Ceres is an ancient village lying three miles south of Cupar in Eastern Fife. The village was certainly well established by the time of the Battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314. A year after the return of local men who had taken part in the battle alongside Robert the Bruce, a village games was staged. The Ceres Games have been held annually on the last Saturday in June ever since, making them the oldest games in Scotland.
Overlooking the large green on which the Ceres Games are held, is a more modern memorial to Bannockburn and the men of Ceres who fought there. Sadly, 1314 was not the last time local men left Fife to go to war for their King or Queen and Country. 120 local men formed part of the Fife and Forfar Light Horse which took part in the Boer War.
And then, in the year of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, local men volunteered in large numbers at the outbreak of the First World War. The Roll of Honour in the Village Hall and Parish Church show the large number of men from the Parish of Ceres who gave their lives between 1914 and 1918, and then again between 1939 and 1945.
Ceres was probably named after St Cyr, an early Christian martyr. Its early history is closely linked with the histories of the local landholding families. These included the Hopes of Craighall Castle, which once stood ¾ of a mile south east of the village. Also influential locally was the Inglis family, who built Scotstarvit Tower two miles west of Ceres in the 1500s. Sir John Scott, who purchased Scotstarvit Tower in 1611, held a number of high offices of state, including Director of Chancery, Lord of Session, and Privy Councillor. Scott is said to have travelled to London on Government business no fewer that 24 times: a serious piece of commuting in the days before railways or steam ships.
It was the Hopes of Craighall who made Ceres a Burgh of Barony in 1620, giving it a number of trading rights that allowed it to develop into a focus of the local area (though never one that was to compete with Cupar to the north). The bridge over the Ceres Burn that existed when Blaeu mapped the area in 1642 still exists today, though it is now for pedestrian use only.
Ceres is a remarkably unspoiled and attractive village. As you wander the streets you do - except for the parked cars - get a sense of travelling back in time. The focus of the village is marked by the Ceres Burn and the Main Street that parallels its east bank. At the north end of the Main Street you find Ceres Church, built here in 1806 on the site of a medieval church. Nearby is Meldrums Hotel, and the Griselda Hill Pottery, which now produces Wemyss Ware pottery.
The southern end of Main Street lies nearer the historical heart of Ceres. Nearby you find the modern bridge over the Ceres Burn; the Ceres Inn; and, housed in the old tolbooth, the Fife Folk Museum, which opened here in 1968.
Also nearby is a statue housed in a niche in a wall. This depicts the Reverend Thomas Buchanan, who served as the last church provost in 1578. This statue has stood in a number of different locations in this part of the village since it was initially carved in the mid 1800s by John Howie of Saughtree. Beneath the statue is a carved panel, also by John Howie, depicting the Battle of Bannockburn.
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