City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Ten Thousand Candles To Light Medieval Abbey

By edg - Posted on 04 November 2008

The Pilgrim light and sound installation at Dunfermline Abbey

The 11th century Dunfermline Abbey in nearby Fife is to be transformed with spectacular lights and sounds as the Historic Scotland property is lit up with around 10,000 artificial candles.

‘The Pilgrim' will give the public the chance to take part in a dramatic walk on the 6 and 7 November, 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.

"One of the main aims of the project was to get this ancient building recognised in a different way," said Clara Wheelan, events and filming officer at Historic Scotland. "The site has an extraordinary history because of its status and setting and the fact that its the shrine of Scotland's only saint."

The Abbey Church is
also the last resting place of many Scottish kings and queens, as well as still being a functioning church where
services are conducted.

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

"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," said Fitzpatrick.

"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 one from the start. We worked out the area of floor space and I had done a rough calculation and discovered it would take ten people an hour and a half to set out all the candles. It's been a lot of work and I'm looking forward to seeing reactions to this artistic piece," he said.

"Winter is the ideal time of year for a light and sound show, it's 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. It's an iconic idea, and one which stands out."

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