Dunfermline (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phàrlain) is a historic city in Fife, 3 miles north of the Firth of Forth in central Scotland. It became a royal residence, ecclesiastical centre and effective capital of Scotland from the 11th century, and many monarchs are buried here. It's also the birthplace of tycoon philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In 2016 the population was 53,100.
"Dun" means a fortified hill or outcrop, and "ferm lynn" is thought to mean a crooked stream, no-one's sure. Prehistoric folk settled in spots that could be fortified against their dear neighbours and in-laws, and needed a water supply, so they were here from 3000 BC. But the town only emerges into history circa 1070 AD, when King Malcolm III married Margaret of Wessex (later canonised as St Margaret) and together they made it a royal residence and ecclesiastic centre, effectively capital of Scotland. Its fortunes rose and fell with those of independent Scotland: 7 kings were buried here, the last being Robert the Bruce in 1329. The last monarch to be born here was Charles I in 1600. But then the crowns of England and Scotland were united, James VI / I much preferred London to chilly Scotland, and all the power and patronage ebbed away south. And then the town burned down in 1624.
The area around Dunfermline became industrial in the early modern period, with salt panning, coal mining, limestone quarrying, linen weaving and metal-bashing. Initially it developed as a series of industrial villages, with wooden wagonways connecting the mines and quarries to a string of small ports along the Forth. (One of these, Culross, has been beautifully restored.) The Victorian period brought larger scale industry, shipping and railways, and a concentration into fewer but larger towns and ports. Dunfermline was constrained to the north by the Cleish Hills but expanded to the south and east; its port of Rosyth was carved off in 1909 to become a separate town and Royal Navy base. The area slumped after the Second World War as the coalfields were exhausted and traditional heavy industries such as ship-breaking were lost to foreign competition.
The opening of the Forth Road Bridge in 1964, and linking highways, improved Dunfermline's connection to Edinburgh and the rest of central Scotland. The town attracted new businesses and became part of the Edinburgh commuter belt, and expanded rapidly east. It's now reached the "natural" boundary of M90 at Halbeath, and its council forsees future expansion west. This has created an urban and suburban sprawl but hasn't blighted the abbey and park which are Dunfermline's main attraction.
In 2022 Dunfermline received official city status, as part of the celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth.
Edinburgh Airport (EDI IATA) has good flight connections across Europe and UK and within Scotland. A direct bus runs from airport stop G across the old Forth Road Bridge to Inverkeithing (for trains) and Halbeath P&R (for local buses). This is the Stagecoach Jet 747 which takes 30 min and costs £7.50 single and £14 for a return within 28 days. It runs daily 24 hours, every 20 min daytime.
Trains from Edinburgh Waverley run every 30 min via Haymarket (for airport), Dalmeny (for South Queensferry), North Queensferry, Inverkeithing and Rosyth, taking 35 min and continuing to Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Cardenen and Glenrothes-with-Thornton. Change at Inverkeithing for trains along the Fife coast from Kirkcaldy, Leuchars (for St Andrews), Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness. From Glasgow Queen Street take the fast train to Edinburgh and change at Haymarket.
1 Dunfermline Town is the main station, in town centre and with a staffed ticket office, machines and toilets. There is level access to Platform 2 (towards Glenrothes) and a ramp to Platform 1 (towards Edinburgh).
2 Dunfermline Queen Margaret is three minutes further along the line, near Queen Margaret Hospital. It's just an unstaffed platform halt, with ticket machines but no toilets.
Dunfermline is two miles west of M90 motorway. From the south, follow M90 over Queensferry Crossing (no toll) and at junction 2 take the spur A823(M). However there's a little cluster of hotels and other facilities at the east edge of town: for these and the two hospitals take junction 3.
The main bus operator is Stagecoach. Bus X55 runs hourly daily from Edinburgh over the old Forth Road Bridge to Rosyth and Dunfermline, taking just over an hour.
Bus X24 runs hourly from Glasgow (sometimes starting from the airport) to Cumbernauld and Dunfermline, and continues to Glenrothes and St Andrews. X26 also runs from Glasgow via Dunfermline to Glenrothes and Dundee. These all call at 3 Dunfermline bus station west side of town centre.
However, most inter-city buses bypass the town but call at 4 Halbeath P&R on A92 four miles east. These include buses M90 and M91 to Perth and Inverness, M92 and G92 to Dundee and Aberdeen, X56 to Kinross and Perth, and X61 to Glenrothes and Leven. The Edinburgh airport bus also runs from here. See below for local buses between the P&R and town centre.
Buses between town and Halbeath P&R are Bus 19, which runs south to Rosyth and north to Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly and Ballingry; Bus 33 running east to Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Cardenen and Kirkcaldy; and Bus 83 southeast to Dalgety Bay.
Stagecoach Bus 89 runs hourly M-Sa from Crossford and Dunfermline to Queen Margaret Hospital, Inverkeithing and North Queensferry, 40 min.
Bus 87 runs from Dunfermline to Dalgety Bay, Inverkeithing and North Queensferry. They run M-Sa every hour or two.
Bus 7 runs every 30 min all along the coast to Kirkcaldy and Leven; Bus 7B / 7D runs every 30-60 min from Kelty to Dunfermline, Rosyth, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay.
Bus 8 runs hourly daily from Dunfermline to Culross, Kincardine, Clackmannan and Alloa, which has buses to Sirling.
Bus 28 runs M-F every 3 or 4 hours from Queen Margaret Hospital to Dunfermline, Culross, Kincardine and Falkirk.
- 1 Dunfermline Abbey, St Margaret Street KY12 7PE. Apr-Sep: daily 09:30-17:30; Oct-Mar: Sa-Th 09:30-16:30. The Abbey dates back to the 11th century and is Romanesque, but ruined in the Reformation. Several parts such as the impressive nave were incorporated into the 19th-century parish church. Notable burials here are St Margaret of Scotland, Robert the Bruce, and five other kings and their queens. Attached to the Abbey are the few remains of the Palace: King Charles I was born here in 1600, but by the end of that century both the palace and the Stuart royal dynasty were broken. The nearby Abbott House is no longer open to the public. Adult £4.
- 2 Carnegie Library & Galleries, 1 Abbott St KY12 7NL. M-W F 10:00-17:00, Th 10:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-16:00, Su 12:00-16:00. Carnegie funded the building of this public library in his home town, opened in 1883; he went on to fund over 2800 more. A modern extension, opened in 2017, houses a museum and galleries. Free.
- 3 The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Moodie Street KY12 7PL, ☏ . This humble weavers cottage was the birthplace of the steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). He was 12 when the family emigrated to Pennsylvania, where he was soon noticed for his brightness and hard-working. He became prosperous through the railway industry, then enormously wealthy through iron and steel. He resolved to donate most of this to causes such as education, and by the time of his death had donated over $350 million, equivalent to $80 billion in today's money. Free.
- St Leonard's Church is at the roundabout 200 yards below Town railway station. It has a Round Tower, associated with ancient Ireland, and the Apse is in Norman style, but it's all retro construction from 1904.
- Watch a show at 1 Carnegie Hall, East Port KY12 7JA, ☏ . This is the original Carnegie Hall, a 540-seat theatre named for the local-boy-made-good. The shows are mostly light fare.
- Football: Dunfermline Athletic were promoted in 2023 and now play soccer in the Scottish Championship, the second tier. Their home ground (capacity 11,480) is East End Park, on A907 half a mile east of town centre.
- 2 Pittencrieff Park. Carnegie purchased this park and gave it to the people of the town; the grand gates were added in 1908. A stream runs through a bosky glen and there are various walkways, an Art Deco pavilion, gardens and hothouses, and the stumps of King Malcolm Canmore's tower dating to 1000 AD.
- Golf courses are Pitreavie GC, Canmore GC, Dunfermline GC, and Forrester Park Resort, see Sleep.
- 3 Adventure Golf Island, Fife Leisure Park, Whimbrel Place KY11 8EX, ☏ . M-F 11:00-21:30, Sa Su 10:00-22:00. Florida-style adventure golf with two 18 hole courses, Treasure Island and Pirates Cove. Floodlit at night. Adult £8, child £6.50.
- Walk or cycle along the coast of the Firth of Forth, west through Culross, Kincardine and Clackmannan, swinging inland past Rosyth navy base; going east the coastal trail goes all the way to St Andrews. You may cross the river by the Kincardine Bridge or the old Forth Road Bridge, both toll free; you may not use the Queensferry Crossing, which is motorway. Another trail to Clackmannan runs inland parallel to A907.
- Highland Games are held in Ballast Park in Inverkeithing in early August, see North Queensferry#Do.
The main retail park is Halbeath, east of the centre on A907. There's an Asda here, open daily 08:00-22:00.
- Gratzi, Carnegie Drive KY12 7AN, ☏ . Su Tu-Th 16:00-21:30, F Sa 12:00-22:00. Tasty Italian, Tuesday nights is tapas.
- 1 The Hideaway, Kingseat Road KY12 0UB (half a mile north of jcn 3 of M90), ☏ . Tu-Th 09:00-16:00, F Sa 09:00-16:00, 17:00-22:00. Good informal restaurant.
- 2 Carnock Inn, 8 Main St, Carnock KY12 9JQ (A907 four miles west of Dunfermline), ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-22:00, F Sa 12:00-00:00. This Gastropub does food worth coming the extra distance. The bar has a garden and is open to midnight.
- Royal Bengal (formerly Bengal Tiger), 57 Pittencrieff Street KY12 8AJ (a mile west of centre). Daily 17:00-22:30. Good Indian food, mostly tandoori.
- Garvock House Hotel is an upscale Georgian place east of the centre on St John's Drive, but it's the restaurant that most impresses.
- Fife Leisure Park by M90 junction 3 has a rash of cheap eateries, including Frankie and Benny's, Pizza Hut, Brewer's Fayre, Bella Italia and Chiquito.
- 3 Fresh, 4 Kirkgate. Local cafe within the city centre and close to the abbey.
- "The king sits in Dunfermline toune, drinking the blude reid wine...." - Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, anon
- Guildhall & Linen Exchange is a JD Wetherspoon at 83 High St, open daily until midnight. They also have rooms.
- Other central places are Coady's, Commercial Inn, Monty's and Lourenzo's. Just east are East Port Bar and The Monarch.
- West of centre along St Catherine's Wynd are Bruce Tavern, Tappie Toories, The Old Inn and the Creepy Wee Pub.
- Strange but true: Fusion Whisky make Japanese-style Scotch whisky. They're blenders not a distillery.
- City Hotel is a pub with rooms near the bus station. Weekends are noisy with karaoke.
- 1 Pitbauchlie House Hotel, Aberdour Road KY11 4PB (B916 a mile southeast of centre), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Pleasant mid-range place with gardens, dog-friendly. B&B double £110.
- 2 King Malcolm Hotel, Queensferry Road KY11 8DS (A823 a mile south of town, by Pitreavie business park), ☏ , fax: . Drab exterior looks like the Bates motel, but decent enough accommodation for the price. B&B double £105.
- Holiday Inn Express, Halbeath Road, Halbeath KY11 8JH (A907 two miles east of town), ☏ , fax: . Good budget, dogs welcome. B&B double £95.
- Premier Inn Dunfermline, 4-12 Whimbrel Place, Fife Leisure Park KY11 8EX (near Jcn 3 of M90), ☏ , fax: . Chain budget hotel, comfort and service consistently better than its price range. Lots of eating places, retail and amusements on the Leisure Park. B&B double £80.
- Travelodge Dunfermline, Halbeath Junction KY11 8PQ (Jcn 3 of M90), ☏ , fax: . Reliable budget chain next to motorway, good value for what you pay. B&B double £80.
- 3 Best Western Plus Keavil House Hotel, Crossford KY12 8NN (2 miles west of town), ☏ . Upscale 72-room country house hotel in its own grounds. With restaurant and spa, often does weddings and similar events. B&B double £110.
- 4 Forrester Park Resort, Pitdinnie Rd, Carneyhill KY12 8RF (4 miles west of town), ☏ . Plush country hotel with golf course. B&B double £120.
Dunfermline has 4G from all UK carriers. As of Sept 2021, 5G has not reached this area.
- The Fife coast is urban until you get east of Kirkcaldy and Leven. The view improves greatly around Anstruther and the charming fishing villages of the East Neuk.
- Culross 10 miles west is a well-restored 17th / 18th century village. Highlights are the Abbey, Town House, Study and Palace.
- Dollar, reached by the scenic A823 over the hills, has a walk up the ravine of Dollar Glen to the ruin of Castle Campbell. The autumn colours here are fabulous.
- Falkland Palace, ten miles north of Kirkcaldy, is the medieval palace of the Stuart kings, rebuilt in the 19th century.
|Routes through Dunfermline|
|Edinburgh ← North Queensferry ←||S N||→ Kinross → Perth|
|merges with ←||SW NE||→ Kirkcaldy → Dundee|