Fife

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Fife

Fife

Fife shown within Scotland
Anstruther


Admin HQ: Glenrothes

Government Body Fife Council
Area Total 512 sq mi (1,325 km2)

Population (2010 est.)

  • Total 365,000
  • Rank Ranked 3rd
  • Density 710/sq mi (276/km2)



website: www.fife.gov.uk

Fife ( Scottish Gaelic: Fìobha) is a council area and historic county of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire. It was once one of the major Pictish kingdoms, known as Fif, and is still commonly known as the Kingdom of Fife within Scotland. Fife is a lieutenancy area, and was a county of Scotland until 1975. It was very occasionally known by the anglicisation Fifeshire in old documents and maps compiled by English cartographers and authors. A person from Fife is known as a Fifer. Fife was a local government region divided into three districts: Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and North-East Fife. Since 1996 the functions of the district councils have been exercised by the unitary Fife Council. Fife is Scotland's third largest local authority area by population. In June 2010 the population was estimated at 365, 020. <ref>http://knowfife.fife.gov.uk (accessed 12th June 2014) </ref> The total population increased by 1,560 (or 0.4%) on the previous year and increased by 17,990 (or 5.2%) on Fife’s population of the previous decade. <ref>http://knowfife.fife.gov.uk (accessed 12th June 2014) </ref> Kirkcaldy is Fife's largest town by population (48,108 in 2006), followed by Dunfermline (45,462 in 2006) and then Glenrothes (38,927 in 2006). The historic town of St Andrews is located to the area's northeast. It is well known for the University of St Andrews, one of the most ancient universities in the world and is also renowned as the home of golf.

History

Early History

The Kilrenny Stone

Fife, bounded to the north by the Firth of Tay and to the south by the Firth of Forth, is a natural peninsula whose political boundaries have changed little over the ages. During the Iron Age and Roman periods the peoples who inhabited Fife, Clackmannan and Kinross were known as the Venicones.<ref>Donald Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000)35 </ref>However evidence for them remains limited.<ref>Omand, Fife, 35</ref>The hill-fort of Clatchard Craig, near Newburgh, was occupied as an important stronghold between the sixth and eighth centuries AD. <ref>http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/30074/details/clatchard+craig/</ref> Another significant fort is Castle Law, Abernethy.<ref>Omand, Fife, 35</ref>When it was excavated in 1898 many iron age artifacts were found including a broach in the La Tene style.<ref>Omand, Fife, 35</ref>

The presence of the Romans in Fife has proved difficult to identify.<ref>Omand, Fife, 42</ref> However archaeological evidence has shown that there was some Roman activity in the area, for example the presence of a glass bottle and wine amphorae at Kinkell Cave near St. Andrews.<ref>Omand, Fife, 42</ref> During the early historic period the peninsula became known as Fif and was part of the Pictish kingdoms of northeast Scotland.<ref>Omand, Fife, 44</ref>Archaeological evidence for the Picts in Fife is somewhat limited however, with Edwina Proudfoot stating that the only unequivocal Pictish find from a fort is from East Lomond- where a stone was found with an inscription of a bull in Pictish style.<ref>Edwina Proudfoot, The Picts and the Early Modern Period, in Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 44</ref> Pictish symbol stones have been found in central Fife and a notable example at Collessie depicts a human figure, which has been interpreted as evidence for Pictish clothing and weaponry.<ref>Edwina Proudfoot, The Picts and the Early Modern Period, in Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 44</ref>

Early Middle Ages

The earliest evidence for Christianity in Fife is from the 5th or 6th centuries. This is from another standing stone at Kilrenny and depicts a Maltese style cross which the chi-rho sign to the right of its top, now recognised as similar to those in the Whithorn area of southwest Scotland.<ref>Edwina Proudfoot, The Picts and the Early Modern Period, in Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 50</ref> It might be evidence that Christianity was brought to Fife by a monk from the church at Whithorn.<ref>Edwina Proudfoot, The Picts and the Early Modern Period, in Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 50</ref>

A major artefact from the 8th century is displayed in the Museum of St. Andrews, the St. Andrews Sarcophagus. It has features in common with Pictish stones but is in the form of a shrine.<ref>Edwina Proudfoot, The Picts and the Early Modern Period, in Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 54</ref>Its carvings have been interpreted as Old Testament themes of kingship and it has been linked with Oengus, son of Fergus (d.761).<ref>Edwina Proudfoot, The Picts and the Early Modern Period, in Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 54</ref>By the ninth century the kingdoms of Dal Riata and Pictland united to form the Kingdom of Alba and St. Andrews had become Fife's main religious centre.<ref>Edwina Proudfoot, The Picts and the Early Modern Period, in Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 56</ref>

Later Middle Ages

Fife was an important royal and political centre from the reign of King Malcolm II onwards, as the leaders of Scotland gradually moved southwards away from their ancient strongholds around Scone. His wife, later known as St. Margaret, founded Dunfermline Abbey in the eleventh century.<ref>http://dunfermlineabbey.com/wp/?page_id=1059 (accessed 22nd July 2014)</ref>The Abbey replaced Iona as the final resting place of Scotland's royal elite, with Robert the Bruce amongst those to be buried there. The original church is buried under the nave of the current building, built by her son David I.<ref>http://dunfermlineabbey.com/wp/?page_id=1059 (accessed 22nd July 2014)</ref> During the reign of Malcolm II Dunfermline was capital of Alba.<ref>Raymond Lamont Brown, From the War of Independence to the Union of the Crowns, in Donald Omand (ed) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 57</ref>

Fife was the scene of the disastrous death of Alexander III- final member of the House of Dunkeld- who fell to his death above Pettycur Bay Sands on the shores of the Forth in a riding accident.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 57</ref>Alexander's death without heirs led to the Scottish Wars of Independence as the English king Edward I attempted to take over the northern kingdom. Edward I is known to have visited St. Andrews and Dunfermline and the county was under English control until April 1318 when the Scots retook Berwick.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 57</ref>The Earl of Fife was until the 15th century considered the principal peer of the Scottish realm, and was reserved the right of crowning the nation's monarchs- reflecting the prestige of the area. The title was abolished in 1425 when its incumbent, Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany, was executed by James I.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 57</ref>

St. Andrews became a chartered burgh sometime between 1140 and 1150 and gained its university in 1410-12.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 57</ref>A new royal palace was gradually constructed at Falkland, formerly the stronghold of Clan MacDuff, who had been Thanes and later Earls of Fife.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 60</ref>It was used by successive monarchs of the House of Stewart who favoured the county for its rich hunting grounds. This reached its apex during the sixteenth century, when kings such as James V and James VI enjoyed 'drives' in the forests of Falkland, where staff members drove animals into the paths of the hunt.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 60</ref>

Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

James VI

In 1547 the English Earl of Somerset ordered an attack on Fife as part of the notorious 'Rough Wooing'. Vice Admiral Thomas Wyndam and 300 infantry and harquebusiers attacked the Cistercian Abbey of Balmerino, which was defended by its abbot and monks by gunfire. Despite this the Abbey was burnt and the surrounding countryside ravaged.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 64</ref>

St. Andrews became a microcosm of the events and politics of the Scottish Reformation.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 64</ref> Religious conflict escalated in the town following the death of the preacher Patrick Hamilton in 1528. <ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 64</ref> In 1546 the cleric and diplomat Cardinal Beaton was murdered by a group of militant Protestants including William Kirkaldy of Grange at his castle at St. Andrews in revenge for his persecution of George Wishart and his pro-French policies.<ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, The Birlinn Companion to Scottish History (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2011) 18-19</ref>The preacher John Knox was incarcerated in a French galley for his part in these events. The Fife landowner Henry Balnavis supported the reform movement for political gain and for a time his estates were confiscated by Mary of Guise and he was imprisoned in France.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 64</ref>

James VI had strong links to Fife. He described the county as a "beggar's mantle fringed wi gowd"- the golden fringe being the coast and its chain of ports with their thriving fishing fleets and rich trading links with the Low Countries. He granted many charters including renewing that of Auctermuchty in 1591.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 65</ref>James also consolidated Crown lands in Fife and granted much of them to his wife, Anne of Denmark.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 65</ref> In 1598, James VI employed a group of 12 men from Fife, who became known as the Fife adventurers, to colonise the Isle of Lewis in an attempt to begin the "civilisation" and de-gaelicisation of the region. This endeavor lasted until 1609 when the colonists, having been opposed by the native population, were bought out by Kenneth Mackenzie, chief of the Mackenzies.

The county was the scene of many of the witchunts that marked the era, with cases recorded in St Andrews, Crail, Burntisland, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy.<ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 65</ref> An especially grotesque, and late, outbreak of witchunting engulfed the village of Pittenweem in 1704, orchestrated by the fanatical minister, Patrick Couper.<ref>Annie Harrower-Gray, Suspicion and Superstition, A Dark and Revealing Social History of the Fife Coast (Anstruther: Stourie Books, 2013)</ref><ref>Lamont Brown, War of Independence to Union of Crowns, in Omand (ed) Fife (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2000) 66</ref>

In 1600 Fife was primarily still an agricultural society.<ref>Richard Oram, From the Union of the Crowns to the Union of the Parliaments, Fife 1603-1707, in The Fife Book, ed. Donald Oram (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000)</ref> The burghs on the shore of the Forth were economically crucial prior to industrialisation in the eighteenth century.<ref>Richard Oram, From the Union of the Crowns to the Union of the Parliaments, Fife 1603-1707, in The Fife Book, ed. Donald Oram (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000) 79</ref>New developments in this period were coal mining and salt-panning on the Forth. Sir George Bruce developed these industries at Culross and his underwater coal mine was regarded as an engineering marvel.<ref>Richard Oram, From the Union of the Crowns to the Union of the Parliaments, Fife 1603-1707, in The Fife Book, ed. Donald Oram (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000) 79</ref>Coal rose to an artificial island where it was loaded directly onto ships.<ref>Richard Oram, From the Union of the Crowns to the Union of the Parliaments, Fife 1603-1707, in The Fife Book, ed. Donald Oram (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000) 79</ref>

Geography

Track in the Lomond Hills

Fife is part of the Midland Valley of central Scotland. <ref>Annie Harrower-Gray, Suspicion and Superstition, a Dark and Revealing Social History of the Fife Coast (Stourie, Anstruther) 2013, 9</ref>Its landscape was formed during the Devonian period, which ended around 350 years ago. <ref>Gray, Suspicion, 9</ref> The Midland Valley was covered by tropical seas, as well as great forests which covered the swamplands and tropical deltas.<ref>Gray, Suspicion, 9</ref> Their remains became seams known as the coal measures. These coal measure beds are most prominent in Burntisland, Dysart, Leven and Kirkcaldy.<ref>Gray, Suspicion, 9</ref>

Lochore Colliary, Fife, 1905

Mining coal in Fife has been traced back as far as the twelfth century.<ref>Gray, Suspicion, 9</ref> In the late twentieth century Fife rapidly de-industrialised with the decline of mining, although open cast coal mining remains a feature of the landscape.<ref>Gray, Suspicion, 9</ref> Today, the only areas which could claim to be heavily industrial are Rosyth, around the naval dockyard and perhaps the Mossmorran Natural Gas Liquids fractionation plant on the outskirts of Cowdenbeath.There are extinct volcanic features, such as the Lomond Hills which rise above rolling farmland, and Largo Law, a volcanic plug in the east. At 522 metres (1,713 ft), the West Lomond is the highest point in Fife.

The coast has fine but small harbours, from the industrial docks in Burntisland and Rosyth to the fishing villages of the East Neuk such as Anstruther and Pittenweem. The large area of flat land to the north of the Lomond Hills, through which the River Eden flows, is known as the Howe of Fife.North of the Lomond Hills can be found villages and small towns in a primarily agricultural landscape. The areas in the south and west of Fife, including the towns of Dunfermline, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and the Levenmouth region are lightly industrial and more densely populated.

The east corner of Fife, generally that east of a line between Leven and St Andrews is recognised throughout Scotland as the East Neuk (or corner) of Fife, small settlements around sheltered harbours, with distinctive vernacular "Dutch" or corbie (crow) stepped gabled and stone-built architecture – an area much sought after as second homes of the Edinburgh professional classes since the Forth Road Bridge was built. The fishing industry on which the East Neuk settlements were built has declined in recent years with the main fishing fleet now operating from Pittenweem and the harbour in Anstruther being used as a marina for pleasure craft. As industry has declined the area has increasingly turned to tourism and leisure. <ref>Harrower-Gray, Suspicion and Superstition, 8</ref>

However the decline and destruction of the mining industry has resulted in significant social deprivation. <ref>http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/stark-report-into-fife-deprivation-1.86662 (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref> At its peak in 1914 the Scottish coal mining industry employed 150,000 in 500 pits; by 1914 in Fife alone 30,000 men worked in the mines, an astonishing one 10th of the region’s population.<ref>http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/stark-report-into-fife-deprivation-1.86662 (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref> During the 1950s the industry still employed around 85,000 miners in more than 150 pits, but this declined during the 1960s and 1970s until the bitter miners strike of 1984. <ref>http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/stark-report-into-fife-deprivation-1.86662 (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref> The last deep mine, Longannet, closed in 2002. <ref>http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/1899905.stm (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref>

Today former mining communities in Fife are amongst the 20 percent most deprived areas in Scotland.<ref>http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/stark-report-into-fife-deprivation-1.86662 (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref> In 2013 a report by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust revealed that in areas such as jobs, income levels and transport, these areas were 'on par with the worst in Glasgow'. <ref>http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/stark-report-into-fife-deprivation-1.86662 (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref>

Towns and Villages

Artwork celebrating the village of Cellardyke

Between the mid nineteenth and mid twentieth centuries the population of Fife doubled. There was also a massive redistribution of population from East to West Fife, which accompanied intensive industrialisation. <ref>Philip Duncan, Fife in the Modern Era, in Donald Omand, The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000) 86</ref> Until the early industrial revolution Fife was dominated by its medieval burghs, which clustered along the Forth. During the eighteenth century these royal burghs gradually lost their privileges, while at the same time, patterns of trade changed.<ref>Paula Martin, Towns and Villages, in Douglas Omand (ed.) The Fife Book (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000) 194</ref>Settlement patterns were also affected by developments in transport networks, such as the coming of the railways and the construction of the Kincardine, Forth and Tay bridges.<ref>Martin, Towns, in Omand, Fife, 194</ref> Some burghs never prospered. A burgh was created at Fife Ness in 1707 but had declined and disappeared by the early nineteenth century.<ref>Martin, Towns, in Omand, Fife, 195</ref>

By the mid nineteenth century the main towns in Fife were Dunfermline, Burntisland, Kirkcaldy, Cupar and St. Andrews.<ref>Martin, Towns, in Omand, Fife, 195</ref> By this time some old burghs such as Culross had declined to be small villages.<ref>Martin, Towns, in Omand, Fife, 195</ref> Dunfermline and Kirkaldy were centres of weaving and cloth manufacture.<ref>Martin, Towns, in Omand, Fife, 195</ref>From the mid-nineteenth century new towns were created, such as Ladybank, which gained the status of a town in 1878, while Cowdenbeath became a town in 1890. <ref>Martin, Towns, in Omand, Fife, 196</ref>In the twentieth century new towns were built at Glenrothes in 1948 and at Dalgety Bay in 1962. <ref>Martin, Towns, in Omand, Fife, 196</ref>

Cupar took over as county town from Crail in the early 13th century. Glenrothes is now the administrative centre, after the decision to locate the headquarters of the newly established Fife Regional Council there in 1975. Today, Fife's three major towns are Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and Glenrothes. According to the 2006 estimate, Kirkcaldy is the largest settlement by population, followed by Dunfermline then Glenrothes. The next most sizeable towns by population are St Andrews, Dalgety Bay, Rosyth, Methil and Cowdenbeath.

Notable buildings of Dunfermline

Towns of Fife include:

  • Aberdour
  • Anstruther
  • Buckhaven
  • Burntisland
  • Caves of Caiplie
  • Cellardyke
  • Crail
  • Culross
  • Charlestown
  • Dunfermline
  • Glenrothes
  • Limekilns
  • Dalgety Bay
  • Dysart
  • Earlsferry
  • East Wemyss
  • Elie
  • Inverkeithing
  • Kincardine
  • Kinghorn
  • Kirkcaldy
  • Leven
  • Lower Largo
  • Methil
  • North Queensferry
  • Pittenweem
  • Rosyth
  • St Monans

Culture

Culross Palace and Garden
Torchlit procession at the Pittenweem Arts Festival

Fife contains 4,961 listed buildings and 48 conservation areas. <ref>"Fife's listed buildings". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 25 August 2009</ref> Domestic sites of importance include Falkland Palace, Kellie Castle, Dunfermline Palace, St Andrews Castle, Culross Palace and Kirkcaldy's Ravenscraig Castle. Fife has a number of ecclesiastical sites of historical interest. St Andrews Cathedral was home to the powerful Archbishopric of St Andrews, and later became a centre of the Scottish Reformation, while Dunfermline Abbey was the last resting place of a number of Scottish kings. Balmerino and Culross abbeys were both founded in the 13th century by the Cistercians, while a century before Lindores Abbey was founded by the Tironensians outside Newburgh; all were highly important sites.

The Stanza Poetry Festival and Fife Festival of Music are events of national cultural importance. Smaller festivals like the biannual Cupar Arts Festival also take place. <ref>http://www.festivalsinfife.co.uk/festivals/66-cupar-arts-festival (accessed 12th June 2014</ref>The Byre Theatre in St Andrews and Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy were both highly regarded as touring venues, the latter also being the base of the grand opera company Fife Opera, but the Byre has since gone into administration and ceased hosting performances. <ref>Byre Theatre in St Andrews board 'deeply regrets' closure". BBC News. 26 January 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.</ref>

There are popular festivals such as the Pitenweem Arts Festival and musical events in Crail during the summer. <ref>Gray, Suspicion,8</ref> Fife Craft Association is the largest craft association in Fife, and organises art and craft events throughout the year in various venues in Fife. They also showcase local artists and crafters every Saturday at the Rothes Halls in Glenrothes. <ref>Fife Craft Association at http://www.walkaboutcrafts.com/fca.htm</ref> There is an annual Fife Jazz Festival held during June at venues across the county. <ref>http://www.fifejazzfestival.com/2013-programme.html (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref>

Governance

Fife is represented by eight members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). <ref>http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/con-mfif.aspx (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref> The Constituency MSP for Fife is Tricia Marwick, formerly of the SNP and now Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. <ref>http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/currentmsps/Tricia-Marwick-MSP.aspx</ref> The other MSPs, who represent the Mid Scotland and Fife region, are Jayne Baxter, Claire Baker and Richard Simpson of the Scottish Labour Party, Annabel Ewing of the Scottish National Party, Murdo Fraser and Liz Smith of the Scottish Conservative Party and Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats. <ref>http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/con-mfif.aspx (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref>

Since the 2010 General Election, three of the MPs constituencies have been held by Labour (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, represented by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Dunfermline West, and Glenrothes); the other (North East Fife) is held by Sir Menzies Campbell for the Liberal Democrats. Two of the Scottish Parliament constituencies are held by Labour: Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline. Three are held by the Scottish National Party: Fife Mid and Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, North East Fife.Glenrothes is Fife's Administrative Capital containing the headquarters of Fife Council and of Police Scotland's P Division (formerly Fife Constabulary). Council meetings take place in Fife House (formerly known as Glenrothes House) in the town centre. <ref>http://www.fifedirect.org.uk</ref> The west wing of the building was built by the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC) as their offices in 1969, which was later used as the headquarters of Fife Regional Council.

Since the last Scottish election in 2012, Fife Council has been run as a minority by Labour party, claiming a total of 35 seats, with support of Tory and independent councillors. Alex Rowley was elected leader of Fife Council but demitted office following his election as an MSP. David Ross succeeded as leader in February 2014. The SNP and the other parties form the opposition.

References

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