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Cupar (Scottish Gaelic:Cùbar) is a town and former royal burgh in Fifemarker, Scotlandmarker. The town is approximately equidistant between the larger settlements of Dundeemarker and Glenrothesmarker.

According to the recent population estimate (2006), Cupar has a population around 8,800 making the town the ninth largest settlement in Fife.


The town is believed to have grown around the site of Cupar Castle, which was the seat of the sheriff and was owned by the earls of Fife. The area became a centre for judiciary as the county of Fife and as a market town catering for both cattle and sheep. Towards the latter stages of the 13th century, the burgh became of great importance staging the site of an assembly of the three estates - clergy, nobility and burgesses - organised by Alexander III in 1276 as a predecessor of the Parliament of Scotland. Although, written information of a charter for the modern town was lost, evidence has suggested that this did exist as one of the many properties owned by the Earls of Fife by 1294. During the middle of the 14th century, the burgh started to pay customs on taxable incomes, which probably meant that royal burgh status was gifted sometime between 1294 and 1328.The oldest document, referring to the royal burgh, was a grant by Robert II in 1381 to give a port at Guardbridgemarker on the River Eden for the residents of the burgh to help boost trade with Flanders. This grant was officially recognised by James II in 1428.


Cupar was the county town of Fife, an honour that it inherited from the town of Crailmarker back in 1214, until 1975 when the administration of the newly-created Fife Regional Council decided to move to more modern offices in Glenrothes. Between 1975 and 1993 Cupar was home to the now-abolished North East Fife District Council, which used the County Buildings on St Catherine's Street as their administrative headquarters.

County Buildings

Local Government

The Cupar area supports three multi-member wards with eleven councillors sitting on the committee of Fife Council. The County Buildings on Catherine Street are the main headquarters for the east region of Fife Council, which deals with administrative, planning and agricultural issues.

Westminster and Holyrood

Cupar is within the North East Fife , the Mid Scotland and Fife of the Scottish Parliamentmarker (at Holyrood) and the North East Fife (at Westminster).

The North East Fife Scottish Parliament (or Holyrood) constituency created in 1999 is one of nine within the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region. Each constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election, and the region elects seven additional members to produce a form of proportional representation. The seat is currently held by Iain Smith for the Liberal Democrats.

The North-East Fife UK (or Westminster) constituency elects a Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commonsmarker of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by the first past the post system. The seat has held by Sir Menzies Campbell for the Liberal Democrats since the formation of this seat in 1987.


UK Census 2001]]
Cupar Fife Scotland
Total population 8,506 349,429 5,062,011
Foreign born 1.60% 1.18% 1.10%
Over 75 years old 10.29% 7.46% 7.09%
Unemployed 3.10% 3.97% 4.0%

According to the 2001 census, Cupar had had a total population of 8,506. The population of Cupar has since increased slightly to around 8,800 in 2006. The demographic make-up of the population is much in line with the rest of Scotland. The age group from 30 to 44 forms the largest portion of the population (22%). The median age of males and females living in Cupar was 39 and 43 years respectively, compared to 37 and 39 years for those in the whole of Scotland.

The place of birth of the town's residents was 95.81% United Kingdom (including 81.64% from Scotland), 0.51% Republic of Ireland, 1.60% from other European Union countries, and 2.09% from elsewhere in the world. The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 42.20% in full-time employment, 12.32% in part-time employment, 5.89% self-employed, 3.10% unemployed, 2.96% students with jobs, 3.94% students without jobs, 17.68% retired, 4.83% looking after home or family, 4.35% permanently sick or disabled, and 2.72% economically inactive for other reasons. Compared with the average demography of Scotland, Cupar has low proportions of people born outside the United Kingdom but has higher proportions for people over 75 years old.


the tower of corn exchange
The historic hub of the town centre, is the junction of Bonnygate and the Crossgate. This is where the town's mercat cross which dates from 1683 is located with the original shaft being supported by an unicorn. To the east is St Catherine Street, which is home to the category B listed building burgh chambers and county buildings, both designed by Robert Hutchison. The burgh chambers were built around 1815 and 1818 contain a three storey bow street corner and a robust domic entrance. On the other hand, the county buildings built between 1812 and 1817 are unique in Fifemarker for being the only example replicating the style of buildings in the New Town of Edinburghmarker. Robert Hutchison also designed other buildings along the street at numbers 10, 12 and 14 around 1816 and 1825. The B-listed tower of the corn exchange can be seen across the skyline of the town.At the east end of St Catherine Street is the B-listed Cupar War Memorial in a classical Greek style overlooking the Cart Haugh, one of several to be designed by John Kinross with assistance from leading contemporary sculptors, for the exception of the Victory statue which was done by HS Gamby. The memorial was first unveiled by Field Marshall Earl Haig in 1922 and then again for the addition of the World War II memorial in 1950 by the Earl of Elgin. Nearby on Coal Road is a former B-listed classical style prison building built between 1813 and 1814.
Preston Lodge
On the bonnygate, at number 95, the A-listed Preston Lodge built by the Laird of Airdrie is the second oldest building in the town. The date of 1623, when the house was first built, is enscribed on a stone on the west wall. The house was extended in 1702 by James Preston and was remodelled by William Preston, a London goldsmith in 1765. Later, the Reverend Sir James Preston occupied the house between 1775 and 1791, when he was the minister of the Cupar Old Parish Church. The original design of the building is believed to have been inspired by Culross Palace in Culrossmarker. Situated at the corner of the Crossgate, the C(s) Listed Duncan's institute - now the home of the town's library - was built around 1870-71 as a mechanics' institute for the "working classes of Cupar" by Mrs Duncan. The building, a mixture of Gothic, Scottish and Flemish styles is recognised in the town for having a twisted spire. On the Kirkgate, is the A-listed Parish Church of Cupar Old and St Michael of Tarvit, designed by the architect, Hay Bell. This consists of a tower dating from 1415 and the main church building dating from 1745. The tower is the only surviving piece of the old Cupar parish church, founded by the priory of St Andrews.

Hill of Tarvit
To the south of the town on the A914 and A916 are the A-listed Hill of Tarvitmarker mansion house and nearby Scotstarvit Towermarker. The Hill of Tarvitmarker was formerly known as Wemyss Hall, designed by Sir Walter Bruce around 1692. When the house was sold in 1904, Robert Lorimer was commissioned to design a bigger house in size compared to the existing Wemyss Hall to be able to hold the owner's French artitecture. This was completed around 1907 and 1908, granting the present name Hill of Tarvit. The interior of the house which showcased the owner's love of antique furniture ranging from Flemish tapestries; Louis V; Louis XI; English and Scottish have been considered by many to be Lormier's best work. The service accommodation is the most fascinating aspects of the house which shows the range of rooms and equipment used by a family, prior to the First World War. Situated between the Tarvit and Walton Hills, is the A-listed Scotstarvit Towermarker which is a well-preserved simple L-plan early 17th century tower house of five stories and an attic. The tower is believed to date as far back between the late 15th century and early 16th century.

The Moat Hill

The Burgh Survey states that, through the years, it has been known as Moot Hill, Mote Hill, Cam Hill and Mons Placiti. Sibbald noted in the 18th century that the word ‘‘cam’’ in Gaelic meant crooked and was very descriptive of the long, winding ridge of which Castle Hill formed a part. The Reporter in the Statistical Account of the Burgh suggested that it should have been styled Mote Hill as it was probably the place where the Justiciar of Fife had his courts and published his enactments.



Many people in the town are employed in food and drink, with the largest employers being Kettle Produce (fruit and vegetable producer) and Fisher Services Ltd. Other employers include: Elmwood College (Fife education); Scotsfruit Ltd (food and drink); Quaker Oats Ltd (food and drink) and Fisher and Donaldson (food and drink). There are 72% people employed in the town with unemployment below the national average at 2.1%. The main shopping facilities are also located mainly here with a majority of family-owned businesses and some chain stores. Under the Cupar and Howe of Fife local plan, there is a proposal to upgrade shopping facilities in the town for the aim to become a secondary retail area in Fife.

Sport and recreation

Cupar has an unusual 9 hole golf course on the side of a hill to the South of the town. Stratheden, a large psychiatric hospital is located nearby. Cupar is on the main east coast line.Other attractions include 'Jordan's Nightclub', and The Millgate playing field, once the venue of the training sessions of Cupar Colts, the town's football club, which unfortunately folded in late 2005.

Cupar Sports Centre has a 25 metre Swimming pool, badminton courts, squash courts and a fitness suite.

Cupar is also home to Cupar Cricket Club, founded in 1884 the club is celebrating its 125th anniversary in the 2009 season


The town is home to two primary schools; one secondary school (Bell Baxter); a college campus (Elmwood) and a special needs school.

Bell Baxter High Schoolmarker, according to the 2004/2005 school role, has 1769 pupils. The school has higher levels of more standard grade passes in five or more subjects, with the proportion being more than 10% when compared to the national average. There are also higher levels seen in higher grade passes with only one being around 45% when compared to 37% from the rest of Fife and at least three or more being around 40% when compared to 29% from the rest of Fife.

Elmwood College has three main campuses situated in the town and surrounding area. The college has been praised as a centre for excellence in golf-related studies and being a specialist in land-based education. Local businesses also benefit from the work of the Elmwood Rural Business Centre.


Cupar Railway Station
A bus service connects the town every hour between Edinburghmarker and Dundeemarker. An additional express service also runs via the town. A railway stationmarker can be found to the south-east of the town centre. The station is situated on the National Express East Coast with regular services running between Edinburgh Waverleymarker and Aberdeenmarker. Nearby stations are located to the south of the town in neighbouring Springfield, Fifemarker and Ladybankmarker. The nearest major international airport is in Edinburgh airportmarker with the nearest ferry sea port at Rosythmarker being 42 miles and 35 miles, respectively.



  1. Martin, Paula Cupar: The history of a small Scottish town pp. 9/10.
  2. Lamont-Brown, Raymond Fife in History and Legend p49
  3. Omand, Donald The Fife Book p200
  4. Boyd Cupar: In Old Picture Postcards Volume 2 p.32.
  5. Pride, Glen L. The Kingdom of Fife, 2nd edition pp.106-111.
  6. Omand The Fife Book p.134.
  7. Walker and Ritchie Fife, Perthshire and Angus p.106.
  8. Walker and Ritchie Fife, Perthshire and Angus p.89.
  9. Pride Kingdom of Fife p.92.
  10. Cupar, Fife website.


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