Scotland Traveloholic

Travel Guide to charming Culross in Fife

If you happen to know the TV series called Outlander (which I’m sure you know), it may not be anything new to present you the beautiful village of Culross, but what do you really know about this wonderful and picturesque place?

If the name of this series doesn’t ring any bells for you then maybe it’s a good idea to get to know the area and enjoy the journey through time. My guide will show you everything you need to know about this remarkable village in Scotland.

Preserved 16th Royal Burgh

The magic of the village has been preserved thanks to the support of the National Trust for Scotland, an organisation that since 1932 has been taking care of the buildings and surroundings of the Culross. That’s one of the reasons why this beautiful town looks like if the time would stop there between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Culross was previously former royal burgh and the parish located in Fife, which still fascinates with its unique atmosphere. Cobblestone narrow streets, picturesque little houses and a beautiful view of the Firth of Forth are the elements that make Culross an incredibly charming place.

However, even though this town looks as if it is a beautiful museum, it is not a one because is inhabited by people, the modern ones, not dressed up as taken from the medieval times. This place fascinates not only with its unusual character but also with its great and mysterious history. Therefore, it is worth to discover something more about this charming town.

Some sources state that St Mungo, also known as St Kentigern, was born in Culross.   A story recounted in the 12th century ‘Life of Saint Mungo’ by Jocelin of Furness tells how Mungo’s mother, Theneva (also variously spelled Denw, Teneu or Thanea), was the daughter of King Loth of the Gododdin, an area south of Edinburgh that corresponds roughly with the present-day East Lothian.  

Theneva became pregnant by Owain mab Urien, son of the King of Rheged, and her father, in his fury, tied her to a chariot which he drove off the summit of a hill named Traprain Law.  Finding her unharmed, he then cast her adrift in a coracle, into the Forth estuary.   By some miracle the pregnant woman arrived safely on the northern shore, at Culross, where Mungo was born.

Culross founding legend, Culross Abbey, The Hazel Tree

Culross back in a days

If we travel back in time in order to understand the importance of this beautiful city, it is worth mentioning that the main industry of the town was coal mining and salt panning.

Coal mining was introduced by monks who lived in Culross Abbey centuries ago.

When the town became a royal borough, it also became a very successful trading port in Europe, and as the maritime industry developed, many wealthy merchants came to Culross. As a result, Culross owes them unique buildings and beautiful interiors, as well as ceiling paintings that delight the modern visitor of this magical place.

When maritime trade moved to other cities, Culross, taken under the wing of the National Trust for Scotland, retained its unique character.

Discover Culross famous landmarks

Culross is thought to be one of Scotland’s most scenic towns in the southwest of Fife. Historically, it is thought that the city was founded by St. Serf, which adds a pinch of sanctity to this place that is easy to believe when you look at the wonderful view of the Firth of Forth.

Culross Palace

The gorgeous Culross Palace is really a mansion, not a palace, however, will delight you with its tiny rooms, which reflect the 17th-century interiors. Walking through the narrow corridors that connect them, you can easily experience the atmosphere of a medieval house and thanks to the beautiful ceiling paintings you will not be able to take your eyes off them.

This place was originally a home of Sir George Bruce who revolutionised the coal mining industry in Culross, so it is worth enter into this place but keeps in mind that taking photos is not allowed there.

Tickets can be buy in the Town Hall.

Culross Palace Garden

When you were already amazed by the beautiful palace, it is worth to look into the garden which surrounds the property. This garden delights with plants, herbs and vegetables originating from the medieval period, which creates even more fascinating impression.

You can also buy fresh and seasonal herbs, fruits and vegetables that are grown organically. This will support the local community, which is very important in such small towns.

Town House

However, if you want to feel the thrill of the gloomy mystery and medieval darkness, visit Town House where witches were historically judged and kept before executions.

Photo by Beth

The walls of this building probably saw a lot of family tragedies. So it is worth to take some time to get to know the local history. Remember that every place has secrets that you cannot be discovered at once but be curious and careful as you may be surprised.

Mercat Cross

From the Town House, it is only a few steps to Mercat Cross where witches were sentenced to death. Today, a charming, quiet courtyard surrounded by tiny buildings once could have chilled the blood in many people’s veins.

Mercat Cross is also a place where there is a monument listed as an ancient monument of Scotland in the A category. Its octagonal base is dated back to around 1600. This is a very charming and historic place in the heart of Culross.

The Study

The Study is a wonderful, high, white house dating back to approximately the year 1610. The legend says that it was the place where Bishop Robert Leighton of Dunblane wrote his sermons.

Photo by James Stringer

The building astonishes with its original fireplaces and wooden panelling. It is one of the many picturesque spots in Culross where the spirit of the medieval ages clings to the visitors. Moreover, it is the second largest building in the whole town after Culross Palace.

While walking to the centre of Culross, which is Mercat Cross, mind that streets feature a crown o’ the casusie, or raised section down the middle, whehe oly the most wealthy people could walk.

Culross Abbey

Culross Abbey is now partly the ruins; however, originally it was a Cistercian monastery dating back to the 1200s. It used to be inhabited by monks, and hardly anyone is surprised that they choose this place because the abbey is located on a steep slope with a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape.

A place full of peace, nature and beauty can truly relax and create an atmosphere for profound reflection.

Culross in Outlander Series

For the uninitiated, Outlander is an American TV series that combines drama, romance and science fiction. It is an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s novel under the same title and tells the story of Claire Randall, who unexpectedly travels in time from World War II to XVIII century.

This is a mixture of the twentieth and eighteenth centuries, which miraculously matches the atmosphere of the medieval world, which is portrayed in the wonderful locality of Culross.

Culross has been featured in each of the Outlander series and shows places such as Mercat Cross and surrounded streets as well as the interior of Culross Palace.

A Fantastic Day Out in Culross

Culross is a remarkable hidden gem located on the coast of the Firth of Forth. It’s a beautiful, charming place with lots of cosy cafes where you can sit and relax having a great cup of coffee while enjoying spectacular views. It’s also worth mentioning that when you arrive in town, you’ll easily find a parking lot with accessible toilets, which is a definite convenience.

Either if you are a fan of the series or if you are simply bewitched by the medieval towns or the charming alleys, Culross is something you definitely need to experience. The combination of magic, history and nature with the proximity of the sea is a recipe for the perfect day out. Remember about comfy shoes and set off on a journey to another world.

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