Abbots House

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 09040 87370, map




Abbots House has a long and interesting history. It is situated close to Dunfermline Abbey and partly built on the original perimeter wall of the abbey. It originally served as a residence for the Abbey and its administrative headquarters. The current building dates to the late 16th century, although parts of earlier structures were incorporated. Abbots House was originally a long rectangular building of three stories. It was built with substantial sandstone blocks and has dormer windows in its slate roof. In the 19th century it was divided into a number of tenement apartments and has been altered significantly on the inside during its long history. It survived the so-called Great Fire of Dunfermline in 1624 (one of few buildings in the area to do so) and archaeological excavations have revealed earlier medieval road surfaces and later industrial activity in some of the rooms.

Since 1995 the Abbot House has been a heritage centre illustrating the history of the building, Abbey and town from the 11th to 20th centuries. Extensive archaeological excavations and architectural assesments were carried out in the early 1990s when the Abbots House was restored and converted to the visitor centre and cafe. Later alterations and plaster walls were stripped back to reveal the original masonry and wooden beams. This showed a complex history, dating to at least the 15th century, and it would appear the earliest phase of the Abbots House incorporated a medieval domestic Z-plan tower house.

The visitor centre and museum has a cafe and shop and was a popular place in the town. However, it closed down in 2016 and concerns have been raised about its long-term furure. Recent developments and a new voluntary group to run the centre has given hope that it can be re-opened later in 2017.

J Dowling 2017

Description (exterior)

Description (interior)


  • Abbot's house: Build/construction (15C0)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4581