Burntisland, Scotland


The Port, Burnt Island
1930s
Publisher: Valentine

Google Street View.

“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.
Undiscovered Scotland

Loch and Church, Kilconquhar


Kilconquhar Loch and Church
Postmarked 1907
Publisher: M. Wane & Co, Edinburgh

Google Street View (location)

Today’s Kilconquhar is dominated by the imposing Kilconquhar Parish Church which stands in its raised churchyard at the west end of the village’s main street. This is fitting, because it seems that the name and the origin of Kilconquhar both relate to the church. Placenames beginning “Kil” are usually associated with very early churches, and the name of Kilconquhar probably comes from the Gaelic Cill Conchubair meaning the church of Conquhar or Connacher. The theory is that an early Christian missionary of Irish origin established a chapel here, perhaps in the 600s, which over the centuries developed into the church known to have been bestowed on the convent in North Berwick in 1200.

Although Kilconquhar has effectively been built along the north shore of Kilconquhar Loch, it comes as a surprise to find that the loch is virtually inaccessible, even almost invisible, from the village. The sign outside the Kinneuchar Inn suggests the loch was once used for curling in winter, and these days it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also an oddly difficult stretch of water to discover much about.

Undiscovered Scotland

This cruciform church was built between 1819 and 1821, adjacent to an earlier church (site 1232). It was designed by Richard Crichton and built by R and R Dickson. The church is situated on high ground in the centre of the village, overlooking Kilconquhar loch to the south. The graveyard, which is still in use, surrounds the church. The oldest stones are found around the old parish church to the east of the present church which it predates, and there are some interesting eighteenth century memorials towards the south east corner.
POWiS (Places of Worship in Scotland)

By 1818 the old Church was in need of repair and enlargement so it was decided to build a new church big enough to accommodate 900. The plan of the church being built at the time at Cockpen in the parish of Dalkeith was adopted and was not to cost more than £2500. The perspective view of the new Church from 1819 prepared by Messrs R & R Dickson, Edinburgh Architects can be seen in the Church’s North Hall. Before the building was completed the plans were enlarged to seat 1035 and the heritors were canny enough to save money by using as much of the old building as possible. They also needed to take down the old church as the space was needed to accommodate the new building. The building is a cruciform design with a clock and bell tower at the west end and was opened on 12th August 1821. It more or less came in on budget at £2761, the additional cost due to the changes to the design. In 1900 the chancel at the east end was added along with the organ, the communion tables and chairs.
East Neuk Trinity

The Palace Ruins, Dunfermline, Scotland


The Palace Ruins, Dunfermline
c.1910
William Allan, Society Stationer, Dunfermline

Google Street View (approximate)

Medieval abbeys typically had several grades of accommodation, and it’s likely that the guesthouse was a royal residence right from the start. After the Reformation, a new palace was created out of the guesthouse and the west range of the abbey. Dunfermline Palace became the personal residence of James VI’s queen, Anna of Denmark.
The future Charles I was born here in 1600, the last monarch to be born in Scotland. Royal interest in Dunfermline waned when James and Anna left for London in 1603, and the palace fell into disrepair.
Historic Environment Scotland

Dunfermline was a favourite residence of many Scottish monarchs. Documented history of royal residence there begins in the 11th century with Malcolm III who made it his capital. His seat was the nearby Malcolm’s Tower, a few hundred yards to the west of the later palace. In the medieval period David II and James I of Scotland were both born at Dunfermline. Dunfermline Palace is attached to the historic Dunfermline Abbey, occupying a site between the abbey and deep gorge to the south. It is connected to the former monastic residential quarters of the abbey via a gatehouse above a pend (or yett), one of Dunfermline’s medieval gates. The building therefore occupies what was originally the guest house of the abbey. However, its remains largely reflect the form in which the building was remodelled by James IV around 1500.
. . .
Charles I returned to Scotland in 1633 for his coronation but only made a brief visit to his place of birth. The last monarch to occupy the palace was Charles II who stayed at Dunfermline in 1650 just before the Battle of Pitreavie. Anne Halkett described meeting him there. Soon afterwards, during the Cromwellian occupation of Scotland, the building was abandoned and by 1708 it had been unroofed. All that remains of the palace today is the kitchen, its cellars, and the impressive south wall with a commanding prospect over the Firth of Forth to the south.
Wikipedia.

Balcomie Castle, Crail, Scotland


Balcomie Castle — Crail

Street View

Balcomie Castle is a 16th Century L-plan tower house of five storeys and a garret, to which has been added an 18th century house. It consists of a main block and offset square wing, which only joins the main block at one corner. A small stair tower is corbelled out in one re-entrant angle, linking the first and second floors. Two two-storey bartizans, both with shot-holes, crown the wing’s gable. The small gatehouse also survives. There is a walled garden.

The fine plastered ceilings from here were taken to Dean Castle, near Kilmarnock. The lands were held by John de Balcomie in 1375, although nothing of the surviving castle is earlier than 16th century. The property passed in 1526 to the Learmonths of Clatto. Mary of Guise stayed at Balcomie after landing at Fifeness on her way to marry James V. Sir James Learmonth of Balcomie was one of the Fife Adventurers who, in 1598, tried to take land on Lewis and was slain for his pains. In 1705 Balcomie passed to the Hopes, then later to the Scotts of Scotstarvit, then the Erskine Earls of Kellie. The castle is now used as a farmhouse.
Scottish Castles Association