Quick Links

Quick Links

Back to top

Dunfermline High School

Our History



Dunfermline High School is one of the few secondary schools in Scotland which can trace its history back to the Early Middle Ages. When David I, son of Queen Margaret and Malcolm Canmore, founded Dunfermline Abbey in the 1120s, he made provision for a monastic Grammar School to secure the education, in Latin, of future monks in the town. The School remained in the confines of the Abbey for several centuries.

In 1468 Abbot Richard de Bothwell established Dunfermline Grammar School in the town itself, close to the Post Office, a site it was to occupy for the next four centuries. One of the early ‘Masters’ was the poet, Robert Henryson. The coming of the Reformation in 1560 saw the destruction of the Abbey and the ending of schooling there.

When King James VI married Anne of Denmark in 1589, he gave her the Regality of Dunfermline, including the Abbey and the Grammar School as a wedding gift. In 1610 she endowed the School with £100 Scots per annum in perpetuity, to be paid to all Masters. (The money has since gone to fund ‘The Queen Anne Medal’ at the School’s annual awards ceremony).

The Great Fire of 1624 which destroyed many buildings in the town also claimed the School, but within a year a new building had been erected, again on the same site in the centre of town. In 1877 the Scottish Education Department listed it as a senior secondary school and it became known as Dunfermline High School.

In 1886 the High School eventually outgrew its 400-year-old site and moved to “commodious new premises” erected by public subscription in Priory Lane at a cost of £7,807 and under the control of the Burgh School Board. The old title of ‘Master’ was replaced by Rector. Despite the acquisition of buildings from the neighbouring Lauder Technical College, new premises were again sought and in June 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, the school moved to the site at St Leonard’s Place, but still in view of the Abbey whose rich history it shared for so long. The building cost over £50,000 to erect and was designed to accommodate 950 pupils and 43 staff.

Yet again, overcrowding occurred and extensions were built in 1959 and 1979 to cater not only for the post war ‘baby boom’ but also for a much more diversified curriculum. In the late sixties and early seventies the School, in line with national policies, changed its status from that of a selective secondary to that of a comprehensive, catering for all pupils from its immediate catchment area, plus Kincardine and parts of Rosyth.

By 2008 it was openly acknowledged that the buildings in St Leonard’s Place were no longer “fit for purpose” for education in the 21st Century and a “new build” was planned on the site of the school’s playing fields. The construction of a new £40 million school with “state of the art” facilities for 1800 pupils commenced in September 2010 and we moved into our superb new surroundings in summer 2012.

Dunfermline High School is justly proud of its past and it looks forward with confidence to the future.

The long chequered history of Dunfermline High School is reflected in the school badge. It also helps explain the origins of the names of our House system. The design of the badge is quite intricate and, indeed, has been registered with the Lord Lyon, King of Arms in Edinburgh.

our history.pdf