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Annals of Dunfermline
A.D. 1069 - 1101 - Part 2


THE CITY and ROYAL BURGH of DUNFERMLINE is situated near the western extremity of the County of Fife, in Latitude 56° 4’ 15" N. (the Market Cross), and in Longitude 3° 27' 38" W. from Greenwich. In size and population it far exceeds any town in the county. Population of the City in 1871 was 14,958; City and Parish, 23,116. Estimated population of the City at beginning of 1878, 17,800; City and Parish, 24,150.

"Dunfermline," in early writings, appears in a great variety of spellings. The earliest to be found is in the Confirmation Charters of David I., A.D. 1128-1129. In 1128, we find "DUNFERMELITANE"; in 1129, it appears as "DUNFERMELIN." In the years 1153, 1165, 1214, the spellings are the same. In 1249, it is slightly different, viz., "DUNFERMELYN;" &c. In 1306 and 1330 are the same spellings. In later times, in deeds, writs, &c., we find the name in a great variety of forms, such as "DUNFERMLYN," "DUNFERMLING," "DUNFERMELYNG," "DUNFERMELING," "DOMFERMELING," "DOUNFRANELIN," "DUNFERMLIS," &c.; but, since the year 1690, it has been generally written "DUNFERMLINE." We have also several Latin forms of the name, written between 1560 and 1750, such as "Dunum Fermelinum," "Fermelinodum," "Fermalinodunum," "Fermilodunum," &c.

As already noticed, DUNFERMLINE is a Celtic compound word DUN, signifies a hill; FERM, FERME (fiaram), the middle syllable, means bent or crooked, referring to the singular bending of the burn which sweeps round the base of the Tower-hill; hence, it was originally named "aqua de ferme," or "the firm burn"; and LIN, LYNE, LINE, &c., a cascade, or pool;—the cascade, a fall of 16 feet in the Ferm burn, is a little to the south of Tower-hill—hence, from all which comes the name DUNFERMLINE. (See "Mons infirmorurn," &c., in PreHistoric Dunfermline, and Appendix A and B.)

Dunfermline is 16 miles N.W. of Edinburgh: 43 N.E. of Glasgow: 12 N.N.E. by water, and 16 by road, of Linlithgow; 12 E.S.E of Clackmannan; 10 E. of Kincardine; 21 E.S.E. of Sterling; 14 E.S.E. Alloa; 6 E.S.E of Culross; 29 S. of Perth; 11 S.S.W. of Kinross; 13 S.W. of Kinglassie; 22 W.S.W. of Falkland; 12 W.S.W. of Kirkcaldy; 10 W.S.W of Kinghorn; 11 W.N.W. of Burntisland; 8 W.N.W. of Aberdour; 4 N.W. of Inverkeithing; 6 N.W. of North Queensferry; and 27/8 miles N.N.E. of Limekilns. 

1069.-ARRIVAL OF EDGAR THE ATHELING, WITH HIS MOTHER AND SISTERS, IN THE FIRTH OF FORTH.-The old accounts relating to this “auspicious event” are conflicting in their details.  When collated and condensed the read as follow: In consequence of Edgar having been deprived of his right of succession to the English throne by “the Norman Conqueror,” he, along with his mother Agatha, his sisters Margaret and Christian, and a numerous retinue, some time between the years 1067 and 1070, embarked in a ship to sail for Hungary the land of their nativity; that shortly after leaving the English coast, a violent storm arose, which, after tossing the vessel about, at last drove them, in a ship-wrecked condition, up the Firth of Forth to a point on the north shore near to the residence of the King of Scots; that when the King heard of the arrival of the illustrious strangers he left his residence at Dunfermline and hastened to where the wrecked ship lay, received the exiles most cordially, and invited them to the hospitalities of residence, &c. (Vide Fordun, Boece, &c.)

The details of these old accounts have long been doubted.  In a work of great merit, lately published by Mr. Freeman, on “The Norman Conquest,” complied by him from original authentic documents, there is a long account of this event-too long for insertion here; but when condensed it reads as follows:-“In the autumn of 1069 Malcolm III. of Scotland was in Durham, &c., prosecuting his war projects of fire, sword, and harrying.”  Edgar the Atheling had just then made his last venture against the forces of the Conqueror, near York, and was totally defeated; he, his relatives, and retinue, take ship and sail for Monks Wearmouth, where Malcolm King of Scotland then was with his “harrying army.”  Malcolm had an interview with Edgar.  After hearing of his hopeless condition, he advises him, along with his mother, sisters, and followers, to sail immediately for Scotland and take up their residence with him at Dunfermline.  The advice was taken, and the illustrious exiles set sail for Scotland about the end of October, 1069.  They may have encountered rough weather at this season, but the wind appears not to have been contrary, but favourable for the voyage. The exiles arrived in safety on the north shore of the Forth, near to Malcolm’s residence.  On landing, according to an old tradition, the exiles made their way to Dunfermline on foot, accompanied by their followers.  (See Freeman’s “Norman Conquest,” vol.iv.)  Freeman’s account is now generally accepted as the true account by critics, historians, and antiquarians.  It will be seen that Malcolm, King of Scotland, was in England when the exiles arrived in the Forth; how then could Malcolm welcome their arrival?  Why should “the tempest,” if there was one, be made to force the vessel up the Forth, when that was their destination?  In early times “much that was fabulous was conveyed into history;” then, “miracles and the marvelous” were “wrought up with incidents to give them a serious look.”  Of miracles and the marvelous in connection with Dunfermline and locality, see “Ann. Of Dunf.,” dates 1093-1154, and “The Double Miracle,” of 1250.

To many it may be interesting to have the names of some of those who were in the ship, which brought the Exiles to our shores.  The following list of names has been obtained by the writer during his reading in Scottish history: some of these, however, may be doubtful.


      1. EDGAR, the Atheling……                Hailes’ An. Scot. P.7.
      2. AGATHA, his mother……                Saxon Chron. P.174.
      3. MARGARET,>                              S. Dunelm, pp. 197-200.
      4. CHRISTAIN,>  his sisters              Aldred, p. 367.
                                                            Fordum, lib v. c. 16 and the Histories of Scotland.
      5. MERLESWEIGN,………….                 Hailes’ An. Scot. Vol. i. pp. 7-8.
      6. MAXWELL,………………….                  Newspapers of date June 10th, 1865.
      7.8.9. MELVILLE (three brothers)             Sibbald’s Hist. Fife, p. 390.
    10. GOSPATRIC,………………                   Hailes’ An. Scot. Vol. i. pp. 7-8.
    11. LESLEY,……………………..                   The Scots Compendium, pp. 179-180.
    12. LINDSAY,…………………..                   Do.                 do.          p. 150.
    13. MAURICE,………………..                   Do.                 do.          p. 221.
          [Maurice (No 13) acted as captain and steersman of the ship.]
    14. LIVINGSTION,…………..                   Do.                 do.          p. 213.
    15. BORTHWICK,…………….                   Beauties of Scot. Vol. i. p. 322.
    16. SIWARD,…………………..                   Freeman’s Norman Conquest, vol. iv.

And probably Araldus, Neis, &c.  (See Witness to “Malcolm’s Foundation Charter,” date, 1075.)

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