Royal Burgh of Kinghorn - for residents and visitors alike

Proud history of the Royal Burgh of Kinghorn

The historic Royal Burgh of Kinghorn lies on the golden coastline of the Kingdom of Fife. Its picturesque sheltered bay and beach nestles below the hillsides that once provided the town with its water and, when local industry developed, the source of power to drive the machinery of the flax mills.
The meaning of the name Kinghorn, or Kin-gorn, as it was previously known, are lost in history. Some say that it derives from the Gaelic, ‘head of the muddy ground’ or the more romantic ‘blue headland’. What is known is that the town’s name was included in the title of the earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It was created a royal burgh in 1285, and the former castle was frequently visited by the Scottish Court. The Kings castle, controlling the sea way, probably stood on the headland above Pettycur, one of the few places on the coast with an uninterrupted view from the Queens Ferry narrows to the North Sea. A later structure, Glamis Tower, stood just behind the High Street. Unfortunately both buildings have totally disappeared and the sites built over in modern times.

It was to Kinghorn and his new, young wife that Alexander III was making his way on a dark and stormy night when his horse stumbled and he was found at the foot of the cliffs at ‘Kings Wud end’.
His grand daughter, the Maid of Norway, died on the journey to Scotland and, with no heir to the throne, Scotland was torn apart by civil war and a series of wars with England.


Town Hall

Built in 1826 by Thomas Hamilton on the original site of St. Leonard’s Tower. The Town Hall originally housed the Town Gaol, each of the two cells being massively fitted with iron clad doors. Conversion of the building by FHBT (with assistance from Historic Scotland) is just about complete, the roof being a fantastic work of art and the interior is now complete and the building featured in the annual Doors Open Day.   The lower floor are to be offices for Fife Historic Buildings Trust and exhibition space for the Historical Society and the upper two floors will be a Holiday Flat for rent.

Alexander III monument.

On 19th March, 1286 Scottish history was drastically changed when Alexander III fell to his death when his horse stumbled on a dark and stormy night on the cliffs above Kinghorn Ness near Pettycur. The Golden Age when Scotland enjoyed peace and prosperity came to an abrupt end, especially when his heir, the Maid of Norway, died shortly afterwards. The nation was now in turmoil, with 13 claimants to the throne, including Robert Bruce. The Memorial, on the road between Kinghorn and Burntisland, was erected in 1886 to Scotland’s last Celtic King, and its complex design is Victorian in style.

Kinghorn Parish Church

Kinghorn Parish Church, standing above the harbour, was largely reconstructed in 1774 with further additions in 1894 when the bell tower was added. At the east end are the remains of what is thought to be the church consecrated by David de Bernham, Bishop of St. Andrews in 1243. As with many churches built by the sea, there is a Sailor’s Aisle with the entrance to the shore, dating from 1609 and surviving from an earlier church. The hereditary lairds of Kinghorn, the Boswells of Balmuto, have been associated with the Parish for a long time. In March 1822, a relative, Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinlect, died at Balmuto House from wounds received in a duel at Auchtertool - the one of the last duels fought in Scotland.

Kinghorn Deeds 1682-1839.  Very interesting deed information at the Fife Council archive in Carleton House, Markinch.

Church and harbour

Alexander III monument - what is the inscription and what does it mean? Click photo to find out.

Part of description from Fife Coast and Countryside Trust website.

Kinghorn Historical Society now has a brand new website, which will be developing steadily.  Click here for a visit.

Currently the site gives details of the programme of meetings for 2012-13, plus a small number of photos, the Kinghorn Role of Honour 1914-1918 and information about the War Memorial.  The site is still in its infancy and it is hoped more photos and Kinghorn history will be added in time.  The website is at