Historical Fife: Walk in the Footsteps of Kings

Still known to this day as The Kingdom of Fife, there is much to be found amongst its rich heritage. From religion to regality, from fishing to golf, there is wide and varied culture ready to be discovered.

William Shakespeare based his character ‘Macbeth’ on Malcolm III, an 11th century Scots king, who later became known as ‘Canmore’, meaning ‘big head’, no one is entirely sure whether the nickname refers to his physical appearance or if it is a reference to his 35 year reign as king.

The monarchy was then based in Dunfermline, the ancient capital of Scotland. Dunfermline Abbey was the burial place for the kings and queens of Scotland. While Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried in Melrose, his body lies in part of the abbey where now sits Dunfermline Parish Church (also known as the abbey). To this day, parts of the ancient abbey remain, along with the ruins of the neighbouring palace.

Dunfermline is also the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, the world-renowned businessman and philanthropist, who emigrated as a child with his family and few possessions, to become the world’s richest man. The Carnegie Birthplace Museum tells his story.

Often dubbed the father of modern economics, Adam Smith was born in Kircaldy in the 18th century and it is the place where he wrote his book ‘The Wealth of Nations’. There has been a settlement in and around Kircaldy since the Bronze Age and the town’s significant moments have been captured in a museum display at Kircaldy Galleries.

The jewel in the Kingdom’s crown is widely considered to be St Andrews. This town, named after Scotland’s patron saint, is steeped in history with Scotland’s first university and its unique customs and traditions; the ruins of the 14th century abbey, once Scotland’s largest church, show how impressive it must have looked. It is worth climbing all 156 steps of neighbouring St Rule’s Tower to get an impressive view of the cathedral grounds and beyond.

View from St Rules Tower

On a cliff top at the north of the town, sits the ruins of St Andrew’s Castle. It is one of many landmarks and historic buildings to explore and lose yourself in the stories of days gone by. Why not investigate the town’s past as a centre of Scottish and global culture at both St Andrew’s Museum and the Museum of St Andrews University?

Away from castles and palaces, you can discover a different type of history in Fife, as St Andrews is the birthplace of golf. The game has been played on the Links at St Andrews since the early 1400s with the town being considered the ‘home of golf’ with great influence of how the sport has been shaped over the centuries into its modern day incarnation. The British Golf Museum is well worth a visit for enthusiasts, historians and aficionados of the sport.

The fishing village of Crail


Over the centuries a number of little fishing ports sprung up in the natural harbours of the East Neuk of Fife. Villages like Crail, Pittenweem and Anstruther, the largest of them, are testament to the heritage of the fishing industry in Scotland. The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther tells the story of Scotland’s fishing industry from its earliest times right up to the present day.

The Secret Bunker, Anstruther, FifeVery near the village of Anstruther sits a site of more recent historical importance, The Secret Bunker. Built in 1951, operational until 1993, the bunker serves as a reminder of the Cold War era, as it would have housed UK Armed Forces and Civil Service personnel in the event of a nuclear war. The Secret Bunker sits underneath what seemed to be an innocent looking farmhouse (now renovated as a museum). The size of two football pitches, the bunker housed dormitories, a command centre, a chapel and even a broadcasting studio staffed by the BBC.

With such a varied history spanning centuries, no matter where your historic interest lies, you are sure to discover something in The Kingdom. Why not plan your next holiday of discovery? Take a look at holiday accommodation in Fife.


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