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Fife ( , ) is a council area of Scotlandmarker, situated between the Firth of Taymarker and the Firth of Forthmarker, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshiremarker. It was originally one of the Pictish kingdoms, known as Fib, and is still commonly known as the Kingdom of Fife within Scotland.

It is a lieutenancy area, and was a county of Scotland until 1975. It was very occasionally known by the anglification Fifeshire in old documents and maps compiled by Englishmarker cartographers and authors. A person from Fife is known as a Fifer.

Fife was a local government region divided into three districtDunfermlinemarker, Kirkcaldymarker 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. It has a resident population of just under 360,000, almost a third of whom live in the three principal towns of Dunfermlinemarker, Kirkcaldymarker and Glenrothesmarker. Kirkcaldy has Fife's largest population (48,108 in 2006).

The historic town of St Andrewsmarker is located on the east coast of Fife. It is well known for one of the most ancient universities in Europe, and as the home of golf.


Legend has it that upon the death of Cruithne, the Pictish realm – known collectively as "Pictavia" – was divided into seven sub-kingdoms or provinces, one of which became Fife. The name is recorded as Fib in A.D. 1150 and Fif in 1165. It was often associated with Fothriff.

Fife, bounded to the north by the Firth of Taymarker and to the south by the Firth of Forthmarker, is a natural peninsula whose political boundaries have changed little over the ages.

King James VI of Scotland described Fife as a "beggar's mantle fringed with gold" – the golden fringe being the coast and its chain of little ports with their thriving fishing fleets and rich trading links with the Low Countries, ironic given the much later development of farming on some of Scotland's richest soil and the minerals, notably coal, underneath. Wool, linen, coal and salt were all traded. Salt pans heated by local coal were a feature of the Fife coast in the past. The distinctive red clay "pan tiles" seen on many old buildings in Fife arrived as ballast on trading boats and replaced the previously thatched roofs.

In 1598 King 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 anglicisation of the region. This endeavour lasted until 1609 when the colonists, having been opposed by the native population, were bought out by Coinneach, the clan chief of the MacKenzies.

Historically, there was much heavy industry in the century or so following the Victorian engineering triumphs of the Forthmarker and Tay rail bridgesmarker. The Fife coalfields were developed around Kirkcaldymarker and the west of Fife, reaching far out under the Firth of Forth. Shipbuilding was famous at Methilmarker and Rosythmarker. The world centre for linoleum production was in Kirkcaldy (where it is still produced), and flax grown in Fife was transformed into linen locally too. Post-war Fife saw the development of Scotland's second new town, Glenrothesmarker. Originally to be based around a coal mine, the town eventually attracted a high number of modern Silicon Glen companies to the region. Fife Council also centered its operations in Glenrothes.

There are notable historical buildings in Fife, some of which are managed by the National Trust for Scotland or Historic Scotland. They include Dunfermline Abbey (the last resting place of Scottish royalty), the palace in Culross, Ravenscraig Castle in Kirkcaldy, Dysart Harbour area, Balgonie Castlemarker near Coaltown of Balgonie, Falkland Palace (hunting palace of the Scottish Kings), Kellie Castle near Pittenweem, Hill of Tarvitmarker (a historical house), St Andrews Castle (with a gruesome bottle dungeon), St Andrews Cathedral and St Rules' Tower.


Fife House, seat of Fife Council
The county of Fife is represented by five Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and four Members of Parliament (MPs) who are sent to Holyrood and Westminster respectively. As of November 2007, two of the MPs constituencies are held by Labour (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, represented by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Glenrothesmarker) and the other two by Liberal Democrats (Dunfermline West and North East Fife). Two of the MSPs constituencies are held by Labour (Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline East) with another two by Liberal Democrats (Dunfermline West and North East Fife) and one by Scottish National Party (Central Fife).

The headquarters of Fife Councilmarker is based in Glenrothesmarker. Council meetings take place in Fife House (formerly known as Glenrothes House) in the town centre. 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 2007, Fife Council has been run as a joint SNP/Liberal Democrat coalition, claiming a total of 44 seats together. Peter Grant was elected leader of Fife Council. Labour and the other parties form the opposition.


Fife is a peninsula in eastern Scotland bordered on the north by the Firth of Taymarker, on the east by the North Seamarker and the Firth of Forthmarker to the south. The route to the west is partially blocked by the mass of the Ochil Hillsmarker. Almost all road traffic into and out of Fife has to pass over one of three bridges, south on the Forth Road Bridgemarker, west on the Kincardine Bridgemarker or north-east via the Tay Road Bridgemarker, the exception being traffic headed north on the M90. Tolls were abolished on the Tay Road Bridge and Forth Road Bridge on 11 February 2008.

There are extinct volcanic features, such as the Lomond Hillsmarker which rise above rolling farmland, and Largo Law, a volcanic plug in the east. At 522 m (or 1713 feet), the West Lomondmarker is the highest point in Fife. The coast has fine but small harbours, from the industrial docks in Burntislandmarker and Rosythmarker to the fishing villages of the East Neuk such as Anstruthermarker and Pittenweemmarker. 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 Dunfermlinemarker, Glenrothesmarker, Kirkcaldymarker and the Levenmouthmarker region are lightly industrial and more densely populated. The only area which could claim to be heavily industrial is Rosythmarker, around the naval dockyard.

The east corner of Fife, generally that east of a line between Levenmarker and St Andrewsmarker is recognised throughout Scotland as the "East Neuk" (or corner) of Fife, small settlements around sheltered harbours, with distinctive vernacular "Dutch" or craw(crow)stepped gabled and stone-built architecture – an area much sought after as second homes of the Edinburghmarker professional classes since the Forth Road Bridgemarker 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.

Towns and villages

Cuparmarker took over as county town from Crailmarker in the early 13th century. This has since been transferred to Glenrothesmarker with the decision to locate the headquarters of the newly established Fife Regional Council in 1975. The county has three main towns – Kirkcaldymarker, Dunfermlinemarker and Glenrothesmarker. According to the 2006 estimate, Kirkcaldymarker is the largest settlement with a population of 48,108. The largest settlement in terms of area is Glenrothesmarker.


Fife is home to 4,961 listed buildings and 48 conservation areas. Domestic sites of importance include Falkland Palacemarker, Kellie Castlemarker, St Andrews Castlemarker and Kirkcaldy's Ravenscraig Castlemarker. Fife is home to a number of ecclesiastical sites of historical interest. St Andrews Cathedralmarker was home of the powerful Archbishopric of St Andrews, and later became a centre of the Scottish Reformation, while Dunfermline Abbeymarker was the last resting place of a number of Scottish kings. Balmerinomarker and Culrossmarker abbeys were both founded in the thirteenth century by the Cistercians, while a century before Lindores Abbeymarker was founded by the Tironensians outside of Newburgh: all were highly important sites.

The Stanza Poetry Festival and Fife Festival of Music are events of national cultural importance. The Byre Theatre in St Andrews and Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy are both highly regarded as touring venues, the latter also being the home of the grand opera company Fife Operamarker.

Notable Fifers


St Andrewsmarker in Fife is the home of golf, being the town in which the sport was invented, and the Royal & Ancient Golf Clubmarker still has responsibility for overseeing the rules of the game today.

As for senior sports teams, in football, Dunfermline Athletic and Raith Rovers play in Division One; East Fife in Division Two; and Cowdenbeath in Division Three.

Fife Flyers are the UKmarker's oldest ice hockey club and play in the Northern Premier League.

Fife is also home to five rugby union clubs, Dunfermline RFC, Fife Southern RFC, based in Rosyth, Glenrothes RFC, Howe of Fife RFC, based in Cupar, Kirkcaldy RFC, and one rugby league club, Fife Lions.


Locally published newspapers include the Fife Free Press in Kirkcaldymarker; the Dunfermline Press in Dunfermlinemarker; the Glenrothes Gazette in Glenrothesmarker; and the St Andrews Citizen in St Andrewsmarker. DC Thompson publishes North East Fife and South Fife Editions of the Dundee Courier & Advertiser, and the Counties Edition of the Evening Telegraph is sold in Fife. On the east coast of fife The East Fife Mail is also sold.

The only Fife-based radio stations are Kingdom FM and VRN, although local radio stations Radio Tay and Edinburgh's 97.3 Forth One broadcast to the northern and southern parts of the county respectively.

See also


  1. Ferguson A History of Glenrothes p.91.

External links

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