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Howe of Fife Areas

The Lomond Hills with their spectacular views over the surrounding countryside provide the wonderful backdrop for the rich agricultural land of the valley of the River Eden, known as the Howe of Fife. The area situated to the north of the Lomond Hills and stretching as far as Gateside to the west and the old picturesque village of Ceres, home of the oldest Highland Games in the world, to the east. The northern borders of the Howe meet with Newport and Tayport, scattered with other small, pretty villages, such as Strathmiglo, Letham and Collessie. The old county town of Cupar was the seat of justice and government for the whole of Fife from the 13th Century until the establishment of Fife Regional Council in 1975. Two miles south is the Hill of Tarvit, a glorious Mansion House now in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland. Nestling in delightful gardens, the Royal Palace of Falkland was once the country residence of the Stuart kings and queens as they hunted deer and wild boar in the forests of Fife. Built between 1501 and 1541 by James V, the palace has some of the most exceptional architecture of its time in Britain. The surrounding village of Falkland is one of the most picturesque and idyllic parts of Fife.

The following paragraphs give a brief description of the villages and hamlets that make up The Howe Of Fife.


Abdie Parish:

A parish in NW Fife which stretches from Newburgh on the Firth of Tay to the Loch of Lindores. It includes the village of Lindores and the hamlet of Grange of Lindores, and in its churchyard near Grange of Lindores is a 7th-century Pictish symbol stone. Buried in the same churchyard are John Bethune (d.1839) and his brother Alexander (d.1843), who are remembered as local poets. There is also a monument to Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland (1777-1839), captain of the British warship HMS Bellerophon which took the defeated Napoleon on board in 1815 prior to his exile in St Helena.


Auchtermuchty:

A burgh town in NE Fife at the junction of the A91 and A983 roads, 7 miles (11.2 km) west of Cupar; pop. (1991) 1,990. Originally named Uachdarmuc, meaning the 'high ground of the wild boar', its adjacent woods and swamps were the scene of royal boar hunts in ancient times.
The town was granted a royal charter in 1517 and in the 18th and 19th centuries it was a flourishing centre of weaving, bleaching, distilling, and sawmilling. Today its industries produce knitwear, furniture, postcards, structural steelwork, electrochemical sensors, electronic weighing equipment, crafts, and food products.
Amidst a townscape of red pantiles, crow-stepped gables, and the occasional thatched roof (originally using the rushes of Lindores Loch), fine buildings include Macduff House (1597), the Town House (1728), the Parish Church (1779-81), and the Boar's Head (a 19th-century coaching inn now called the Forest Hills Hotel).The old-world streets of Auchtermuchty featured in the TV series 'Dr Finlay's Casebook' and amongst the town's most famous sons are the accordionist and band leader Jimmy Shand and the internationally popular singing duo known as The Proclaimers.


Balmalcolm:

An 18th-century farming and weaving village in Kettle Parish, central Fife, situated on the A92 between Kettlebridge and Pitlessie. It is a centre of local farm produce.


Bow of Fife:

A hamlet with a red-spired church (1843) in the parish of Monimail, central Fife, situated 3 miles west of Cupar at a point where the estates of Melville, Over Rankeillour and Nether Rankeillour meet. It lies on a bend of the Daft Burn which flows southwards to meet the River Eden.


Ceres:

Once described as 'the most attractive village in Scotland', Ceres lies amidst fertile farmland in NE Fife, 3 miles (4.8 km) south-east of Cupar. Mentioned as early as the 12th century, it was created a burgh of barony in 1620 under the Hopes of Craighall, developing as a centre of farming, weaving, and brewing.
Unlike most Scottish villages its attractive pantiled cottages stand round a green which is the scene of annual games which are the oldest in Scotland. These games celebrate the return of the men of Ceres from the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.There is a Bannockburn Memorial by the village green and an old bridge over the Ceres Burn leads to the Fife Folk Museum which was opened in 1968 by the Central and North Fife Preservation Society. Built into a wall in the main street is the seated figure of the Rev. Thomas Buchanan, the last Church Provost in 1578.


Coaltown of Burnturk:

A hamlet in Kingskettle Parish, central Fife, situated in rolling hills 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the village of Kingskettle. Limestone is quarried nearby.


Collessie:

An attractive hamlet with narrow lanes situated on a minor road just north of the A91, 5 miles (8 km) west of Cupar in NE Fife. Overlooking the Howe of Fife, its ancient Parish Church (rebuilt 1838-39) stands on a hillock at the centre of a settlement containing several well-preserved 17th, 18th, and 19th century weaving cottages, some with thatched roofs. Designated a conservation area in 1986, it has a Primary School dating from 1846.


Craigrothrie:

A small village in E Fife, situated on the Craigrothrie Burn 4 miles (6 km) south of Cupar. The village was once a coaching stop on the route to Cupar and horses were changed at the nearby Chance Inn or 'Change Inn'. To the south is Struthers Castle which dates from the end of the 14th century. In 1663 the title of Lord Struthers was conferred on the first Earl of Lindsay by Charles I who later visited the Castle.


Cupar:

A burgh town in NE Fife, situated on the River Eden at the east end of the Howe of Fife 12 miles (19 km) west of St Andrews. The former county town of Fife and seat of the Sheriff of Fife, Cupar received its royal charter in 1328 along with the right to trade through a port near Guardbridge on the coast. The town subsequently developed as an administrative and agricultural market centre, functions that continued until 1975 when Glenrothes became the capital of Fife Region and 1994 when the local market was closed.
Its castle, the seat of the earls of Fife, was the scene in 1535 of the first performance of Ane Pleasant Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis by Sir David Lindsay, a courtier of James V born at the Mount to the north-west of Cupar. Historic buildings include Preston Lodge, the 17th-century town house of the Prestons of Airdrie; the 17th-century Chancellor's House which was the birthplace of John Campbell who became Lord Chancellor in 1859; the County Buildings (c.1812-17); the Corn Exchange; the Mercat Cross (1683); the Duncan Institute (1870); and the Old Parish Church (St Michael of Tarvit).
Between 1926 and the 1970s Scotland's only sugar beet factory operated outside Cupar. Today Cupar has newspaper, printing, grain milling, food processing, chemical, furniture and construction industries, some of which are located to the east of the town in the Prestonhall Industrial and Cupar Trading Estates. It is also the home of Elmwood College (horticulture and farming), and the Bell Baxter High School which evolved from the Madras Academy (founded in 1831 by Andrew Bell) and an educational institute 'for young ladies' (founded in 1871 by Lady Baxter of Kilmaron Castle to the north of Cupar). The town also has a sports centre, a 9-hole golf course and the Douglas Bader Garden for the disabled as well as angling, curling, football, rugby, cricket, tennis and bowling facilities.

 

Cupar Muir:
A village in the parish of Cupar, situated between Cupar and Springfield. It was once associated with the quarrying of stone and more famously with a confrontation in 1559 between the French troops of Mary of Guise (mother of Mary Queen of Scots) and the forces of the Protestant Lords of the Congregation. A truce that ultimately led to the withdrawal of the French was a turning point in the Reformation struggle.

Dairsie:
A linear village situated on the A91 3 miles (4 km) east of Cupar. Formerly known as Dairsiemuir or Osnaburgh (after a coarse German linen), its 18th-19th-century cottages were once occupied by linen weavers, many of whom came from Flanders. In addition to its weaving, Dairsie benefited from the development of the turnpike road in the early 19th century. The village has a modern primary school (1970) and the Dairsie Memorial Hall (1922). To the south, near the River Eden are St Marys Old Parish Church (1621), the restored late 16th-century Dairsie Castle and the massive triple-arched Dairsie Bridge (c.1530).

Den of Lindores:
A hamlet in Abdie Parish, at the junction of the A913 and B936 roads 2 miles (3 km) south-east of Newburgh. To the north-west stand the ruins of Denmylne Castle, a fortified house of the Balfour family and nearby are Lindores Loch and the old monastic farms of Grange of Lindores, Ormiston, Berryhill and Hilton.

Dunshalt:
A village in Auchtermuchty Parish, situated on the north bank of the River Eden on the B936 a mile south-east of Auchtermuchty. Sometimes known as Daneshalt or Dunshelt, it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries as a meal milling and textile manufacturing village on the Myers Estate. To the north-west stands Myers Castle which was restored in the 1960s. It was built by John Scrymgeour, Master of the Kings Works, who was employed in the construction of Falkland Palace to the south.

Falkland:
A royal burgh lying in the northern foothills of the Lomond Hills 8 miles north of Glenrothes. Situated in a strategic location on a north-south route that opens out into the valley of the River Eden, it was the site of a castle built by Macduff the Thane of Fife. The Stewarts purchased the property in the 14th century and in 1458 the town received its royal charter. Between 1501 and 1541 a palace was built by James IV and James V who came to hunt deer and wild boar in the surrounding forests. Adjacent to the palace is a garden within which there is a Royal Tennis Court, one of only two in the United Kingdom (the other being at Hampton Court). The palace still belongs to the Queen but has been maintained since 1952 by the National Trust for Scotland in its role as Deputy Keeper. Royal patronage was not sustained after the Union of the Crowns, although Charles II first constituted the Scots Guards here in 1650, but Falkland continued to prosper as a weaving town. In the early 1800s much of the town was improved by the Tyndall-Bruce family which inherited the Falkland Estate and in 1970 one of the first Conservation Area in Scotland was established in Falkland whose palace and houses are now a major tourist attraction. The former textile and linoleum industries no longer exist but paper bags are still made in Falkland. The burgh has a 9-hole golf course.

Freuchie:
The village is situated 2 miles (3 km) east of Falkland. There are many interesting 18th and 19th century buildings including a Victorian Linen Mill and a church built in 1875. It is said that French masons working on the construction of Falkland Palace lived here during the 16th century and that the village was a place of exile for disgraced courtiers, hence the old saying Awa tae Freuchie, whaur the Froggies live.

Gateside:
A village in Strathmiglo Parish 2 miles (3 km) west of Strathmiglo, situated on the north bank of the River Eden and straddling the A91 road to St Andrews. Once the site of the chapel of St Mary of Dungaitside which belonged to the monks of Balmerino Abbey, it comprises the old fermtoun village of Gateside, the hamlet of Edensbank, and a 19th-century roadside settlement formerly known as Edentown or Edenshead. During the 19th century the Gateside Mills produced wooden bobbins and shuttles for weaving factories. Today these mills produce clothing, furniture and turned wood components.

Giffordtown:

A 19th-century hamlet in Collessie Parish, situated to the north-west of Ladybank. It is also known as Gifferton.

Kettlebridge:
This village is situated to the south of the River Eden on the A92 midway between Glenrothes and Cupar. Formerly known as Holekettle, it developed after the building of the turnpike road c.1800 and the opening of the railway to Cupar in 1847. Its bridge was built in 1831. Kettlebridge and neighbouring Kingskettle were centres of the linen trade, while coal, lime and stone were worked nearby.

Kingskettle:
The village is situated to the south of the River Eden and west of the A92 between Glenrothes and Cupar. Known locally as Kettle (the name of the parish), it is said to take its name from the cathel or battle that took place here between Scots and Danes. The village developed in the 19th century with the creation of the turnpike road c.1800 and the opening of the railway to Cupar in 1847, linen weaving and the working of coal and lime being major sources of employment.

Ladybank:
A railway town to the north of the River Eden and south-west of Cupar. Ladybank developed during the latter half of the 19th century at a railway junction built on land drained during the 18th century and formerly known as the Moss of Monegae or Our Ladys Bog. Ladys Bog was changed to the more elegant Ladybank and the name Monkstown which is applied to the southern quarter of the town is the only part of the settlement that predates the building of the railway in the 1850s. It is a reminder of the days when the monks of Lindores Abbey used to cut peat here. The town was designated a burgh in 1878 and developed linen and maltings industries. Its railway station is reckoned to be the oldest unaltered station in Scotland. Ladybank has an 18-hole golf course and there are forest walks in the neighbouring Heatherhall Wood. Sand and gravel are extracted at Melville Gates.

Letham:
An attractive village in Monimail Parish 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Cupar. The heart of the old village is approached by a row of 18th and 19th century cottages. Sand and gravel are extracted from the nearby Mountcastle Quarry.

Newburgh:
The town is situated on the River Tay. Under the patronage of the Abbey of Lindores, whose ruins stand to the east, Newburgh was created a burgh of barony by Alexander III. It was confirmed as a royal burgh in 1631 and developed as a port and market town for the surrounding area. During the 18th century the town was one of the two main ports in Fife handling flax and in the19th century the town prospered as a centre of salmon fishing and linen, jute and linoleum manufactures. Today, industry includes civil engineering, the manufacture of clothing and the extraction of aggregates at the nearby Clatchard Quarry. There is a small industrial estate to the east of the village. The Laing Museum, first opened in 1896, was gifted to the town by Alexander Laing (1808-1892) who had made a collection of local and foreign antiquities. Designated a conservation area in 1969, Newburgh has a bowling club and a sailing club.

Newton of Falkland:
A village in between Falkland and Freuchie. The disused Bonthrone Maltings date from the 19th century.

Pitlessie:
A village situated on the River Eden 4 miles (6 km) south-west of Cupar. It is the only village in the parish of Cults and largely developed during the 19th century in association with the Priestfield Maltings and nearby lime works. Its former cattle fair was the scene depicted in a famous painting by Sir David Wilkie who was born at Cults manse in November 1785 and went to school in Pitlessie.

Pitscottie:
A village in Ceres Parish, situated on the Ceres Burn at a road junction to the south of Dura Den and 3 miles (5 km) south-east of Cupar. It was the home of Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie who wrote the first vernacular prose history of Scotland entitled the Historie and Cronicles of Scotland, 1436-1565. The nearby Pitscottie Moor was a favourite meeting place of Covenanters during the late 17th century and during the 1820s the village became a centre of flax spinning. There is an 18th-century bridge over the Ceres Burn.

Rathillet:
A small village in Kilmany Parish, situated on the A914 3 miles (5 km) north of Cupar. Kilmany Parish Hall is located here. In medieval times the lands of Rathillet supported the Dominican priory in Cupar and in 1679 one of its inhabitants, David Hackston, was one of the Covenanting murderers of Archbishop James Sharp. To the north lies the beautifully landscaped Mountquhanie Estate, once the property of the earls of Fife.

Springfield:
The village is situated to the north of the River Eden 3 miles (5 km) south-west of Cupar. Said to take its name from the numerous springs that fed into a small lake that once existed at nearby Stratheden, Springfield originally grew up around a corn mill on the River Eden. The village developed after the arrival of the railway in 1847 and became a prosperous industrial centre at various times producing bricks, tiles and textiles. To the north lies Stratheden Hospital (1850).

Strathmiglo:
A town at the western end of the Howe of Fife, situated on the River Eden just south of the A91 to St Andrews. A medieval burgh of barony with districts once owned by the church and the Knights Templar, its merchants once supplied nearby Falkland Palace with goods and services. During the 18th and 19th centuries the town developed as a textile centre but also became famous for its Fife Boots first manufactured by A.T. Hogg (1858-1927). Strathmiglo High Street is dominated by the Tolbooth with its open forestair and octagonal spire, and outside the parish church stands a Pictish symbol stone dating from c.700 AD.