Somehow, I feel every blog post should start with a commentary about the weather, because in some ways it does drive the sight-seeing experience. So today, I am happy to report it was a bit cold, but it did not rain!
I spent the morning with my great-aunt Lena, who is in a care home in Glenrothes–and then met my cousin Ian for lunch in a very fine pub, the FettykilFox. Chatting over lunch put us in the mood to go to Bowhill, a subdivision of Cardenden where our dads grew up and find the old house that our grandparents had. Ian was too young to have stayed at 11 Daisyfield Terrace, but I remembered it. The neighborhood has definitely suffered from years of economic downturn and unemployment — it was primarily a mining community.
We took a photograph, and then another of the old Bowhill Social Club where my Granddad used to spend a bit more time than my grandmother would have liked. (I actually remember him taking my brother and I there to show us off to his mates when we were little, and swearing us to secrecy–but we ratted him out the minute we got home, so amazed were we by the pub!)
But to the purpose of the day, which was to visit Dunfermline Abbey, an 11th Century church that was the burial place of many Scottish Kings and Queens, including Robert the Bruce (think Braveheart). I understand his tomb is very beautiful, but guess what? There was a _______! Yes, a wedding. I am sure Historic Scotland gets well-deserved supplementary income from these events, but they don’t half put a cramp in your sight-seeing style. The tomb will have to wait for another day…
Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here on several occasions while travelling through her kingdom; from 7 to 9 and again from 17 to 18 September 1565 with her new husband, Lord Darnley. They were married in July 1565–you wonder if the honeymoon phase was already over and she figured out he was not love’s young dream? Their son, James VI, was born in June 1566, so it is possible he was conceived in Dunfermline.
Their real purpose for being in Dunfermline was part of the Chaseabout Raid, a failed rebellion by Queen Mary’s half-brother, James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray on 26 August 1565, over her marriage to Darnley. Much as Henry VIII may have supported Protestant reformers in the murder of Cardinal Beaton, Elizabeth I supported Moray and others against Mary, because she was angry about the marriage.
Mary and Darnley may have been united on the raid, but any happiness they did have was short-lived and though her life was never without controversy in Scotland, the political heat definitely turned up from the Chaseabout Raid, and did not abate during her short reign. Poor Mary!
- Robert the Bruce (ojameswhoartthou.wordpress.com)
- Suggestions Invited for Dunfermline Heritage Plaques (billwalkermsp.com)