Fife – first time mentioned

The first time that “Fife” occurs in writing is in the verses ascribed to St Columba:-

“Seven children of Cruthne

Divided Alban into seven divisions-

Cait, Ce, Cirig, a warlike clan,

Fib, Fidach, Fotla, Fortren.”

The learned editor of the “Chronicles of the Picts and Scots” says :- “This legend means simply that the territory occupied by the Cruthne consisted of seven provinces bearing these names. Fib is obviously Fife; Fotla appears in the name Athfodla, the old form of the word corrupted into Athole.” It is worthy of note that Fib, in the speech of South Jutland, to which reference has been made, is pronounced exactly as the modern name of Fife. Mr Robertson, in his valuable history of ” Scotland under her Early Kings” (vol. ii, p. 32), gives the meaning of fibh as ” the Forest.” It is deserving to notice, too, that the term Kingdom applied to Fife is no mere pleasantry of modern times, because the district is seperated from the rest of the country by the Forth and Tay. The appellation is of great antiquity. In the tract of ” The Scots of Dalriada,” the following words occur:- “The men of Fife in the Sovereignty;” and Wyntoun in his “Cronykil,” written about A.D. 1380, styles Fife ” a Kynrick” or Kingdom.

From Fife: Pictorial and Historical its Peoples, Burghs, Castles and Mansions, by A.H.Millar, F.S.A. Scot. 1895.

Sir Robert Sibbald, in his History of Fife and Kinross, informs us that “in the ancient language of the Picts it (Fife) was called Ross, which signifieth a peninsula, and that it was the best part of their kingdom, where their kings had their royal seat.” Hence it has been the custom to designate it the “Kingdom of Fife,” a popular phrase retained to this day.

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