Pittenweem Priory

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Pittenweem Priory was an Augustinian priory located in the village of Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland. Originally a Benedictine community founded from Reading Abbey in England and based on the Isle of May, it was relocated to Pittenweem by 1318, and placed under the control of the Augustinian canons regular of St Andrews Priory.

File:Pittenweem Priory Gatehouse.jpg
The fortified east gatehouse in 2015

In the Middle Ages, Pittenweem Priory was a small Augustinian monastery linked to that on the Isle of May and built over the ancient sacred cave associated with Saint Fillan. The cave, recently fitted out as a chapel, is situated in Cove Wynd (leading from the High Street down to the harbour) and is open to the public with the key available locally from the Cocoa Tree Cafe. From this rough dwelling Fillan is said to have converted the local Pictish population. The cave was re-discovered around 1900 when a horse ploughing in the priory garden fell down a hole into it. The cave has flat rocks that are presumed to be 'beds' and a small spring of "holy water" at the rear. St Fillan's Cave was also used as prison for witches during the witch hunts of the 17th-18th centuries (see below).

A shrine was dedicated to Saint Adrian of May on that island. It is said that Adrian's monks undertook the first harbour improvements, laying the foundation for the fishing industry, but no evidence for this currently exists.

The present Church of Scotland parish kirk is on the site of the priory church. Much of the fortified east gatehouse of the priory survives (15th century), as does the 'Great House', one of Scotland's best-preserved late medieval houses, which may have served as living quarters for the prior and monks.

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