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Tripping the light fantastic at Dunfermline Abbey

3 November 2008

10,000 candles and hours of preparation to set up artistic sound and light installation.

Hours of preparation, hard work and imagination have gone into one of the biggest light and sound events Fife has ever seen.

On the 6 and 7 November, Dunfermline Abbey is to be transformed with spectacular lights and sounds as the Historic Scotland property is lit up with around 10,000 artificial candles.

Billed as ‘The Pilgrim’ it will give the public the chance to take part in a dramatic walk which will start at Abbot House and continue through the graveyard, visitors will then be able to experience the artistic light and sound installation before ending in the Abbey Nave where thousands of candles have been placed.

Clara Wheelan, events and filming officer at Historic Scotland, said:

“Historic Scotland has been working with artist, Tim Fitzpatrick for a while now and The Pilgrim really is something quite special. We have put a lot of effort and hard work into making this artistic piece a reality. One of the main aims of the project was to get this ancient building recognised in a different way.

“The events team at Historic Scotland have been working with a host of colleagues from our regional architects to our monument conservation unit on how to make an event like this happen in an historic building. And of course, some of us mucked in and helped lay out the thousands of candles.

“With its splendour and history, Historic Scotland’s Dunfermline Abbey provides the perfect backdrop for this artistic event. The site has an extraordinary history because of its status and setting and the fact that its the shrine of Scotland’s only saint. This event will give locals the chance to see the Abbey as they have never seen it before and be truly inspired.”

Tim Fitzpatrick, the artist behind The Pilgrim, choose Dunfermline Abbey because of its beautiful setting and its links with pilgrims. He said:

“Dunfermline Abbey seemed like the ideal place for this project. The Abbey itself is a key site for pilgrimage. It’s a stunning property and is very atmospheric and makes a lot of sense in a historical context. For me, the chance to create ideas in light and sound in one of the most inspirational locations in Scotland is exciting and daunting in fairly equal measure.

“Ultimately the intention was to take the whole idea of pilgrimage and try to distil it down to a single, universal idea and I would sum this up simply as a journey to a place of inspiration.”

The artistic piece took over a year to plan. From picking the ideal property to designing the show and of course setting out the thousands of artificial candles. A number of volunteers also made sure they were on hand to help out with the final preparations.

With a background in photography and filmmaking, The Pilgrim is one of the biggest projects the artist has worked on, he added:

“This project has been an ambitious from the start. We worked out the area of floor space and I had done a rough calculation and discovered it would take 10 people an hour and a half to set out all the candles. Its been a lot of work and I’m looking forward to seeing reactions to this artistic piece.

“Winter is the ideal time of year for a light and sound show, its something a bit different and an event to cheer people up as the cold weather sets in. I think people will really enjoy the sea of candles, its an iconic idea and one which stands out.”

Notes to Editors

  • Photographs and interviews with Tim Fitzpatrick and Clara Wheelan can be arranged in advance of the event.

  • The event is funded by Fife Council and the Art and Theatres Trust Fife, and produced in collaboration with Abbott House and Historic Scotland.

  • The light and sound event will be open to the public at Dunfermline Abbey on the 6 and 7 November. The entrance to the production will be at the gates to Abbot House on Maygate.

  • Tickets cost £4.00 (£2.00 for concessions) and are available from Carnegie Hall box office, East Port, Dunfermline. Tel: 01383 602302. Tickets are also available on-line at

  • The great abbey of Dunfermline was founded in the 11th century by Queen Margaret and the foundations of the original building lie under the stunning 12th century Romanesque style nave. The Abbey Church is the last resting place of many Scottish kings and queens. The adjoining church, at the front of Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, is not owned or operated by Historic Scotland. It is a functioning church where services are conducted.

  • Dunfermline Abbey and Palace is situated off the M90. The postcode is KY12 7PE Tel: 01383 739 026. Admission is Adult £3.70, Child £1.85 and Concessions £3.00.

  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys and Skara Brae. For further details visit:

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Laura Varney
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959 or 07769 630 763