Largo’s Untold Stories by Leonard Low


Largo’s Untold Stories by Leonard Low is an interesting read. The author doesn’t stick rigidly to writing about the little coastal village of Largo in east Fife. I was very interested to read that there had been a big battle between the Romans and the Pictish tribes at the base of the Lomond Hills in Fife not far from where I live. If you live in the area or you intend to visit the ‘East Neuk’ it would be a good idea to read a book like this first.

Mind you given that some of the history features ‘witch’ burning and torturing I must admit that walking along Largo beach won’t ever be quite the same for me as it was the scene of some horrific acts carried out by jealous and crazed villagers.

He also writes about the real Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk) who came from Largo and about starvation and cannibalism on an expedition in search of the North West Passage which had links to the area.

Lots of stone cist burials have been found locally dating from the 420s AD and some earlier. The first one found was a woman who had been buried in a sitting position. Over the years jewellery has been found when major works have been taking place, such as the building of the railway line when two gold torques were discovered. The Pictish tribes buried their valuables before going to war.

Archaeologically, historically and geologically it’s a very interesting place.

If you are interested in seeing what the area looks like have a look at some images here.

The Weem Witch by Leonard Low

 The Weem Witch cover

I was loaned a copy of The Weem Witch by Leonard Low by a friend after hearing the author talk at a local history group meeting on a different subject. This is an interesting although at times horrific read because in the early 1700s in the coastal villages of Fife a terrible kind of madness took over the inhabitants. The area had suffered badly from an economic downturn and was extremely poverty stricken. Life was miserable for most people there and it didn’t take much for people to point fingers and accuse people of being a witch. In 1704 A bucket which contained some water and coal and left outside a door was claimed to be a witch’s spell. The local bigwigs and particularly a local church minister started to cast around looking for someone to blame for their misfortunes and dragged lots of innocent women and some men into their investigations. Their victims were tortured until they would admit to anything just to make it stop.

The goings-on were objected to by the authorities in Edinburgh who obviously had a bit more common sense about them and that led to so-called witches being released, but the locals must have felt hard done by and when a young woman – Janet Cornfoot – who scraped her living by doing sewing for people was accused of being a witch by one of her drunken clients, they were determined to give her a ghastly end.

This was an interesting read, although as the author himself admitted he does ramble at times and he throws in quite a bit of earlier history to set the scene, which was fine by me, but the people of Pittenweem (which is a village very close to where the author lives) seem to have been a very nasty lot who whipped themselves up to hysterical madness and committed long drawn out murder on the beaches of the East Neuk of Fife. I’ll never feel quite the same about having a walk along those beaches!

East Neuk Easter

Easter Sunday was a gorgeous day in the East Neuk of Fife where we were lucky enough to be celebrating the day at the home of our newly extended family by marriage in Cellardyke. Below are a few photos that I took from their verandah – looking over to the Isle of May in the distance, it was a wee bit hazy.

Isle of May

Isle of May

It was all go on the Firth of Forth – which is really the North Sea at Cellardyke, with next landfall being Norway.


Two lots of rowers went past in quite big boats and they went at quite a lick. There has been an upsurge in competitive rowing between the Fife coastal villages recently although I think it’s mainly women tha take part in it.

You should be able to see one of the big heavy rowing boats in the background. A pod of four dolphins arrived and swam under and around the kayakers for a bit before swimming off further along the coast, but they turned out to be impossible to photograph.

aKayaks 4

Ella and Zinki are waiting patiently at the gate which leads onto the beach. Zinki the spaniel had already cut his paws on shards of shell or something but it didn’t seem to be bothering him much, he was still determined to get into that freezing water again – and he did!
Zinki and Ella

It did get a bit chilly later on, but by then we were into the home-made chocolate so nobody minded. It was a great day.

easter eggs

Crail, a fishing village in Fife, Scotland

Last Saturday, after visiting Cambo to buy some snowdrops we ended up nipping along the coast to the old fishing village of Crail in what they call the East Neuk of Fife, just to have a walk around the place. Below is a photo of the bay, it was a nice bright day and the sea was very clear, but of course it was chilly.


The photo below is of the harbour from above, these coastal villages are all built on cliffs really so they are always very hilly. It’s just a wee harbour so the boats aren’t big. I think it’s only at nearby Pittenweem where they still have the fishing trawlers in the harbour.


No two houses are the same and they’re all very higgledy-piggledy, it’s all so quaint. Again there are the red pan-tiles on the roofs as well as the slate, something which you see all over Fife. The pan-tiles came from Holland as ballast in trading ships, so it’s a similar landscape to Holland. The crow-stepped gables are another feature of old Scottish buildings, the birds are making good use of the roofs for perching on, they must have been getting heat from the roof I think.


You can see the lobster creels piled up close to the gable end of this house, if it wasn’t for the cars this could have been a scene from a couple of centuries ago.


There seems to be quite a good lobster business going on but I doubt if it’s as busy as it was. These East coast fishing villages used to be really thriving but the fishing has not been as good in recent years. By the looks of this though it might be on the up again. I suppose it all has to do with fishing quotas nowadays.


Crail is a lovely place to visit and has the usual tea-rooms, a pottery, an art gallery and some food shops, including an organic food shop.

Birthday Trip

First, many thanks for the birthday felicitations, folks. As it was a lovely bright day we prepared a picnic and went for a drive along the coast.

Just before we left our house I had a delivery of roses from Gordon and Laura, very naughty of them as they were just too extravagant. Must remember to skelp their legs when I see them!

We visited the East Neuk fishing villages of Largo, Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail and then on to the university town of St Andrews. It’s a lovely wee very historical town and the only place that I would like to live in Fife. Unfortunately that’s impossible now as it is so expensive for property, mainly because of all the golf courses in the area. The University of St Andrews is celebrating its 600 birthday this year. Duncan, our eldest is the website editor there.

So after a nice wander around the town and a visit to Fisher and Donaldson the famous bakery, we headed for the bookshops. Then we travelled back to Anstruther as it was getting on for dinner time. We had the birthday meal on Wednesday in Kirkcaldy so dinner was very low key, fish and chips from the famous award winning chippy.

Apparently it was a popular destination for Prince William when he was a student at St Andrews a few years back, and he recommended it to his father, Prince Charles, who took Camilla there for fish and chips recently.

It was good but I don’t think it was the best that we had eaten, we had never sampled it before because the enormous queue had always put us off, but the queue did move fairly quickly. Next time we will try The Wee Chippy which got a very good write up in The Guardian.

Then we just went back home and ate our purchases from the cake shop. We all had strawberry Danish pastries and I couldn’t resist a coffee tower too. Yummy! Jack watched the FIFA World Cup while I had happy birthday ‘phone calls and watched a birthday DVD – One Foot in the Grave. Really funny, I nearly choked at a few points, so a good day was had by all.