The Kingdom of Fife is synonymous with the development of golf yet its geography and its history not only tell a different story but also leave behind an abundance of cultural, historical and sporting treasures.
Recognised for his translation of Proust’s À la recherché du temps perdu, the essayist and writer George Scott-Moncrieff once described Ceres as “the most attractive village in Scotland”. Indeed, Ceres has a proud history with links that date to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314; the men of Ceres – at that time no bigger than a hamlet – fought alongside Robert the Bruce and, in recognition of their contribution, were bestowed an award to host a gathering of folk to be held in celebration and commemoration. That gathering – the Ceres Games – endures and is a feature of village life. Held annually on the last Saturday in June, the Games are the oldest free Games in Scotland.
The village would play a role, however, in a far greater event: the founding of the United States of America. One of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence, James Wilson, was born on lands at Carskerdo to the south and west of Ceres. Wilson, a Presbyterian, went on to study at both Edinburgh and St Andrews alongside both David Hume and Adam Smith. Imbued with the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment, Wilson emigrated to Philadelphia, PA. in 1766 and soon espoused independence for the Colonies. In the years that followed, Wilson would sit on the Committee of Detail, the august body charged with drafting the Constitution of the United States, before taking his placing alongside the greats of American jurisprudence as a founding Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.
St Andrews & the East Neuk
There is more to St Andrews and the East Neuk than golf. A historic market town, St Andrews once was a seat of ecclesiastical power and political intrigue; the old Parliament sat in St Andrews in 1304 and it would become – and remain – the religious capital of Scotland until the Reformation in 1559. Today, St Andrews is home to the oldest university in Scotland and the third-oldest in the English-speaking world. It remains a world-class institution committed to the ideas and values of the Scottish Enlightenment.
To the south of St Andrews is the East Neuk – a rugged promontory of that is home to some of the areas most picturesque coastal villages. The harbour at Crail is the epitome the Scottish fishing industry and the vast expanse of beach at Elie exemplifies the area’s role as a destination to which the residents of Edinburgh can escape for peace and tranquility. In the East Neuk, the clear air of the sea is never far away.
Anstruther is home to the Scottish Fisheries Museum. This award-winning attraction tells the story of the Scottish fishing industry from the earliest times to the present. With many model and actual boats, fishing gear, photographs, paintings and tableaux on display, as well as a new ‘Zulu’ gallery, a visit to the Museum makes for an exceptional day out.
Falkland Palace & Gardens
The Royal Palace of Falkland, set in the heart of a beautiful medieval village, was the country residence and hunting lodge of eight Stuart monarchs, including Mary, Queen of Scots. Built between 1501 and 1541, the palace is an extremely fine example of Renaissance architecture. It includes the exceptionally beautiful Chapel Royal, and is surrounded by internationally renowned gardens, built in the 1950s. The Royal Tennis Court, reputedly the world’s oldest, is still in use today.
Scotland’s Secret Bunker
Shhh… Don’t tell anybody… To the south of St Andrews, hidden beneath a farmhouse, a tunnel leads to an outpost of the British Government and a remnant of the Cold War. Set over two levels, the Secret Bunker was an installation to which military and political leaders would have escaped in the event of a nuclear incident. The Bunker provides amazing insight into a darker moment in recent history.
Hill of Tarvit Mansion & Gardens
The present Hill of Tarvit Mansion was virtually rebuilt in 1906 by Sir Robert Lorimer for the Sharp family; its patriarch, FB Sharp, wished to have a suitable setting in which to display and exhibit his notable collection of art. This collection remains in tact and includes French, Chippendale, and vernacular furniture, Dutch paintings and pictures by Raeburn and Ramsay, Flemish tapestries and Chinese porcelain and bronzes. The interior is very much in the Edwardian fashion. The formal gardens to the south were also designed by Lorimer to form an appropriate setting for the house.
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