A hamlet in a parish of the same name in north-east Fife, Monimail lies on the northern edge of the Howe of Fife on a minor road between the villages of Collessie and Letham. " Howe " is the name given to the fertile farming area of central Fife in the valley of the River Eden between Strathmiglo and Cupar. The term 'howe' is derived from an old Scots word meaning a hollow, valley or flat tract of land.
Monimail once had a meal mill, smithy and brewhouse, but its origin is probably closely associated with a precursor of Monimail Tower (1578), a residence of the Bishops of St Andrews. The last cleric to reside here was Archbishop Hamilton who allegedly was cured of asthma by the Italian astrologer Cardan who advised him to drink water from a well nearby now known as Cardan's Well. The tower is incorporated into the garden wall of Melville House which was built between 1697 and 1703 by the 1st Earl of Melville to a design by James Smith. Monimail Parish Church (1794-97) has a four-stage Gothic tower built in 1811 by R. Hutchison.
Letham, is an attractive village in Monimail Parish NE Fife, 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Cupar. The heart of the old village is approached by a row of 18th and 19th century cottages. Sand and gravel are extracted from the nearby Mountcastle Quarry.
Fernie is another hamlet in Monimail Parish, Fife. Fernie is situated to the east of the village of Letham on the A 914 road to the Tay Bridge. Fernie Castle, now a hotel, is a 16th century tower house once owned by the Balfour family
Monimail Tower is located in the village of Monimail between Collessie and Letham, in the Howe of Fife. Monimail Tower is a 16th century tower whose main remnant is of the medieval palace of the Archbishops of St. Andrews. Major restoration work is ongoing to improve not only the tower but also the grounds and associated visitor facilities.
Extract from A descriptive & historic gazeteer of the counties of Fife, Kinross & Clackmannan, M Barbieri, published in 1857
"Monimail parish occupies a portion of the central valley of Fifeshire. It is bounded on the north by Cupar, Moonzie, Creich and Dunbog; on the south by Collessie and Cults; on the east by Cupar and on the west by Abdie and Collessie. It is 5 miles long by 4 in breadth. A range of whinstone hills lies to the north, of which Mount Hill is the highest; on top of which a beautiful pillar has been erected in memory of the late Lord Hopetoun in 1826; it is upwards of 100 feet in height. The south portion is generally more level, and diversified by soft undulations. The parish is watered by several rivulets, one of them turning a mill-wheel without a dam; they all fall into the river Eden. The Fife breed of cattle, and the Ayrshire cows for milk, are preferred. Though sheep are not reared, they are largely bought to feed on turnips through the winter. Potatoes are rather extensively cultivated for the London market, as also for feeding cattle. The rent of the land will run from £1-5s to £3-10s per acre. Coal has to be brought from Markinch or Dysart. The south half contains freestone, sufficient for local use. The whinstone, though abundant, is with few exceptions unfit for building, as it soon yields to the action of the atmosphere. Weaving of linens is carried on in the parish to the annual value of 'between £2000 and £3000'. Parish church and Free church. Parish school and three private schools. There are 3 public houses in the parish. There are 2 parish libraries; and a flourishing friendly society. There is one village, Letham, with 450 inhabitants; it is 4 miles west of Cupar and 5 miles east of Auchtermuchty; it has an annual fair in June. There are 2 hamlets in the parish: Monimail with 85 inhabitants and Easter Fernie with 60."