luxurious new palace built here in the late 16th century.
The Abbey Church is one of the few places that can perhaps rival Iona in terms of the number of Scottish kings and queens who are buried here. Among them is Robert the Bruce. Unfortunately, the Bruce was not receiving guests, as the eastern half of the church, which is still used as a place of worship, was closed for the winter.
A church in two halves, one apparently much older than the other? Sounds complicated! I can foresee some similarities with Dunkeld here!
Meanwhile, Colin and I threaded our way around the cold stone ruins, down an exceptionally tight spiral staircase (be warned if you have a large handbag – you’ll have to hold it in front of you and walk sideways!) and gazed up at the stark but still impressive facade of the royal palace.
One thing I remember from my history lessons is that the Normans loved their fancy stonework, and there’s plenty on show in the Abbey Church. Windows and doorways were groaning under layer upon layer of pie-crust style adornment. The trouble was that the slanting sunlight, by that time coming at a low angle from the south, was casting some of the building into deep shadow while highlighting the rest. My camera threw up its hands in despair. I ended up ignoring the exposure meter and working by trial and error. When we got back, I found that some creative cropping of images sometimes makes all the difference!
Photos copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf