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- Category: A
- Group Category Details: A
- see notes
- Date Added: 12/01/1971
- Local Authority: Fife
- Planning Authority: Fife
- Burgh: Dunfermline
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 8964 87310
- Coordinates: 308964, 687310
1128-50 with alterations and additions; rebuilding of W end and towers circa 1400; (S tower rebuilt by William Stark, 1811); addition of buttresses/rebuilding of S aisle 1620's; restored 1845-48 by William Nixon and Robert Matheson. Nave of Romanesque abbey church; 7 bays with groin-vaulted aisles divided by massive piers of circular section; Romanesque carving to 3 entrances, aisle windows and 2 internal piers; rebuilt W end (apart from entrance) with spire to taller N tower; prominent 1620's flying buttresses to aisle walls; interior contains early funerary monuments. Coursed sandstone (droved to S tower) with ashlar dressings. String course at cill level of original round-arched aisle windows; corbelled parapets to nave and aisle walls. Nave bays divided by pilaster strips; those to aisles obscured by later buttresses.
W END: central entrance to lean-to porch with stone flagged roof; recessed round-arched doorway stepped forward in 5 stages, each with nook-shafts to jambs (alternately round and octagonal) with carved scalloped capitals surmounted by star-decorated abaci and plain bases; voussoirs of inner orders of arch decorated with chevron motif (except for one which has chip-carving); outer voussoirs carved with grotesque heads alternating with various motifs and protected by hood-mould. Late 20th century 2-leaf boarded timber door with ornate strap hinges. Y-traceried Gothic window with hood-mould over porch; blocked 4-light circular window with cusped tracery above; 4-light Gothic window arcade with trefoil heads at apex above roof; circular quatrefoil window to gablehead. N TOWER adjoins to left. 3 stages. 2-tier base course articulated around flanking buttresses with gableted heads. Y-traceried Gothic window with hood-mould and cill band to lower stage. Segmental-headed belfry window with louvred vents and hood-mould to each face of tower to upper stage; band course along cills. Machicolated parapet and 3-tiered octagonal spire above probably early 16th century; stages divided by band courses; lowest stage of steeper pitch; lancet openings to alternate faces to upper stage. Spire surmounted by metal ball finial with weathervane above. S TOWER adjoins gable end to right. 2-tier base course articulated around flanking buttresses with gableted heads. Y-traceried Gothic window with hood-mould and cill band to lower stage. Glazed arrowslit to left of 2nd stage. Lancet window with hood-mould to upper stage above band course to W and S faces of tower. Crenellated parapet with pyramidal pinnacles at corners.
S ELEVATION: aisle bays divided by stepped flying buttresses (dated 1625) with gableted heads (that to outer left is taller); frames for armourial panels to 2 of central ones. Entrances to outer right bay and 2nd from left. Recessed round-arched doorway stepped forward in 4 stages with nook shafts with elaborately carved capitals to jambs to inner 2; circular bases on square plinths to shafts; voussoirs of arch decorated with chevron motif, apart from outer one, which is decorated with rosettes; abaci/impost bands carved with scrolls. Late 20th century 2-leaf boarded and studded timber door. Recessed round-arched entrance to 2nd bay from left stepped forward in 5 stages, each with ribbed voussoirs and chamfered jambs. Panel bearing arms of 1st Earl of Dunfermline and date 1607 to right. Lean-to mausoleum (Wardlaw Vault) to 2nd bay from right; arrowslit to centre; stone flagged roof. Entrance to right return created in 1905 when vault reduced in size; panel above bears Latin inscription, Wardlaw coat of arms and date 1616. Recessed round-arched aisle window to all except outer left bay; voussoirs stepped forward in 4 stages; single nook-shaft with carved capital to each jamb; circular base on square plinth; chevron and billet decoration to voussoirs; abaci/impost bands. Blocked triangular-headed window divided into pair of lancet lights (copied from pair of altered windows on N elevation in 1840's) to triforium; flanking nook-shafts. Round-arched window to clerestory set back above. Gableted buttress to left of tower to outer left; glazed arrowslit above to right; small window to right return. Remains of Romanesque pilaster to upper right side of tower. Louvred lancet window to upper stage of tower (for full description see W END: S TOWER).
N ELEVATION: 3 aisle bays to left divided by stepped flying buttresses (dated 1620) with gableted heads. Entrance to 2nd bay from right via 15th century gabled porch with stone flagged roof built over lean-to porch with stone flagged roof. Blind arcade to lean-to porch with 8 round-arched recesses supported on shafts with cubical capitals and abaci; flanking 15th century butresses, upper sections corbelled out with niches (base of that to W carved with arms of Abbot Richard de Bothwell - 1446-82) and gableted heads. Gabled outer porch has 2-tier base course to outer (E and W) sides articulated around flanking buttresses; recessed round-arched entrance stepped forward in 3 stages with hood-mould; jambs forming angled shafts with impost bands as capitals and shared rounded bases on square bases; niche at apex. Elaborate double rib-vaulted interior with tiercerons; bosses carved with coats of arms (of Abbot Richard de Bothwell and Queen Margaret), heads and floral designs; grotesque heads to vault corbels. Pair of ogee-headed niches and various funerary monuments to internal walls, including one with Corinthian columns and broken pediment to Sir Robert Adie (1719). Original entrance to nave has cambered and jointed lintel set back within recessed round arch stepped forward in 3 stages; 19th century panel over lintel recording dedication of church in Latin; nook-shafts with block capitals and abaci to jambs of arch; voussoirs carved with chevron motif. Late 20th century 2-leaf studded timber door. Recessed round-arched aisle windows with nook shafts to jambs to 2nd and 3rd bays from left; pair of 15th century Y-traceried Gothic windows with hoodmoulds to right and Gothic window divided into 3 lancet lights with hoodmould to left. Triangular-headed windows (originally round-arched) divided into pair of lancet lights with flanking nook shafts to triforium to 1st and 2nd bays; 15th century lancet windows to remaining 3 inner bays. Round-arched windows to clerestory set back above; apart from 2 bays to right which have later segmental-headed windows. Pair of gableted buttresses to tower to outer right; arrowslit window centred above; 2 smaller ones above to left; louvred lancet window to upper stage; timber clock with cornice below (for full description see W END: N TOWER).
INTERIOR: 6 massive piers of circular plan support round arches of nave arcade on both sides (apart from 15th century composite pier to NW and composite 7th pier to SW); square plinths, scalloped captitals; 2 easternmost piers on each side carved with chevron and spiral motif; stepped voussoirs (3 orders) with outer billet moulding. Round-arched triforium windows with inner order comprising moulded arch supported on shafts with block capitals; string course at cill level. Round-arched clerestory windows supported on nook-shafts with block capitals. Groin-vaulted aisles (those to S rebuilt in 1620-1, as dated on bosses and 2 westernmost of N aisle rebuilt in 15th century); triple clustered shafts with scalloped capitals supporting ribs to outer walls. Recessed aisle windows, stepped forward in 2 stages with nook-shafts with block capitals to jambs; round-arched voussoirs decorated with chevron motif; blind triple-arched arcade supported on shafts with cubical capitals (some with fishscale decoration) to each bay below; inner shafts paired; chevron motifs to voussoirs. Turnpike staircase to belfry in S wall of NW bay (15th century). Flat timber roof of 1845-8; braces springing from corbels. Stone rood screen base to E of nave. Painting of 4 apostles to vault of easternmost bay of N aisle. Majority of stained glass windows by James Ballantine and Son, 1870's and 1880's, including W window of nave, depicting William Wallace, Malcolm Canmore, St Margaret and Robert the Bruce (from a design by Noel Paton). Armorial windows in N aisle by Conway Halkett and Isobel Goudie; memorial window in S aisle to Willaim Carnegie and Margaret Morrison, parents of Andrew Carnegie by Douglas Strachan circa 1915 and one to Queen Annabella Drummond, 1863; depiction of Christ blessing children at W end of S aisle by Henry Holiday, 1909-10. Various monuments including ornate classical memorial erected in NW bay by Anne of Denmark to William Schaw, Master of Works to James VI (1602). On N wall earlier 19th century tablet to George Durie and his family enclosed within ogee-arched Gothick frame above 16th century stone slab to Henry Durie; red sandstone memorial to Robert Pitcairn with pilasters and thistle-finialled pediment (1584). On S wall South African War Memmorial by Steward and McGlashan and Son from a design by W W Robertson (1903).
Statement of Special Interest
Property in care. A-Group with Dunfermline Abbey, New Abbey Parish Church, Gatehouse, Remains of Dorter and Reredorter, Frater Range, Palace and Kitchen and Entrance Gateways and Boundary Wall (see separate list descriptions). Well preserved nave of 12th century abbey church. The church was begun in 1128 when David I had the Benedictine priory established here circa 1070 by his mother, Queen Margaret, made into an abbey. It was consecrated in 1150. The E end was rebuilt shortly after and the bodies of Malcolm III and the newly-canonized Queen Margaret reinterred in it (that of St Margaret being later moved to a separate shrine further E). It is thought that the masons responsible for the earlier stages of the nave (including the eastern end with its cylindrical piers with incised spiralling and chevron decoration) came from Durham (there are similarities to the cathedral that was being constructed there at around the same time). After the abbey's dissolution in 1560 the nave continued to be used as the parish church of the burgh. The abandoned E end eventually collapsed in various stages. The present parish church (see separate list description) was built on the site of the E end in 1818-21; its easternmost bay was built to harmonize with the existing nave bays and effect a smooth transition between the 2 buildings. In 1845 care of the nave was taken over by the Government.
David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, THE ECCLESIASTICAL ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, VOL I (1971 facsimilie of 1896 publication) pp230-48; RCAHMS, INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTIES OF FIFE, KINROSS AND CLACKMANNAN (1933) pp106-113; John Gifford, FIFE, in 'The Buildings of Scotland' series (1988) pp175-79; Richard Fawcett, THE ABBEY AND PALACE OF DUNFERMLINE (Historic Scotland Guide) 1990; Richard Fawcett, SCOTTISH ABBEY AND PRIORIES (1994) PP27-29.
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