Collessie: a hidden gem

After taking tea in Cupar the other day, my delightful assistant and I stumbled upon an attractive and interesting little hamlet, tucked away off a main road.

I was driving through it, slowly taking in its charm but not particularly intending to stop (the weather wasn’t terribly pleasant), when I saw something that isn’t very common in Scotland – a house with a thatched roof:

Thatched roof in Collessie

They do pop up here and there, but I think of this style of roofing as more of an English thing.

First I spotted the one above, and then I saw another:

Another thatched roof in Collessie

I don’t know if Collessie has ever been used as a location for films or TV dramas but I think it definitely has potential.


It even has a little stream running under the road:

Collessie burn

There are some interesting old buildings, including this one which has tiny high up windows and a collection of pots, sticks and ornaments outside. It also has a thatched roof:

Interesting building in Collessie

The delightful assistant thought that Collessie could be listed on this blog as an Intriguing Sight, and we were certainly intrigued by the white dome-shaped structure below, which had logs stored in the lower part. I wondered if it might be an oven of some sort:

Curious domed structure

I don’t know quite why I find this next point so satisfying, but it gladdens my heart when I see buildings that can be accessed at different levels front and back:

Different levels in Collessie

We were walking up a little hill through Collessie, at the top of which stood a fine looking church. The churchyard dates back to the 12th century, although the present church was constructed in 1838. Apparently, this building was built because the previous one had started to sink into the graveyard, causing a dampness that was disagreeable to the congregation.

Collessie Kirk

Rather curiously, the churchyard wall had a yellow building stuck into it:

Sir James Melville's tomb

A plaque on the wall next to it declared the yellow building to be the tomb of Sir James Melville (1535-1617) and described him as “a distinguished soldier, courtier and diplomat during the 16th century”. At the age of 14 he was sent to France to attend a young Mary Queen of Scots, later serving both her and her son, James VI, in Scotland.

Sir James Melville plaque

I did try to enter the tomb but the door was locked. I know you can’t generally get inside graves and coffins, but somehow the idea of him being locked inside that building seemed a bit sinister to me.

The locked tomb

We didn’t spend much time in the graveyard, because it was rather chilly, but I did notice one particular gravestone. The white lichen on some of the petals and the yellow on the stamens seemed fittingly positioned:

Lichen on gravestone

If you ever happen to be driving along the A91 between Cupar and Auchtermuchty, I recommend the slight detour that takes you through the delightful hamlet of Collessie.

The detour also takes you past another church, Monimail Parish, just along the road from Collessie. Although, as with Collessie, we couldn’t get into the building itself, we walked all round the church at Monimail and noted that it was very well cared for. Every door was painted in black gloss and all the handles and lock plates were neatly touched up in gold paint.

Monimail Parish Church painted nicely

Monimail Parish Church


52 thoughts on “Collessie: a hidden gem

  1. What a lovely place, I’ll need to investigate further. It reminds me of places like Falkland and Glamis as well as Fordyce in Aberdeenshire. There are some beautiful hidden places in Scotland, thanks for sharing these intriguing sights.

    • Thank you Anne, it reminded me a bit of Glamis too, because of the thatched roofs. I don’t know Fordyce at all but it sounds like a place I’d like to see. Thanks for the tip!

  2. What a wonderful little town! It was like stepping back in time. I actually love walking around graveyards, finding the oldest headstone, and trying to imagine the lives of the people buried there. My family thinks I’m a little odd.

  3. It is cute. I think that’s maybe a home made pizza oven Lorna. It looks like one some friends have. But I think you can could just bread, and maybe other things in them too.

  4. It’s a really pretty place that you and your delightful assistant found! There seem to be some lovely areas to explore and take a stroll. It’s great that you’re so adventurous!

    • Thank you Meg but I had no idea what awaited us down that side road, it was a complete surprise. I sometimes wonder how many other delightful little places I miss by not deliberately exploring more often.

  5. what a real gem of a village which you have teased me so much with, I have now added to my bucket list – thanks for the kind words over the holidays and all your support this past year – Scott

    • You could do such a great job photographing that place Scott, I hope you manage to visit it some time. I’m excited about your future and really hope the photography takes off in a big way for you this year, thank you for providing so many stunning images.

  6. A place with which I am acquainted, unfortunately when you are a child you don’t notice those things that adults see. Thank you for showing me the sights of Collessie that I missed when I was a child. As you say, a beautiful little village. I will need to revisit when next in Scotland.

    • I suppose when you’re a child you notice lots of interesting things closer to ground level, and perhaps not so much the buildings and general environment. I wonder what you’ll make of it if you revisit next time you’re over here, I’d be interested to know!

  7. Lorna, what a lovely spot. So comforting to see it and your photos due it such a good service. The white dome almost looks like a wood burning oven which these days in the U.S. are a popular item for preparing pizzas and chickens.
    So enjoyed this little trip off the side road with you and your able assistant. Reminded me a bit of the small villages in the Yorkshire Dales in England. So quaint.

    • Thank you Linda, I think you’re right about the oven, it seems to make sense with the logs underneath, although Scotland isn’t known for its outdoor cooking. I was concerned that the photos weren’t up to much, due to the grey day and my lack of ability to do much other than point and shoot, but your comments have reassured me. 🙂

  8. I also was reminded of trips to England with the thatched roofs. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us and providing us with interesting pictures. I very much enjoyed this. 🙂

    • Thank you Alison, I would love to showcase some more thatched roofs, I can think of some others in Scotland but I must admit a little holiday in England wouldn’t go amiss. 🙂

  9. What a charming place! You could almost imagine you were in southern England, except for the colour of the stone. I love the house with two alternative entrance levels – I’d never be able to choose which one to use – and I also love the houses with gardens that can be accessed over the bridge. That might be more of a worrying feature with all the recent floods, though! The tomb of Sir James Melville is fascinating – it looks as if the walls have been cleaned and restored recently, like the Great Hall at Stirling Castle, which is now a similar creamy-gold colour. You always find such interesting places!

    • That’s a good point about the flood risk Jo, the stream is pretty close to ground level of nearby houses. I think you’re right about the upkeep of the tomb, it does look very nicely preserved. Perhaps some members of his family look after it. Thank you for your comments, but I fear I miss a great deal through not exploring enough. On the up side, I’m fairly certain of there always being something new to find, which is a nice thought.

  10. What an unexpected find! I would never have guessed you were in Scotland from the photos. Thanks for sharing Collessie with us!

  11. Hi Lorna, it’s a truly charming little township and I don’t know I’ve ever seen a window up that high in a little cottage/home. As for the memorial, plaques etc they carry so much history and reverence.

    Love the glossy black doors and shiny gold-painted door knobs too 🙂

    • Hi Alice, it’s strange, the wee windows up high, isn’t it? I wonder if the building was a grain store or something, it’s certainly a bit unusual. I loved the paint too. 🙂

    • I agree Lucinda, the street lights are a bit of a give away, and strangely they were all on in the early afternoon, emitting an unhelpful orange glow, but without them it might be hard to tell which century you were in.

  12. Oh my, what a delightful place Collessie is and you captured it so well in the photographs. I almost feel as if I were there with you. This is just the sort of place I love to explore. I also enjoy visitig old graveyards. I can think of a few stories already……..

  13. That’s a rather a lovely little place Lorna. Why is thatch so uncommon in Scotland? Is it because the raw material is less abundant? I guess if it wasn’t readily to hand in days of yore it would have been prohibitively expensive.

    No tearoom though?

    (PS I’ve been neglecting my blog following duties over the last few weeks so I’m going to camp out here now for a few posts and enjoy catching up! 🙂 )

    • I don’t know Finn, maybe it’s something to do with the weather? Thatch contains a fair bit of maintenance, and perhaps the Scottish climate isn’t very good for it. It could also be to do with the materials not being available though, that would make sense.

      No tearoom on this occasion, but then we had just come from a tearoom in Cupar (previous post) so we were well filled when visiting Collessie.

      (Thank you for catching up, I’m afraid I’ve published far too many posts lately – displacement activity when I should have been working on my novel!)

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