Faith in Fife: A History of Religious Disruption

Thursday 4 August 2022

A one-day symposium held at the University of St Andrews on Saturday 20 August 2022

Please register via Eventrbrite:

For more than a thousand years, Fife has been at forefront of religious change in Scotland. This region played a significant role in the introduction of Christianity to Scotland, was the testing ground for new forms of monasticism in the twelfth century, had some of the earliest contact with Protestant Reform, and was a hotbed of religious dissent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Across successive generations, Fife has been a focal point for religious innovation. At times, change was initiated by religious and political leaders; in other periods, it was triggered by popular movements. Yet whether imposed from above or driven from below, each phase of religious upheaval had consequences for the wider community.

Lately, Fife has been undergoing yet another religious revolution. Within living memory Fife has shifted from being a society dominated by Protestant Christianity to a seemingly much less religious society. Surveys conducted in the 2010s recorded that over fifty percent of Fife residents state that they have no religion. This level of disengagement with formal religion is higher than the national average. It therefore seems an appropriate time to consider why people leave the religious traditions of their predecessors, and the impact of such alterations in belief and practice on individuals and society.

This symposium explores how religious change has been experienced in Fife across the centuries. Bringing together scholars from a wide range of disciplines (including theology, history, art history, archaeology, and musicology) it will seek to understand the factors behind religious change, its varied expressions, and whether there are any lessons for modern communities in the experiences of the past.

The symposium is free to attend, but please do register before Thursday 18 August so we can confirm numbers. There will be cold drinks and snacks served during the morning and afternoon breaks. Lunch will not be provided. However, there is a wide range of bakeries, supermarkets and cafes in central St Andrews. Given the recent rise in Covid case numbers attendees are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Please contact Dr Bess Rhodes at [email protected] with any queries about this event.


9.30-9.50 Arrive at Lower Parliament Hall

9.50-10.00 Welcome

10.00-11.20 Session 1: The Early and High Middle Ages and their Legacy

11.20-11.30 Break

11.30-12.50 Session 2: Late Medieval and Early Modern

1.00-1.45 Session 3: Religious Records (Martyrs Kirk, North Street)

1.45-2.40 Lunch

2.40-4.00 Session 4: Late Modern

4.00-5.00 Round Table: Experiences of Religious Change in Fife – Past, Present, and Future

5.10-6.00 Tour of Holy Trinity Church, South Street

N.B. With the exception of the Religious Records Session (held at the University of St Andrews’ Special Collections at Martyr’s Kirk) and the tour of Holy Trinity Church, all sessions are held in Lower Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews.

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