This Unsurmountable Rock

Lampost lamp cover with logo for Dunfermline town

Dunfermline’s crest and motto; Esto rupee inaccessa, ‘this unsurmountable rock’ or ‘never to be conquered’ has clear links to Malcolm III, depicting two lions and a representation of Canmore’s tower.

Lampost lamp cover with logo for Dunfermline town
Lamp outside City Chambers with Dunfermline crest

It was Malcolm and Margaret’s son David I who introduced the idea of a ‘burgh’ in 1153, giving towns across Scotland trade status (often symbolised by a Mercat – or market – Cross). If you travel further around Fife, you will see lots of towns with royal burgh status, many stemming from David’s original instruction.

Each town would establish a cross/trading point and introduce Guilds that would generate income for the burgh council through paying taxes. The Guild also provided job security for tradesmen who first served apprenticeships, with skills and working practices often passing through families. 

However, the system was not always used fairly;

“Daniel Turner, nail manufacturer in Dunfermline, declared, ‘That after he had made some money, working as a nailer, he came to Dunfermline to carry on his trade as a master manufacturer, and a demand was immediately put on him by the corporation of smiths, to enter with them, to give up his business. He had never heard before of the nailers being obliged to enter with smiths in any town ; however, to save trouble, he agreed to pay them 7s annually for a licence ; – that he was successful in his trade, and when the smiths saw that he was so, they raised his licence to 15s; that the unfreemen of Dunfermline find the exclusive privileges of the incorporated trades to be a great grievance, and have had it in contemplation to petition parliament to abolish them.’”

1835 edition of Municipal Corporations (Scotland)