“The Port” is the tall building on the corner.
Burntisland stands on the north shore of the Firth of Forth, more or less opposite Leith. As a settlement it formed at a very early date around what was one of the best natural harbours on the river. It is believed that the Romans under Agricola brought troops and supplies ashore here during their invasion of northern Scotland in AD83 (see our Historical Timeline). Fast forward a thousand years or so, and in 1119 Rossend Castle was built on a rocky bluff overlooking the harbour and ideally placed to help defend such a strategically important site. The land around Burntisland was part of the property endowed by David I on the Abbots of Dunfermline in around 1130, and in 1382 the abbey extended the castle.
In 1850 Burntisland became the terminus for the world’s first roll-on roll-off ferry, when a railway ferry carrying trains loaded with coal, grain, whisky and limestone opened across the Firth of Forth to Granton. When the Forth Rail Bridge opened in 1890, the rail ferry ceased, though main line trains to Dundee and Aberdeen continue to pass through the town. Over the past 150 years, Burntisland has seen booms resulting from the export of coal and in shipbuilding. During the Second World War the town’s shipyard produced 69 ships of all types.