The belief that Markinch was the Pictish capital of Fife has persisted since MacKay's scholarly work on Fife written in 1895. The theory entered the realm of legend with Dorothy MacNab Ramsay's gripping novels centred around a Pictish palace on Dalginch Hill overlooking Markinch. Certainly, Dalginch is named in a 12th century manuscript as one of northern Scotland's seven principal locations for the dispensation of justice. The others included Perth, Aberdeen and Inverness.
In the later Pictish period, Markinch was on the border beween the two sub-kingdoms of Fife and Fothriff and may well have been used as a neutral ground where disputes were settled and contracts entered into. The later 12th century reference could be a carry-over from its earlier Pictish function.
Even the town's oldest monument, the Stob Cross (above), is difficult to ascribe with any certainty to the Pictish period. Its line and form resemble elaborately carved Pictish slab crosses such as the Aberlemno Cross in Perthshire. However, no traces of Pictish ornamentation can be seen - it has even been suggested that these were deliberately effaced during the Reformation. Even as late as 1884 the Kirk was reburying carved stones with "rude sculptures" dug up when the building was being refurbished.
Perhaps there is much evidence of the Picts yet to be discovered in Markinch. What is clear from old charters is that the Celtic Church, represented by the Celi De or Culdees of Loch Leven, had a church near to the present building from an early period - but this was not confirmed by charter until the 11th Century.