Fact and Fiction

Low stone wall about 40cm tall in rough circle and diameter 7m. Within circle is quarter of area has stone construction now in ruinous state, unidentifiable what it was

Local legend links the structure in front of you with Malcolm III (King of Scots, 1058 to 1093)

It was from here that Malcolm (often nicknamed ‘Canmore’, from the Gaelic for ‘big head’) is thought to have ruled his kingdom. The structure has medieval foundations and lends itself to one interpretation of Dunfermline’s name: referring to a fort structure on a hill (Dun) near a bend (fear) in the river (Linn). It also links to Dunfermline’s motto Esto rupes inaccessa (be an inaccessible rock) and appears on the town’s Coat of Arms. 

Carved stone. Tower of three stories in centre, flanked by lion each side on hind legs in rampant position.
Detail of Dunfermline Crest from City Chambers building.

But back to Malcolm, whose father  was immortalised some 500 years later when he was cast as a central character in William Shakespeare’s famous ‘Scottish Play’, MacBeth.  In the play, the man depicted as being murdered by MacBeth in his attempts to gain the crown is Malcolm’s father, King Duncan I. 

Away from the play, in the real world, fact is almost as exciting as the fiction. King Duncan I was only 39 years old when killed by Macbeth’s men in battle. Malcolm was young and was sent away for safety, possibly to Edward the Confessor’s court in England. Malcolm returned to Scotland, aged 26, and is credited with killing Macbeth in 1057 and also MacBeth’s successor, his stepson King Lulach, in 1058. Malcolm was crowned at Scone in 1058 as ‘King of Scots’ and reigned for 35 years until he was slain at the Battle of Alnwick in 1093. His family dynasty continued for another 250 years.

Malcolm III, King of Scots 1034 – 1093
Malcolm III of Scotland