History of Fife

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VisitScotland The Highlands Guide
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From Dunfermline, the former capital of Scotland, to St Andrews, which boasts a fascinating history, this wonderful region is steeped in tales gone by and filled with stunning castles, cathedrals, historic towns and sites. The Kingdom of Fife’s royal connections await your discovery.

Fife’s second largest town, Dunfermline is simply a must-see. A former capital of Scotland, it was established by Malcolm III as a new seat for royal power in the mid 11th century and this beautiful town is blessed with a number of historical venues that cannot be missed. The palace ruins still stand near Abbot House as a reminder of Dunfermline’s royal heritage, and are one of the most visually stunning examples of Romanesque architecture in Scotland. Bursting with fascinating history, explore the majestic abbey, palace and Abbot House in Dunfermline for a magnificent glimpse into the past.

Discover the rest of the Kingdom of Fife’s royal connections by first visiting Falkland Palace, an impressive Renaissance building in the heart of the town. Built in 1500 and frequently visited by Mary Queen of Scots, you can follow in her footsteps by wandering around the courtyard and impressive rooms to soak up the history and head through the lush green lawns and colourful herbaceous borders.

Another must visit is the Royal Burgh of Culross, home to an ochre-coloured palace, an extremely grand and impressive house built in the 16th century. Take a tour around this truly magnificent building to discover a range of beautiful small rooms and connecting passageways, and the study, which offers breathtaking views of the Firth of Forth. Make sure you leave time to wander around the streets of this beautiful Fife town.

Last but by no means least, head to the historic town of St Andrews, undoubtedly the best known jewel in the Fife’s crown. A simply stunning venue for an afternoon stroll, the fascinating history of this picture perfect town is illustrated in the medieval centre with its narrow alleys and cobbled streets. Pay a visit to the remains of what was once Scotland’s largest and most magnificent church, climb to the top of the 33 m high St Rule’s Tower for wonderful views of the town and learn more in the Cathedral Museum.

  • Looking onto displays in the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline
    The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline
  • Looking across the gardens to Aberdour Castle on a sunny day
    Aberdour Castle
  • The ruins of Aberdour Castle, Fife
    The ruins of Aberdour Castle, Fife
  • A competitor takes part in Highland games in Fife
    Highland games in Fife
Dunfermline Abbey Church

Timeline

Take a look at this timeline which offers a helpful overview of Fife’s ancient and varied history.

Looking over the wrought iron gate to Culross Palace

Historic attractions

Uncover the remarkable history and heritage of Fife in the many castles, palaces and museums scattered throughout the region.

Highland games in Fife

Heritage and outdoor events

Take part in the outdoor and heritage events held in Fife which is a great way to discover more of the local history.

Looking onto the front of Kellie Castle

Castles

Follow this one day itinerary and choose from six castles that you can visit to discover more about the history of this region.