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A little over half a mile north east of Pitlessie and 3½ miles south west of Cupar, the observant motorist might notice a track heading south from the A914. A the few hundred yards along it is Kirkton of Cults, nestling at the foot of Cults Hill. Kirkton of Cults is today a tiny, largely residential, hamlet. A lane off to your left, between a house and a garden, leads to Cults Kirk.
There has been a church here for the better part of 800 years, and possibly far longer. In 1234, the church that stood here was consecrated by Bishop David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews. This may not imply the church was newly built at the time. Bishop de Bernham consecrated large numbers of churches, old and new, during his tenure, probably as a means of getting to know his flock and the buildings that served them.
Early written records call the church or series of churches that stood here Quilt, Quilis or Quilque. After the Reformation the name started to appear as Cowlts and Cultis before finally settling as Cults.
The church you see today was built in 1783, during the tenure as minister of the Reverend David Wilkie. Two years later his wife Isabella gave birth to their third son, David, in the old manse at Cults. Sir David Wilkie went on to become one of the most celebrated Scottish artists of his day. He was buried at sea in the Bay of Gibraltar in 1841 and is remembered in Cults Kirk by a fine wall monument which stands to one side of the pulpit. To the other side of the pulpit is a wall monument commemorating his parents, the Reverend David and Isabella Wilkie. Other family memorials can be found elsewhere in the church.
Three windows in the church are especially interesting. One connects the entrance passageway to the body of the kirk and was a leper window, designed to allow residents of the leper colony at nearby Hospital Mill to receive communion. The second is a fine stained glass window by Douglas Hamilton inserted in 1958 to the memory of Lily Colville Marr. And the third is a small circular stained glass window in the west wall of the church below the belfry. This is entitled "The Burning Bush" and was designed and created by Cara MacNeil.
When built in 1793, Cults Kirk had galleries at its east and west ends. These were linked by the north gallery in 1835, creating the internal arrangement you see today. The pulpit is placed centrally on the south wall of the kirk. Directly opposite, on the front of the north gallery is a large clock carrying the inscription "redeem the time". Sermons played a large role in the services of the post-Reformation Kirk. It is tempting to think the clock and its inscription might have been a subtle hint to the minister of the day not to allow his sermons to grow to play too large a role!