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Coordinates: 56°15′00″N 3°12′00″W / 56.25, -3.2

Fife council.PNG
Admin HQ Glenrothes
 • Body Fife Council
File:Fife Council Crest.jpg
 • Control Scottish National Party/Liberal Democrat
 • MPs Sir Menzies Campbell QC
Lindsay Roy
Thomas Docherty
Gordon Brown
 • MSPs Roderick Campbell
Helen Eadie
Tricia Marwick
David Torrance
Bill Walker
 • Total Expression error: Unexpected < operator. sq mi (1,325 km2 (512 sq mi) km2)
Area rank Ranked 13th
Population (2010 est.)
 • Total 358,900
 • Rank Ranked 3rd
 • Density 700/sq mi (271/km2)
ONS code 00QR
ISO 3166 code GB-FIF

Fife ([ˈfəif]; Scottish Gaelic: Fìobha) is a council area and former 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 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 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. It has a resident population of just under 360,000, almost a third of whom live in the three principal towns of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes. 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 on the northeast coast of Fife. It is well-known for one of the most ancient universities in Europe and is renowned as the home of golf.


Legend has it that the Pictish realm 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 Tay and to the south by the Firth of Forth, 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 wi gowd", 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 de-gaelicisation 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 Forth and Tay rail bridges. The Fife coalfields were developed around Kirkcaldy and the west of Fife, reaching far out under the Firth of Forth. Shipbuilding was famous at Methil and Rosyth. 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. Postwar Fife saw the development of Scotland's second new town, Glenrothes. 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 centres 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 Castle near Coaltown of Balgonie, Falkland Palace (hunting palace of the Scottish Kings), Kellie Castle near Pittenweem, Hill of Tarvit (a historical house), St. Andrews Castle (with a gruesome bottle dungeon), St. Andrews Cathedral and St. Rules' Tower.


Fife House, seat of Fife Council

Fife is represented by five Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and four Members of Parliament (MPs) who are sent to Holyrood and the Westminster Parliament respectively. 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, previously a Liberal Democrat seat, and Glenrothes); the other (North East Fife) is held by Sir Menzies Campbell for the Liberal Democrats.[1] One of the MSPs constituencies is held by Labour the newly created Cowdenbeath and four by Scottish National Party: Fife Mid and Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, North East Fife and for the first time the Liberal Democrats failed to win a constituency in Fife in the Scottish Parliament.[2]

Glenrothes is Fife's Administrative Capital containing the headquarters of Fife Council and of Fife Constabulary. 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.[3] 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.[4]


Fife is a peninsula in eastern Scotland bordered on the north by the Firth of Tay, on the east by the North Sea and the Firth of Forth to the south. The route to the west is partially blocked by the mass of the Ochil Hills. Almost all road traffic into and out of Fife has to pass over one of three bridges, south on the Forth Road Bridge, west on the Kincardine Bridge or north-east via the Tay Road Bridge, 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 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.

Looking across the farmland of North East Fife to the distant Lomond Hills

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 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.

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.

Towns and villages[]

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 in 1975. Its three major towns are – Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and Glenrothes. According to the 2006 estimate, Kirkcaldy is the largest settlement with a population of 48,108.[5] The largest settlement in terms of area is Glenrothes. The next sizeable towns by population are St Andrews, Dalgety Bay, Rosyth, Methil and Cowdenbeath. The rest of Fife is made up by smaller towns such as Inverkeithing, Kincardine, Anstruther, Lochgelly, Burntisland, Leven, Newburgh, Tayport and Cupar and villages such as Kinglassie, Kinghorn, Elie, Auchtertool, Crossgates and Ballingry.


Falkland Palace

Fife contains 4,961 listed buildings and 48 conservation areas.[6] 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 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 base of the grand opera company Fife Opera.

Fife Craft Association[7] 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.

Notable Fifers[]

  • John Thomson (footballer), former Celtic F.C goalkeeper
  • Robert Adam, architect
  • Stuart Adamson, musician (Big Country)
  • Ian Anderson, musician, frontman of Jethro Tull
  • Iain Banks, writer
  • Jim Baxter, footballer
  • Edith Bowman, Radio 1 DJ
  • Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Current MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath
  • Scott Brown (Scottish footballer), Scotland and Celtic F.C footballer
  • Gregory Burke, playwright
  • Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist
  • Kenneth Cranham, actor
  • Jim Clark, two-times Formula One World Drivers' Champion
  • James Clephan, Lieutenant on board HMS Spartiate during the Battle of Trafalgar
  • Barbara Dickson, singer and actress
  • Philip Charles Durham, sailor and captain of HMS Defiance at Trafalgar
  • John Forbes (British Army officer), named Pittsburg
  • Shirley Henderson, actress
  • King Creosote, musician
  • Deborah Knox, Olympic Gold medallist
  • Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, 16th century writer.
  • Craig Levein, Scottish former professional footballer and manager.
  • Jackie Leven, singer/songwriter
  • Val McDermid, writer
  • Aileen Paterson, author/illustrator
  • Ian Rankin, writer
  • Douglas Mackinnon, Director
  • David Rollo, rugby player.
  • Craig Russell (British author), writer
  • Dougray Scott, actor
  • Alexander Selkirk, seafarer and inspiration for Robinson Crusoe
  • Sir Jimmy Shand, accordion player
  • Adam Smith, philosopher and economist
  • Jordan Smith, actor
  • Lawrence Storione, miner and anarchist organiser
  • Michaela Tabb, first female snooker referee to appear on the Crucible
  • KT Tunstall, musician
  • Jack Vettriano, artist
  • Sir David Wilkie, painter
  • James Wilson, signer of US Declaration of Independence, appointed by George Washington to first Supreme Court
  • James Yorkston, musician
  • Jocky Wilson, darts player
  • Bob Howie and Dave Howie, rugby players


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

As for senior sports teams, in football Dunfermline Athletic play in Scotland's top flight, the Scottish Premier League, whilst Raith Rovers play in the First Division and Cowdenbeath and East Fife play in the Second Division.

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

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

Fife has a number of Highland Dancing Schools and have competitions throughout the year. Highland dancers wear kilts and jackets, the boys can wear trousers or a kilt. Braemar and Cowal are the two biggest competitions.


Locally published newspapers include the Fife Free Press in Kirkcaldy; the Dunfermline Press in Dunfermline; the Glenrothes Gazette in Glenrothes; and the St Andrews Citizen in St Andrews. 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. There is however a community radio station that broadcasts during the summer called K-Town FM, although local radio stations Radio Tay and Edinburgh's 97.3 Forth One broadcast to the northern and southern parts of the region respectively.

See also[]

  • Abbeys and priories in Scotland
  • Castles in Scotland
  • Duke of Fife
  • Earl of Fife
  • Fire and Rescue Authority (Scotland)
  • Historic houses in Scotland
  • List of places in Fife
  • Museums in Scotland


External links[]

Template:Former local government regions of Scotland

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Fife. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.