The Retirees go Abroad – Home for a Few Days then off to the Tattoo – Culross and North Queensport in the Kingdom of Fife

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We left Harrogate relaxed and prepared for rain wind hail and a long trip to Dunfermline. Due to the Edinburgh Festival the Edinburgh Fringe and the Tattoo accommodation was at a premium in Edinburgh. Dunfermline is in the Kingdom of Fife and just north of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth Bridge.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express but the trip to get there was very tiring. Traffic snarls and Tommy leading us up the garden path meant when we arrived we just needed a drink. Fortunately the predicted bad weather did not eventuate. After some dreadful takeaway and the subsequent indigestion, we slept soundly awaking to a bright sunshiny day with little cloud in the sky. A great day for the Tattoo and our planned visit to the ancient village of Culross and the old ferry port of North Queensport.

Culross is a village and former royal burgh in Fife, Scotland. Originally Culross served as a port city on the Firth of Forth and is believed to have been founded by Saint Serf during the 6th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the town was a centre of the coal mining industry. Sir George Bruce of Carnock, who built the splendid ‘Palace’ of Culross and whose elaborate family monument stands in the north transept of the Abbey church, established at Culross, the first coal mine in the world to extend under the sea, in 1575. The mine worked the coal seam under the Firth, with ingenious contrivances to drain the constant leakage from above. This mine was considered one of the marvels of the British Isles in the early 17th century, until it was destroyed in a storm, in 1625.

Photos of the palace and the family monument in the Abbey church.

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Culross’ secondary industry was salt panning. There was a considerable export trade by sea in the produce of these industries and the prevalence of red roof tiles in Culross and other villages in Fife is thought to be a direct result of collier ships returning to Culross with Dutch roof tiles as ballast. The town was also known for its monopoly on the manufacture of ‘girdles’, i.e. flat iron plates for baking over an open fire. The town’s role as a port declined from the 18th century, and by Victorian times it had become something of a ‘ghost town’. The harbour was filled in and the sea cut off by the coastal railway line in the second half of the 19th century. The village has some unusual street names also.

Photos of the town buildings, streets and the sea wall

The other notable building is the remains of the Cistercian house of Culross Abbey, founded 1217. The tower, transepts and choir of the Abbey Church remain in use as the parish church, while the ruined claustral buildings are cared for by Historic Scotland.

There is a bust in honour of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald outside the Culross Town House. He was the first Vice Admiral of Chile.

Photos of the bust Town House and Cistercian Abbey ruins.

We also visited North Queensport the home of the world’s smallest light house. Primarily we went there to view the rail bridge the road bridge and the new bridge under construction. The village was also a snapshot of history losing its importance as a ferry port when the road bridge terminated a need for a ferry service.

Photos of the rail bridge, the road bridge the stanchions of the new road bridge the modern Liner terminal, the smallest lighthouse and someone’s lounge room we mistook for the lighthouse.

I would have to say that Culross was one of the prettiest villages we have visited. We had arrived early and we seemed to be following the postie or vice versa. We chatted to him few times and noted he was wearing shorts and a short sleeve cotton shirt whilst we were dressed much more warmly. He pointed out a few things particularly that the television series Outlander and several motion pictures have used Culross as a location.

We returned to the hotel just in time to rug up for the Tattoo as the clear skies had brought the cold and the wind.

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