Maiden Castle MAI A NO349016 1 373 45m
the Madyn Castell 1556 NAS NP1/19 no. 30 [‘ane hous standand at the west fuyt of the Madyn Castell’]
Maiden C. 1684 Adair/East Fife
the Maiden Castle 1790s OSA, 647 [‘Near the Maiden Castle ... a great many stone coffins, with human bones in them, have been lately discovered in the immediate neighbourhood’]
Maiden Castle 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn
Sc maiden + Sc castle
Richard Coates (2006) has argued that this, and some twenty other places in Britain called Maiden Castle, received their names as a literary conceit originating in the works of Geoffrey of Monmouth (first half of the twelfth century). See also Maiden Castle FAL.
This large, artificial hill is classified as a motte by Stell (1985, 17). It lies c.600 m north-west of the present Duniface Farm, and at the north end of Duniface Hill. It lies on the parish boundary of MAI and KWY, just within MAI, but is in fact at the southern edge of Kennoway village and so is sometimes known as Kennoway Motte (NMRS NO30SW 9).
Later medieval writers imagined it as Macduff’s castle, to which he fled for fear of Macbeth before continuing to England: in this context Wyntoun called it simply Kynnaghty or Kennawchty; while Bower referred to it as ‘his castle of Kennoway’ (castrum suum de Kennachqwhi) (Scotichron. Bk. 4, ch. 6, vol. 2, 436).
In Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historiae (Boece 1527) the castle of the earls of Fife is described as standing ‘between the kirk of St Kenneth and the River Leven’ (inter Divi Kenethi templum et Levenam amnem), and having seven ramparts and seven ditches. Boece’s description of Maiden Castle is repeated (with acknowledgement of its source) by Robert Gordon in his Description of Fife, written for Blaeu’s Atlas Novus: ‘Between Kenneth’s temple, Kennoway, and the River Leven is a mound, which the natives relate is the ruins of the castle of the earls of Fife, once surrounded by seven walls and the same number of ditches ...’ (Blaeu 1654 (2006), 81).
This place-name appeared in printed volume 2