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Dunfermline abbey

Dunfermline abbey (Fife). On the foundations of a pre-Conquest Celtic church and a small Roman church built by Malcolm III for Queen Margaret (c.1072), a Benedictine monastery church was erected by David I, dedicated to the Holy Trinity (1150). The burial place of royalty during the 11th–15th cents., its high connections and central position made it one of the richest and most influential abbeys in Scotland, used for meetings of the Scottish Parliament, election of bishops, and even, briefly, as an ecclesiastical prison. Lands and churches were given by royal charter, but although it had ‘mitred’ abbots as had Aberbrothock, Dunfermline was held increasingly in commendam after 1500. By the Reformation considerable land and revenue had already passed into private hands, much to Knox's anger. After 1587 all remaining properties and revenues were annexed to the crown, with James VI granting it to his bride, Anne of Denmark. The ample monastery guest-house was enlarged as an occasional residence for royalty, and was the birthplace of Charles I (1600). The nave survived despoliation to serve as the parish church until 1821, when a new one was erected over the foundations of the Benedictine choir.

A. S. Hargreaves

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