Dunfermline and St Andrews could go head to head in a bid to achieve city status as part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations next year.
Scotland’s former royal capital may go up against the country’s ecclesiastical heart in a competition to mark the monarch’s 70th anniversary on the throne.
If the plans come to fruition, Fife councillors will be asked to choose whether the Auld Grey Toun or the Home of Golf – or both – should represent the region in the nationwide contest.
Dunfermline missed out to Perth during a previous competition to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee a decade ago.
But a fresh bid is already being prepared.
Meanwhile, St Andrews Community Council is considering whether it should also submit an application and has the backing of council representatives.
The 2012 competition resulted in just one winner from each of the UK’s four nations.
But this time, the number of awards will depend on the strength of the bids.
City status is considered an honour that brings prestige and prosperity to those who achieve it.
Aspects such as civic pride, history and innovation will all be considered during the judging.
And there’s no doubt both Dunfermline and St Andrews have all of those in abundance.
The Dunfermline bid
Dunfermline certainly has history on its side.
And it also has royalty, philanthropy, culture and even a saint.
The Fife town was the capital of Scotland for around 400 years, long before the title passed to Edinburgh.
It was home to several royals and is the final resting place of kings and queens, including Robert the Bruce.
In addition, Saint Margaret of Scotland, who established the royal mausoleum at Dunfermline Abbey, instigated the queen’s ferry over the Firth of Forth.
And while Dunfermline is also famous as the birthplace of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the bid won’t just be judged on history.
Councillor Helen Law said the town still had plenty going for it.
“I think we’ve a lot to offer alongside the royal history,” she said.
“We’ve got music and culture from Big Country and the Skids to the folk scene with Barbara Dickson.
“We’ve got a world-famous ballerina, great theatres and a good social scene.
“Meanwhile, work is about to start on a £200 million education campus and Dunfermline is the fastest growing town in Europe with all the house-building going on.”
Add to that the fact the town has been marketed as the City of Dunfermline for some time and Mrs Law believes it’s in with a chance.
“We’ve been working really hard on our bid since June and I would be really disappointed if it wasn’t supported by Fife Council.”
The St Andrews bid
St Andrews is known as the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland and its now-ruined cathedral was the largest in Scotland.
It’s also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, which has just been named the best in the UK.
But it’s also famous for its reputation as the home of golf and, accordingly, is a mecca for tourists.
Historical records show St Andrews had city status until the 19th and possibly 20th century, the evidence of which remains in street names.
But like Dunfermline, St Andrews is a modern town and its university is at the forefront of world-class research.
In particular, it’s known for its studies into terrorism and political violence.
Councillor Jane Ann Liston is supportive of moves to gain city status.
“Records show St Andrews was a city for many, many years so there’s precedent there,” she said.
“It’s connected to Scotland’s patron saint and while it’s smaller than Dunfermline, size doesn’t matter.
“The City of St Davids in Wales is the UK’s smallest city and its population is smaller than St Andrews.
“St Andrews is already prestigious and people come here because it has something special to offer.
“That, to me, seems like a good enough reason.”
Prosperity and opportunity
Applications have to be made by local authorities, which must make a case for why their area deserves the honour.
Fife Council confirmed it will submit a bid before the closing date of December 8.
Head of communities and neighbourhood services Paul Vaughan said: “There is interest from both Dunfermline and St Andrews in this bid and a report on how we move forward will be discussed at a future meeting of the policy and co-ordination committee.”
UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the competition would put towns on the map and bring greater prosperity and opportunity.