Dunfermline – A Miraculous Monarch
‘There was a poor little woman, English by birth and race … who was afflicted for a long time with a very serious ailment … she fell headlong to the ground before the holy altar like a lifeless stone … But soon sadness was turned to joy, the health of her limbs restored to her.’ (Excerpt from the Miracula S. Margarite Scotorum regine [Miracles of St Margaret] 1245-63)
For hundreds of years Dunfermline has provided countless pilgrims with an inspiring destination. Its magnificent abbey is the burial place of many of Scotland’s kings and queens, including King Robert the Bruce and Queen Margaret, who was later made a saint.
Many miracles are recorded as having taken place close to St Margaret’s shrine, and a number of Scottish queens wore her shirt for protection during childbirth. Medieval pilgrims who visited the abbey on her feast day of 16 November were promised a smoother journey to heaven. This made the arduous journey of pilgrimage worthwhile.
A number of other local sites associated with pilgrimage and Saint Margaret may still be visited today, including the Head Well, Saint Margaret’s Stone and St Margaret’s Cave, where the Queen is said to have rested and prayed respectively.
In this area of Fife, the paths taken by pilgrims hundreds of years ago are now largely concealed beneath the industrial landscape. The Medieval travellers looked out for each other when the going got tough, and were bonded together through shared experience. In this way, they were not so dissimilar to the mining communities that later developed here.
In Fife, Saints Andrew and Margaret were the chief draw for pilgrims. However, numerous other saints provided a focus for pilgrims resting on the road to St Andrews – now, The Fife Pilgrim Way – or as a draw for local pilgrims.
Linked to: North Queensferry and Dunfermline
Margaret was Queen of Scotland between 1070 and 1093. She was generous and pious, and established the ‘Queen’s Ferry’ to allow pilgrims safe passage to St Andrews. After her death she was made a saint and pilgrims flocked to Dunfermline to be near her miraculous remains. Her shirt was preserved as a relic and was allegedly worn by a number of Scottish queens during childbirth.
Today, the saint’s shoulder bone is housed in St Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church in Dunfermline. In June each year the relic is processed through the town to the church for Holy Mass.
The Fife Pilgrim Way - Discover Scotland's Pilgrim Kingdom.
From the 11th – 16th centuries, Fife attracted pilgrims from across Europe to the shrines of St. Andrew and St. Margaret. They followed their faith, in search of miracles, cures, forgiveness and adventure. A network of ferries, bridges, wells, chapels and accommodation was built to facilitate the safe passage of the pilgrims.
Get away from it all and enjoy the fresh air and exercise by becoming a modern day pilgrim. Undertake an inspiring journey by walking the ancient pathways, visit the medieval sites along the route and uncover Fife’s forgotten pilgrim stories. As in medieval times, you will find a choice of shelter and hospitality, whilst enjoying the kindness of strangers you meet along the way.
About The Fife Pilgrim Way.
Following in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims, this new long distance route links up the Firth of Forth with the Firth of Tay, through beautiful inland Fife.
Starting at Culross and North Queensferry, the 70 mile path passes through spectacular landscapes, with views of the Coast, Forth and Tay Estuaries and the Lomond Hills. It connects medieval landmarks, industrial heritage and picturesque historic villages on its way to St. Andrews.
A varied route for residents and visitors, walk the fully signposted path or explore the sections that suit you.
Support the project
Donate Text FCCT12 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 via SMS
See website for details
Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, Central Scotland Green Network Trust, Fife Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, LEADER, Third Sector Hebrides, Scottish Natural Heritage, SUEZ Communities Trust, WREN
Fife Council, Fife Cultural Trust, Fife Tourism Partnership, Forth Pilgrim, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum
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