Dunfermline DFL EPS NT089874 1 394 90m
Dunfermelin 1128 David I Chrs. no. 33 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 1; David I grants to the church of the Holy Trinity of Dunfermline ‘Dunfermelin citra aquam in qua eadem ecclesia sita est’ (Dunfermline on this side of the water, where that same church is situated); see also DFL Introduction above]
ecclesi<a> Sancte Trinitatis Dunfermelitane 1128 David I Chrs. no. 33 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 1; see also DFL Introduction above.]
in burgo Dunfermelitan<o> 1128 David I Chrs. no. 33 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 1; see also DFL Introduction above.]
(abbot of) Dunfermelyn 1135 Dunf. Reg. no. 15
Dunfermelin 1150 David I Chrs. no. 172 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 2]
in burgo Dunfermelin 1150 David I Chrs. no. 172 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 2]
ecclesi<a> Sancte Trinitatis Dunfermelin’ 1150 David I Chrs. no. 172 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 2]
apud Dunfermelin 1150 David I Chrs. no. 171 [= Dunf. Reg. no. 3]
ecclesiam stellensem 1150 x 1170 Libellus de Admirandis Beati Cuthberti Virtutibus (Surtees Society 1 (1838), 217)
in ecclesia Dunfermelinensi 1165 x 1169 Dunf. Reg. no. 596 [o.c.]
(abbot of) Dunfermel’ 1170 x 1172 Dunf. Reg. no. 598 [o.c.]
Dunfermelis monachus 1202 x 1214 De Situ Albanie (Anderson 1980, 242) [14th c. copy; ‘Dunfermline monk’ or (less likely) ‘monk of Dunfermline’]
burgum de Dunfer’ 1234 Dunf. Reg. no. 272 [see also Dunf. Reg. Ct. Bk. 15; ex illa parte aque in qua monasterium situm est (‘on the side of the water on which the monastery is situated’)]
(church of) Dunfermelin c.1250 St A. Lib. 32
l’abbey de Domfermelyn 1296 Stevenson, Documents ii, 30 [o.c.; ou touz lez plus des roys d’Escoce gisent (‘where almost all the kings of Scotland lie buried’)]
(abbot and convent of) Dunfermelyn’ 1359 Dunf. Reg. no. 389
Dunferlyng c.1375 Barbour’s Bruce, Book 16, ln. 558 [in Scots]
Dunferlyne c.1375 Barbour’s Bruce, Book 20, ln. 301 [in Scots]
(monastery of) Dunfermlyne 1450 RMS ii no. 320
(monastery of) Dunfermlyne 1451 RMS ii no. 429
Dunfermlyn 1471 x 1478 Wallace i, 11
(regality of) Dunfermlen 1531 Dunf. Reg. Ct. Bk. 41
administrator of Dunfermlen 1532 Dunf. Reg. Ct. Bk. 61
toune of Dunfermlyng 1532 Dunf. Reg. Ct. Bk. 62
Dunfarmling 1560 x 1565 RMS iv no. 1632
Dunfermelin 1654 Blaeu (Pont) West Fife
Dunferemlyin 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Dunfermline 1775 Ainslie/Fife
G dùn + ?
There is no doubt about the first element, which is G dùn ‘(fortified) hill’. The rest of the name is problematical.
As discussed above in DFL Introduction, there is some toponymic evidence, albeit late, that the second element was at some time a territorial name for this core area of Fothrif (west Fife), stretching from the Forth to the plain of Kinross. This name can be reconstructed as *ferm(e)lin or similar. In Ireland many territorial names contain the name of the kin-group or clan who at some time in the early medieval period held sway in that territory, with the name often outlasting any political reality. This must have also been the case in Scotland, but our dearth of records in contrast to the wealth of early medieval Irish material means that it is much more difficult to reconstruct early local political landscapes, and such dynastic names are almost impossible to identify. Many such names in Ireland begin with Irish (Gaelic) fir, the plural of fer (modern Gaelic fear) ‘man’, gen. pl. fer. There are for example the Fir Bile, Fir Chell, .Fir Lí and Fir Thelach, to mention but a few. It has to be admitted that what follows is highly speculative, but IF Dunfermline were formed with the G element fear, on analogy with these Irish examples, then, according to OIr grammar, the underlying Old Gaelic form might be *Dún nFer mB(e)lin, *Dún nFer Melin or similar. Great care has to be taken in the application of OIr to eastern Scottish place-names, since what looks on the surface like a Gaelic name can in fact be a Gaelic adaptation of an originally Pictish one. The more important a name, the higher the likelihood that we are dealing with an adaptation rather than a new coining. Applying the little that is known about Pictish, a Pictish form *Dunuerm(e)lin could be tentatively reconstructed. However, this does not affect the various interpretations offered here.
Another possible interpretation of the second element of Dunfermline is that it contains the names of two burns viz the water of Ferm and the Lyne Burn. This etymology is based on one occurrence in the medieval record, from the year 1455, of the modern Tower Burn as the water of Ferm commonly called the Tower Burn. This also represents the earliest record of the name ‘Tower Burn’. The burn is referred to, but not named, in 1128 (David I Chrs. no. 33). The eponymous tower is that known as Malcolm Canmore’s Tower, the remains of which are still visible on a rocky outcrop above its left or east bank, and almost completely surrounded by a loop, of the Tower Burn.
The Lyne Burn is first mentioned in 1526 as the burn commonly called the Lyn. It is alluded to twice in thirteenth-century charters, without being given a name (Dunf. Reg. nos. 213, 316). It was also known as the Spittal Burn, and in fact this name appears slightly earlier than the name Lyne, viz in 1520, as the burn of the Spittal (Spittail). The eponymous Spittal was the hospital or hospice of St Leonard, which lay on its south bank south-east of the burgh. Despite these two facts, the name ‘Lyne’ must be much older, and have been current in the thirteenth century, since it represents G linne, ‘pool, linn’.
There are problems with this etymology of ‘Dunfermline’. Firstly it is always assumed that the dùn of the name refers to the rocky outcrop, alluded to above as the site of Malcolm Canmore’s Tower. This is almost entirely surrounded by the Tower (or Ferm) Burn, and lies c.800 m from the present-day confluence of the Tower and Lyne Burns. Almost at the confluence, however, lies the large artificial mound, identified as a motte, now known as Perdius Mount. Could this have been the eponymous dùn of Dunfermline? (See discussion under Perdius below). However, the main problem is the structure of the name itself. Tripartite names in any of the languages of Fife are rare, and I know of no other place-name in Scotland which juxtaposes two water-course-names as a compound specific. An advantage of this etymology is that it accounts for the element ferm, although the problem remains as to what it might mean. But given its relatively late occurrence as the name of the Tower Burn, we must reckon with the possibility of its being a back-formation from the name Dunfermline itself. Given the late occurrence in the record of the Lyne Burn, we might even have to reckon with the possibility that it, too, is a back formation.
Note the two different Latin adjectives formed from this name in the twelfth century viz Dunfermelitanus (David I Chrs. no. 33) and Dunfermelinensis (Dunf. Reg. no. 596). The earliest forms of the name consistently show e between rm and l; this might be radical, or it might simply be explained as an epenthetic vowel, which regularly developed in this environment in the Gaelic-speaking period (O’Rahilly 1932, 200).
/dʌnˈfɛrmlɪn/ or /dʌnˈfɛrmlən/ or /dʌmˈfɛrmlən/, in Scots sometimes /dʌmˈfarlən/ or /dʌmfɛrlən/. The loss of m in the consonant cluster -rm- in the old
This place-name appeared in printed volume 1