‘Dunfermline is the largest town in Fife; situated in the west of the region. It also used to serve as Scotland’s capital city, a job now held by its close neighbour, Edinburgh…’
Dunfermline is the birthplace of world-famous philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, who emigrated to the US from the town in 1848. If you’re on a budget and have some time to spare, these are a just a few of the great free attractions that Dunfermline has to offer:
Dunfermline Andrew Carnegie Library and Galleries
This shiny new £13 million cultural facility opened in May 2017 and is the centre of all things amazing in town. From the sleek new library and art gallery, the facility is built around the original Carnegie Libary, which was constructed after Andrew Carnegie gifted the town $40,000 and returned to his hometown in 1881 to watch his mother lay the foundation stone.
The new centre has a full schedule of exhibitions, festival and events through the calendar year and it a state of the art space. If sitting in the library here doesn’t make you want to study, there’s really no hope for you. Also – there’s a fantastic coffee shop, which is run by Heaven Scent and is a great space to relax with a cuppa after a hard afternoon’s cultural entertainment.
This space is a public park that was purchased by Andrew Carnegie and then gifted to the people of the town. What a thoroughly lovely bloke, eh? It was amongst this large empty space where I spent a happy hour wandering around, trying to convince a grey squirrel that he really wanted to be my friend.
When he refused and ran away, I decided to expend my energy in a more productive manner. I walked down to the bottom of the park where I could look out across the fabulous new Queensferry Crossing bridge over the Forth. After you’re done with walking, running, or squirrel chasing, there’s usually a free exhibition on display within Pittencrieff House, which is located within the ground. In the lower glen area of the park, you can also see the ruins of Dunfermline Palace.
On the east side of the park, and just outside the park boundary, is Dunfermline Abbey and the final resting place of Robert the Bruce. Please note that, although the Abbey is great to look and take photos of, the building itself has an entrance fee. The park is well known for its peacocks that live there and the Cafe located within the park’s Glen Pavilion is aptly named after there and is a great place to sit and watch the world go by.
Fire Station Creative
This beautiful old fire station has been transformed into a multi-gallery, showing work by local and international artists and offering creative space. This three-floor building – comprising 20 studios – house a range of painters, graphic artists, textile designers, and a host of others. There’s a gallery on site, featuring a range of temporary exhibitions, so there’s always something fresh and exciting to experience.
The site also has a cafe, serving coffee, cakes and lunches throughout the day. FCS also has a range of after-hours events, such as live music, and serves cocktails and dinners. Tables should be booked in advance
Located in the Heritage Quarter, Abbot House can immediately be recognised by its pink exterior. The house has been standing on the site since the 15th Century and contains a fantastic museum, which tells the story of Dunfermline’s textiles industry, as well as an alarming array of skeletons that have been dug up in its grounds over the years.
In addition to bones, a very impressive 16th Century fresco, and a painted ceiling on the top floor shouldn’t be missed, the house is also home to the Garden Cafe and Brew House. The brewery produces a range of beers (including a gluten-free range) and a limited edition Haggis and Neeps bottle. Trying that particular offering will take someone far braver than me. Unfortunately, after battling with financial issues, the property closed in 2016, but now has a new tenant and should be open for business very soon (as at 1st Sept 2017)
St. Margaret’s Cave
This isn’t the easiest attraction to locate, due to its location and lack of signage. However, the mystery definitely adds to the overall experience. This is not a visit for less mobile visitors as the cave is access down a steep flight of 80+ steps. Once at the bottom, you can enter the tiny alter where Queen Margaret was side to pray, and there’s plenty of historical information to guide you along the way. It is well worth trying to find the cave and the visit doesn’t take too long.
After all, it’s not every day you get to wander around a secret cave under a car park in the middle of town, is it? Also, when North Korea try to take us all out with nuclear weapons, you’ll know where to hide.
For even more inspiration, check out Visit Dunfermline’s website, or log on to Visit Scotland’s dedicated pages for the Fife town.