Often referred to as a figure representing the likeness of a toby-jug, the “Provost of Ceres” is reportedly the depiction of Thomas Buchanan, Minister of Ceres. A Provost is another term meaning mayor, and Buchanan served as the last official Provost of Ceres during the reign of King James VI. He was also nephew to George Buchanan, a Scottish historian during the period of the Scottish Reformation.
This squat, grinning little figure situated in a niche of sandstone has a colorful history and has done a fair bit of traveling. The statue was the handiwork of a local stonemason John Howie, who was raised in Ceres and carved the statue in the 1830s. Howie is also responsible for the central panel, which is said to depict the “Battle of Bannockburn,” as well as the two feminine figureheads on either side.
Originally installed in 1837 in what was known as the Kirklands, (now the church parking lot) by Reverand Joseph Crichton. The “Provost of Ceres” remained in the garden of the church for nearly 100 years. The statue was eventually sold in the 1930s.
As the story goes, the postmaster who was living in the residence of the kirk sold the figurine to a woman living in the township of Cupar, a village just a few miles away to the north.
As one might imagine, this did not sit right with the citizens of Ceres, who demanded that their much-beloved mascot be returned. Funds were raised both locally and abroad in the amount of £54 7s, £2,488.44 in today’s money, (2021). On the last Saturday of June 1939 at 1 pm, the “Provost of Ceres” was unveiled by Jamas Henderson Stewart. The statue has faithfully remained in this post ever since, grinning at all who are fortunate to pass him by.
Know Before You Go
The statue is situated on a wall, just around the corner from the pub The Ceres Inn. He can be viewed at any time of the day, just be careful, as he resides on the main road in and out of the village.
Just a foot away is the Fife Folk Museum, which houses a collection of objects pertaining to the history of this rural area. Including a rare example of "Jougs" collar that was an instrument of punishment. Entry is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
The town of Ceres is situated along the Fife Pilgrim Way. A stretch of 70 miles that starts in the southwest at Culross or North Queensferry and works its way to St. Andrews. This was an 11th-century trail that devote worshipers would travel along to pay homage to relics of St. Andrew.
Ceres is also known for having the longest-running series of Highland Games in the world. Held on the last Saturday of June. In 1314, Robert the Bruce granted the village the right to hold the games for their support during the Battle of Bannockburn.