In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Fife like this:
Fife (or Fifeshire), maritime co. in E. of Scotland; is bounded N. by the Firth of Tay, E. by the North Sea, S. by the Firth of Forth, and W. by the cos. of Perth, Kinross, and Clackmannan; greatest length, 43 miles; greatest breadth, 18 miles; area, 314,952 ac., pop. 171,931. Fife forms the peninsula between the Firths of Forth and Tay. The coast is varied and picturesque; that part of it bordering on the Firth of Forth is lined with a succession of towns and villages, for the great number of which Fife is remarkable. ...
The surface is pleasantly undulating. A ridge of high ground, commencing with the Lomond Hills, runs from W. to E.; to the N., between the Lomonds and a spur of the Ochils, lies an extensive plain called Strath Eden, or the Howe of Fife; to the S. is another stretch of low land, broken by Saline Hill, Knock Hill, the Hill of Beath, and the Cullalo Hills. The principal rivers are the Eden and the Leven. In the NW. the soil is moss, moor, and rock; in the NE. it consists of wet clay; the most fertile tracts are the Howe of Fife and the belt of loam which fringes the Firth of Forth. (For agricultural statistics, see Appendix.) The formation is chiefly Carboniferous, and Fife is the third largest coal-producing county in Scotland Limestone and freestone abound. Blackband ironstone is worked at Lochgelly and Oakley (where there are smelting furnaces); oil shale is worked near Burntisland. The principal mfr. is linen--damasks and diapers at Dunfermline, checks and ticks at Kirkcaldy. The co. comprises 61 pars. and 2 parts, the Kirkcaldy Burghs (1 member), the St Andrews Burghs (1 member), the parl. burghs of Dunfermline and Inverkeithing (part of the Stirling Burghs), and the police burghs of Anstruther Easter, Auchtermuchty, Burntisland, Cupar, Dunfermline, Dysart, Elie (Liberty and Williamsburgh), Inverkeithing, Kilrenny, Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy, Ladybank (and Monkston), Leslie, Leven, Lochgelly, Newburgh, Pittenweem, and St Andrews. For parl. purposes it is divided into 2 divisions, viz., Eastern and Western, 1 member for each division; it returned 1 member until 1885.
For an overview of how the county has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern of Fife -- but you should check this covers the area you are interested in.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Fife | Map and description for the county, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 21st February 2017
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