Iconic peacocks set for cermony to mark first ever Freedom of Dunfermline award

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Dunfermline’s iconic peacocks will be celebrated atb a public ceremony in the new year.

Earlier this year, Dunfermline Area Committee councillors - led by Councillor Derek Glen (SNP for Dunfermline Central) - unanimously agreed to put the city’s peacocks forward for the first ever Freedom of the City of Dunfermline award. On Thursday, the full council ratified the committee’s decision to honour the beloved birds.

“Not much needs to be said of the importance and significance to the people of Dunfermline of the peacocks - or perhaps more properly peafowl! - that live there,” said Cllr Glen. “As councillors we need to recognise and demonstrate the value of city status and this is one way we can get the ball rolling,” he previously stated.

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Provost Jim Leishman and City of Dunfermline Area Committee Convener, James Calder also welcomed the move on Thursday.

Dunfermline's iconic peacocks will be the stars of a ceremony to mark their Freedom of Dunfermline status (Pic: Fife Council)Dunfermline's iconic peacocks will be the stars of a ceremony to mark their Freedom of Dunfermline status (Pic: Fife Council)
Dunfermline's iconic peacocks will be the stars of a ceremony to mark their Freedom of Dunfermline status (Pic: Fife Council)

“Dunfermline’s peacocks are very important to the city. By awarding them freedom of the city we’re recognising their valuable contribution and encouraging their presence in and around the city,” they said.

Peacocks have been a part of Dunfermline’s heritage since 1905 when philanthropist Henry Beveridge returned to his hometown from India with the colourful birds in tow. The birds famously roamed the streets of Dunfermline in the past, but the population eventually dwindled to one bird until 2016 when a new sanctuary was opened as part of a wider million project to restore Pittencrieff Park. There are now 14 peafowl living at the sanctuary ranging from a few months to five years old - each with their own names and personalities. The city also has other peacock musters elsewhere, including Buffies Brae.

Cllr Glen said the symbolic importance of Dunfermline’s peacocks should not be underestimated - many children and families have grown up seeing the birds and have fond memories of them.

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They also bring a practical economic benefit to the city through tourism.

“Peacocks are not just of value to those who live here: their story goes far beyond our city. Their Facebook page has more than 8 million followers worldwide,” said Cllr Glen. “[Their] stories bring a practical economic benefit to the city, from increased tourism, but it also gives those who do visit us an easy way to share our story with others they then meet on their travels.”

Cllr Glen first nominated the Dunfermline’s peacocks for the award in September 2022 just after city status was announced.

“Since then it’s great to see that the idea has gained widespread public support, including from the Friends of Pittencrieff Park group; from our MP Douglas Chapman, and from our Provost, Cllr Jim Leishman who has been very supportive as well,” he said.

Council approval on Thursday was the final step in a lengthy process, but it will culminate with a public award ceremony which Cllr Glen said will likely take place in January.

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