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St Monans

(St Monance, Inverin, Inverie, Inweary)
Fife

St. Monans Harbour
©2017 Gazetteer for Scotland

St. Monans Harbour

A fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife, situated between Elie and Pittenweem. Originally known as Inverin, Inverie or Inweary, its present name is derived from a shrine to St. Moineinn established on the shore by early Christian missionaries. The version of the name ending in 'ce' is a possessive form as in once, twice, etc. In the 1890s there was a dispute as to the most appropriate version of the place-name. St. Monance, which appears on Ordnance Survey maps, was favoured until more recent times when St. Monans has found its way back into many documents.

The village grew up around a well which was dedicated to the saint, its water being used to wash fishermen's nets and lines for many centuries. In 1362 King David II gave thanks here after surviving a shipwreck in the Firth of Forth and in gratitude ordered a church to be built. Restored in 1826-28 by William Burn, this building is a prominent feature in the landscape. It was here that American country singer Johnny Cash (1932 - 2003) recorded segments of his 1981 Christmas Special. Actors Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman visited when the church featured as a location in the film The Railway Man (2013).

In addition to many fine pantiled 17th and 18th Century houses there are remains of saltpans which are overlooked by a restored windmill that was used to pump water up from the sea. St Monans gained a railway station in 1863 on the Fife Coast Railway, but this closed in 1965.

On the coastal walk to the west of the settlement are to be found a restored 16th century beehive doocot and the ruins of Newark Castle which was remodelled by David Leslie (later Lord Newark) in 1649. Salt, coal and fishing were the chief industries of St. Monans for many years but during the 20th century it has largely been a centre of tourism and boat building, a trade that has been associated with the town for more than 200 years. Additional small industries such as the production of smoked fish are located on the Netherton Industrial Estate.


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