A few people have helped in their own time getting good air and exercise, cutting the willowherb, broom and whin, and picking up litter.
The MacDuff Trust regularly holds volunteer action days, usually in the spring and autumn. The youth organisations, such as the Explorer Scouts have all done excellent work over the years, but sometimes the weather has not always co-operated.
Helpers are always appreciated, either for individual working or joining communal occasions.
The Macduff Trust was set up by the then Auchtermuchty Parish Council in 1973 before Regionalisation took place in Scotland.
The Objects of the Trust were identified as follows:-
"To use such funds and property as may become available to the Trust for any purpose which the Trustees in their sole discretion consider is to the benefit of all or any of the inhabitants of the locality which at the date of setting up the Trust is known as the Parish of Auchtermuchty."
The major asset of the Trustees is the Common land to the North of the town known as The Whitefield , The Mairs at the Newburgh Road and in the Glassarts Glen.
Considerable work has gone on in the past and continues at the present time to maintain this common ground in good condition for the benefit of the people of Auchtermuchty and visitors to the town. Periodically throughout the life of the Trust, the Trustees have organised parties to cut and burn the broom and willowbay herb and have been helped by many of the Youth Organisations in the town, as well as a number of the townsfolk.
Historical Note:- Auchtermuchty was granted a charter as a Royal Burgh in 1517 and one of the 'Rights' granted was the privilege of the 'Small Heritors of Auchtermuchty' to graze livestock on the common, these are householders living in properties in the Royal Burgh identified as such in the title deeds to their homes.
1. Glassarts Den
The natural scrub on either side of the road into Glassarts Glen form part of the Auchtermuchty Common and this extends up as far as The Clink.
2. Glassart Den Community Woodland
This area of ground belongs to Mrs Vi Shannon of Cupar who has very generously planted it with native tree and shrub species to provide a future woodland for the amenity of the community. It can be entered from the forest track above it or across the new bridge on the Glassarts Burn above the waterworks.
3. Filter House and Gasworks
The only industrial developments on the Common are the Filter House and the Gas Pipeline station. The brick building at the roadside housed the sand filters and treatment plant when Auchtermuchty's mains water was drawn from the Glassarts Burn. The Gas Pipeline valve is situated on the natural gas main from St Fergus in Aberdeenshire to Grangemouth.
4. The Mairs
This area of the Common runs on both sides of the Newburgh Road. The narrow strip between the road and the burn has recently been turned into a pleasant Woodland walk. The area to the East of the road is more open with wooded areas, the ground to the right of the gateway having been planted with oaks and other trees in the recent past. The Auchtermuchty Cub Troop have also planted trees on the Mairs.
5. The Whitefield
This area of the Common is of great natural interest and along with The Mairs are on the Scottish Wildlife Trusts listed sites due to their wide variety of wild flowers, grasses, insects and butterflies. Included in the wildflowers are Ladies Bedstraw, Tufted Vetch, Rock Rose, Dog Violet, Wild Orchid, Crowsfoot Trefoil and many more. The butterflies include Painted Lady, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Tortoiseshell and the Common Blue.
The following birds have been sighted on Auchtermuchty Common (as of May 2004):
Butterflies found on Auchtermuchty Common:
Mammals recorded on the Common:
Notes by Ruth O'Riordan
We are fortunate to still have a common. Nearly all the coastal Royal Burghs have lost theirs and Ladybank's is covered with trees. King James IV, who fell at Flodden before our charter was written, gave the Common Lands to Auchtermuchty. James V then implemented his father's decision in 1517.
In the Burgh there are still quite a number of houses in which the owner has the common rights to graze a specified number of sheep or cattle, fly merlin, cut turf etc. and these are the Small Heritors of Auchtermuchty.
In 1974 local government re-organisation meant that the Town lost its Town Council and self-government. The then Provost, Mr Carswell, declared that we would, "no let thae boys in Cupar get oor common" and established the Macduff Trust with a small capital sum and the money from the Inheritors' bank account and registered the area at the Sasine Court in Edinburgh in the Trust's name. The 12 members of the final Town Council became trustees.
Leaving history aside, let us turn to the botanical interest in some of these areas. When I returned to Fife in 1967 I soon recognised that parts of the Common were of great interest and in those days of intensive farming quite unusual.
Over the years I have walked all over the common with various botanical experts and all are agreed that it is one of the best patches of natural grassland in Fife, apart from the coastal fringes. Sadly in the last 10 years the amount of scrub has expanded and is choking the wild flowers and a variety of grasses. In days of old the grazing animals kept down the whin and broom and there was probably not much willow herb then - it is not a native plant.
There is an awful lot of willow herb now as it is a very powerful spreader underground as well as having thousands of seeds.
Every knowledgeable visitor has said that light grazing would work much better than bashing and burning but this is easier said than done. Fencing would definitely be required and gates would be necessary to maintain access for walkers.
On the White Field there is a variety of flowers and butterflies, in particular the dark green fritillary and other more common types: ringlets, meadow browns, small skippers and common blue. I will not quote the long lists of flowers and grasses compiled by botanist Ian Bray after he'd walked the Common with Sandy Marshall, Mick O'Hara and myself in 1998.
Meanwhile much of the wonderful variety of flowers and insects survive and the Trustees have tried with some help from volunteers to check the scrub. A few people have helped in their own time, getting fresh air and exercise, cutting the willow herb, broom and whin and the Trustees have usually organised attacks in the spring and autumn.
The youth organisations have all done good work over the years but sometimes the weather has not cooperated. Helpers are always welcome, either for individual working or joining communal occasions.
Some of the flowers on Muchty common