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Visiting Dunfermline, Scotland: fine, civic architecture and memories of Andrew Carnegie

Updated on February 17, 2016
Flag of Scotland
Flag of Scotland | Source
The Carnegie Library, Dunfermline
The Carnegie Library, Dunfermline | Source
Dunfermline City Chambers
Dunfermline City Chambers | Source
Map location of Dunfermline, Scotland
Map location of Dunfermline, Scotland | Source

Civic grace in Scotland's former capital

Many North Americans will first and foremost remember Scotland's Dunfermline as the birthplace of the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). As is very well known also, Carnegie made part of his fortune in the Pittsburgh, Penn., steel industry, and subsequently gave away a large portion of it.

Carnegie Library

However,it is maybe less well known that, among the numerous cultural benefactions which Carnegie made in North America and the United Kingdom, Dunfermline was the site of his first Carnegie Library.

This Library continues to function today, and is located in Abbot Street.

Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum

This museum is situated in Moodie Street. Andrew Carnegie came from a weaving family and the museum maintains periodic weaving demonstrations.

The museum facilities in the cottage in which Carnegie was born in 1835 has been upgraded in recent years.

City Chambers

This building was constructed from 1875-79. Its styles have been described as a mixture of Scottish Baronial, French and Gothic styles.

Its tower features a four faced clock. This tower is a noted landmark in and around the downtown area of Dunfermline.

The architect for the City Chambers was James C. Walker, who also designed the Carnegie Library (see above). The building has a number of busts of Scottish monarchs.

Other buildings of note

Among Dunfermline's many buildings of note are:

Dunfermline Abbey , burial place of a number of Scottish kings, including Robert the Bruce. Dunfermline is a former capital of Scotland.

Dunfermline Palace , situated adjacent to Dunfermline Abbey, witnessed many momentous events in Scottish history, including the birth of King Charles I. It has been derelict since 1708.

Pittencrieff Park contains a statue of Andrew Carnegie, who purchased and subsequently presented the park to the people of Dunfermline. It also contains the Pittencrieff House Museum, within Pittencrieff House, built in 1635.

Also worth seeing

Edinburgh (distance: 28 kilometres), Scotland's magnificent capital, with its Castle, Royal Mile, Scott Monument, John Knox's House, St. Giles Cathedral and many other sights, offers outstanding opportunities for visitors.

Glasgow (distance: 64 kilometres); as Scotland's largest city, Glasgow's places of architectural and historic interest abound, including its City Chambers, St Mungo's Cathedral, Glasgow University and excellent museums.

Stirling (distance: 39 kilometres) with its hilltop Castle where a number of Scottish monarchs, including Mary, Queen of Scots, were crowned, and its imposing Wallace Monument, offers impressive historical allusions to visitors particularly interested in Scotland's past.

Blantyre (distance: 66 kilometres), has the David Livingstone Centre, operated by the National Trust for Scotland, at the 1813 birthplace of the Scottish explorer and missionary, whose name it bears, and whose portrait has featured on some Scottish banknotes.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to both Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports, where car rental is available. Rail services connect Glasgow and Edinburgh with Dunfermline. Please note that facilities mentioned may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 6 years ago

      Gordon Hamilton: Yes, and particularly with its Andrew Carnegie connections, the town can be of considerable interest to North American visitors. Thank-you for your comment.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      I knew Dunfermline well as a child as my maternal grandmother was from Cowdenbeath. From what I remember it is a really nice town and I am glad to see it immortalised on Hub Pages. Thanks for the memories! :)