Royal Burgh of Kinghorn - for residents and visitors alike


Introduction by Jim Allison


We know that a royal castle existed in Kinghorn from the early 12th Century. The East coast of Fife had a line of castles every few miles along the coast - the nearest surviving to Kinghorn being the Seafield Tower, a mile east along the coast. These were known as the "Teeth of the Forth".

When king David I assumed the throne in 1124, he adopted a Norman system of government called "The Thrye Estaites", which said that the administration of Scotland was based on the hierarchy: The Church, The Crown, and The Commyns.

This meant that the Church was pre-eminent - the King ruled by the blessing of God (which warded off claims by other nobles), and meant that the Church served as a "civil service", collecting taxes and recording documents and charters 

This ended the Dark Ages in Scotland, so that we have a more accurate view of history. The number of documents, signed by the King "in Kinghorn", shows that Kinghorn was an important centre of the King's administration and presence.

The early castle in Kinghorn has been recorded in a book, written in 1905 by Alan Reid FEIS, FSA (Scot), who reports having seen the remains of the early castle at Ross Ness (halfway down Pettycur Road). This has been debated locally and has been built over.

A later castle was built in the "centre" of the town at Burt Avenue, disputably because ships started carrying guns (which meant that castles on the coast were more vulnerable).

In 1221, King Alexander II gave the Castle at Kinghorn as a major part of his marriage settlement to his new Queen, Princess Joan of England.  (We do not know whether this was the castle at Pettycur Road or Burt Avenue). 

It is also a matter of interest whether King Alexander III was heading for the castle at Pettycur or Burt Avenue when he was killed in 1286. This represented the end of the Canmore dynasty and led to the Wars of Independence in Scotland.

In 1373, Sir John Lyon married Princess Joan,the daughter of King Robert II. He was given the Castle of Glamis, in Burt Avenue, as part of Princess Joan's dowry.

A new Glamis Castle, at Burt Avenue, was built in 1543. This was besieged by Kirkcaldy of Grange in 1546 and fell. It seems that the Lyon family retreated to their lands in Angus.

In 1606, Lord Lyon was made Earl of Kinghorne.

In 1677, Patrick Earl of Kinghorne was created Earl of Glamis and Kinghorne - a title he holds to the present day. Hence the connection with the late Queen Mother.

The bounds of the original Glamis Castle extend from Glamis Terrace in the North, Glamis Road and Castlehill Walk in the South, Castle Wynd (the Cut) in the West. The topographical aspects can still be seen today.

The site at Burt Avenue was not built on until the early 20th Century. In the last few years, a house in Burt Avenue decided to landscape the front of their house. They dug up animal teeth, including boar teeth, which have been dated to the 13th-16th Century.

When they dug up the back garden, they uncovered slabs of sandstone and crushed sea-shells (which were used as mortar in olden days).

Seafield Tower - between Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy

Seafield Tower - between Kinghorn & Kirkcaldy at 7th February 2011