Port of Burntisland
Review and History

The Port of Burntisland is located on the shores of the Firth of Forth in Fife, Scotland, about 12 kilometers north of Edinburgh. The town is home of the 10th oldest golf club in the world. Until 1969 when the shipyard closed, the city’s economy depended largely on shipbuilding. It was also a major alumina refining center until that plant closed in 2002. Today, the Port of Burntisland’s economy centers around the North Sea oil industry and local retailing services. In 2006, about 5700 people called Burntisland home.

Port History

To the north of the Port of Burntisland is The Binn, a local landmark and the site of 4000-year-old rock carvings and a 193-meter tall volcanic plug from the same volcano that formed the Edinburgh Castle Rock. The natural harbor was used by Roman commander Agricola who made camp near there in 83AD.

In 1119, Rossend Castle was built, and the settlement was big enough for a grant of land for a church there from King David I. In 1541, King James V granted a Royal Charter for the town, after which the port began to develop. By the 17th Century, ship-building was an important industry for the Port of Burntisland. In fact, a Burntisland barge carrying King Charles I sank with the king’s treasure in 1633.

St. Columba’s Church, one of the first churches built in Scotland after the Reformation was built there in 1592, and the church is still in use today. The building contains perhaps the best religious woodwork, metalwork, and painting of the time. King James VI of Scotland attended the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly in the church in 1601 where proposals for the new translation of the English-language Bible were discussed. The King James Bible was published in 1611.

By the 19th Century, the Port of Burntisland was important to the coal and herring industries. The railway opened there in 1847, and the world’s first roll-on/roll-off ferry started crossing the Firth of Forth in 1850. The ferry operated, carrying goods wagons traveling between Edinburgh and Dundee, until the Forth Bridge opened in 1890.

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