A burgh town in NE Fife, Cupar lies on the River Eden at the east end of the Howe of Fife 12 miles (19 km) west of St Andrews.
The former county town of Fife and seat of the Sheriff of Fife, Cupar received its royal charter in 1328 along with the right to trade through a port near Guardbridge on the coast. The town subsequently developed as an administrative and agricultural market centre, functions that continued until 1975 when Glenrothes became the new county town and 1994 when the local market was closed.
Its castle, the seat of the earls of Fife, was the scene in 1535 of the first performance of Ane Pleasant Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis by Sir David Lindsay, a courtier of James V born at the Mount to the northwest of Cupar.
Historic buildings include Preston Lodge, the 17th-century town house of the Prestons of Airdrie; the 17th-century Chancellor's House which was the birthplace of John Campbell who became Lord Chancellor in 1859; the County Buildings (c.1812-17); the Corn Exchange; the Mercat Cross (1683); the Duncan Institute (1870); and Cupar Old and St Michael of Tarvit Parish Church (15th Century, reconstructed in 1785).
Between 1926 and 1972 Scotland's only sugar beet factory operated at Prestonhall. Today, Cupar has as its industries grain milling, food processing, construction, the manufacture of animal feedstuffs, chemicals and furniture, some of which are located to the east of the town in the Prestonhall Industrial and Cupar Trading Estates. It is also the home of Elmwood College and the Bell-Baxter High School, which evolved from the Madras Academy (founded in 1831 by Andrew Bell) and an educational institute 'for young ladies' (founded in 1871 by Lady Baxter of Kilmaron Castle to the north of Cupar).
The town also has a sports centre (Eden Park Leisure Centre), a 9-hole golf course and the Douglas Bader Garden for the disabled as well as angling, curling, football, rugby, cricket, tennis and bowling facilities.