(SFX modern High Street mixes to SFX of medieval market)
Fiona: Not so fast. The City Chambers is just the start of Dunfermline’s High Street which, even now still looks a little bit like a real medieval high street, with the wynds or closes allowing exit to the upper or lower streets – and if it’s bin day, smells a bit medieval too. And this high street possibly has Margaret to thank for it being here at all.
Let’s continue the walk to the east end of the High Street for a little more of Margaret’s story, bringing it up to today. We will go up the hill and cross one street – New Row – then there are some benches to hear the finale.
It’ll take us about 10 minutes to walk to the benches on East Port.
Thomas: I suppose, with her liking for the latest fashions, she was always up and down here, trying on the latest peacock feathers from Agnes’s Accessories or whatever was the in thing at the time.
Fiona: Okay, okay, it wasn’t exactly like that. Dunfermline was just starting as a town when Margaret was here and it’s hard to say exactly how it looked back then because there aren’t any documents to show us. But we do know that Margaret is important because it was she who encouraged the traders to come and sell their fine fabrics and furs and help make the town become a place for commerce. And from there it grew and grew.
Thomas: It does still have a look of grandeur; I’ll give you that. It’s really interesting to be able to look down the side lanes all the way out of the city and beyond.
Fiona: Yes, and it reminds us why this was such a good location for traders. The Firth of Forth is right there, allowing them to bring their goods by boat almost straight into the town. Some of the buildings along here show how important trade has been ever since. Many seem to have been built in very prosperous times. For example, there’s the old linen exchange up on the right and opposite that is something else worth spotting, the Mercat Cross. It’s a stone column topped with the unicorn which is one of Scotland’s national animals, and in earlier times, this signified a town’s right to trade.
As we reach the street to cross, take a look down New Row to the right and you can see those magnificent bridges again.
Here is where we cross the road and at the end of the next row of shops we will find two benches.
Thomas: It’s certainly a place of pilgrimage for shoppers but it’s a shame there’s not much left for Margaret’s pilgrims today.
Fiona: There is something here actually. We’re going to look out for a small park area squeezed in between two roads and we will take a final seat.
You might be interested to know that the fine building a little further on, is our own Carnegie Hall. Not quite on the scale of New York’s but we’re proud of it. Round the corner, on our left you opposite Carnegie Hall, you will find a red brick building, St Margaret’s Roman Catholic Memorial Church in fact.