IT is said to have been built on the site of an early Christian community that including St Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow.

Culross Abbey led to the founding of the Royal Burgh and marks the start of the Fife Pilgrim Way.  

However, villagers fear the"sacred and special" 13th century building could be sold off by the Church of Scotland as part of plans to reduce its church buildings.

Culross Abbey in Dunfermline, Fife, is believed to be at risk of being shed given its lack of modern-day facilities.

Presbyteries across Scotland are working to determine which buildings are surplus to requirements.

The Kirk is focussing on modernising the way it delivers worship amid shrinking congregations, a drop in income and a cut to minister numbers.

They are considering a number of factors, including repair and maintenance costs and which churches lack facilities such as kitchens and disabled access.

Culross Abbey, reportedly built on the site of an early Christian community that included St Mungo as its members, is now considered at risk as part of the exercise.

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The abbey site features the ruins of a Cistercian monastery, which are managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

The abbey holds the vault of Sir George Bruce, an early industrialist who developed a visionary system of coal mining at the village, and his wife Margaret.

A line of praying statues, which represent their eight children, stand in front of the tomb.

Members of Culross Community Council recently met with church representatives to discuss their concerns over the future of the ‘sacred and special place’.

In a letter to Kirk trustees following the meeting Diane MacKenzie, community council member, said: "Culross Community Council are dismayed to hear of this decision given all the Abbey Church means to the local community.

“It’s 800 years of history being the very reason why the Royal Burgh of Culross was founded and why the Fife Pilgrim Way begins here.

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"It is widely recognised as a sacred and special place and one which welcomes visitors from around the globe to understand their ancestry and view the Bruce Vault with its memorials to Sir George Bruce, his wife Margaret and the eight kneeling statues, representing the couple’s children as adults, lined up in front of the memorial.

"These are only a few of the reasons why Culross Abbey Church should continue to be open to the public, serve the Mission of the Church and not be disposed of in a way the deprives the public from its sacred meaning, benefits and history.”

The Church of Scotland said it has no targets in place regarding building disposals and will start assessing results from presbyteries by the end of the year.

Brian D Waller, head of policy and legislation of the General Trustees of Church of Scotland, in response to Culross Community Council, said building closures were “strictly a matter” for presbyteries, in the first instance.

He said: “Whilst each plan will require to be approved by central Church agencies, including the General Trustees, it is the Presbytery which makes the decisions, difficult as they are, with regards to the categorisation of buildings in the plan.”

Culross is Scotland’s most complete example of a burgh of the 17th and 18th centuries.

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The Royal Burgh has featured in three seasons of the hit time-travelling drama Outlander.

It is owned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) who have been instrumental in helping preserve the historical buildings which date back to the 18th century.

White-harled houses with red-tiled roofs line the steep cobbled streets which run from the market cross to the hilltop abbey. In the centre is the ochre-coloured palace with its beautifully reconstructed period garden, complete with herbs, fruit and vegetables, and rare Scots Dumpy hens.

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The narrow streets are almost free from traffic making it an ideal location for the Diana Gabaldon series.

It was used in several season one episodes with Mercat Cross acting as the centre of Cranesmuir where Geillis Duncan lives and is sentenced to burn after being accused of witchcraft.

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The town itself was the scene of many 'witch' trials in the 17th century.While some were awaiting trial they would be held in the attic of the Culross Town Hall.

Culross Palace as appeared in several seasons and is first seen in when the palace gardens are used as the herb gardens at Castle Leoch.

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The palace is used again in season two when the courtyard and main stairway doubled as the village encampment where Claire pulls a tooth from a local woman and Murtagh waits on Jamie who is meeting with Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The High Hall played host to Jacobite meetings, and is where Jamie pledged allegiance to King Charles.