View of Parbroath from Blaeu's Atlas, 1654.
Parbroath or "Perbroth" from Blaeu's Atlas c.1654.
National Library of Scotland





Parbroath Estate, 21st century.
Modern photo of the Parbroath Estate remains.





Falkland Palace
Details from Falkland Palace, 2010.





Portrait of Saint Elizabeth Seton, from the family or Parbroath.
Saint Elizabeth Seton of the New York Seton's, of the family of Parbroath, 2004.

A History of Parbroath

A location in North Fife comprising of a farm, ruined castle and doocot, and a major intersection in the trunk road network, Parbroath is located 4 miles (6 km) NW of Cupar (Cowper) and 5 miles (8 km) north of Ladybank. The cross-roads takes the A92, which links Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy to the Tay Road Bridge and Dundee, across the A913, which links Newburgh to Cupar.
Of the ancient castle of Parbroath which belonged to the oldest branch of the family of Seton, which branch were senior's in the cadets at the time of the Seton's of Winton accession to the chiefship, nothing remains: the old triangular-shaped castle was surrounded by a moat, and over which there was a draw-bridge is now gone, save part of an arch from one of the barrel vaulted ground floors, surrounded by a few old trees, which has been carefully preserved by desire of the Earl of Hopetoun.  However, the park in which they were situated is still called the "Castlefield" to this day.

The Seton's of Parbroath became Hereditary Keepers of Falkland Palace, Royal Comptrollers, Justiciar's and Sheriffs of Fife, and contributed endlessly to the Church and Clergy.  The more noted branches of the family of Parbroath being, Kinglass, Lathrisk, Ramelrie, Rumgavie and Strathmiglo.

The Lands and Estate of Parbroath are of great antiquity, and the three earliest mentions in a Charter are: 1st from King William the Lion in 1165, to the Kinloch's of Fife of 5 Baronies, Lithrie, Cruvie, Parbroath, Kinslief and Colessie, and others; 2nd further Charters acquired by the Kinloch's circa 1230 by Roger de Quincy, Constable of Scotland to John de Kinloch of the lands of Parbroath and Kinsliep; and the 3rd Charter circa 1300 and confirmed by William of Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, to William de Kinloch; all of which Charters came into the possession of the antiquary, Hamilton of Wishaw, when he acquired the lands of Weddershie from the Kinloch family during the 18th century.
Following the Wars of Independence, Parbroath had passed to the influential family's of Balfour and Ramsay, but it was not long to remain with those House's, and within a generation had passed to the knights of the Royal House, and that of the Seton family.
Sir John Seton the fourth son of the famed Sir Alexander Seton and Lady Christian Cheyne of Straloch, but the second surviving son of the Keeper of Berwick who was noted during the siege of that town by England's King Edward, was the founder of the Seton's of Parbroath.  Sir John married the heiress Elizabeth Ramsay sometime after 1333, who was given by King David II to his father to bestow on his son, and became the 1st Baron of Parbroath.
Numerous charters were dated from the mansion in the 15th and 16th centuries.  In 1512, the estate of Parbroath became Royal property through non-entry for 50 years, however James IV restored it to the family and to it's rightful heir, John Seton of Parbroath.
David Seton, 7th of Parbroath, (d.24.11.1601), succeeded his grandfather in 1563, and was Ranger of East and West Lomonds of Falkland, as well as Falkland Palace, and was Comptroller of the Scottish Revenue from 1589 to 1595.  He was a faithful adherent to Queen Mary Stuart and noted for his assisting and fortifying the Castle and City of Edinburgh along with Chatellerault, Huntly, Kirkaldy of Grange and others against the Regent Moray, for the interest of the infant son of Queen Mary, King James VI, for which he was later pardoned when King James came of age. 
His heir, George Seton, 8th and Last Baron of Parbroath, sold the vast Barony of Parbroath, with it's extended lands in Fife to the Lindsays before 1633, the castle falling into disrepair by the mid-18th century and became a crumbling ruin.  By the following century it had been cleared and it's stones carried away or used to fill in the moat in favour of farming.
The only remnant of the once unique and proud Parbroath Castle, similar to that of Caerlavrock or the original Seton Castle of the 14th century, is a fragment of a vault standing in a field 300 yards southwest of Parbroath farm, a fragment of freestone, 8.0m long by 3.0m high and 0.8m thick at base, showing the commencement of a barrel vault. Some small stones are scattered about 12.0m east of the wall, but there are no definite traces of foundations.

The course of the bailey has been plotted from air photographs; the ditch of the roughly triangular bailey that had enclosed the castle is visible as a crop-mark on air photographs. It measures 600' long by 400' max width with one corner south of the main Newburgh-Cupar road.

What does remain of the Seton estate, is a roofless rectangular 17th century dovecot, built of rubble and harled with crow-stepped flanks, that stands in a field 250 yards W of Parbroath farm.

Of the late farm-buildings at Parbroath, the simple and oblong chapel once associated with it, was for a time used as a barn.  However, what had at one time been the Seton of Parbroath's private estate chapel and where at it and at the nearby church of Creich, divine service was performed on alternate Sabbaths, there is no evidence of a chapel in the farm buildings that remain today. 

In confirmation of a chapel having been there, a few years ago when the foundation of a wall was dug up close by the site of the old barn, some graves were discovered, which had formed part of the burying-ground connected with the chapel.

The site the long disused graveyard of the estate chapel, is now part of a field and part of the garden adjoining Parbroath farm house, and, in about 1825-30, large quantities of human bones were dug up when making a fence through it to enclose the garden.  There are numerous natural knolls on the Parbroath farm, and two stone coffins containing human bones were also found on knolls a little east of Parbroath, and two urns containing human bones were found in knolls a little west of Parbroath

It is not unlikely that this chapel may have been the Capella belonging to the parish of Creich, mentioned by Sibbald in his history of Fife.

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