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29 October 2014
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St Monans Auld Kirk
St Monans Auld Kirk
Just along the coast from Newark Castle, another landmark rises up from the coast to meet you. Displaying the characteristic architectural style of the East Neuk churches, St Monans Auld Kirk forms a quaint and uplifting entrance to the town.

The original church was started by King David II in the 14th century, making it one of the oldest still in use today, and is reputed to be the closest to the shore in the country. The church is unusual in consisting of an unfinished cruciform shape, and has an odd but pleasant stone steeple.

The site has been in use as a place of Christian worship since the 9th Century, although the story differs as to how the village got its name. One story says that St Monan had been a missionary in the Fife area, serving under St Adrian at St Andrews until he was murdered by Danish raiders. Another says that St Monan was actually St Moinenn, the Irish Bishop of Clonfert Brenain, and that it was his relics that were brought to Fife by Irish monks.

Interior of St Monans Auld Kirk
Interior of St Monans Auld Kirk

Whatever the truth, the village took shape under the name of the Saint, and the church sprang up in his honour. The church was significantly renovated in 1828, but still retains much of the charm of the original building. The whitewashed interior walls mirror those of the village houses, and the consecration marks can still be seen clearly on the walls in the form of Celtic Crosses.

However, the church could not be so close to the shore and remain unaffected by the sea, and two models of ships hang from the roof either side of the transept, and the church every year holds a harvest thanksgiving service, a thanksgiving to the harvest from the sea.

Directions: from here you are following the Fife Coastal Trail all the way along the pathway. It's well marked and sign-posted along the way, though steep and not suitable for wheelchairs in several parts. Stop for a snack in Pittenweem, or if you can hold-off till Anstruther, get chips at the end of the walk.

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The walk's stages

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