Last week we briefly visited Ceres and its Highland Games which provides
free entry to all spectators. It may 'Tak a lang spune fir ti sup wi a
Fifer' but the Kingdom of Fife enjoys another 'free' Highland Games in
July on the Links at Burntisland. The Market Day Games, traditionally held
on the first Monday of the Fife Fair, will see thousands flock to enjoy
the day out on the Burntisland Links on 19 July 2004. Burntisland Games
enjoy all the usual games attractions with the addition of the Binn Hill
Race, a large fun-fair and a host of trader's stalls. A great day out for
all the family.
Originally known as Western Kinghorn, Burntisland has also been known as
Brintilland, Bruntyland and other variations over the centuries. Although
only created a Royal Burgh by James V, King of Scots, in 1541 because of
its port, the town's history stretches much further back in time.
Prehistoric people probably used the natural harbour before building their
fort on Dunearn Hill. It is thought that Agricola's invading Roman army
landed here and set up camp on the hill. Oliver Cromwell's invading
English army certainly did besiege the town and were garrisoned in
Burntisland from 1651. The English troops entertained themselves with
horse racing on the Links. Cromwell recognised the potential of the port,
describing the harbour as "well seated, pretty strong, but marvellous and
capable of further improvement."
However use of the port declined after the so-called incorporating Union
of 1707. Leading the English spy Daniel Defoe to state "there is a very
good harbour...but want of trade renders all this useless; for what is the
best harbour in the world without ships'" Nevertheless trade eventually
prospered and together with the development of the railways, Burntisland's
fortunes as a port was revived. It became the second most important port
on the Forth after Leith, with increasing export of coal to Scandinavia
and to mainland Europe. A steam ferry service to Edinburgh was introduced
in 1820, which replaced a sailing ferry, and from 1850 the first roll-on,
roll-off ferry in the world, The Leviathan, plied between Burntisland and
Granton. The ferry carried railway wagons loaded with coal, limestone,
grain and whisky (from the former Grange Distillery in Burntisland), and
thousands of passengers every year. A service overtaken by the opening of
the Forth Bridge. A busy fishing fleet allied to shipbuilding proved major
employers in the burgh - sadly now gone. The heritage of shipbuilding
finished in 1969.
No visit to Burntisland would be complete without seeing St Columba's
Church which opened in 1594, the earliest post-Reformation kirk still in
regular use. Its four-square design and interior features make it unique.
The pinnacled tower was rebuilt in the shape seen today in 1749. The
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland met in St Columba's in 1601 -
with King James VI present - and a new translation of the Bible was
proposed. James VI in 1603 left Scotland for the better paid job of
English King and 'his' Authorised Version was published in 1611 in
England. The present kirk replaced the one built at Kirkton in 1243 on
land granted to the Abbots of Dunfermline by David I in 1130. Its ruins
can still be seen today.
Some famous folk from Burntisland or with burgh connections include
Burnisland-born William Dick (1793-1866), who founded the Royal (Dick)
School of Veterinary Studies; Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a one-time
citizen who founded the Free Church of Scotland in 1843; and the
pioneering mathematician and astronomer Mary Somerville (1780-18720 lived
in the town as a girl and gave her name to Somerville College, Oxford,
England. Another astronomer Anneila Sargent, was born in Burntisland in
the 1940s and became Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of
It is America and American Independence Day which suggests this week's
recipe, American Hot Cakes, from the SWRI Jubilee Cookery Book.
American Hot Cakes
Ingredients : 1/2 lb flour; 1 tablespoon sugar; 1/2 teaspoonful baking
soda; 1 teaspoonful cream of tartar; 1 egg; a little salt; 1/2
Mix dry ingredients together and add egg and milk. Butter a swiss roll
tin, pour in mixture, and bake in a moderate oven for 1/2 hour. Cut in
squares, and serve hot in a napkin.