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Markinch

3.9
Markinch It is a both a town and a parish in the heart of Fife, Scotland. According to an estimate taken in 2008, the town has a population of 2,420. The civil parish had a population of 16,530 (in 2011). Markinch is east of Fife's administrative centre, Glenrothes and preceded Cupar as Fife's place of warranty and justice prior to the 13th century.HistoryMuch of the early history of the town is unknown. The earliest indications of human activity are Balfarg henge and Balbirnie Stone Circle, in an area now incorporated into the new town of Glenrothes, but formerly part of Markinch Parish. They are said to date back to 3,000 BC from the Neolithic period. The earliest written reference is a charter of around 1050 transferring ownership of the church to the Culdees of Loch Leven. Fife's early medieval place of legal assembly is listed as Dalgynch in early Scottish law books and charters. The original site of Dalginch is now believed to have been on the cemetery mound at Northhall, 500m northeast of Markinch Church. The provincial importance of Markinch under the MacDuff Earls of Fife is likely to account for the very high architectural quality of the early 12th century church. The church was originally dedicated to St Drostan but later in the 13th century a re-dedication to St John the Baptist took place. Both saints fair days were celebrated up until the 19th century. The Norman-style tower and the east and west gables date from this early period and chip-cut stone carving can be seen surrounding the tower as well as in reset stones on the south wall. The Hepburn coat of arms was inserted into the west gable by Prior John Hepburn in the early part of the 16th century but none of his work is now visible. The south wall was rebuilt from mainly 12th century masonry when the church was enlarged in the 17th century. Further enlargements to the north took place in the 19th century (1807 and 1884). The octagonal spire on the Norman tower dates from 1807 and is now lacking its four corner pinnacles. 19th century Brunton Church and Balbirnie Church have both been converted for domestic use and the parishes of Thornton and Markinch have been merged. On the northern outskirts of the town beside the East Lodge of Balbirnie House stands the ancient Stob Cross which may be a Pictish Class II symbol stone defaced during the Reformation.
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