Falkland, situated in historic Fife, shot to importance in the 14th century when the Stewart monarchy acquired Falkland Castle from Macduff, the Thane of Fife. Unlike the Picts who had built a fort on the East Lomond for defensive purposes the Stewarts were most interested in Falkland as a place of sport and relaxation. The name of Falkland is associated with falconry which was one of the popular sports in the area and the Howe of Fife with its vast forests was ideal for hawking as well as hunting deer and wild boar.
Blessed with a Royal presence, Falkland was made a Royal Burgh by James II in 1458 and the village prospered. Between 1453 and 1541 the old castle was transformed into a beautiful Royal Palace which was one of the finest Renaissance Palaces in Britain.
Yet for all its splendor the Palace was often cloaked in the intrigue of Scottish politics. In 1402 the Duke of Rothesay, son of Robert III, was imprisoned in the Palace by his uncle the Duke of Albany and eventually died a cruel death from neglect and starvation. James V was ill at Falkland when he heard that his wife had given birth to a daughter - Mary Queen of Scots.
Falkland was a popular retreat with all the Stewart Kings and Mary Queen of Scots but in 1603 when James VI took his court to London for the Union of the Crowns this signalled the end of an era both for the Palace and the village.
Although Charles I and II both visited Falkland times had changed and later Cromwell's invading troops set fire to the Palace which quickly fell into ruin. In 1887 the restoration of the Palace was started by John Patrick Crichton Stuart, the keeper of the Palace.
To this day the family continue to hold the position of both Constable and Keeper of the Royal Palace of Falkland. A tour of the Palace will visit the Keeper's bedroom with the elaborately carved Four poster bed of James VI, the 16th century Chapel Royal with its painted ceiling, the Tapestry Gallery and many other beautiful rooms which successfully capture the atmosphere of another era.
The Palace Gardens have again been beautifully laid out and situated in one corner is the oldest Royal Tennis Court in Britain which was built in 1539 for James V.
Today Falkland still prospers and yet still retains its ancient character which makes it definitely worth a visit. The village street contain many attractive features. Look out for the red pantiled roofs, the thatched roofs and crow-stepped gables.
The restoration of the Palace, the crafts shops, weavers cottage, restaurants and hotels all contribute towards a wonderful village.