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19 September 2014
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Culross - Town HouseDiscover the picturesque town of Culross (pronounced kooriss) on the south-west coast of Fife. Culross has been a Royal burgh since 1588; and with its striking buildings and winding cobbled streets, a visit to the area will transport you straight back in time to 16th and 17th century Scotland. Culross was then a thriving community trading with other Forth ports and the Low Countries in salt and coal. The stunning buildings in the town are a permanent reminder of the architectural influence Europe had on the area.

Thanks to a local merchant and mine owner of the time, Sir George Bruce, the town flourished. Sir George was the first to introduce machinery to drain coal pits and dig deep beneath the sea bed; as a result he helped turn Culross into one of the busiest trade ports on the east coast.

Culross Factsheet

  • The Palace
    Culross PalaceSir George built a mansion in the town between 1597 and 1611 to reflect his wealth and status. As his wealth continued to grow, so did the building , to such an extent that the modest mansion became known as the ‘palace’. He lavishly decorated the palace and you can still see the stunning painted ceiling, ornate features and panelling. Culross Palace is now under the care of the National Trust and has been restored to its 17th century splendour. The palace building, which had faded to a white wash has been restored to its original yellow-orange exterior. The courtyard path and the garden have also been remodelled, with the garden now full of vegetables, herbs and plants, growing as they would have done in the 17th century.

  • The Abbey
    The Cistercian Monks, who were the first to mine the coal along the shores of the River Forth, founded an abbey in Culross, c1217, on land gifted by Malcolm 7th Earl of Fife. The remains of the abbey can still be seen in the town, although there is very little left of the main building. When the Earl died in 1229 his tomb was built into the church of the Abbey, although even today, nobody knows where his remains are situated. After the Reformation, Culross Abbey fell into the hands of the Colville Family of Culross. The original tower of the abbey is now the site of the Parish church which in its current form dates back to around 1632.

  • The narrow cobbled streets of Culross were designed functionally to make walking through the town a clean affair. The raised area in the centre of the cobbles was for the wealthy townsfolk to walk on, to ensure they did not get their shoes or feet dirty.

  • Culross AbbeyKing James VI, on a royal visit by to Culross, was invited by his host, Sir George Bruce, the wealthy merchant and mine owner, to visit one of his mines which tunnelled down beneath the sea bed. The King ventured into the tunnel which went far out into the Firth of Forth and found himself at a shaft point where the coal was loaded onto the ships. Alarmed to find himself surrounded by water at the top of the shaft, his Highness accused Sir George of an attempt on his life and declared that the whole affair was an act of treason! It was only when Sir George pointed out the rowing boat and explained that one could either use that or return by the tunnel
    from whence they came that the King relaxed again - and took the option of the boat journey.

  • Culross is also home to a remarkable story concerning one of Scotland’s most famous Dark Age saints. Thenew, the daughter of Loth, a Pictish king, was disowned by her father over her choice of lover, by whom she was expecting a baby. She was cast away to sea in a boat from Aberlady, and made it as far as Culross where she was rescued by the monks of the abbey there. Her baby boy, Kentigern, was born not long after her arrival in the town and remained under the care of the monks before entering the brotherhood himself. Kentigern later became known as St Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow and one of Scotland’s best loved saints.

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