|Saint Monans Old Cemetery|
Also known as: St Monans Churchyard, St Monans Kirkyard
Postal Code: KY10 2BX
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Situated in the East Neuk (east corner) of Fife between Elie and Pittenweem, St Monans, sometimes called St Monance,is an historic fishing village huddled against the shore. Dating back to the 13th Century this church is set in a most picturesque location. St Monans Church, or Kirk is situated within its kirkyard (churchyard) just to the west of the village on the very edge of the sea. It has a very dramatic setting, perched on a low rock, reached over a small valley with a burn (stream) As seen from most directions it has the sea as a backdrop. A more modern cemetery stands further westwards on the upper slopes of the little hill and here can be found the local war memorial. One legend has it that the Scottish King David II had the church built after his ship was caught in a storm whilst crossing the Firth of Forth to give his thanks for his survival. Another is that an eminent visitor to St Monans Shrine arrived with injuries from the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1362. His injuries successfully healed, King David II proceeded to give thanks by building a church. In 1544 the church was burnt down by the English Army and was rebuilt to become the parish church in1646. Having fallen into disrepair in 1950 it was again restored to its final beauty as it is today.. St Monans was originally known as Inverin meaning the village at the mouth of the stream. No one is quite sure when or exactly why the name of the town was changed. There at least six different versions of the story which relate to St Monan, an Irish missionary. But whether the Irish saint ever brought Christianity to St Monans is uncertain but a shrine dedicated to him near St Monans Kirk was certainly a holy site for centuries. Said to contain St Monan's relics, the shrine drew pilgrims to the area and a settlement arose here initially to cater for the needs of the pilgrims. A perennial spring near the shrine, was said to be imbued with holy powers and for years pilgrims came here in search of cures while St Monans' fishermen would dip their nets into the water in the belief or hope that this would increase their catch.
St Monans centrepiece is the harbour which traditionally provided both labour and provisions for the villagers. As well as fish, seaweed washed up on the shore was used by St Monans' farmers to fertilise their crops. The first pier in St Monans was built by Baron Newark in the 15th century. By the 18th century, successful catches of haddock and cod were sold in St Monans and Edinburgh while herring was exported. By 1865, St Monans' fishing industry was so successful that local fishermen paid for the building of a new harbour. To the east of St Monans lies St Monans Windmill which provided yet another sea-based source of income and labour. In 1771, the Newark Coal and Salt Company was established. Low-grade coal extracted nearby was use to heat iron pans to reduce seawater to salt crystals. The salt was then exported from Pittenweem Harbour. When the salt tax was repealed, the industry collapsed and salt production had ceased in St Monans by 1823. The remains of the nine salt-pan houses can still be seen. (text by Geoffrey Gillon)
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