M C I.
(BEGINNING OF THE 12TH
the commencement of the 12th century, the Church of the Holy
Trinity, Dunfermline, stood unfinished—the western part of its aisles, the
west gable, with its two massy lofty towers, and grand entrance between
them, were still unbuilt.
this early period, Scotland had but a small population, and scarcely any
place deserving the name of town.
Of the names of places in the vicinity of Dunfermline, few are on record.
The locality would be dotted here and there with turf and “wattle” huts,
&c. The following are the names of places near Dunfermline about this
time, viz., Dunfermline, Perdieus, Pitcorthie, Pitbauchlie, Pitliver, Primrose, Beath, &c.
1103.—ROYAL GIFTS TO
DUNFERMLINE CHURCH.—About this period, Edgar,
the King, bequeathed to the Church of the Holy Trinity, Dunfermline, his
property called “SCHYRA DE GELLAND.”
Confirmed by his
brother, David I., and successors in their Confirmation Charters to this
Church. (See Print. Regis. Dunf. pp. 3-5, &c.) There are lands, about two miles south of
Dunfermline, called “The Gellets”; also lands three and a half miles west
of it, called “Gelald,” now Gillanderson. Which of these two places is
referred to is not known.
1104.—ROYAL GIFT TO
DUNFERMLINE CHURCH.—Ethelrade, (Earl of Fife?) sixth son of Malcolm III. (Canmore),
about this period, bequeathed to the Church of the Holy Trinity,
Dunfermline, his property of “HALES,’ or Hailes.
Confirmed by his
brother, King David I., in his great Charters to this church, A.D.
1127-1130, as also by succeeding Kings in their Confirmation Charters to
the same Church. (See Print. Regis.
Dunf. pp.3-5, &c.; also
vide date 1226 of the
Annals.) Hailes (Collington) lies near the north-east base of
the Pentland Hills, about three miles south-west of Edinburgh.
“PETER THE PRIOR; “ he is noticed this year as being “Prior of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Dunfermline. (See Slezer’s “Theatrum Scotiae”; also date in the Annals,
A.D. 1120.) This is the earliest named “Prior of Dunfermline” on record.
KING, HIS INTERMENT AT DUNFERMLINE.—King Edgar, second son of Malcolm
III., died at Dundee, 7th January, aged 33, and shortly
afterwards was interred in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Dunfermline,
with great solemnity, in the Royal burial-place before the High Altar, or Grate Awtre of Winton. (Fordun v. 35; Abrid. Scot. Chron. p. 200; Hailes’s An. Scot. vol. ii. p. 309; Buchanan’s
Hist. Scot., &c.) The following are a few references from old
authorities relative to the death and interment of King Edgar:--
regna ix. Aunz er iij. Moys et gist
a Dunfermlyn” ( Skene’s Chron. Picts and Scots, pp.206-208)—i.e.
“Edgar reigned 9 years and 3 months, and lies at Dunfermlyn.”
“Edgar, filius, Malcolmi ix. Annis et tribus mensibus et
mortuun in Dunde, et Sepultus in Dunfermlyn” (Skene’s Chron. Picts
and Scots, 289, 290)—i.e., “Edgar, the son of Malcolm (reigned)
9 years and 3 months; he died at Dundee, and was interred at Dunfermline.”
Winton, in his quaint
old orthography and rhyme, refers to Edgar’s death and interment thus:--
“Of Edgar our nobil Kyng;
The days with honoure tuk endying;
Be-north Tay in-til Dunde
God the Spyryte than yald
And in the Kyrk of
he wes entery’d syne.”
“Orygynale Cronykil,” vol. i. p. 282.)
It is singular that
the Register of the Priory of St. Andrews should notify that Edgar died at
Edinburgh. No doubt, it is an error of the then “careless scribe” of the
Priory. The register entry reads—“Mirtuus
in Den-Edin et Sepultus
in Denfemling”—i.e. Edgar “died in
Edinburgh, and was interred at Dunfermline.”
Attached by a silk
cord to one of Edgar’s charters to Coldingham Priory, founded by him in
1098, there is a wax impression of his great seal, “having upon it a
figure of Edgar in a sitting posture, with a small crown upon his head,
holding in one hand a scepter, in the other a sword, with the
circumscription, ‘IMAGO EDGARI SCOTTORUM REGIS.’” This is the only
representation of Edgar known to exist. (See Carr’s Hist. Coldin. Priory,
At the time when Edgar
was buried at Dunfermline (1107) there had been at least two Royal
Interments in the Royal burial-place there, viz.—Margaret, his mother, the
Queen; and his eldest brother Prince Edward, the heir-apparent. It may be
conjectured that, since this interment was done with great solemnity, that
there would be present at it Alexander I., David I., Ethelrade, Turgot
(Bishop of St. Andrews, his mother’s confessor), with other bishops,
abbots, clergy, earls, and nobility of the kingdom.
would appear that little or no progress was made with the mason-work of
this Church of the Holy Trinity during King Edgar’s short reign
(1097-1107). It is therefore probably (since it is known that Alexander I., his successor, completed
the Church) that several of the possessions, which are named
under date 1115 (for reasons there given), were donated about 1107,
shortly after his ascension to the throne, for the purpose of raising
funds to complete this Church of the
Holy Trinity, Dunfermline (see date 1115).
CREATED A ROYAL BURGH.—The precise year when
Dunfermline was created a Royal Burgh is not known. Alexander in this
year erected Stirling into a Royal Burgh, and he would probably grant
Dunfermline its Burghal Charter in the same year. It well be seen, under date 1112, that Dunfermline is
then, at all events, written down as a burgh.
Alexander I. held
Dunfermline in high esteem and veneration. Here was the Royal
burial-place of the Kings of Scotland; here the remains of his pious
mother, Margaret the Queen rested; also those of his brothers, Edward and
Edgar and when his own days ended, here his own body would be deposited; With such reflections always on his memory, he would, no doubt, take the
earliest opportunity, it is to be presumed, to show respect and good-will
to the adjacent little town of Dunfermline (inhabited by Court retainers,
their families and others), by erecting their township into a Burgh Royal,
with all the then usual privileges. If this is not acceded, then A.D.
1112 is to be taken as the date of erection. (See date 1112)
ROYAL GIFTS TO
DUNFERMLINE CHURCH.—Alexander I., the King, bequeathed to the Church of
the Holy Trinity, Dunfermline, about this period, the Chapel of the Castle of Stirling and
1112.—ROYAL GIFTS TO
DUNFERMLINE CHURCH.—Alexander I., the King, this year bequeathed to the
Church of the Holy Trinity, Dunfermline, a toft in the Burgh of
Dunfermline (de toftes Burgorum). Also, one Mansion in Edinburgh. (Chron.
Scone; Chalmers’ History. Vol. ii. p. 231; Appendix to Dalziell’s Fragments of
Scottish History.” Vol. i. p. 70.)
Eustace de Moreveill, “Grate”
Constable of Scotland, is
one of the witnesses to this Gift.
1115.—REMAINS OF MALCOLM
III. BROUGHT TO DUNFERMLINE.—Malcolm III. (Canmore) was slain, along with
his eldest son Edward, at the siege of Alnwick Castle, in England, on
November 13th, A.D. 1093, and was buried hurriedly at Tynemouth
(see date 1093). It is well known that Alexander I., the third son of
Malcolm III., got liberty from the English authorities to exhume his
father’s remains, and to take them to
Dunfermline; but the precise year of this transaction has not been
ascertained, and we are therefore forced to lean on probabilities. The
date of the exhumation is here place in A.D. 1115, the middle year of the
reign of Alexander I. In order to reduce any error to its minimum, for
the same reason we give A.D. 1115, as the date when the Church of the Holy
Trinity was finished, and opened for the celebration of public worship.
It is extremely unlikely that Alexander I. would exhume his father’s
remains at Tynemouth, and covey them to Dunfermline before the church he had
founded was finished in all its details.
THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY
TRINITY, DUNFERMLINE, FINISHED.—As noticed in the preceding entry, the
exact year when this Church of the Holy Trinity was finished, and opened
for the celebration of worship, is unknown; it is therefore place in A.D.
1115, the middle year of the reign of Alexander I., in order to reduce any
error to a minimum, as previously noticed.
agree in stating that Alexander I. splendidly adorned and finished the
Church of the Holy Trinity, Dunfermline, founded by his father, Malcolm
III., circa 1072. Leslie
in his “History of Scotland,” when alluding to that part of the work done
by Alexander I., uses the words “fastigio
imposito,” which flanked the great western entrance, raised the
west gable, with its finely adorned grand entrance, with the splendid
great west window which was above it, and completing this high gable and
the peak’d roof about.
Church of the Holy Trinity, begun in A.D. 1072, at its east end, was, in
A.D. 1115, finished at the west end; thus 43 years were occupied in the
building of this church, now known as the (Auld Kirk;) but this length
of time was nothing uncommon. For instance, the Cathedral Church of St.
Andrews, founded in A.D. 1159, was not finished in all its details until
A.D. 1318, a space of time spreading over 159 years. Again, the Abbey
Church of Aberborthic, founded about the year 1178, was not finished until
the year 1223, a space of 55 years. Other instances could be given, but
these will suffice to show, that the 43 years taken up between the
founding and the finishing of the Trinity Church at Dunfermline was a not
uncommon occurrence in these early times.
The great churches of
the middle ages were built by companies of traveling architects and
masons. The commonly began their work on the eastern parts of the fabric,
and continued the work in a westerly direction. When so much of the
edifice was raised as was deemed sufficient for the celebration of
worship, they raised a temporary wall which enclosed this built place on
the west, and the western portion proceeded slowly to completion,
“according to the state of the exchequer of the church and peaceful
times.” When the west portion of these churches was completed, the
temporary wall just mentioned was removed, when the interior of the
church, in all its “fair proportions and adornments,” was fully exposed to
view. No doubt the building of the Church of the Holy Trinity at
Dunfermline was begun and finished in the same way.
When thus the Church,
founded by Malcolm III. in the year 1072, and
finished in 1115, it would appear, from a north-west point, as shown in
the following print, copied from a drawing made by the author in 1827.
There are no views of
this church extant, bearing a date before 1690; and such early views are
not to be altogether relied on. The view here given is a composition by
the author, and it is necessary that he should explain from whence he has
had his materials. This we will proceed to give.
The old fabric, now
called the “Auld Kirk,” is
the original Church of the Holy Trinity, built between A.D. 1072 and 1115,
with the following exceptions, which are comparatively modern innovations,
viz.:--The heavy, uncouth buttresses, built between 1590 and 1606. These
additions as will be seen by the dates, had no
connection with the original design of the building. It may also be noted
that, between the years1750 and 1790, three of the Norman windows in the
north front were removed, and plain ugly Gothic ones substituted. The
west gable above the great
western entrance was also built at the same time as the steeple.
south-west tower, stood nearly entire until 1807, when it was thrown down
by a violent thunderstorm. There are several printed views of this old
tower extant, but few are accurate. We take our model of this tower from
an accurate pen-and-ink sketch of the tower, done by J. Baine, Civil
Engineer, in 1790. The western towers of churches were always exactly
alike and therefore the tower which stood on the site of the steeple would
be precisely like the view of the south-west one by Baine, and therefore
we give the two as in the view.
If we strip the “Auld
Kirk” of the incongruities just noticed, the view we have given will
appear (which may be taken as a correct one, at least) as correct a view
as can now be had of THE CHURCH of the HOLY TRINITY at FUNFERMLINE, as it
appeared when finished and opened in A.D. 1115.
The following is a
short description of the view:--The Church which in its length lies east
and west, is about 112 feet in length, and 65 feet in breadth, outside
measures, In the north front, as seen in the view, are six Norman
windows, with six spaces below them, and six peak’d small windows about,
with six flat pilasters between them, rising from the ground to the first
roof; the top of the wall is ornamented with a common Norman design; to
the right is seen the north entrance to the Church. The arch of this
entrance consists of a series of Norman semi-circles, above which are
small pilasters and ornamented semi-circular arches, capped with a splay
roof of stone, similar to that above the west entrance. The under north
wall is 36 feet in height and five feet thick; above this wall is the
first roof, which rises to another wall, which is supported on the great
massive pillars inside the Church. This top part is the clerestory (54
feet in height), and has six small semi-circular windows, corresponding in
position to the large ones in the lower front wall, with short flat
pilasters between them. Above the upper wall rose the high roof, much
higher than the present one, reaching from the east to the west gable
between the towers. The south wall of the Church was similar in all of
its details to the north wall now described. The two towers, as already
noticed, are representations of the original tower which fell in 1807.
The great western entrance projects a few feet out from the west gable,
within which rise ten tall, slender stone pillars, five on each side of
the entrance. The pillars in each row are in close proximity to each
other, and recede at a sharp angle into the recess on which they stand,
thereby diminishing their respective distances from side to side as they
approach the door of the Church. Each of those pillars rests on a double
base, and is surmounted with an ornamented capital, from which spring five
semi-circular arches of different heights. These arches naturally recede
with the pillars, and decline in altitude and breadth as they approach the
door of the Church. Thus the large stones of the several arches are
exposed to view, showing their beautiful designs, some being a
continuation of zig-zags, others floriated and otherwise ornamented. The
front, orouter arch stones are 23 in number,
on eleven of which are carved heads, and with floriated work between
them. The front arch is 20 feet in height, and 16 in breadth, and
measures the same as the great western window of the Fratery.
Above this grand
entrance is a stone splay roof, larger, but similar to the one over the
north entrance already noticed. This entrance is unique in Scotland. The
gable about the splay roof is comparatively modern, and therefore forms no
part of the original design of the Church. Since it was destroyed at the
Reformation, it has been several times repaired. We fill up this part in
our view with details from a pen-and-ink sketch of date `705, which is
very likely correct, as it closely resembles that of Durham Church, built
about the same time as the Church at Dunfermline and of which the latter
Church is understood to be a miniature. We shall now give a brief
description of the interior arrangements of this celebrated edifice.
The ground-plan of the
Trinity Church at Dunfermline is reduced from a larger one made by the
author in 1827. Although so small it will sufficiently indicate the
several interesting parts of it. It will be seen by the plan, that the
Church is built in the form of a parallelogram. The north and south walls
measure inside 106 feet, and are five feet thick. By the indentation in
these walls in the plan, it will be seen that there were originally six
large windows in each. Inside, the breadth of the Church is 55 feet.
Along the middle length of the
OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY, DUNFERMLINE.
Founded (circa) A.D. 1072;
Finished (circa) A.D.
1115. Raised to the dignity of ABBEY by David
I. in A.D. 1124.
Church, from east to
west, in a parallel course, in a straight line with the outer pillars of
the projecting west entrance, is a series of massive Norman pillars, seven
on each side originally, but now only six. These pillars run in a
straight line at the distance of 13 feet from the north and south walls;
between them and the walls are the north and south aisles, which are
arched above and in length are about 80 feet, and in breadth 13 feet, or
17 ½ feet including the pillars. The east pillars are cut into spirals on
their surfaces; the next series, west of these, is ornamented with zig-zag
cuttings; the other ones further west are plain, with the exception of the
two reeded, or columinated
pillars near the west end, which appear to have been built between the
years 1506 and 1603, when the then dilapidated Church was undergoing a
From the capitals of
these pillars spring ornamented Norman arches, which support the high
massive walls of the nave, the top of which reach to a height of 54 feet
above the pavement of the church. These walls of the nave consist of two
storeys—the first storeys on each side; immediately about the aisles, and
above the center of the arches, are the large semi-circular headed
openings of the ambulatories. Above these again are those of the triform.
Or clerestory; the upper part of the wall of each appears above the first
roof when viewed from without. The ambulatory and clerestory passages run
along like the aisles nearly through the whole length of the Church, or
about 80 feet. The ambulatories are covered by the first roof of the
Church and 13 feet in breadth. The passage of the clerestory is very
contracted, being only about two feet in breadth. From these openings on
each side a full view is had of the Church interior underneath.
Along the lower part
of the north and south walls of the Church, inside below the windows, may
still be seen in many places the remains of slender pillars, of Norman
work, with semi-circular arches springing from their capitals, which are
highly ornamented. These small arches have chiseled into their surfaces
the usual Norman zig-zags, &c. These pillars and arches originally
proceeded along the whole length of the north and south walls of the
Church, and against these, in front of them, were the “Alter of the
Saints,” and other benefactors of the
Church. The aisle on the south
side, interior of the Church, was known as the “Rood
Aisle,” and the ambulatory above it was called the “Rood
Laft, or loft. Adjacent to the zig-zag pillar of this aisle,
at the shaded square part shown in the plan, stood the “Rood
Altar,” or the “Altar of the Holy Cross,” before which altar in
A.D. 1093 were interred Margaret, the Queen-Consort of Malcolm III., and
at the same time her eldest son Prince Edward. (See date 1093.) Prince
Ethelrede, her youngest son, was also interred here.
Near the extreme east
end of the Church stood the “Grate
Awtr”—Great or HIGH ALTAR—over which, on an escutcheon, was
depicted the scene of the Crucifixion. The space for a considerable way in
front of and adjacent to this altar was the area selected for the “Locus Sepulturae Regum” of Scotland, indicated in
the ground-plan by the oblong shaped space at the east end of the nave.
With some exceptions, this continued to be the royal burial-place from
1093 till 1250. (See these dates.) To us it appears highly probable that
the eastern end of the Church terminated in a semi-circular apsis. (See
date 126 for the addition of the choir.)