relaxing rural scenery of North East Fife provides variety from
the historic splendour of St.Andrews and the picturesque harbours
of the East Neuk of Fife. A Royal Palace in Falkland, a Folk
Museum in Ceres, a National Trust Mansion House near Cupar and
and Ceres Area
flourished as the County Town of Fife up to 1975, when local
government reorganisation took place and today it has local
offices as part of Fife County. The town of Cupar is one of
the oldest burghs in Scotland and although the earliest known
charter dates back to 1382, it was certainly a prominent burgh
long before then. Cupar has always benefited from its central
location in the Howe of Fife as the converging roads from Falkland,
St.Andrews, Dundee and Edinburgh made Cupar the natural place
for the Thanes of Fife to build their castles over one thousand
years ago. Records date back to 1239 confirming Cupar as the
Seat of Justice and the early Sheriff Courts were held on the
Moat Hill.This connection with the law give rise to the old
proverb 'He that will to Cupar maun to Cupar'. The old Parish
Church in the Kirkgate was originally built in 1415 and only
the tower and spire retained when it was rebuilt in 1785. In
the Parish grave yard lie the heads of two Covenenters and a
hand of the infamous Hackston of Rathillet. In 1679 when the
Archbishop James Sharp was dragged from his coach on Magus Muir
and murdered by the Covenanters, Hackston of Rathillet sat impassively
on his horse watching the gory proceedings. For his involvement
in this murder he was cruelly executed in Edinburgh in 1680.
Cupar any hangings would normally take place at the Fluthers,
and the last public hanging was held on the 5th July 1852. Religious
strife has often played a major role in Scottish history and at
the time of the Reformation two opposing armies faced each other
on Cupar Muir. The army of the Lords of the Congregation who supported
John Knox and the Reformers gathered to challenge the Queen Regent's
army who were intending to march on to St.Andrews. The challenge
proved effective and a treaty was signed on the nearby Hill of
Tarvit. The Mercat Cross once stood on this hill but it was returned
to its proper place outside the Town Hall to mark Queen Victoria's
Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in 1897.
the north of Cupar a 95ft high column known as the Mount, commemorates
Sir John Hope of Rankeilour, the 4th Earl of Hopetoun. The Mount
was also the birthplace of the famous David Lyndsay who served
at the courts of James IV and James V. He is best known for his
satirical play 'The Three Estates' which was first acted in Cupar
in June 1535. In the build up to the Reformation the play was
well received as it poked ridicule at the role of the Church.
Cupar was naturally the centre for many industries which benfited
in the late 1880s from the rail link between Dundee and Edinburgh.
1926 Scotland's only sugar beet factory was built outside Cupar.
It closed down in the 1970s and the agricultural market near the
station closed in early 1994 thus ending Cupar's role as the main
market town in Fife stretching back at least seven hundred years.
Even though the importance of Cupar has diminished in recent years
the town still offers many excellent leisure facilities including,
golf, rugby, cricket, football, swimming, tennis,and bowls for
locals and visitors. Scotstarvit Tower stands high high above
the Howe of Fife commanding an excellent view to the Lomond Hills.
This 16th century keep was bought in 1611 by Sir John Scott of
Scotstarvit who was acknowledged as a great expert in cartography.
In 1654 he published the first maps of all the counties and islands
of Scotland. The tower was abandoned in 1696 and was eventually
owned by the Wemyss family who owned Wemyss Hall- now named the
Hill of Tarvit Mansion House. The original 17th century Wemyss
Hall was designed by architect Sir William Bruc. In 1906 the wealthy
Dundee jute owner Frederick Bower Sharp commissioned archiect
Sir Robert Lorimer to redesign the house for his private collection
of European paintings, Flemish tapestries, Chinese porcelains
and French and Regency furniture. Lorimer also designed the layout
of the gardens, with a walled garden to the north and terraces
falling away to the south.
1949 the Hill of Tarvit Mansion House was bequeathed to the
National Trust for Scotland who continue to welcome the public
to view this impressive art and antique collection. North East
Fife is mainly an agricultural area and the Fife Folk Museum
at CERES has an excellent collection of old farming implements,
tools and costumes which are a record of the way of life, in
days gone by. The Museum is located in the 17th century Weigh
House and adjacent cottages which stand beside the humped back
stone bridge that Archbishop James Sharp crossed on his last
journey to Magus Muir in 1679. The village green is an attractive
setting for the annual Highland Games which are the oldest free
games in Scotland. The memorial by the bridge commemorates the
men of Ceres who marched to Bannockburn to support Robert the
Bruce in his battle with King Edward's army in 1314.
Places to Visit
of Tarvit Mansion House
The mansion house is reached off the A916 road near Ceres. The
house originally was built on the site known as Wemysshall and
this was remodelled in 1906 by one of Scotland's greatest architects,
Sir Robert Lorimer. Splendid furnishings and fittings as well
as lovely gardens and grounds
An L-shaped, 5 storey building built between 1550 and 1579.
In 1611, it was acquired by Sir John Scott- scholar, author,
geographer and map maker- whose book "The Staggering State
of Scot's Statesmen" accused many well-known Scottish politicians
of fraud and trickery. The keys for the tower are available
from Hill of Tarvit Mansion House nearby.
The Museum is situated in and around the 17th century Tolbooth-
Weigh House of Ceres, a charming and picturesque village a few
miles south-east of Cupar. The collection illustrates the domestic,
economic and social life of bygone days in Fife with special
emphasis on agriculture and its ancillary trades.
In the main centre of the village of Ceres sits 'The Provost',
a three foot high stone-carved figure set in a twelve-foot pillared
structure. Discovered overgrown and forgotten in the grounds
of a nearby house, this little stone gentleman (said to have
been sculpted in the 17th century to represent a former church
provost) resumed a position of importance in village life in
Situated in the village of Ceres the Pottery specialises in
the style of the traditional Wemyss Ware and is noted for the
quality of the painting and the beauty of the colours.
Den and Kemback
Like a small Highland Glen set in the heart of Fife's peaceful
scenery, Dura Den, a few miles east of Ceres, runs dramatically
through a narrow cleft of countryside bounded by wooded hillside
and curiously moulded sandstone cliffs. Adding to the scenic
interest is a tributary of the River Eden- the Ceres Burn- which
accompanies the road through its winding passage.
At the head of the Crossgate in Cupar stands the monument which
symbolises the ancient right of the Burgh community, reaffirmed
by grant of King Robert 1 in 1327, to hold a market for the
surrounding area. A Royal Burgh for at least six centuries,
Cupar was the former county town of Fife and is still the local
administrative centre of the area. Because of the Tolbooth and
the Law courts of former years it used to be said that, "He
that will to Cupar maun to Cupar" .That is if anyone was
going to Cupar it was because they had been summoned by Law.
It is now a busy shopping and social centre with many active
clubs in the town.
Original building erected in 1415 with changes in 1620. The
old kirkyard contains the Martyr's Tomb in memory of the covenanters
executed in 1680.
Situated in Duffus Park, Cupar. The gardens are designed for
use principally by the disabled. Raised beds at different levels
are blended in with rock gardens, waterfalls sheltered seating
and an aviary.
On Mount Hill, about 3 miles north of Cupar, is the conspicuous
100 ft. column erected in 1824 to the memory of Sir John Hope,
the famous soldier who fought in the battle of Corunna.
At the top of the hill near the Cupar railway station is the
imposing statue of David Maitland Makgill Crichton. Born in
1881 he was a famous free Church man and a radical politician.
When the Edinburgh and Northern Railway company only planned
a level crossing for the use of townfolk, he fought for a safer
more convenient bridge.
Church and Bridge
Lying just south of the neat and tidy village of Dairsie is
the old Dairsie Church, the exterior of which remains much as
it was when first built by Archbishop John Spottiswoode in 1621.
Adjacent to the church is the renovated Dairsie Castle now privately
restored. Below the church is the narrow triple-arched Dairsie
Bridge under which flows the River Eden on its way towards its
estuary at Guardbridge. Around 460 years old, this quaint stone-built
bridge carries the crest of the man who ordered its building
, Archbishop James Beaton.
Completed in 1839, Collesie Church is a T-shaped turreted building
overlooking the fertile Howe of Fife, a favourite area of King
James V who often wandered around this district in disguise,
partly in order to find out what his subjects really thought
Royal Palace of Falkland
Towering high in the heart of Falkland and providing a magnificent
centre-piece to this old-worlde village, stands the remarkable
and impressive Royal Palace of Falkland, a country residence
in the 16th and 17th century of the Stuart Kings and Queens.
The Palace was built between 1501 and 1541 by James IV and James
V and has many magnificent features. The lovely Gardens contain
the original Royal Tennis Court built in 1539.
Strathmiglo was an important religious centre in the days of
the Celtic Church and it became a Burgh of Barony in 1605. Standing
prominently in the village is Tolbooth Steeple which was erected
in 1734 and which bears a distinct resemblance to the Tower
House and spire in nearby Auchtermuchty. The handsome, 70ft.
steeple was built in five stages and a sundial and armorial
panel can be seen on the second stage. It is topped by an octagonal
On the main street in the town of Newburgh situated on the banks
of the River Tay. Has a varied temporary exhibition programme
and a historical reference library. Recent exhibitions include
"The Picts in Fife". Discovering the pictish sites
in the ancient Kingdom of Fife..
Ruins of Abbey of what was once an impressive building on the
outskirts of Newburgh, founded in 1178 for the monks of the
On the west side of Lindores Loch sits the very old small picturesque
church of Abdie with interesting stones and setting.
The gentle Lomond Hills, the highest of which - West Lomond
stands at 1713 ft. are very dear to the people of Fife. The
area offers lovely walks, picnic area and marvellous views.
Hang gliders can be seen on warm summer days catching the thermals.
Loch Nature Reserve
Off the B937Ladybank road near Collessie. A wetland made up
of open water and a large marsh with easy flat walks. Birnie
Loch is good for many species of ducks while nearby Gaddon loch
is more open quieter and excels in wading birds.
2 miles west of Cupar on the A91. Incorporating the Scottish
Deer Centre with, deer herds, ranger led tours, falconry displays