Benches at Carnegie Gates

Pathway with multiple wooden benches on either side. Four people on the path and heading towards statue at end of path with large metal cast of male standing atop stone plinth.

Fiona: Good guess, but not this time.  See the big statue we just walked past?  Any idea who it is?  

Thomas: Well it’s a man for a start.  Doesn’t look medieval at all, so it’s definitely not Margaret and probably not Malcolm.  Too modern for St Andrew. By process of elimination, I’m going to have to go with Andrew Carnegie.  You told me earlier he was Dunfermline’s most famous son.  

Fiona: You are paying attention!  And these impressive gates are worth mentioning because they were built in 1929 as a memorial to his widow, Louise.  You can read more on a sign near the entrance.  She was still alive at the time and they were a thank you for all the generous things she had done for the town.  

Fiona: Anyway, back to Margaret and her miracles.  The miracle that was supposed to have happened during her lifetime is to do with one of her precious books.  She owned a small but beautifully illustrated collection of the Four Gospels, exquisitely hand painted by highly skilled monks, in gold, silver and coloured inks.  It seems that because it was small, it was probably designed to be carried around rather than kept in the church. One day, so the story goes, she was crossing a ford in the river with her servants and it gets dropped into the water, though no-one notices.  When she asks for it later, and they realise it’s lost, everyone starts looking and eventually they find it in the river.  

Thomas: It must have been completely ruined!

Fiona: That’s just it, that’s the miracle.  it came out completely unharmed.  

(SFX mild commotion indicating the panicked search and of water/river)

Queen Margaret: My precious, precious book, it was lost. I was distraught and sent everyone to try and find it. No-one had any idea where it could be.  Then suddenly, someone shouts that it’s been found in the river. In the river? It will be ruined, useless…. But the strangest thing happened. They brought it to me and it was as if it had never left my hand.  It must have been the work of God and now, of course, all this has made it even more precious to me than ever.

Fiona: There is another twist.  We know that story because it was written down by Bishop Turgot, but the book itself seemed to disappear from history and now we have to jump forward 600 years or so. Have you heard of the Bodleian Library in Oxford?  Well, it’s got quite a collection of ancient artefacts, one of them having been bought from a bookseller in the 1880s. The experts examined it closely and decided it was a precious volume from medieval times.  

They also found that a poem had been written on a new page and stuck inside, telling a story of it having been dropped in a river and then found unharmed.  On hearing this, an academic at the library thought it sounded very similar to the story written by Turgot. When the scholar checked it out, she realised it must have been that very same book belonging to Queen Margaret, or Saint Margaret as she was by the 1880s.  What it must have felt like, discovering that?

Thomas: Wow, that’s incredible.  Is it back in Dunfermline now?  

Fiona: I’m sorry to say it’s not. But you can still visit the Bodleian Library in Oxford to see it, or find it on their website, if you like. Here’s the link.

Look at St Margaret’s Four Gospels book at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford.

Thomas: I’m going to take a look later.  

Thomas: Well, if I can’t see the book here, what else can you take me to see?