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Dunfermline Heritage Project makes a strong start

The Dunfermline Heritage Partnership has made a strong start with their plans to use the town’s heritage to aid economic regeneration as well as delivering educational, social and environmental benefits.
Since Dunfermline secured funding of £288,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund Great Places Award in January 2018, significant progress has been made in setting up the three-year heritage project. In May 2018, the DHP recruited and appointed Grant Williams, Project Manager and Hayley Muir, Project Officer to deliver the programme of activities. Dunfermline was one of nine towns in Scotland to secure funding in the first year of the Great Places scheme.
One of the early achievements was being selected to host the first national meeting of all the nine awardees, who came from as far as the Western Isles and Galloway. In August 2018 all nine organisations gathered at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries to update the Heritage Lottery Fund on progress to date.
The early part of the project is focussed on helping local residents to spread the word about Dunfermline’s exceptional heritage. Grant Williams explains: “No one is a better advocate for a place than the people who live here. Many already know that the Dunfermline has good story to tell when it comes to history. Our job has been to collect the best stories so that it’s easier for local residents to to tell their friends, family and visitors.”
Grant said: “For tourists and visitors, there’s no more powerful recommendation than word of mouth by locals. As well as attracting more visitors and generating income for the local economy we hope that it builds local pride in the exceptional history of this town.”
“One of the first steps in the project was carrying out a Heritage Audit so that we have a full picture of all the historic assets in the town. The Outlaw King is helping to put the Robert the Bruce story on the international stage but there are many other highlights such as the big music stars who came to play here. This Heritage Audit was completed in summer 2018.”
The audit is now being distilled into a user-friendly Sense of Place Guide, where Dunfermline’s history is summarized into 6 themes: Auld Grey Toun, Andrew Carnegie, Music and Art, Pilgrimage, Royalty, and Industry. By separating the history and heritage of Dunfermline around 6 themes it enables people to easily share the town’s stories.  This Guide will help staff working in hotels, shops and restaurants tell their customers Dunfermline’s best stories, helping to make tourists understand what is unique about the town and make their visit more meaningful and enjoyable.
After creating this content, several initiatives were launched before the end of 2018 to help share the content with local residents. Curious Dunfermline walking tours sold out during the Outwith Festival in September 2018; an educators/teachers events ran at the Carnegie Birthplace Museum at the end of November; and a new website is being  developed.
Dunfermline storytelling was launched across primary schools in the area at the end of 2018 by storytelling duo Mac A Story. The first performance “Truth or Blethers” was held at Maclean Primary School on 9 November. 900 Primary school pupils will now be able to tell everyone the Dunfermline stories, as the programme rolls out to other schools throughout 2019.
Future plans include a series of heritage activities as part of wider events, such as heritage events in the Food and Craft Weekend and Outwith Festival. In 2020 a new heritage festival will help reach new, external audiences.
Partners on the DHP include Fife Council, Fife Cultural Trust, Dunfermline Carnegie Trust and Dunfermline Delivers, Visit Scotland, Welcome to Fife, the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, Historic Environment Scotland, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust (Fife Pilgrims Way) the Local Tourist Association (LTA) and St Margaret’s Church.
High res images at this link. Photos by Jim Payne