THEY were once the rulers of the land, masters of all they surveyed.

As members of Scotland’s royal family at the dawn of the Middle Ages, their place in history was assured.

Centuries later, they lie in unmarked graves – an unfitting end to lives less ordinary.

Now a campaign has been launched to immortalise the “forgotten” Scottish kings at Dunfermline Abbey.

Although a number of royals with links to the Scottish throne are interred at the historic site, only the tomb of Robert The Bruce has identifying features.

Historian Sheila Pitcairn is leading calls to make sure the final resting places of the forgotten royals are properly marked.

Thousands of people around the world have signed an online petition launched by Mrs Pitcairn, who believes that erecting memorials to six kings, two queens and three princes who rest within the nave at Dunfermline Abbey would provide a significant boost to Scottish tourism.

She said: “The fact so many members of Scotland’s royal family lie in unmarked graves is a national disgrace.

“We know where these kings, queens and princes are buried but there is nothing there to tell people about them or the role they played in Scottish history. They are our forgotten royals.

“There was so much pomp and ceremony surrounding the discovery of King Richard III’s remains beneath a car park in Leicester but we are ignoring the history that is right here on our own doorstep.

“By doing more to highlight this royal burial ground in Dunfermline we could bring many more visitors to the area.”

Iona Abbey was the resting place for many early Scottish kings, but a number of royal interments took place in the nave at Dunfermline Abbey in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Six kings – Malcolm III, Duncan II, Edgar, Alexander I, David I and Malcolm IV – are buried there, as well as two queens – Margaret and Sybilla. It is also the final resting place of three Scots princes – Edward, Ethelrade and Edmund.

Mrs Pitcairn, who leads guided tours in Dunfermline, said: “People across Europe and from as far away as Canada and America have signed my petition. A lot of people feel very strongly that these graves should be properly marked.

“The kings, queens and princes who are buried at Dunfermline are an important part of Scottish history but very few people know anything about them. That has to change.”

Mrs Pitcairn, 82, has held discussions with Historic Environment Scotland, the public body set up to care for and promote the nation’s historic environment, in the hope it will provide funds to make the royal burial ground more tourist-friendly.

She has also been in contact with officials at Dunfermline Abbey and is planning to take her petition to the Scottish Parliament in n attempt to gain further support.

Ken Richards, joint session clerk at the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, said he would support improvements to the royal burial ground.

He added: “The tomb of Robert the Bruce and the stained glass windows we have here are already very popular with tourists but we would be delighted to welcome even more visitors.

“Efforts to highlight the other royal graves would undoubtedly be a boost for tourism.”