Skip to content


Some historical background

King Malcolm III (1031-1093), Malcolm Canmore, the Malcolm in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, had two wives both born elsewhere in Europe. The first was Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, the niece of two kings of Norway, Olaf II and Harald Hardraade. After her first husband, Thorfinn Sigurdsson of Orkney, died she married Malcolm. Orkney was under Norwegian control at the time. There are no sights in Dunfermline today relating to Ingibiorg. After her death Malcolm married Margaret, born and brought up in Hungary. She became his Queen and had an enormous impact on Scottish religion and daily life and has left much to see in the town today.

Margaret was the daughter of Edward the Exile (1016-1057), briefly the uncrowned King of England driven out by Canute after the Danish conquest. He settled in Hungary and was married to Agatha, thought to be from eastern Europe. They had three children in Hungary, Margaret (in about 1045), her sister Cristina and brother Edgar Aetheling. The family moved to England in 1057, hoping that their father Edward could regain the English throne, but he died just days after arriving in London. Following the Norman Conquest Margaret, Cristina, Edgar and Agatha fled northwards from London to seek safety in Northumbria. Trying to sail to continental Europe from Northumbria a storm drove them into the Forth coming ashore at what came to be called St Margaret’s Hope between North Queensferry and Rosyth.

Margaret had an immense effect on both local and Scottish life. She civilised the brutal Malcolm and his court. She was deeply religious and very caring for the poor and the orphans of Dunfermline. She invited the Benedictine monks from Canterbury to establish an Abbey in Dunfermline but died before seeing it done.