Fiona: That’s a fair question. Let’s take a walk through this lovely park – given to the town, by the way, by Andrew Carnegie, Dunfermline’s most famous son – and I’ll tell you why I think this makes Margaret such a fascinating but curious woman. We’ll go down the steps on the far side, following the path and we’re turning right to go over the bridge and then first left to get beside the painted house, called Pittencrieff House by the way. Walk over the grass away from the house and we’ll see some benches. Don’t worry, when we get to the wide lawns, I’ll give you a bit of a rest as we look over the Pentland Hills.
Thomas: Lead the way.
Fiona: So, whilst Margaret’s doing all this glitz and glamour on the surface, in her private life she shows herself to be a real servant of the people.
Fiona: First of all, as the aristocrats around her are dining off golden platters and enjoying the medieval equivalent of champagne and caviar – mead and swans I suppose – it’s said that Margaret was living a much more austere life. She ate one meagre meal a day and before eating, she and the King would wash the feet of six poor people and give them alms or food. The stories go that every night she would get up at midnight to go to a church service, stay up all night to pray, then feed 9 orphans on her knee and from her own spoon. And at special times in the year, she would give food and drink to another 300 poor people.
Fiona: To me, it showed the most incredible compassion. On top of all that, she’s still getting stuck into sorting out the church, making sure people started to observe Sundays more respectfully and generally improving people’s spiritual lives as well. One of those things is still evident today and I bet you’ll be surprised you didn’t realise this before now.
Thomas: Not quite sure what you’re talking about. Until today, I didn’t know much about the medieval church in Scotland.
Fiona: You came into Dunfermline today from the south, on the train from Edinburgh, didn’t you? Over a pretty famous bridge?
Thomas: The Forth Bridge! Yes, it goes between North Queensferry and South Queensferry……. wait a minute, it’s dawning on me now. Is that what you mean?