UK question: why the Kingdom of Fife?

Why is Fife, in Scotland, referred to as a kingdom? I’ve heard this a few times, and none of my Scottish friends (including one from Fife) has any idea.

IIRC, it was a Pictish kingdom - I guess the name just stuck?!

…although googling suggests it was never a real kingdom…and it seems nobody really knows…

No one knows for sure.

It’s suggested it goes way back to the period in Scotish history when Scotland (i.e. the physical land) was a collection of minor kingdoms each with a minor “king”, while the people themselves were citizens of a single national kingdom and king. Which is why the title of Scottish Royalty was “Of Scots”, not “Of Scotland”.

That suggestion sounds a bit dubious to me, but it’s as good as any. The real answer is lost in the mists of time, just as much as why it persisted in Fife, but no other place.

Although it may well be related to the belief that Fife was one of the seven Pictish kingdoms (specifically the one said to have been ruled by Fib), it is quite another thing to claim that the name remained in continuous use down the centuries. The earliest known use of the phrase dates back only to the late seventeenth century.

There are a number of other places in Scotland which have been referred to as a ‘kingdom’, such as Forgue or Kippen, which is why the Scottish National Dictionary suggests that it was a Scottish variant meaning ‘certain districts and places in some way self-contained or isolated from adjacent parts’. But those other examples are even later and may have been influenced by the example of Fife.

It is probably just a case of inflated local pride.