A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Monimail (Gael. monadh-maol, 'bare hill'), a village and a parish of Fife. The village is 9 furlongs NE of Collessie station, 5¾ miles W by S of Cupar, and 4 N by W of the post-town, Ladybank. The parish, containing also the post offices of Letham (under Ladybank) and Bow of Fife (under Cupar), is bounded N by Dunbog, Creich, and Moonzie, E by Cupar, S by Cults and Collessie, and W by Abdie. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 47/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from N to S, is 37/8 miles; and its area is 6554 acres. Streams there are none of any size, but the drainage is carried eastward to the Eden. The southern portion of the parish is tolerably level, nowhere sinking below 140 or exceeding 287 feet above the sea; but the northern is hillier, attaining 649 feet near Gowdie and 600 at Mount Hill. In the N the soil is mainly composed of clayey loam and decomposed trap, while in the S it is a light, thin alluvium, resting upon gravel. The parish is fairly well-wooded, containing, among others, the Connoquhie and Springfield woods. The Mount was the site of the house of the famous satirical poet, Sir David Lindsay (1490-1555), whom the late David Laing, however, considered to have most likely been born at Garmylton or Garleton near Haddington. The house stood on the S side of the hill, and its place is still marked by some old trees. 'Sir David's Walk,' where, it is said, he was wont to pace up and down while composing his satires, is still pointed out on the top of the hill, which is crowned by the Hopetoun Monument, a Doric column 92 feet high, with a capital of 15 feet, erected to the memory of John, fourth Earl of Hopetoun (1766-1823), the Peninsular hero. A spiral staircase leads to its summit, which commands a very fine view. The following well-known Scotsmen have been connected with Monimail, all but the first being natives:-Sir Robert Sibbald (1641-1712), physician, naturalist, and antiquary, who resided at Upper Rankeillour; Gen. Robert Melville, LL.D. (1723-1809), an eminent military antiquary; David Molyson (17891834), a minor poet; and the two brothers, both 'literary peasants,' Alexander Bethune (1804-43) and John (1802-39). An ancient castle is said to have stood at Balgarvie, but no vestige of it now remains. With reference to it, Sir Robert Sibbald writes: 'It is said that there was here a strong castle, which was taken and levelled by Sir John Pettsworth, as he was marching with the English forces to the siege of the castle of Cupar in the reign of King Robert I.' The lands of Monimail anciently belonged to the Archbishop of St Andrews, who had a castle here, which stood to the N of Melville House. It was originally built by Bishop William Lamberton who died in June 1328, and appears to have been enlarged and improved by Cardinal Beaton, as a head with a cardinal's cap was carved on different parts of the walls. Archbishop Hamilton resided at the castle of Monimail during a severe illness, when the was attended and cured by the famous Italian physician, Cardan. Fernie Castle is noticed separately, as also are the mansions of Balgarvie, Melville, and Rankeillour. Monimail is in the presbytery of Cupar and the synod of Fife; stipend and communion elements have a value of £320. The parish church is a handsome edifice of 1796, with a tower and 600 sittings. There is also a Free church; and two public schools, Easter Fernie and Letham, with respective accommodation for 54 and 75 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 27 and 48, and grants of £21, 6s. and £37, 6s. Valuation (l865) £11,480, 18s., (1884) £11,564, 4s. 10d. Pop. (1801) 1066, (1831) 1230, (1861) 1054, (1871) 918, (1881) 834.—Ord. Sur., shs. 48, 40, 1868-67.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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