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3 May 2022

Preserving the traditional buildings of Culross

Written by Cara Stewart, Operations Manager, Edinburgh and East
The mercat cross in the cobbled village square in Culross, surrounded by white 17th-century houses.
The village square in Culross
Culross in Fife is one of Scotland’s most picturesque villages and one of the most complete examples of a traditional burgh. The white-harled houses with their distinctive red-tiled roofs make up the heart of the village; the Trust cares for 27 of these residential homes.

Our job is to ensure that the historic exteriors are preserved to retain the character of the village, while ensuring the interiors are modern places to live that serve the community. Many of the homes date back to the 16th century and are listed, which means we must get permission before we make any changes. Striking a balance can be tricky and calls for a lot of innovative solutions!

However, one of the best ways to conserve historic houses is to continue to live in them, so they don’t fall into disuse. That’s why we have an annual programme of maintenance to ensure the homes are comfortable for tenants. We carry out annual gas checks, roof and gutter cleaning, and chimney sweeping. This summer we’re also beginning to upgrade the kitchens and bathrooms in the houses. I’ve been delighted to appoint a lead tenant contact in my team, who is the first point of contact for any issues and makes sure the National Trust for Scotland is fully part of the community in Culross.

A narrow cobbled street passes between old buildings in Culross. On the left is a 17th-century house with bright yellow walls and red tiles on the roof. An external stone staircase leads up to the first floor.
Traditional buildings in Culross

Culross is also a coastal town. In recent years, due to climate change, there has been an increased risk of flooding after bad storms. We’ve now introduced flood prevention measures for our tenants by supplying them with special flood gates to put across their doors in bad weather. These gates are expandable, which secures them in place – this means we do not need to attach them directly to the historic exteriors, preventing damage.

Thanks to our supporters, we’re able to preserve the character of Culross and care for the historic buildings that make up the village. Without our care, these homes may have been lost to development or time, and Culross would look very different today. We’re proud to play our role within this historic community, and with our supporters’ help we can continue this for many years to come.

Protect Our Places, Protect Our History

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