There's so much to discover in Fife and our friends at Historic Environment Scotland have shared some of their recommendations with us.
We know it feels like a long time since we were able to go out and explore Fife’s fantastic historic sites. As some of the doors to the kingdom’s finest heritage sites reopen, come and join Historic Scotland to hear five fascinating stories from abbeys, castles and towers in Fife.
Starting in West Fife and not far from Dunfermline, the romantic looking Culross Abbey allegedly bears an exciting secret. It is said to have an undisclosed tunnel with a man in a golden chair waiting at its end with treasure for anyone who finds him. While we can’t vouch for this legend to be true, we do know that the abbey produced literary treasures in the past. The Cistercian monks at the abbey made fine books and helped stock the library at Stirling Castle’s Chapel Royal.
Did you know that one of Scotland’s oldest castles can be found in Fife? Parts of Aberdour Castle date from the later 12th century Although known for its beauty and tranquillity, the castle was home to and visited by some prestigious figures from history. In 1304, Aberdour was visited by King Edward I of England, who was in Fife on a military campaign against the Scots. After the English were driven out in the Wars of Independence, the castle was acquired by Sir Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. The nephew of King Robert the Bruce served as one of his most successful generals, famed for his role at Bannockburn and for feats such as the storming of Edinburgh Castle.
Fans of Outlander might also recognise the castle as the Benedictine monastery used in the first season of the series.
The idyllic Scotstarvit Tower close to Cupar looks like your average tower house on first sight. But it’s eccentric resident, Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit made some unusual changes to the tower when he remodelled it to its current form. The absence of a kitchen and other quirky features of interior design raise doubts as to whether the Edinburgh lawyer ever made the tower his home, or simply used it to indulge his somewhat unusual outlook on contemporary life. In his time the house was said to have become ‘a kind of college’ for men of learning.
Scotstarvit Tower will re-open for visitors in 2021.
This mighty castle might have slipped your radar, but is well worth a visit! Situated on the Fife Coastal Path just outside Kirkcaldy, Ravenscraig Castle offers impressive sights.
It was built by King James II in 1460 as a residence for his wife Mary of Gueldres. The king died only months later, killed by his own guns at the siege of Roxburgh. Mary continued with the build of the castle. It is unlikely that she lived in the castle before her own death in 1463. It was later granted to the Sinclair family by James III and they finished the building. The design changed to reflect the growing threat of gun-powdered artillery and turned it into the castle you can visit today.
Located on an island in the Firth of Forth, Inchcolm Abbey was home to Augustinian canons for several centuries. But the island, which is known as the ‘Iona of the East’, was also a refuge for many. A hermit is said to have made his home here in the 10th century and the Scottish King
Alexander I sheltered here from a storm in 1123. He resolved to build a monastery in thanks for his life being saved. It was his brother David I who fulfilled his vision after Alexander’s death. He invited Augustinian canons to establish the island priory.
Please note that Aberdour Castle and Inchcolm Abbey are set to re-open between late August and September. Scotstarvit Tower will re-open for visitors in 2021.
For more castle knowledge and fantastic images from Fife and the rest of Scotland, follow Historic Scotland on Facebook and Instagram and @welovehistory on Twitter.